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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Treacherous Triage (This is a long one)

So, Mike and I were on our way. We were super excited. I was smiling and laughing the whole way there even with the contractions getting stronger and a bit more painful. We arrived at the hospital and Mike helped me unload the suitcase, cooler, and cameras on the sidewalk so he could quickly go park the car. As I stood there waiting for him, I had three more contractions and it was getting cold outside. I watched Mike pull out of the parking garage and throw his hands up in the air in frustration while he quickly zipped around the corner to find a different place to park. About thirty seconds later I laughed as I watched him run down the sidewalk to me. We grabbed our stuff and headed in. We went to the 4th floor for triage. We checked in and took care of all the necessary paperwork. I waited for a nurse to see me for a good 10+ minutes. The people that were sitting there started to say something about me having to wait. As soon as they did, a nurse popped her head out and called my name. The nurse, Sharon, walked me to my station for observation. She had long brown hair and looked like she worked as a clerk at the local 7-11 or equivalent to who would be serving you at a smoky old tavern. You'll understand my hostile description shortly. Believe me, I'm not being a bitch.

Sharon began to ask all the typical questions that get asked: What blood type are you? Any history of diabetes in the family? Are you an organ donor? To the last question, the answer was yes. Her response? "That's good, because should anything heinous happen, it would be nice for you to help another needy family out." What the fuck? Did she just say that? She had walked out of the room and Mike and I looked at each other with disbelief. Moving along, she came back in and strapped the monitors on my belly to observe the intensity of the contractions and the baby's heart rate. She "checked" me and informed me that I was 1 1/2cm -2cm dialated, 60% effaced and Farrah was at +2. Not exactly what my doctor said at my last appointment. She started talking about this being false labor. Okay. My stomach dropped. There's no way that I can be having false labor. She had asked me where the pain level was at that point. Between a 1 & 10, it was at a 3-4. So, Sharon sent Mike and I back to the lobby for an hour to walk around and get things moving. The pain was beginning to get a lot more sharp and extremely uncomfortable. I had to go to the bathroom two more times in that hour. Sitting on the toilet made the contractions not as intense. If I had had my way, I would've stayed on the toilet that whole night. After an hour went by, we were back in triage to get checked out again. There was a little more progress, but she refused to admit me. I was getting pissed at this point. So was Mike. She, very non-chalantly, said we could just go home and come back when it starts to get worse. Unfortunately, she had to "convince" her charge nurse that I was in labor, but nothing was indicating that I truly was. Really? How about the fact that I was now at a full 2cm +, I was now effaced at 70%, and the contractions were clearly coming on stronger and more frequently. She sent us out, yet again for another hour. This time the pain was pretty much unbearable. My body began to shake almost violently from the huge adrenalin rush. You'd think I had just come out of a major winter storm. I hit the bathroom again, walked around, did squats up against the bars on the walls and it was all awful. Mike laid down on the little couch and I had grabbed a couple of pillows from triage so that he could lay on one and I could crouch down on the other during a contraction. I had a big one while squatting down next to him. This one made me cry. I was crying due to the pain but also because of the sheer frustration of our situation. I was so angry that I seriously was contemplating punching my nurse square in the face. I hated her. Every time I would walk around, I'd have to stop in my tracks, stand on my toes, and put all my weight on one leg. Somehow this was just how my body tried to shift the pain. My breathing was loud and long. I felt bad for Mike because I knew he wanted to do something, anything to make me more comfortable, but there was nothing he could do. On top of everything else, I was starving. I walked back into triage to grab a poptart. When I came back out, Evie was sitting there with Mike. She walked up and gave me a big hug. She and her family packed up at around 9:00 pm and started to head North to be with us. They rock.

It was time for me to go back into triage for yet another check up. Some to little change. Many colorful words escaped my mouth at that time. I was now reaching my breaking point. Evie came with me for this check up because she knew that if Mike heard that I still wasn't being admitted, he would probably kill someone. The nurse was completely not compassionate. She had the attitude that I was wasting her time. She kept talking to me about Mike and I going home and that she still saw no sign that I needed to be admitted and she wasn't convinced that I was in labor. I could see in Evie's eyes every time the nurse spoke that she wanted to jump across my bed and scratch her eyes out. Evie just went through labor only months earlier and understood how this was supposed to have worked. What was happening to us was unbelievable. Finally, I said to her, "I have crapped 8 times today and I usually go only once every other day, I am in a lot of pain, there is clearly change happening to my body, and I don't understand why My husband and I can't simply get a room to try to relax in. I know I'm in labor, it's very late, my husband who is my coach is out in the lobby sleeping on a small couch and I need him well rested for the inevitable. Why can't we just be admitted? I have health insurance that I pay for every month. Why can't you do something?" Her response was that she had to, again, convince her charge nurse and the doctor on call. She didn't want to get into trouble. This was the following dialogue that took place:

Me: So, if you send us home, which by the way is in Arlington, a good 40 minute drive home and another back here, how will we know when to turn around and come back. What signs should we be looking for?

Her: (Laughing at me) Ah, when you're in labor!

Me: (Livid) Really?!! BECAUSE HERE I THOUGHT I ALREADY WAS IN LABOR!!! So what would be different from what I'm experiencing now?!

Her: (Bewildered by my subtle hostility) I don't know what you want me to do.

Me: I want you to call the doctor or the charge nurse and ask them if we can be admitted. This is ridiculous.

Mind you, while all of this was going on, I had a couple of doozies of contractions. So my wonderful retarded nurse went behind my curtain and called the doctor on call. She explained to the doctor were I was with my changes and expressed that it would be terribly inconvenient for my husband and I to drive all the way back to Arlington. She also said that my pain was at a 3-4. What the hell?!!! Let's see here, she asked me where my pain was at 10:30 at night. She never asked me again. I was at an 8-9!!! That bitch. She came back and told me that the doctor had said that I was welcome to crash in triage for another 2 hours, but they wouldn't admit me. Immediately, I hated the doctor. However, I was so out of sorts from the pain I didn't say anything about what I had heard her tell him. Had I thought of it then, I would've flipped out and demanded that she call him back and give him correct information. So there I was, lying there with the lights out curled up on my uncomfortable bed. Evie had left and let Mike know what was going on and he came in to be with me. He was so mad. He held my hand through every contraction for two hours. On top of that bullshit, there was another thing I had to deal with that some might think is trivial, but I couldn't stand it. The sheets smelled like almonds. Very strong smelling sweet almonds. It was gross. And then my lovely nurse decided to pop some smelly popcorn. I HATE the smell of popcorn. She sat in her seat 5 feet away from me munching on her stinky popcorn. So, every time I had a contraction, I'd have to inhale all of the icky smells. Could it be any more of a perfect storm of bullshit?

The two hours passed, but not soon enough. I was in so much pain, there were several times that I thought for sure I was going to throw up. I started to cry again to Mike saying that I never wanted to go natural. I know there are many women that want to experience everything, but not me. I know I'm not that strong. The other nurse that was working triage kept checking on me and I asked Mike if it would be inappropriate at this point to ask her to be my nurse. That's when Sharon came in for the final check. I was now at 4 1/2cm. My words, "About fucking time. I WANT AN EPIDURAL!!!" She got on the phone and called my nurse from the labor and delivery floor and the anesthesiologist. The one thing that I can throw a kudo at for Sharon was her skill with putting in the IV. Not too shabby. Didn't feel much of anything. Now, to some it may seem by reading this, the experience with triage wasn't so bad, but it was really one of those moments when you needed to be there or I'd have to share my facial expressions and use hand gestures to fully give you the true experience. To help put things in perspective, Mike and I arrived at the hospital in triage at 10:30pm and was admitted at 5:30am. Most women are there for only an hour and are either given or at least offered some sort of pain reliever such as Advil or Tylenol. Others get the magic unicorn juice. I wasn't even offered a hot pack for my back. Ultimately, after sharing my experience with my doctor (who by the way was livid with what we went through) we had three different head people from the hospital come down to talk to us including the hospital director. I explained to him that had it not been for my experience in the labor and delivery department, I would never recommend Providence to anyone. There are several hospitals and it is just like any other business and I wouldn't send anyone there. However, as you'll see in my next entry, I would recommend Providence to anyone based on my experience with the rest of my time there. It truly over shadows those 7 previous hours.

1 comment:

Mike Moody said...

I hope Nurse Sharon gets hit by a truck, and has to wait 7 hours for the ambulance to arrive.

I damn you to Hell Nurse Sharon!!!