As you already know, my sweet dog passed away. It was a Wednesday early morning. Our other dog, a six-year-old female, was sad and confused when he didn't come home with us. She moped around all weekend, looking for him whenever we went out for a walk, whenever we came home, and in every corner of our apartment. We tried to comfort her, and ourselves.
Early Monday morning, my husband woke up with excruciating abdominal pain and bloating. He was nauseous; he thought it was gas from the big meal we ate the night before. The pain was unrelenting--he suffered for two hours without relief. Finally, thinking it was pancreatitis, I convinced him to go to the ED. He was reluctant, as he's self-employed, and needed to call his sub to cover all of his clients for the day. But I insisted, so off we went.
Thank goodness it wasn't busy yet. I was already in my scrubs for my shift, which was to start at 11:30 am. They whisked him into a room, got an IV and some morphine in him and whipped out the old beside ultrasound. I was sitting across the room and I could see it: his gallbladder was so full of stones that it looked like a bag full of marbles. It didn't look inflamed (the wall of the gallbladder was not thickened), and the attending offered to let him go home and follow up with surgery in a few days.
Nope, I said. It's got to come out. And, one of the best surgeons in the hospital was available to take it out the next morning. Snip snap, I said. That thing is coming out ASAP!
So my husband was admitted to the hospital. Fortunately, he was able to have a private room--but it was on a floor that's notoriously understaffed--and when it is staffed, it's all brand-new grads. So guess who got to be his private nurse? Me, that's who.
We got him all squared away, and then the phone calls started. His mom, worried. His dad, worried. His sister, frantic with concern about the general anesthesia because he's a bad asthmatic. I told her that the anesthesiologists know all about asthma and would take care of him. She was less than reassured.
That night when I went home, our dog was really confused. Every time someone left, they didn't come back! She was very needy and withdrawn at the same time. I felt awful for her.
The next morning, hubs had his surgery at 11 am. After some confusion about where he would end up after the surgery (I had to call my friend in Patient Relations to figure it out for me), I found him in the inpatient PACU, miserable. His 02 sat was low, even on oxygen, so he was getting frequent nebulizers. He had received a lot of pain meds and was super sleepy. His elderly parents were there, fretting, until I sent them home.
I spoke with the surgeon. Apparently, the surgery had started out as a laproscopy--but then had to be converted to a laparotomy due to the size of the gallbladder. It WAS infected--and badly inflamed, and so huge they couldn't get it out of the little incision. So they had to widen it. He had two small incisions, another long one, and a drain in his belly. So much for going home the next day.
Poor hubs. He had never had anything worse than a mild flu bug before this; he'd certainaly never been in the hospital. Miserable, in pain, not allowed to eat, on awful antibiotics--and unable to urinate for eight hours after surgery. And you know what that means. Foley catheter.
And who put it in?
Not the floor nurse.
Who re-sited his IV when the potassium rider caused it to infiltrate?
Not the floor nurse.
Who noticed that the IV antibiotics that were hanging up there were expired?
Not the floor nurse.
Thank goodness I had four days off in a row. I was able to be with him for most of the time. I communicated with his colleague, who was covering his work, I communicated with his family, I communicated with his doctors.
Finally, on Thursday evening, they asked if we wanted to go home. YES! I said. I want him at home where I can take care of him.
And that began the next round of misery. The first night it was like having a new baby: He was up to the bathroom every hour and a half, and that required me to help him out of bed, rearranging pillows, helping him to the bathroom, helping him back into bed. Managing the medications, and the fiber and the antibiotics--and the new low-fat diet.
Finally I had to go back to work. His parents came to stay with him that day to help him with anything he needed.
It's been a long slog, but he was back to work on a part time basis after three weeks and then finally full time as of two weeks ago.