Monday, December 17, 2012

Delivered Part 2: The Bad

Terms that will help you understand this post a little better (not that you don't know what these are, just a clearer explanation of the roles they played in my hospital stay)
Nurse: A registered nurse who was assigned to take care of me and Trevor (and a whole lot of other patients).
Nurse Tech: may help patients eat and bathe, observe them and record their vitals. Duties may also include preparing rooms, sterilizing equipment and escorting patients to examining rooms or to surgery. AKA the absolute worst part of the being in the hospital due to their bad attitudes, unfriendly demeanor, and apparent lack of social skills.
Charge nurse: Angels sent from heaven to advocate for me when I couldn't help myself. 

I woke up early Tuesday morning (because nurses don't believe in letting you sleep until at least 7) feeling overall rather crappy and with pain in my neck. I knew I wasn't going to be feeling great so soon after a c-section. And I was kind of dreading what Tuesday was going to bring: the "get out of bed and try to move around even though you've just been sliced open" time.

I remember it well with Blake, for two reasons. When I had Blake two nurses came to my room the morning after I had him and asked if I had been out of bed. When I said no, they told me I needed to get up at once and try to use the bathroom. Flanked on either side by a nurse, I was told to stand up as straight as I could and experienced an incredible amount of pain that I was not expecting. As they helped me hobble to the bathroom, it became glaringly obvious that no one had put a pair of those cute mesh hospital underwear on me and well, let's just say it was disgusting and kind of embarrassing. (Side note: that underwear isn't cute. Nothing about your post-partum body and accompanying functions is "cute").

So I knew what to expect for day two. And this time I made sure I had the necessary undergarments on before I got out of bed. The nurse tech entered my room around 6:30am and told me that I needed to sit in a chair for a while. Yay. I slowly raised my bed and what had started out as neck pain turned into the most blinding headache and neck ache I've ever experienced. I thought maybe I was just tired and extremely hungry, but I couldn't figure out why my neck would hurt if I was tired. The nurse tech pulled a chair over to my bed and helped me get my feet on the ground. And then she did something that confused me. She turned around and started messing with a blood pressure machine while she waited for me to get into the chair. By myself. A woman who was dealing with several fresh incisions. And a terrible headache.

I waited for a second to see if she was going to help me and when it became obvious that she wasn't, I somehow maneuvered myself into the chair. I don't even remember how I did it. And I easily could've passed out from the pain my headache was causing me.

"So this is what everyone was talking about. This is how it's going to be, " I thought as I sat in the chair fighting back tears. Most of the women I know who have had babies at this hospital had recounted their experiences to me and I walked away with this advice: "Just expect the worst during your stay and know that you won't have to stay there forever." Not the most comforting thing to hear, but it was completely accurate.

I sat in the chair while the nurse tech checked my blood pressure, leaning forward because that seemed to help the pain a little. I told her that my head and neck were killing me and she said she'd tell my nurse. Ten minutes later my nurse came into the room and asked what was happening. The pain was so bad I couldn't turn my head to look at her. I just started crying and told her I had an excruciating headache and that my neck was hurting. She tried to comfort me and told me it was probably due to lack of food (at this point I hadn't eaten in about 30 hours), but I told her that my hunger doesn't account for the neck pain I was experiencing. I asked her if I could have some crackers or something and she told me breakfast would be coming in a few minutes. With my head pounding, I asked her when I could get back in bed and she told me I needed to sit in the chair for about 20 more minutes. At that point I thought I was going to die. 20 minutes with this pain was an eternity.

Looking back, I wish I had just gotten myself back into bed once she left the room. I had gotten myself into the chair so I knew I could somehow get back into bed by myself. I knew the head and neck pain were because of my epidural, but when I tried to offer that up as an explanation, she brushed it off. So there I sat, my body completely rigid because any movement made it worse. The nurse took my blood pressure and told me everything was fine. Which is just what you want to hear when you are in incredible pain.

The nurse left and I sat in that stupid chair, crying uncontrollably. My liquid-only breakfast was brought in, and even though chicken broth at 7am was disgusting, I ate everything on my tray just to get some nourishment. Finally when the shift changed I had a new nurse. When she came into the room I immediately asked her to help me get back into bed. I told her about my headache and that I think my epidural was causing it. She told me she would call the anesthesiologist and tell him about my pain.

Once I was laying flat in bed, the pain subsided. I grabbed my phone and texted Evan to tell him not to bring Blake to the hospital. I was in no shape to see him, but Evan insisted they were both coming.

Around 8am, a charge nurse wheeled Trevor into my room. As happy as I was to see him, there was no way I could take care of him at this point. I desperately needed to use the bathroom but dreaded being upright for any length of time. I asked her if she could help me use the bathroom and started to put my bed up. The pain returned. With her help I made it to the bathroom, but the ordeal that ensued taught me a valuable lesson about surviving in this hospital: I knew my body and what it was capable of better than the nurses and was better off doing things on my own instead of waiting for a nurse to help me.

What needed to be a 3 minute bathroom trip turned into a 15 minute bathroom trip. By the time I got back in bed I was exhausted. The pain was unbearable and Trevor had started to cry. The charge nurse held him and rocked him, and then she offered to take him back to the nursery because it was obvious I couldn't take care of him.

I laid flat in bed, waiting for Evan and Blake to arrive. 2 nurses came to my room and asked me about my pain. As I explained to them that my head and neck hurt when I sat up but stopped hurting when I laid flat, I received some confused looks. It was so obvious to me that I was experiencing a spinal headache. I emphasized over and over that I was fine if I was flat on my back, but sitting up led to blinding pain. "Isn't that a tell-tale sign of a wet tap," I kept thinking as they continued to ask about the pain.

Soon after they left, Evan and Blake arrived. The look on Blake's face when he saw me sent me over the edge. He was scared of me. I looked so awful that I scared my son. And not the "I have no make up on and my hair is dirty" awful. He sees me like that all the time. This was the "something is wrong with Mommy and she looks scary" awful. I covered my face and started crying. I told Evan I was ok, just a little emotional. Blake walked warily toward me and gave me a hug. Then he quickly returned to Evan.

Trevor had been in the nursery all morning, so Evan and Blake went to retrieve him. It made me incredibly happy to see Blake meet Trevor and despite my early morning protests, I was happy Blake and Evan had come to the hospital.

After they left, the 2 nurses came back and explained what they believed was causing my headache: a post-dural puncture. I wasn't surprised at all by the diagnosis. In fact, if I had known the term they used, I would've just said, "I have a post-dural puncture headache and need a blood patch," when they came to my room the first time. As they explained what it was and how they could fix it, I was confident my pain would  be gone soon. A few hours later the anesthesiologist came and administered a blood patch and the pain was gone within an hour. I was so happy to be able to actually sit up for more than 30 seconds!

Things were looking up. I was feeling better. As long as the blood patch kept working I knew I could handle being in the hospital for another day and a half.


Deborah said...

Whitney, I'm so sorry! How can this hospital generate so many horror stories in such a short window of time? I'm just grateful that you DID survive, and those pictures of Blake and Trevor are so precious.

vdg family said...

The more hospital stories I hear the more enticing a home birth sounds. :)

Emily said...

Grrrrrrr. What is with Brooklyn hospitals???? I told you, right, that no one even told me I needed to try to get out of bed, so that's part of the reason I didn't even SEE Eddie for two days!!! And then there was the time I needed to go to the bathroom and I'd only done it once w/ a lot of help (and almost passed out) and when i buzzed for a nurse and asked her to help me, she said no. Do it yourself. Oh. My. Gosh.