So, it's been 6 days since I spent any time in the hospital with my mom (because she went home Saturday! YAY!) and probably that many days since I've mentioned anything about it here, so I thought I'd recap that experience from my point of view....ways in which I felt all the medical shows failed to prepare me for sitting at a loved one's bedside in a hospital:
1. For a serious health issue or surgery, there are far too few machines pictured in those hospital rooms. I barely remember noticing more than one or two, and my mom had seven the first day and a bit, gradually getting off them until the last one (oxygen) was removed on her second last day there.
2. Connected to that point, is the t.v. hospital rooms are far too quiet, probably because they don't have all the machines they need! Every few seconds one of the machines attached to mom was beeping, it took me a few hours of jumping at each one to finally realize they were no cause for alarm. Just annoying, and the nurses seemed to think so too :)
3. Also connected to the machine point, the patients on t.v. have it easy! The amount of tubes going in and out of mom (attached to all those machines) made her almost cyborg looking! Seriously, I wasn't sure I counted all of them but I definitely counted 11, with 3 of those attached to valves that attached to 3 more tubes each, so technically 17.
4. On t.v. it is pretty obvious who is a doctor and who is a nurse, and that's just about the only people you need to identify, other than maybe the Chief. I had a really hard time catching on to who was who coming into mom's area, dark blue scrubs, bright blue scrubs, turquoise scrubs, green scrubs, any pretty scrub you want, and long white coats. They all had different jobs, it took me awhile but I finally caught on to which were nurses, orderlies, janitorial, surgeons, doctors, etc.
5. Nurses need their own show. I've heard about how nurses can fill in for doctors on quite a few procedures but this really showed me up close and personal that nurses really run the show! Especially in intensive care anyway, the nurse was in the room, or just outside, the whole shift, other than a break, making a lot of the decisions based on mom's progress. The nurse was the one who gave the report at rounds, not a doctor or resident. The doctor's only came in twice the whole 8 hours I was there on Monday. And the surgeon actually said, 'don't let us get in the way of your job', treating her like 'the boss'. In general recovery I didn't see that from the doctor though....but I also really didn't like that doctor, but that leads to my next point.
6. Seems to me most t.v. doctors are portrayed as the 'higher functioning and therefore incapable of a nice bedside manner' and nurses are the compassionate care givers. At St. B I was impressed with all the nurses and they were definitely all so compassionate, each in their own way - which wasn't necessarily Florence Nightengale, but you could tell how much they cared and wanted to help, some so tender and bent on giving mom her dignity, others with a sense of humor to make it all not seem so harsh - even though it was.
But I was even more floored by the bedside manner of that same surgeon who cared for my mom in ICU. He was so calm and easy to talk to, he kept me informed and explained so I could understand, and even if he had news that wasn't the best, which he didn't water down, but explained in a reassuring way. And he remembered my name! My name isn't on a chart but he would come in and say 'Hi Lori!' I was floored.
It's too bad the same couldn't have been said for the general recovery doctor, he was even a little worse than I expected for bedside manner, didn't seem to be giving credibility to the nurse vouching for my mom's motivation to get independent, and pushing mom as though she was avoiding the work of recovery. But he was the one exception to an otherwise awesome group of staff we encountered!
And a few miscellaneous surprises; Grey's used a white board for surgeries but even St. B had a smart board for this, food in the cafeteria was a huge selection and had a lot of yummy, healthy options (yet I still saw the majority of doctors with pizza or fries), and there are no time-lapse commercials that make tests and tests results happen faster! The only thing that moved fast was that first day at St. B where they moved mom into the OR within an hour and a half of deciding which surgery to do.
It turns out, if you are scheduled for a bypass surgery there is a few less surprises, as they will actually give you a 'tour' of patients at varying stages of recovery so it's less of a shock and you can be more prepared. But prepared or not, we made it through this, and in record time, almost exactly a week from mom getting the blood clot pains to being release! Hallelujah!