Yes, that’s me. Yes, that’s me in a hospital bed. No, it was not related to anything education based. I was actually hospitalized for two days last week. Don’t let to picture fool you, I was completely miserable, but my mother was freaking out and I had to stop her from hopping in the car and speeding down here like a bat out of hell. I make it look so effortless, don’t I?
So. What happened? Well….Friday
I got up for work and left on time as usual. Ended up getting assigned to the phones since one of the operators was out for the day. It’s not my favorite position, but I don’t really mind it either.
About 9:00, I noticed a pain right around my navel. It felt like an ulcer actually. I was afraid I’d given myself some sort of gastric lesion by stressing out over class. I threw my drink out and switched to water, but it didn’t help. After hearing me complain about it for a few hours, one of my coworkers gave me a gas pill and sent me to lunch early. The gas pill didn’t help, but the pain did move to my lower abdominal quadrants after lunch, so I figured it was just indigestion. Despite the fact that the pain was getting worse, I just grumbled about it and finished my shift. They were already shorthanded, and frankly, I needed the cash.
It started to feel better about the time I got off, so I had Michael pick me up for our usual Friday Night Blue Pants Brewery tradition. There was some plan to knock whatever it was loose with good pizza and beer. Two drinks later, and it was none the better. We came home shortly afterwards since I was feeling puny again. I went to bed early.Saturday
I woke up about 4 in the morning in some pretty radical pain. Michael set up the heating pad for me, and that seemed to help. I drifted back to sleep for awhile, but it was short lived. By 6, I was up again and this time I proved that it wasn’t anything in my gut through a bathroom visit. The pain had migrated down into my bottom right quadrant. Death was looking like a pretty okay alternative to dealing with the pain by that point. I decided to let Michael sleep until 8 and then we’d head towards something medical flavored. I had a pretty good idea of what I was dealing with at that point anyway.
My UAH student insurance isn’t exactly the most comprehensive form of coverage available, though. I didn’t want to head to the ER with just a self-diagnosis. I had Mike take me to the Chase Urgent Care facility, and while we were waiting for them to open I almost threw up on his shoes. I didn’t though, because I’m a champion. Actually, I was just really worried it would make the pain worse, so I held it back with a hitherto-unknown source of sheer stubborn self control.
The doctor took one look at me, tapped me on the abdomen a few times, and then instructed me to stand up on my toes and come down hard on my heels. He asked me where it hurt, and I pointed to a spot just above my right hip bone. He didn’t even look at me, but instead turned to Michael.
“You need to take her to the emergency room right now. I think she has appendicitis.”
On one hand, I was happy that my first medical diagnoses as a nursing student was correct. But I was equally sad that my diagnoses was correct about myself. Sigh.
So, off we went.
I signed in at the ER, and they pulled me back for triage pretty immediately. I must have looked like death warmed over. In triage, I told them that the Urgent Care had sent me there to rule out appendicitis. The triage CRNP looked at me twice, asked me to lift my right leg and asked me if it hurt, and then sent me back out into the lobby. My ass barely made it to the chair when they were calling me back to a room, skipping about 20 people in the lobby.
Once they got my peripheral IV started and got a bolus of morphine in me, everything started to feel a lot more manageable. I could breathe normally, and more importantly, I could converse with people without that tight urgency in my voice. And most importantly, once the pain was in check, I was able to look around and think to myself something that nobody else in the history of medical emergencies has ever thought before:“Hey, this is pretty cool!”
Michael blinked. Apparently I said it out loud instead of thinking it.
When I told the ER nurse I was a student nurse, she opened right up, spoke to me like a peer, and even gave me some tips for passing the NCLEX. She talked me through everything she was doing and how I could get the most experience out of my clinical rotations in the ER. She gave me the run-down of some evidence based practice changes they were putting into effect in the ED in regards to myocardial infarctions (heart attacks). A couple other RNs stopped by and gave me their two cents about what they enjoyed most about nursing and how to be successful as well.
My surgeon was really a stand-up guy, too. I guess one of the nurses told him I wanted to work in the OR after graduation, so he pulled out his phone and showed me some pictures he’d taken from the last surgery he’d just completed a couple hours ago. Even offered to let me shadow him in the OR when I’m recovered, which has me extremely hyped. I really hope he keeps that offer open.
When they wheeled me into the OR, the nurses in there were class acts. I was totally mystified by the sarcastic, relaxed, competent atmosphere that surrounded each and every one of them. I asked the guy closest to me if he enjoys OR nursing, and he laughed.
“Yeah, it’s a whole different ballgame here in the OR. I like the fact that I get to spend my full attention on just one patient. Gotta deal with some pretty strong personalities in the OR, though. As long as you’re fine with that, I think you’ll love it.”
A female nurse from the back of the room laughed and chimed in.
“Strong personalities, huh Jason? You obviously don’t have one of those.” He laughed, shook his head, and placed a mask over my face. That’s the last thing I remember.
I had a really great experience, actually. Although I wasn’t really planning on having an emergency appendectomy this weekend, I’m pretty happy that I got to experience what I did. It has completely solidified to me that I do definitely want to work in the OR after I graduate. And all it cost me was an appendix and a few weeks of having some sore incision sites. Of course, the actual process of having appendicitis was pretty miserable. I’ve never felt so nauseous, hot/cold, hurty, and light-headed in my life.
But, I’d say the rest of it was pretty rad!