Monday, October 12, 2009

Bitch in 0 to 60?


Let me explain ...

I came
I saw
I kicked ass

Just when we thought Vic was on the mend, with a view to coming home, a severe obstruction sent him back for more invasive surgery to move the feeding tube to a better location & clear the blockage in his intestines.

Late afternoon surgery, off to ICU. Large transverse abdominal cut, not sutured or stapled. Just packed & wrapped with surgical duct tape. Major set back.

It's been a very rough couple of days for our warrior. The VA staff have been fabulous. 2 patients for 1 nurse in ICU - with no other patients near Vic, that means constant personal attendance. Until today that is ...

Today, "Baby Krak" erupted.

Vic was feeling like total shit, same as yesterday. As soon as I arrived to a very quiet Sunday hospital, Vic was anxious, wanting (pay attention now), an ice chip, anti-nausea meds & some cold compresses for his head.

I hit the red call button.

We wait.

Vic presses it himself.

And we wait.

One mo' time.

Over 6 minutes. Still no one. No sign of at all. Until ... Enough already.

And she's off, down the empty "Purple Medal Hwy" to an equally empty nurses station. Quick check of enormous wall clock ... time elapsed ... 8 mins ...

"Excuse me."

2 nurses are fawning over new cell phones with latest cellulite reduction & meal cooking apps. 4 more nurses are sitting eating in the break room.


The Crone studies the wall board. Total # beds: 14. Total # patients: 6. Are any of those 6 near Vic's room? No. Ergo, one nurse dedicated to him in 12 hour shifts.


10 minutes & counting ...

Quizzical face turns around. Sunday @ the VA ICU is not exactly Roseland on a Saturday night.


"I see there are 6 patients on this unit. 14 beds total. Not a soul has responded to my husband's call for over 10 minutes."

More faces appear, less quizzicle, more busted.

"I was in the room with Mr. M for over 35 minutes. I just left him," says Joe, Vic's (usually) amazing nurse.

"And so?" I retort.

"He was fine when I left him," he continues.

"That was THEN. Where have you or anyone been for the last 10 minutes? Isn't this Intensive Care? My husband, whose mouth is as dry as a desert, needs ice & nausea meds yesterday! Additionally, get me washclothes & I want the doctor in attendance to come & meet with me asap."

"But the doctor was here this morning," says Joe.

Clearly, the Crone is getting her freeze-you-in-your-tracks look down. A quick about face in practical shoes & a flurry of unscheduled activity ensues.

Turns out that Vic's call button was unplugged.

Freakin' bloody marvellous!!!

Worried nurses look appropriately apologetic.

"My husband is so lucky I was here. And so are all of you. What if he were choking??? I do not want this to EVER happen again."

Crone shruggs her shoulders, straightens her back up & in her nicest, politest voice, closes with a melodious "thank you."

Pushing the curtain aside, Crone returns to her patients room with an entrance worthy of Carole Channing.

"Who's your mama?"

Vic nods his head ever so slightly & gives a weak thumbs up.

Nurses, aides, in, out. Fuss, fuss, fuss ...

Once again, a sweet "thank you" from the Patient Advocate in residence. Only this time, I reward good behaviour with the treat of the day, a beautiful almond coffee cake.

Nurses eyes wide open.

"Thank you."

Vic's eyes wide shut.

"Thank you."

That's what I do.

I am Vic's Patient Advocate. I have Vic's Power of Attorney. I am his eyes, ears & heaven knows, mouth.

Just like in his beloved Corps. You put your life in your buddy's hands. He puts his life in yours.

Failure is not an option.

I will NOT let my comrade, my partner, father of my children, my husband down.

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Time to rest. Time to heal. You are safe.

I am here.

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