Frantic …

Today was so F’d up.

I went to the Cancer Clinic to have my port flushed (it has to be flushed with saline every 3 weeks to keep everything clean and healthy). I got there at 10:55 for my 11am appointment and by 11:25 they still hadn’t got to me. I went and asked the girls (my two fav receptionists) if I should call down and let radiation know I would be late or just go do radiation and come back for my flush.

Go do your radiation.

So I went downstairs and signed in, took off my clothes and waited. Normally you only have to wait 5-10 minutes. They run the radiation ward like a McDonalds but today I had to wait almost 25 minutes before I got radiated.

Ok. Fine. Did my radiation. Got dressed again. Go back upstairs. Let them know I’m here to get flushed. Sit and wait. Again … and about 15 minutes later the nurse I don’t like comes walking frantically down the hall.

It’s not that I don’t like her – I’m sure she’s a lovely person but I’ve had a LOT of different nurses over the last 6 months and she sticks out as the worst because she’s so frantic and it comes off as incompetent. Getting chemo or radiation is stressful enough but then having a nurse work on your body while they’re energy is frantic just makes everything icky.

When I saw her I almost got up and asked the front desk if I could have a different nurse but I was so DONE with being in the clinic.

What normally is a 30 minute appointment was turning into a 2 hour drag and Fergus was waiting for me in the car so I just sucked it up and went into the clinic with her to have my port flushed.

Here’s why I don’t like her: There is a certain protocol you have to do with my port. A certain way of cleaning. It’s VERY important that it’s done this way otherwise I can get a blood infection. I’ve had this done enough times by enough different nurses to know that EVERY single nurse does it differently but the protocol is basically the same.

Not this lady. She cleans me all weird and is flying around in a tizzy like an annoying wasp buzzing your face.

#1. She’s frantic because of this that and the other thing. HEY LADY! I don’t care that you were having trouble with a patient before me. I don’t need to hear your bitching. Please FOCUS on me because you’re about to stick me with a needle. FOCUS.

#2. She doesn’t clean me the way everyone else does and when I tried to say something to her about how she didn’t seem to be following protocol she stuck me with the needle and just did the flush and then said “Oh what? What were you saying?” She wasn’t listening to a word I said.

I left the clinic feeling sick. I took Fergus to the beach and tried to walk off the feeling. I felt like I did after my first radiation. Sick, dizzy, disoriented and like I was going to die. Then I remembered … Oh yeah. This is PTSD. I was just back in the chemo ward and even though I didn’t notice all the sounds, smells and triggers … they were all there. Of course I was feeling this way.

So on the walk back to the car I promised myself that I will find out the name of that nurse so I can make sure she never touches me again.

And the next time I have to go back to the chemo ward I will go with the intention of being more aware of the triggers and not become so overwhelmed that I don’t take care of myself and ask for what I need to be comfortable.

I came home and got under the covers and stayed there until 4pm when my friend Kimmee came over for a visit and got me out of my head.

I’ve had panic attacks before … I know what they feel like and I know what to do when I have them but this intense feeling of dying/sick is so weirdly different.

I’m calling my therapist right now.

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13 Responses to Frantic …

  1. Megan Quinlan says:

    Well, I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through what you’re going through right now, but I’m a nurse myself (ER) and I get your frustration at having a frantic nurse. When I had my first son, I had difficulty feeding him. The nurses were fantastic except for this one nurse who was just NUTS! She was just like, so fast-paced and stressed out, and I was all stressed out and postpartum and hormonal…you don’t need nurses to add to your stress. And I do ports – you’re right about making sure it’s cleaned off well. Those things go straight to your heart and your immune system tanks when you’re on chemo. You’re certainly right to speak up for yourself, but if the nurse is dangerous, it might be prudent to call the nurse manager with your concern.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Megan
      Thanks. I think I’m going to talk to someone on Monday about it. I don’t want to get her in trouble … but she’s not great and someone should know. Do you have any advice about what I should say?

      I’m so glad you get it. I know we all have stressed out days … but this lady is ALWAYS like this. It can’t be good for her (or me). :)

  2. Andrea says:

    I had a nurse like that when I was in the hospital. Every time she came into my room she would make me cry. A patient advocate told me I should request from her supervisor that I never see her again, and I did. The crazy nurse disappeared into thin air as far as I could tell. No one asked me why, and I didn’t say anything bad about her, but I never saw her again. Receiving treatment is stressful enough, it should be delivered with a kind and competent hand.

  3. ann says:

    Hey Sarah!
    First, I’m sorry that nurse was crazy (still).
    Second, totally find out who the nurse is and just report her to the nurse manager. You can call it a complaint, which it is, but you won’t get that nurse “in trouble”. As a nurse, it is always good to be aware of your practice, and I know that hers will just be brought to her attention. I would appreciate it if someone pointed out I wasn’t following protocol. I might be a bit miffed but I know it is really for the best. And maybe it was all a misunderstanding of what protocol she was following – it may have been an older version, or one she learned in a different hospital. Sometimes protocols change so fast that it is hard to keep up. So worst case scenario is they give her an education update class. No biggie.
    Anyway, I love you, as always.
    ~a :-)

  4. Joseph says:

    I’m sorry you have been having a bad experience with this nurse, and happy that you have had so many, other, wonderful nurses. You are right to take charge of matters. One of the secrets to cancer care is that YOU, missy, are the person in charge. There is no magic person watching to make sure that everybody does everything the right way. The patients who do the best are the ones who speak up for themselves and are watchful over their own care.

    And your friend’s kidlet was right… you ARE are a rock star!

  5. Ariane says:

    Oh boo, that’s just awful. :( I had an experience like that with an allergist I saw a couple years ago (I never went back to him and found a new one). I wanted to report him afterwards, but I was in such a state during the appointment that I didn’t feel I could even accurately describe what happened or be 100% sure it happened how it did. I am pretty sure the serums he used weren’t kept sterile (if I hadn’t had STD tests since then, I’d be really worried), and he shut me in a very small, very hot room by myself while the allergy test was being carried out. But afterwards I actually convinced myself I was overreacting till recently when I discovered a friend had gone to the same guy and had as awful of an experience!

    Sadly, though I’m usually a good advocate for myself, I felt so helpless in this situation and the panic of previous bad medical experiences (and other life trauma) just took over. I kicked myself afterwards for a long time for not just stopping him and leaving (or being clear minded enough to report him with accuracy). He really was incompetent and careless though. I’ve had a couple really frantic nurses do blood draws too, and it’s all I can do to just breathe and keep myself calm as they buzz around and man-handle me. I think sometimes they forget we’re sick people who need some kind and careful care.

    I hope your therapist can help you work through this so it doesn’t stick with you too long. <3

  6. Morgan says:

    As someone who works in inpatient Oncology, I hope I can also validate your thoughts and feelings a bit. We really are all unique snowflakes in health and in sickness, and everybody’s needs, feelings (whether they seem rational or not, they’re real!) and experiences are very, very different. It sounds like you’ve got a good meter on what makes you feel comfortable and what doesn’t. I also understand not wanting to get anyone in trouble, but I totally agree that mentioning it to a manager is a good idea, if only because it will serve as a learning experience for the nurse you’re referring to. I’m sure she would be horrified to know how she made you feel, because I know any one of my coworkers would be and they would want to know so they could adjust their practice.

    Keep doing what’s right for you!

  7. siue says:

    Re: THAT nurse – it will forever shock me how people working with people can be so fucked up. It’s your friggin job! Do your friggin job!
    Re: The system – it’s so broken. It’s hanging by threads and the sweet people who go above and beyond. We’ve got to get back to healing people – not thinking about profits!
    Sorry you are all caught up in a broken system with people who shouldn’t have the jobs they have… :( :(

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