Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Martian

Yeha, It's been a few days since I've posted. I worked Christmas weekend, and I'm just starting to catch up with things (including sleep!)

I've been helping out with one particular patient who has been in the ICU for a few days. As a tech, I usually know what the diagnosis is, but rarely will get much background information on someone unless I have the time to look it up myself.

This patient, "Tommy", was about 60-65 years old. He had suffered a hypertensive crisis/stroke and was on the respirator. He often stared into space, though if you tried harder to get his attention he might answer a question by nodding yes or no. His family checked in on him frequently, with his wife staying at the hospital many nights.

Once, as I went in to do a blood glucose check, his teary-eyed son (early 40's)ducked out of the room. Tommy's wife asked me "Doesn't it seem to be harder on the guys? My son, he doesn't know what to do." I told her I found some truth in the book "Men are From Mars / Women are from Venus". In the book the author makes a case for men and women dealing with problems differently - men really want to FIX something to make the problem go away, where women will talk about it. When a man's father is sick there's nothing at all for him to fix. I suggested she make a list of things for her son to do to help out during that time - to help him feel he's contributing (I didn't offer suggestions, but I was thinking "Mow the lawn because your father can't get to it right now" might be appropriate).

Previously, I tried to use this theory to help another man who's wife was also on a ventilator. She wasn't very responsive, and the look on his face told me of his fear and desperation. I had only gone in to wash her up, but upon seeing him, asked him to help me out. He jumped out of his chair at the chance to wash her hands, arms and face - he even asked me questions about methods to use. I made a tub of suds and left him with her, delicately washing each finger. I think that being able to do something for her really meant a lot to him. I know it felt like the right thing for me to do.

Anyway, back to Tommy. He breathing stabilized and he was able to come off the ventilator, although his LOC was still greatly diminished. He was transferred to the medical floor. As we walked back to the unit, his nurse told me that it was such a great shame he would probably have to live out his life in a nursing home, because the whole thing could have been prevented. Evidently Tommy had come into the ED for a laceration sometime within the last 2 years. His blood pressure at that time was well into the 200's and the ED doctor gave him a referral to another doc for hypertension. Tommy never went. His wife said she told him several times to make an appointment, but he refused. His stroke had been preventable.
Posted by HypnoKitten at 12:10 PM

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