Thursday, June 25, 2009

TMI - Too Much Information

I have worked my whole career in and around hospitals and doctors. We administrators joke affectionately about how nurses talk about bodily functions like we talk about spreadsheets. Very matter-of-factly, no sugar-coating.

Early the first morning (Tuesday, Donate Day +1) the transplant fellow checked my dressings and then she listened for bowel sounds. Hmmm? I wonder why she cares about my bowels? She knows they took my kidney, right?

After breakfast, I took a lap around the unit and came back to sit in a chair. The nurse came in and said I was looking good and then "Are you passing any gas yet?" Passing gas? I sound like a motor boat. It was so embarrassing. I asked Mack to talk real loudly when I had visitors so I could time my "episodes" to coincide with his talking. If I looked in pain, it wasn't pain - rather it was his queue to say something - anything. And say it now! I proudly reported my progress to the nurse. From her pleased expression, I knew I had passed the test - no pun intended.

Early the second morning (Wednesday, D+2) the fellow visited me again, removed the dressings and I saw my amazingly tiny incisions for the first time. As she again listened to my bowels, she said, "Have you had a bowel movement yet?" Wait a minute. Are you upping the ante? You didn't tell me I had to do that! I haven't eaten solid food since Saturday! I think my exact words were, "It ain't happening." I think I begged her to not make that a prerequisite of discharge. She said, "Well, we'll see how you do today." I was left unsure if I had to pass this new test before discharge.

Shortly after shift change, my new nurse came in and boldly asked, "Have you had a bowel movement yet?" OK enough already! What's up with the bowel movement?

She patiently explained that anesthesia slows your bowel functions and sometimes it takes a while for them to "wake" back up. They want to make sure everything is working again before I go home. She explained that getting constipated could be a very bad thing. Hello! You don't have to tell me that twice. I have four incisions in my belly.

When Mack and my sweetest best friend, Vicki, started texting each other about my "number 2" I knew it was time to take action. I asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (purely psychological) and walked up and down the hallway several times. Late in the afternoon, I asked Mack to guard the door and say I was napping if anyone came to visit. I emerged a little while later and gave my nurse two thumbs up. Shortly after that I was on my way home. I guess I had successfully passed all their discharge criteria.

Thanks to the great transplant fellow and all the staff on Marburg 2. You made my stay very easy and pleasant despite the requirement to provide waaaay too much information about my bodily functions. Want to see a really cool spreadsheet?

1 comment:

  1. That is too funny, I made sure after they told me that I had to pass urine in 6 hours or else I would have to have the catheter inserted back in, I did everything to make myself go. After that I made sure I had tea for the bowels. I was surprised when they told me they did not have bran muffins and I look at the server and asked where was the bran? She bought in bran cereal. Yes the staff on Marburg was awesome and great nurses.