Saturday, February 7, 2009
Imagine working a 12 hour shift in the ER when you feel worse than most of the patients that you see. That was me the other day. I woke up, got ready for work and was ready to go out the door when BADA-BING! I couldn't put one foot in front of the other without doubling over in pain. Sitting was OK. Laying down was OK. Bending over was OK. Standing up straight: NOT OK!
I have old fractures in my back and left hip. They're older than the TeenQueen. But it's been years since anything has troubled me back there. Usually some Toradol and Flexeril does the trick, coupled with a few days of rest. So I go to work, get a Toradol shot and wait to get better. Not this time!
By noon, I'm noticeably limping and having a hard time going from a sitting to standing position. The Toradol worked for an hour, and then it quit. Not a good scenario, since I don't like taking narcotics (they make me nauseous and I hate vomiting). I tried some heat. I tried just sitting down and doing triage. I even had to apologize to a patient who came in with back pain. He walked like I did, and when I walked him to his room I told him, "I'm not walking like this to make fun of you. I've got what you've got."
By 3PM, I could barely function. Pain was 8/10 standing, 5/10 sitting. The ER was full, the ER doc had just been diagnosed with pneumonia and HE was trying hard to get someone in to finish his shift. It didn't look good for me. So I triaged myself and put myself in the pile to be seen, even though I had a full patient load.
By 4PM, a new ER doctor had come in, the place was clearing out, and he told me, "Find a spot and I'll examine you." I hopped over to an empty hall bed, where I gave him a history, he took a brief physical and wrote me some prescriptions for Toradol, Flexeril and Percocet, just in case things went downhill over the weekend. I then proceeded to do the computerized notes on MY OWN CHART, discharge myself, give myself discharge instructions and sign out (as a patient). By that time, another nurse could take over my patients and I could FINALLY go home.
Moral of the story is: Don't be the nurse AND the patient. Sometimes the Patient has to come first and the only way they'll take you seriously is if you check yourself in as a patient. All management was interested in was "Did you hurt yourself while working?" No, I did not. I came from home like this. I won't fill out your paperwork, pee in the little cup and take your Workman's Comp money. Don't you worry,
Two days later, I'm still hobbling around. The Toradol works for a couple of hours, and I try not to take Percocet unless it's really bad. The Flexeril makes me very sleepy, so I sleep. I'm still trying to figure out what I did to bring this on. I'm very careful about pushing stretchers and beds, not to mention wearing high heels or other activities that could put me at risk. I haven't felt this bad for over 12 years. My next step is an ESI, injecting the lumbar area with lidocaine and a steroid. That usually works like magic.
Pain level right now is 5/10. Keep you posted!