Day 5: Health Activists Soapbox

We are now into day 5 of National Health Blog Post Month and the prompt for the day is “Health Activists Soapbox.” Having spent almost 350 nights at Mt. Sinai hospital, I have come across every situation, every absurdity, and every different kind of nurse, doctor and technician that you can imagine. Often my family and I would talk about the incredible things that have happened during my time in the hospital and although we laugh about it, I think we laugh so that we don’t cry.  Here are just a handful of scenarios where if my parents or I didn’t question and advocate for what we knew was the correct way to proceed, unnecessary procedures and potential harm would have occurred.

I want to say that I have had generally positive experiences with nurses. They are on the front lines of the 24/7 care that I received and for the most part, they were great. But there were some nurses that I have to call out because people like this should not be in nursing anymore.  I am semi laughing as I write this… I had a nurse ask me how much blood they should take and for what purpose!!   I always begged my surgeon to give me a central line after my surgeries to alleviate the necessity for numerous needles being stuck in me.  I had to have a procedure that required IV contrast. I told the nurse that I had the pic line for that very purpose yet she insisted she needed to put another IV in. After trying to convince her that the pic line can be used for the contrast (and even showed her which line to use), I finally allowed her to try to put an IV in. Shortly after, the contrast shot up through my arm causing me to scream from great pain.  I begged her to stop what she was doing and ask a senior doctor. It turned out that the pic line could have absolutely been used and she put me through so much unnecessary anxiety and pain for nothing.  Another crazy example was one night a doctor came into my room, late at night when I was sleeping and  told me he needed to take blood again.  My father asked why and his response was that my sodium levels were low and it needed to be rechecked for the 4th time that day.  So my dad asked what will be done if my sodium levels continue to be low,  his response was an emphatic… NOTHING!  At that point my father threw him out of the room.  Seriously, he did!  Most people would have just allowed him to take blood but you need to advocate for yourself.

Here’s another absurdity of the hospital; they don’t let you sleep. You are there because your body needs rest and they don’t let you sleep. They give you so much anxiety in so many ways.  Here’s a crazy thing…every morning a doctor would flip the lights on at 5am, ask how my night was and say “just want to tell you I’ll be back later.” WHAT???  They needed to barge into my room, wake me when I probably just fell asleep, by throwing all the lights on just to tell me they’d be back??  Every morning this was happening with a different  doctor each day who I don’t even know!!!  It got to the point where I would put a note on the door that said “do not disturb between midnight and 7am unless otherwise requested.” Nurses and staff doctors were baffled and a bit pissed off by that but, the fact that my surgeon (a true human being) said it was alright to do that made me stronger.

People in the hospital, whether it be a nurse, doctor or technician, need to realize that we are human beings and not a chart. One time, when my ulcerative colitis was really bad and I was getting up every 2 hours to go to the bathroom,  nurses would come in, just as I was falling back to sleep, to get me out of bed to weigh me!!  Can you believe that??  I sure think I would have been better off sleeping but who am I to say? Ha Ha.

There is too much covering your ass with needless stuff that only adds to anxiety and takes away from the healing process. Realistically, how are people supposed to heal without sleep when they are constantly bombarded by random people for mostly unnecessary reasons? There needs to be more common sense in how patients are cared for. All rules and protocols don’t apply to everyone and it’s about time we changed things.

In conclusion, after so many traumatic experiences, whenever I entered the hospital, I had my guard up and I went into defense mode. I was not going to allow them to do anything to me until I questioned it from every angle. Patients shouldn’t have to go through so many unnecessary tests, procedures and pain. They shouldn’t be put in positions where they can’t trust that everyone involved in their care knows what they are doing. I was treated at a premiere hospital in NYC and I still had daily issues while I was there. I can only imagine the tens of thousands of times that people have had to go through the same, and potentially life threatening, things that I have had to endure.

My point is this… doctors, nurses, technicians and other hospital staff are humans and us humans make mistakes.  Whether with giving wrong meds, forcing unnecessary procedures, adhering to protocols that don’t make sense or whatever else goes on… I highly suggest that anyone entering a hospital questions EVERYTHING to make sure that it is correct, necessary or logical.  Trust me; unfortunately, I know what I’m talking about.

  • val0525

    You are so right. I question everything myself.

    Another great blog, my friend.

  • PartiallyUnstuffed

    What a great soapbox! Hospital stays make me panic because I’ve had so many bad experiences with serious neglect and errors. I’m terrified of medical situations because of all the chaos, so now I question everything. As I read your post, I kept nodding. Oh my goodness.

    • rissy26

      It is UNBELIEVABLE what goes on in hospitals. To people who have never been, or have at least never had to be there for anything serious, it seems like a nice place where you relax, rest, people fawn all over you haha.

      • PartiallyUnstuffed

        yeah… rest doesn’t really happen. I was once woken up during the night by a nurse threatening to put a catheter in me because I hadn’t peed in a few hours. I was sleeping for once!