An Unsettling Day

I use this blog to write about my husband’s cancer experience.  Recently I’ve broadened it to include my sister-in-law’s challenges post surgery to remove a tumour.  Today I write one blog that covers both.

Today started off with my husband withdrawn and non-communicative.  Physically he had no real issues, that is, he wasn’t in pain, wasn’t nauseous – he just was not “present” in the way he usually is.  We had an appointment in the afternoon and it took all I had to get him ready and out the door to get there.  When we got back home I made him a cup of tea and left to visit his sister. An hour later he was exactly where I left him, teacup still full, face still troubled.  I wonder about an unconscious connection between siblings.

His sister was experiencing one of the “down” days in this up and down battle of sepsis.  Her temperature was up a little and her blood pressure was up as well.  When her son had arrived in the morning, he found one of her wrists restrained against the bed rail.   How long she had been restrained no one knows but we do know it came off as soon as her son arrived, especially since he noted that it had pressed quite firmly into her skin.  The nurse on during the night explained that he’d restrained my sister-in-law because apparently she kept pulling off her finger clip used to measure her hydration.  It seems remarkable that in such close quarters and with a 1:1 patient nurse ratio that they would find it necessary to restrain her, let alone leave the restraint on for the duration of the shift. When I was there today they were quick to increase her level of sedation because she was getting agitated and could dislodge something, but during the night they restrain rather than sedate?  I don’t understand it and probably never will.

We had a nurse come in and explain some of the challenges my sister-in-law was presenting them with while sedated.  For example she continues to chew on the intubation mouth piece and the nurse with us reprimanded her several times about it while we were in the room.  She moved the tube around and then suctioned her.  I suspect the nurse was trying to reassure us with respect to the level of care but it did the opposite, and my sister-in-law’s blood pressure reflected her objection as well.  This same nurse advised us that my sister-in-law tends to get agitated when moved, “she doesn’t like being moved,” she says.  Then, in the next instant, proceeds to move my sister-in-law’s arm who, guess what, gets agitated.

So I left the hospital feeling rather let down by the medical staff and one particular nurse.  She’d presented me with a new challenge – what and how to tell my husband about his sister’s current status.  Somehow though I think he knew and his present state reflects his frustration because he feels powerless to do anything.  My husband has done so well with his chemo but can’t appreciate it or won’t until his sister is well.  Regardless, the day did end on the upswing when some close family friends dropped by unexpectedly. Was it a coincidence that they stopped by when they did?  It certainly did wonders for his state of mind – thank you.

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