Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Rough Night

There were only three rooms in the Intensive Care Unit at Women's. I was in one of them. I had lived in almost every major wing of the hospital at this point, this was by far the worst wing of them all. I hated what it represented for me and my family. I hated how I felt physically and mentally while I was there. I shuddered at the thought that out of all the people in the hospital, I was one of sickest, therefore was reserved a space. The only bright side, was a very nice oriental nurse that smiled more than anyone I had ever met. She didn't look at me like I was dying. She looked at me like I was alive. I had congestive heart failure - for the second time. My body physically could not pump the amount of fluid that it had produced in order to allow my babies to thrive. The first night in ICU was by far the most miserable night I would have. I was desperate for oxygen. No matter how deep I breathed, I couldn't get any. On top of that, I was suppose to wear an oxygen mask in order to get additional oxygen. But, when I would put the mask on and try to breathe through my nose, I would start to have a panic attack, because I am really claustrophobic. I also really wanted to sleep, but could not. During my entire hospital stay, I rarely slept more than two hours at a time. They had given me Ambiens and other sleep aids, but those made me more wired. With them I couldn't sleep and without them I couldn't sleep. But, like before, how can you tell someone that is dying to "get some rest." It just doesn't work that way.

Shift change at 7pm that night would bring me a new nurse. She was young, but seemed nice and caring. Robb had been sleeping in the waiting room, because no visitors were allowed to stay in the room with me. My parents had gone home for the night and would be back in the morning. Around 10 pm that night, I started having severe anxiety. I called the nurse. I told her that I couldn't breathe, my O2 stats didn't seem to be any different than earlier, but I felt worse like I was about to not be breathing at all. She told me to calm down. So, I tried. I tried really hard to be calm, but I couldn't breathe - it's hard to relax under such circumstances. About 30 minutes later, I paged her again. She told me to breathe in my mask. I asked if she would bring me a nasal canula instead of the mask, because I felt like I was really suffocating with it over my face. She said she would not. Frustrated, I requested that she please page my doctor and see if she could give me some anti-anxiety medicine. She did, but later came in and said my doctor would be by shortly - no medicine mentioned. Another hour passed, I was nearing a full anxiety attack. I paged her again. This time, I was more adamant - no I was begging her to help me. "Please help me, give me something, I CAN'T breathe!" She went out to call my doctor - same story. I felt so helpless.

She didn't want to page my doctor it seemed. I didn't understand. She was the only person who could help me. All she could say was "quit stressing out Mrs. - the more you stress - the harder it is for you to breathe!" And all I could say to her was "I already cannot breathe - what is stressing me out is that you will not help me!" I begged to be knocked out, sedated, anything to make the anxiety attack stop. Nothing helped. Page after page - she just got agitated with me. I knew it was over - I thought I would certainly die that night. I found my cell phone and made one desperate call to my parents (at 3am). Crying I called my mom and told her that I felt horrible, I was having a really bad anxiety attack, and my nurse was refusing to give me anything. She called the nurses station and asked to speak with the Head nurse over ICU. The other nurse was removed from my room and the new nurse immediately brought me some anti-anxiety medicine. It turned out, that she had only paged my doctor once the entire night. She was afraid Dr. Adam would be "mad at her" for bothering her again. So, each time she had told me that my doctor was "on her way" she had been lying.


Candie said...

Good grief Jessica. You left me on the edge of my seat. What happened next?