Saturday, July 16, 2011


Who would thought that eyes could be traumatic? There they sit, on your face, doing what they do. Letting us get around without anyone else's or thing's help. I used to read obsessively in the half dark as a kid. I always got told that I'd go blind if I kept straining them, thanks ppl. I always had great vision, regular 20/20 (actually 6/6, it's metric), until my mid 30s, when I found I had trouble looking from my book to the tv at night. I promptly went to qn optometrist and ended up with glasses, which have gotten stronger over the last few years.

As a part of my application to drive again after my surgery (yes, it's a big deal), I had to get my peripheral vision checked out. That's where you put your eye up to a machine (one qt q time) and are given q button to press every time a small dot flashes up on the screen in front of you. I'm sure I pressed way too many times, but what the he'll, I passed anyway.

The other drama was with miss 23s eyes. She was applying to go into the army at 18, when they asked her to get her eyes checked. She's worn glasses since 3 you see. She had a patch over her right eye for a couple of years. The left eye has always been bit weaker too. Well the optometrist found a detached retina. Cue the tears. Well a week later, she was getting the first of her eye operations (the other one was also detached, just not as badly). This involved day surgery, scleral buckles, heavy gas injections, lots of post op eye drops and some time off work. Thanks to the eye centre at the gold coast, her eyes have healed wonderfully anther vision is fine, although they say they will deteriorate as she gets old, but she can still see. Not sure if she fully appreciates it yet, but she will eventually.

Miss 7 has recently complained of a couple of funny things with her vision, she off we go to the optometrist again. Pray for me.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Emergency departments

Part 2....
Ahhh the pain of the emergency department visit. I've done a few over the years. Private hospitals have fairly civilized ones, with shorter waiting times and nicer surroundings than public hospitals. I went years ago when miss 23 dropped a concrete block on her foot (shod) and detipped her toe, complete with toenail. We were going regularly for the dressings until she dobbed me in. "my mummy wears one of those watches....and uniforms. There was a significant silence and then she asked if I was a nurse. (doh, sprung by a 3 year old), they didn't accept my protests that I was still training and I subsequently got a garbage bag full of dressings dumped at my feet and a "you'll be right". Grrr. Mister 20 has necessitated a few trips to ED (emergency department) over the years. A funny one involved him writhing around in pain after he had a reaction to some aloe Vera over sunburn. Miss 7 split the bridge of her nose this year, requiring suturing. Mr 20 drove us and started going white when he saw the sutures being done. I got accepted into a training course in ED, but it started at the same time as the midwifery course, so I picked that, fortunately. I'm cynical enough already.
As anyone who read my post would know my husband had his gall bladder out and subsequently went yellow, at which stage I took him back to the hospital at which he got operated on.

Prsonally, I think he's a lousy historian, we waited for nearly 4 hours to get in. He dozed fitfully (so did I for that matter). People coughed, I cringed. Babies cried, I felt like shouting at them to take them home. Fortunately for all of us I didn't. We got in as I was on the verge of going up to triage (nearly 4 hours later) and "chatting" to her.

The first thing they said inside ED was "ooh, you're yellow aren't you!" no shit Sherlock! The end result was he was admitted.
The downside:
We waited for hours (they were very busy)
The baby next to us and the girl also next to us weren't that sick (grr, go to the GP people). The registrar told him off for not disclosing his full medical history when he had (which I pointed out), although she was flustered.
One of the senior nurses told off a junior nurse in front of us (very unprofessional).
I had no dinner (was there from 4-11pm).
The upside:
It was free
Once inside he got seen promptly and one of the surgical registrars was called quickly.
The care was good and what I'd expect from a developed country.

In the end, my hubby stayed in hospital for a week, passed a gall stone which had obstructed his common bile duct and is now back to normal, or close to it. It's hard to know when to go to an ED. Even as a nurse, I would hesitate to give a few vague instructions. Most states do have an information line 24 hours a day, staffed by experienced nurses who will ask the appropriate questions and then advise you. The only thing I'd advise is if it can wait til the morning, let it, oh and give your history (of the illness/injury and your medical issues) properly. It can save a lot of time and may greatly help.
Some humour. Let's face it, we're a sadistic lot and sometimes the stress our jobs place on us leads to so called gallows humour. The Internet is alive with gallows humour. Hers a couple of my favorites.
You look at strangers and think 'nice veins'
Discussing dismemberment over dinner seems perfectly normal
You think 'too stupid to live' should be a recognized diagnosis
There are many more such gems, but you'll hve to find em yourself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Men and illness

As most readers would know, I'm a nurse. At the moment I work with babies and their mums.I used to work with pregnant and laboring mums. Before that I worked with men (primarily) in a male surgical ward (and orthopedics).
Working in orthopedics Means that you mostly look after: old women who fall over and break a hip, usually a neck of their femur(thigh bone). It's the thinnest part right at the top of the bone and so very prone to breakage in our osteoporotic elderly citizens. They generally need hip replacements, screws etc. Almost without fail when you get them up for a shower post op they pee on your feet. That's why there are gumboots for the nursing staff to wear when showering patients.
Then you get to look after men who have accidents. Some road traffic ones (whether motorbike or automobile), some shed ones, my favorite. The shed ones tend to happen more commonly around Christmas time. The men get a power tool, a skinful of grog and head on out to the shed to try out the new drill, saw etc. Cue the blood/tendon/ligament injuries. Yesss.
Then I worked in male surgical. Urology (prostates and kidney stones), ENT (ear, nose & throat) as well as general surgery. Anh, yes I remember the sputum mugs well from ENT (shudder). Ask any nurses about sputum mugs, we all have our personal waterloos.
I have found (from personal experience/anecdotal evidence, which, I might add, is a highly underrated method or research) that men fall into 2 categories of patients.
1. The wimp. They are the sort that believe that every cold is a deadly flu and take to their beds accordingly. In hospital they use narcotic pain relief accordingly. They will also argue with the nurses about why they should have it when they're sitting happily in an arm chair beside their bed (I may be exaggerating here).
2. The hero/idiot. This particular patient thinks it's girly/wimpy/whatever to admit that something is wrong with them. They will suffer in "silence", like they're fooling people. They would crawl with their bleeding stumps behind them to do a days work and say it was only a scratch while quietly going white in the corner. They refuse pain relief while fidgeting ferociously, saying that they're ok (sadly I'm not exaggerating unlike with the bleeding stumps scenario). We can all recognize these types. We are either married to/living with/related to one of them. I'm married to example No 2.
When 19 he got hit by a flying brick in the abdomen from a brick truck while on his motorbike. He subsequently had a laparotomy (fancy way of saying they opened him right up), they took his spleen out, sewed up his liver and a kidney. He discharged himself a week later, having lied and said his mother would be home to look after himself (she went to work). That is JUST 1 example of his foolishness. I could go on but it gets boring and repetitive. He found out that he needed his gall bladder out late last year. There was a long and involved path to his surgery, including disruption to gas supplies due to the floods, a fun night in an emergency department with abdominal pain, a lot of shouting from me (such things as: FFS just take some pain relief and no sausages for you), but we finally got there. He survived pain free the trip to the US (the wait staff always looked confused when I said I was having the burger and him the salad) and the lead up to the op. He did once voice the opinion that he might be ok and not need the op because he hadn't had any pain for ages, to which the shouting recommenced.

That was not the end of the whole sorry saga. No, no, no. Then there was the "I don't need a sick certificate/certificate for light duties, or even to take it easy. He went back to work q week later, trying to ignore the whole episode and when he came down with a virus 2 weeks later ended up going yellow. So we ended up back at the hospital. Ahhh, the circle of life.

I will follow up part 1 of the illness story with part 2: emergency department.

Don't think women are perfect patients. They're not, but their painfulness is more diffuse, if you will. They cover a broader spectrum that way. I may (when I work it out) write about them.

Do you have a story about men/males and their illness? Love to hear about it.