Nurses are Human too

This is an excerpt from a book I am writing.  Any feedback you have is appreciated.

chemo pic

After Dr.C got my rectal bleeding under control, the plan to start chemotherapy was pushed up by a week. The tumor seemed to have a mind of its own and might start bleeding again, so my doctors decided to start chemotherapy treatment while I was in the hospital. That sounded good to me. I thought the sooner the treatments began, the sooner the cancer would be killed and I could get on with my life.

But sometimes things have a way of not going as planned, especially when humans are involved. We all make mistakes and persons working in the medical field are no exception. I was doped up with morphine the whole time I was there. I slept a lot. My son stayed with me most of the time and slept in my room at night. When doctors and nurses came in my room, James always asked what they were doing, or spoke to them on my behalf. He was my Advanced Directive ( I will explain more about this in another chapter).

This particular morning James wasn’t in the room when the nurse came in to start my chemo cocktail. It must have been early because I don’t remember her being there. She hung the chemo bag on the IV stand along with the other bag that contained hydration (saline solution). I never paid attention to them unless one beeped and a nurse came in to either reset the buttons or change the bag.

Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon a male nurse showed up to tell me he would take care of me for the evening shift, that’s when he asked me, ” Do you know what time your chemo was started?”

 “No. I’m the patient. I don’t know what’s going, and please take all those cats with you when you leave.” (I loved those opiate drugs!)

With a concerned look on his face he left the room. I went back to sleep. A few minutes later he returned with another nurse. They mumbled to each other, while pushing buttons on the computer box. They left. I don’t know how much time went by because I fell asleep again, but I woke up hearing my son talking to someone. He sounded agitated. My radiation doctor was in the room. I didn’t know what was going on but judging by the expressions on their faces, I knew they were talking about something serious. I sat up.

My doctor said, “Don’t worry. I made some calls and we will find a solution.” That’s when I found out that the original nurse set the timer incorrectly. My chemo cocktail that was supposed to take 24 hours was administered in 6. In other words, my system was flooded with poison. My kidneys were at risk of shutting down.

I remained calm or was I just high on morphine and didn’t care? Opiates have a way of doing that to me. The song, “Qeu Sera Sera. Whatever will be, will be,” played in my head.  Over the next several hours all kinds of hospital personnel, wearing suits, came in to see me. They were in damage control.

My son never found out the name of the nurse who made the mistake. My kidneys never shut down. I was given too many bags of saline (that made me have to pee every hour… and I mean every hour) for that to happen. I did not get any sleep during the next two days.

Now you might be thinking if that happened to me, I would have sued the hospital, but I didn’t look at it that way. I was grateful to be getting treatment. Life is a crap shoot and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. So far I was winning. My kidneys made it through without a scratch. Instead of getting angry about my situation, I thought I am one tough broad! I never thought of myself that way before. And the nurse who made the mistake did not do it on purpose. It was simply a mistake.

I found out not to long ago that I became known as the “5FU girl.” The mistake that could have gone really ugly (but didn’t) changed hospital policy. That’s pretty cool.


So what do you think? Leave me a comment.

Be well!


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