Tuesdays from the chemo unit, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s day!

My Valentine’s day present was a quick trip in and out of the chemo unit. Of course I now know the trick. If I get out all of my papers and lunch and open up one of those little juices that cannot be re-closed, then that is the moment I get called. That is, when I have the most possible stuff to pack up, it is my time. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

 

Last week, I had cause to reflect on tape whenI had one of my less favorite nurses. He really likes my needle to be taped down securely. In fact, last week he used a larger bandage than I have ever seen to hold my needle secure. I felt like my arm was encased in saran wrap. Here’s a picture – note the double layer of plastic and the extra piece of masking tape further down my arm:

 

 

 

 

Now to provide some context, my drug takes exactly 5 seconds to administer. The needle does not stay in long. I can’t decide if this nurse puts so much on just to get my goat, or because he is a creature of habit. The worst part of it was that after putting all of this tape on, he realized that he had not hit a good vein. Thus he had to rip off all the tape and bandages, take the needle out and start again. I bit my lip and smiled through this mess. (would you complain to a person with a needle in their hand?)

I think that to be a nurse, you need to be good at rituals and systems. I believe that the profession attracts people who are good at following a procedure through the same way every time. But to excel as a nurse, also means to bring common sense into the equation. My favorite nurses barely stick a piece of masking tape on, give me the drug and get the needle out quickly.

Another ritual that some of the nurses have is the use of the heating pad. For people with poor veins, I gather the heating pad is useful. I have good veins. The good nurses never use the heating pad with me. One day a nurse was setting me up with a heating pad and I suggested that maybe it was not necessary. She said, “but it’s what I do!”. Clearly a person who is stuck on her rituals.

A little balance and a little less tape and I shall be happy.

Sam

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