Friday, July 24, 2009

We Busted Out

They tried to keep us in the ICU for another night but we would have none of that. Her orders for release were written early in the day Thursday without a bed being available. As the morning turned into afternoon with no sign of a transfer imminent, we began trying to work the system to expedite the process, going to the floor to which she was to be transferred to check on bed availablity, going to Admissions, getting Dr. Sugarbaker's office to place a request directly to Bed Management, etc. As afternoon turned into late evening we were beginning to get very apprehensive about the prospects of staying another night in a place we didn't need to be any longer. The staff that night was going to play hardball and strictly enforce the visiting hours even though the previous nights I was allowed to stay until she was asleep and comfortable.

Finally about 8:30 pm we were told that a bed had become available. We were all very happy to hear that. That happiness was short-lived though when we were also told that their new policy (which had just gone into effect last week) now prohibited all transfers after 8 pm due to data that showed that patients didn't tolerate a change in surroundings well after 8 pm. I assured them that Lisa Marie would most certainly fall into the minority category of patients who not only tolerated a change in surroundings after 8 pm well, but indeed would thrive with such a change. I'm not sure if it was the quick emotional swing of thinking you were going to be free at last from the ICU and having that snatched away or the pleasure that it seemed to bring the nurse when she told us we would not be going anywhere tonight and hopefully there would be a bed available tomorrow. After several spirited discussion with the ICU staff on these matters, I was told that my actions of trying to find her a room on my own and not going through the proper channels was totally inappropriate. Therefore, they were sending the supervisor of the nursing staff to tell me so. Fine, whatever.

When the supervisor got there, he explained the policy, blah, blah, blah, and I explained our side of things that if we couldn't get out of ICU, all Lisa Marie was asking was for me to be able to stay with her until she was asleep and he said that sounded reasonable. When he looked at the nurse and asked if that was acceptable, she said she doesn't like visitors in the room after hours when she was trying to assess her patients. Not wanting to tell the ICU staff how to run their unit he instead told me he would talk to a higher up and let me know if something could be worked out. Yeah, we'll hear from him again.

While I was out of the room having these discussions, it seemed to be getting pretty heated in Lisa Marie's room, too. The nurse decided to throw caution to the wind and gave her a little lip about being a difficult patient. That did not sit well with LM, which is surprising because she is usually very open to and accepting of such feedback (stop laughing, Vito). Well, the McLaughlin/Usher team was really starting to go into protective mode now. The nurse who we felt was disrespecting LM got it from both barrels from me and her, and lawyer brother Art was quietly preparing his strategy of insisting that the only way he was leaving tonight was if security was dragging him out. And if that happened, the only thing he was unsure of yet was what course of action he would pursue to create a public relations nightmare for these people.

Fortunately for all, it was about this time that the supervisor of nursing returned and said he had discussed it with the higher up and they decided to bend the rule and transfer her to a private room even though it was after 8 pm. Thank you Walter "Luke" Laukaitis for your efforts on our behalf.

It was about 9:30 pm now and we still had about another 2 and 1/2 hours left to listen to the snarky comments (thanks for the word, Carolyn) of the nurse about Lisa Marie's misplaced anxiety and "obvious non-trust of the nurses on this unit." (That adversarial relationship would have made for a fun night.) It was a long day but in the end we got what we wanted and we were able to enjoy a relatively stress-free night.

Today's primary achievement will be having Lisa Marie get on her feet and walk around the room (after sitting in a chair for about a half hour yesterday). Her pain remains manageable. Surprisingly she seems to have more pain in her shoulder than from the incision in her abdomen. This may be "referred pain" from some of the nerves leading from the areas the doctor worked on. She continues to have some itching from the pain medicine but Benadryl, lotion, and the bristles of a hairbrush help with that. (Art was sent to buy a hairbush in the gift shop after the length of my fingernails proved insufficient.). We continue to receive answers to prayers and thank everyone for their support. The surgeon came in for rounds this morning and again stated how successful he thought the procedure was. He also said that patients who show such a good response to chemotherapy (the remaining tumors appeared dead) usually have a very favorable prognosis. Again we are thankful and hopeful for that. It feels good to feel good about something.


Anna said...

Glad to hear you busted out! Good job to stand up for Lisa Marie and get what she needs for her recovery! Many thanks for the update and know you all are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. The word "spirited" and the phrase "PR nightmare" are my favorites. Love the patient advocacy going on! Continuing to keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

P.S. Any nurse who is concerned regarding the presence of a visitor during patient assessments has concerns regarding her ability to perform such patient assessments. Way to go getting her outta there!

Anonymous said...

Great to hear about the progress so far. Definitely moving down the track to recovery. Mike

Lauren said...

Thanks for the update. I will conyinue to pray for complete healing!

Best to you both

~friend of a freind

Anonymous said...


You almost wonder if the nurse's job description was:

WANTED, RN with no compassion, must put patient's well being last on list of priorities.

Evil nurse no more....POOF!

Anonymous said...

This is close to being as good as the McDonald story but not quite. I guess the ICU nurses missed reading that showdown - would have saved them the trouble. Miss you! Michele

Anonymous said...

Some people are in the wrong profession! Your Uncle John told a nurse that she should find another line of work. She came back and said she was sorry- was having a bad day. He said, "Do you think we want to be here ill- we are all having a bad day". I worried when she came in with a neddle. Praying for all of you at this time. L JD

Vito said...

I still insist that if you just carried around a laminated copy of the "McDonald's Story" to show people who they are messing with, you would not encounter this much resistance.

Glad to hear things are going so well!


Renée said...

I, too, was thinking this sounded like the McDonald's story. I guess brother/sister and husband/wife share quite a bit in common. :) I'm glad things worked out, and I hope you continue to hear such glowing reports from the doctor.

Anonymous said...

Go McDonald's Story Version II.

~Friend of a friend of a friend (x to the nth to the yth) who is inspired by LM and loves the McDonald's Story.

Stephanie said...

I'm so glad that you busted out of there! Hopefully you'll both be able to get a little bit more rest now. We're sending lots of prayers and love your way and we hope the recovery continues to go well.

Leslie said...

Okay so i have gone from tears to sheer laughter!! Im sure it wasnt funny at the time, but i can SO SEE UNCLE MAC doing this!!! He would be proud. Glad to hear you are outta there. Hope nurses on that floor are much more compassionate. Ya think that would be a prerequisite for working in ICU. Damn Yankees up North!! ha. Glad to hear things are looking up..Still much love and prayers from Louisiana.

dorothy said...

what an amazing team! Lisa/Sean/Art La Familia! Proud to have all of you on the family tree.
Aunt Dorothy

Anonymous said...

Excellent work getting her out of that ICU! I would have loved to have been a fly on the walls during all of that excitement. I hope that you are able to rest better Lisa Marie and that you continue to get more comfortable and stronger as each day passes. Allison