Tuesday, August 7, 2012

the time i was a patient

link up time!!

i'm no stranger to the hospital.
not only because of my nursing student status, but i've dealt with some stuff.
i will share my most complex time that i had to wear a hospital gown.

10 years ago,
when i was 20, i spent nearly a month in the hospital.
how's that for being on the other side of nursing??
but at that time, being a nurse was NOT even a consideration.
i was sick.
really sick.
and of course, i tried to ignore my signs and symptoms for as long as i could.
{don't we all??}
EVEN THOUGH - i watched my younger brother go through the Very Same Sickness for the last 7 years.
we both had ulcerative colitis.
he had it first; starting when he was 13.
ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disorder where your body turns on itself and our intestines were literally being eaten up with ulcers.
i watched his get really bad - his was much worse than mine.
maybe because they tried to make his go into remission longer {and his would go into remission, mine never did}

*long story*
SO, some 750 miles away from any of my family, i went to a doctor who diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis.
i saw it coming.
they started me on the medications prednisone and asacol to help it go into remission.
it only got worse.
and when it got worse, they just UP-ed my dose of steroids.
it got to the point where i was in the bathroom, LITERALLY every hour {on the hour} pooping straight blood and nothing else... {bear with me on the gross parts, i'm gonna be a nurse, so it really doesn't bother me at all any more; unless i'm eating and watching something at the same time}

my stomach cramps and nausea were unreal.
by this point, i had lost so much blood that i was severely anemic; along with being dehydrated from not being able to keep anything down/in me; and exhausted from not sleeping.
BUT: my doctor in N.J. never admitted me to the hospital.
that was about all i could take.

i called my parents {remember, i was 20} who promptly put me on a red-eye-flight back to South Carolina.
i wasn't even sure i'd be able to walk the distance from the plane to meet my parents at the baggage claim.
when my parents saw me walking towards them, they didn't recognize me.
they said i looked like a walking ghost: i was extremely pale, my eyes were pretty much blackened and sunk in, i had the lovely moon-face from all the prednisone my doctor was pumping into me, and i was clutching my bottle of Powerade like it was the only thing i had left on earth {it was all i could keep down}.
from the airport, we went directly to the ER, where they attempted to re-hydrate me and get me a room to be admitted to {um, no question whether or not i'd be admitted}.
i had to get 3 pints of blood to replace all that i had lost.
they started me on IV steroids {the big guns}, antibiotics, and a full clear liquid diet {not that i could tolerate anything more...}
chicken broth, beef broth, and jello is all i ate for a month.
yes, i lost weight. and muscle mass. and strength.
about a week into my stay, and no resulting slow down of bleeding from the IV steroids i was receiving, we made the decision to go for surgery = total colectomy.
the day before the surgery, a nurse came in and fitted me for a colostomy bag {because usually, the procedure is done in 2 steps}
1. remove and resection the large and small intestines {allow time for them to heal} needing a colostomy bag to divert everything...
2. reconnect the j-pouch to the rectum and open it all back up.

i have a feeling this is sort of what my insides look like.


i don't remember much from the recovery, mainly because of the morphine PCA pump i was on.
my mom wrote down some of the ca*razy things i said and told me i was pushing my pump's button all the time. i don't remember any of it.
i did not have to have a colostomy bag = they did the whole surgery in 1 giant step.
i spent a week hooked up to tubes; there were literally tubes in all of my openings.
we'll start at the top:

  • NG {nasogastric} to keep stuff out of my stomach; stomach acid doesn't stop being made just because you aren't eating; and to keep any of it from entering my intestines.
  • IV lines for fluids and other meds {the sites changed often}
  • a few drains from my humongous abdominal scar: one was a jackson pratt drain that i tried to squeeze while doped up on morphine {or so i was told}
  • a central line in my neck with 3 different ports {that had to be redone after my surgery while i was AWAKE because they weren't sure it was in the right place}
  • indwelling foley catheter {because i was on total and complete bed rest}
  • and some sort of bowel irrigation system that i was hooked up to that was helping my insides heal faster; BTW, it was totally stitched to my skin so it wouldn't move {as were the other drains}
{post surgery - 1 week so far in the hospital}

i do remember some of the nurses, and how they took care of me.
nurses do a lot.
some of them were nicer and more patient than others.
some of them were just in there, doing their job and nothing else.
one of them's name was robert robert {one of the only things i remember!!!}
yes, the only male nurse i had the whole month i was there.
i was a total care patient to the max.
that is where i decided i really wanted to do something in the medical field.
i healed completely.
i have a large scar from my belly button all the way down my abdomen.
i had a baby via C-section and they totally used my previous scar so they wouldn't be giving me any more gruesome scars.
i can eat what ever i want.
i have had no problems at all.

so, yeah.
if something is wrong with you, don't ignore it.
get it checked out.
ignoring my "little problem" almost killed me.

as a nursing student, i take care of people that often wait until the last minute to do something about what is bothering them.
i've seen gangrene, amputations, and people literally falling apart because their bodies are turning on them.
sometimes, its sad because the reason they can't do anything about it is because they cannot afford to go see a doctor.
this is why i think i want to do SOMETHING {maybe not all the time/completely} in medical missionary work.
or just help people that can't afford it.
and {so far} i've lived happily ever after
the end.


  1. oh.my.gosh.
    ulcerative colitis is no joke, which is obvious from your story! That's crazy, misty!! I'm SO glad everything worked out in the end, but a MONTH in the hospital? I'm surprised that didn't deter you from the medical field! Wow, either way, having gone through that will make you an extremely empathetic nurse.
    Thanks for linking up!

    1. it was a great link-up choice!
      yeah, it's all a blur - i don't remember much of that month.
      i really enjoy being able to empathize with people, and i have loads of compassion for all they are dealing with.

  2. Holy Moly, this broke my heart reading it. I have a friend who suffered with this for a very long time. She too, now, is fine. She was healed. It's a beautiful story really.

    Anywho, what a relief it was to get to the end and read that you are fine and healthy. As a girl who has never even been in the hospital for an hour, my heart goes out to those who suffer physically in such extreme ways.

    Thanks for sharing. And the gross stuff never bothers me either:)

    1. you are way blessed to have not had any run-ins with any hospitals.
      and ulcerative colitis is a lot more common than i originally thought. glad your friend is better. it is a sickness like no other.

  3. Wow, that proves that we should go to the doctor early and stop procrastinating when something is wrong! for me I think 1 month in a hospital would have put me off nursing completely! Glad to hear you are all good now!

    1. thanks! i really got to see first hand ALL that nurses do. i've actually been able to do a lot of the same things for my patients and i like it because i'm helping them do something they can't do for themselves. I KNOW!
      i was there. i know how vulnerable you are when your care is in someone else's hands.
      that's why i find it easier now, i can relate to the pt's ;)


say it with a smile.

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