He was pleading with me to make it stop. He was hurting and bleeding and I was helpless to help. All I could do was sit there, cry, and apologize because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t make it stop.
“Please,” he whined. “I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to go home. Take me home.”
He was starting to revert to childlike whining and starting to be illogical. I had never seen my husband be illogical and it worried me.
“Jason. Look at me.” I squatted down in front of where he was sitting, tears streaming down my face. “We have to do this. It’s already in, taking it out now would mean all this pain so far was useless. You can do this.”
“But I don’t want to anymore.”
He wanted to quit his neurosurgery.
But he needed it…. and he already had his first of two – they had cut out a portion of his skull so that they could set an intracranial EEG directly onto his brain to see if they could track his seizures and localize where they were coming from so they could cut that piece out.
“You need to remember to push your button when it hurts,” I said.
I looked up at his bandages and they were soaked through with blood. I hit the call light. The CNA came strolling in and I pointed to his bandages and indicated that I needed the nurse AGAIN. “Oh, yeah… Ok… well… I told her you needed her before.”
“Well, I’ve been waiting 25 minutes. Go remind her please,” I said through clenched teeth. I was trying not to yell at her, but blood was now running down Jason’s face.
This CNA was useless. She could never help with anything we actually needed, and was always strolling around… who strolls in a hospital? In a critical care ward especially. Oh this girl rubbed me the wrong way.
This time the RN was there within a few minutes. She had checked his bleeding a few times and kept telling me that the doctor said to expect it to bleed. She started to say that same line again, and then saw that it was literally pouring down his face now. She did a quick clean up, wrapping some extra bandages around the outside because she wasn’t allowed to take the bandages off. Then she ran to page the doctor.
The team of doctors came, they sent me out of the room as they took off his bandages, added a few stitches, and then bandaged him back up again. Well that was fixed anyway… I still had this feeling that something was wrong though. The doctor tried to ease my worries, but he was just a resident. What did he know about it, really?
The plan was that Jason would stay on this unit to be monitored and collect enough iEEG information for about a week, that was when his second, more serious surgery was scheduled. But something was wrong. I told them something was wrong.
After just a couple of days, he started misusing his words. He was frustrated when I didn’t give him a drink when he had asked me for a “fork.” His sweet night nurse, Bethany, made him a chart so that he could point to what he wanted. That worked well for a little while. Then he stopped being able to speak at all and he was really frustrated.
Nurse Bethany let me know the doctors were talking about moving up his second surgery because they were starting to get concerned… but Jason hadn’t yet had a seizure on the iEEG, and ideally they wanted to track several seizures so they could be positive of where to cut.
I called Jason’s mum because she and his sister planned to come to TN for the second surgery. The first one wasn’t supposed to be so serious. In fact, I had planned to go to work in between the surgeries – a plan that was quickly thwarted.
She called Jason’s sister and they both headed out to come to us as soon as they could. In the meantime, I had been prompted to go out of the room to get some fresh air while the doctors checked him over. While I was out, Jason apparently had his seizure. One seizure, and it was a bad one.
Nurse Bethany told me that evening that the doctors were now talking about an emergency procedure. Jason’s mum and sister arrived in just enough time the next morning to see him and sit with us for a few minutes before he was taken away for the operation. The plan was to extract a small portion of his frontal lobe.
I don’t remember how long he was gone. It seemed like years. We waited in a waiting room the whole time because they needed his room, and he’d be moving to the Neuro ICU after his surgery. Finally he was out and they brought us up to the ICU to see him. It was evening time already and only one person could stay with him. He was still unconscious, so his family decided to go and find a place to stay for the night – one of the charitable houses that families can stay in when they have critically ill members in the hospital.
But then Jason woke up.
He immediately started thrashing around, his eyes were wild. Even though they had preemptively restrained his arms, he broke them off and ripped the intubation tube out of his throat. He didn’t recognize me, and he started screaming at the top of his lungs. He couldn’t communicate and he was scared.
I tried calling his mum, but my cell phone wasn’t working… so I stepped out into the ICU waiting room to try again. Luckily, they were still out there – on the phone calling the hospital social worker about the availability of aforementioned houses. I broke down and told his mum what was happening. I just couldn’t deal at this point.
She came back in the room with me, tried talking to him in a calm manner – but he didn’t recognize her either. He had been re-restrained, but he tried to punch his mother. She blocked the blow by grabbing his hand and cushioning it as it made contact with her stomach.
His nurse came in to do her initial assessment, I guess she assumed at this point that since he stopped screaming he must be calm enough. But he wasn’t. She leaned a little too close, so he picked her up by the scruff of her neck and held her up off of the ground. He had broken his restraints again. His mother and I tried to calm him and ask him to put her down, he just glared at us – but the nurse struggled free. She was shaking and crying and sobbed out an “I’m so sorry, I can’t do this.” As she ran from the room.
A few minutes later, a male nurse came in. He explained that Jason would now only be assigned male nurses and that he would be getting one-on-one care. He also explained, finally, that Jason’s reactions were not uncommon and should be expected after coming out from under anesthesia, especially after a surgery like Jason’s. Finally Jason was falling asleep again, I’m sure it had something to do with whatever the nurse had put in his IV. So I went and slept a fitful night in the waiting room with Jason’s sister, while his mum stayed in the room with him.
The next few days saw Jason steadily getting better. Steadily regaining his speech and reading ability. I got to go stay in the hospice house for a night and sleep in a real bed for the first time in nearly two weeks. It was immediately evident that Jason’s demeanor had changed – for the better. I was glad to have my husband back.
Jason told me after all of this, after he had recovered, that he didn’t remember anything from being in the hospital (thank God) – except he remembered me being there. He remembered looking into my face and I was crying. Then he thanked me.
This, and especially Nurse Bethany, is what gave me the desire to be a nurse.