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Confession: March 24th was going to be the end for me. Months with no car, pain, painful treatments, meds screwed up, isolated, low on cash...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Breast Cancer 'Support' Experience and the Nursing Shortage

Diagnosed with breast cancer 6/20/14.
Double mastectomy 7/7/14.
1st chemo 8/11/14.
Hospitalized with Cellulitis in area where  right breast was removed from8/24 to 8/28.

 I bought into the 'hype' about the resources, support and 'pink ribbons' available to women with breast cancer so I am hope I am that "rare case" of disappointment/disillusionment. and the woman they mean when someone inevitably says ,"We can't take care of everyone....there's always a 'few' that fall thru the cracks."
 Booklets/resource material I've received in the mail are great and have the latest general information/guidelines available. I read in a booklet about how "breast cancer can be devastating but you will not be alone," I take comfort in that. When I read, "the doctors and nurses will treat you as an 'entire' person--not just your breast cancer,"I take comfort in that too. But my personal experience has been my doctors just treated my "body part' with no interest in the rest of me. Reality? Not many nurses on the surgical floor I was on. Hire More Nurses!
 Hire more nurses if for nothing but public relations because the things I read in my booklets I expected to happen neither did nor were offered or at least be offered! Hire More Nurses.
This particular hospital's had a sheet of paper in my room that read: "You will be visited by one of your caregivers" then in all caps: "EVERY HOUR from 6a to 10p and EVERY 2 HOURS from 10p to 6a." Never happened. Couldn't have. The nurse to patient ratio on that particular floor is dangerous. Answer? Hire More Nurses!
As for the "we treat the entire person," I took that bait, too. I assumed they'd take my chemo into consideration--what do they say about "when you assume"? Exactly!
My surgeon was "supposed to know" the particular chemo drugs I received on the 11th, were still in me and their particular side effects continue for 28 days or more. Of course my hospitalization would coincide with my "3rd week past chemo." I have all the luck.
Had he factored in my "entire person" he would've seen my "chemo-combo" raised blood sugar, caused  mouth sores, nausea and a touch of 'chemo brain,' and not ordered the fingersticks, sliding scale insulin, fluid restriction and a regular-yes, regular diet! How the hell was I supposed to eat? The very smell of food made me sick! Any halfway decent GN, LPN or RN would've looked at my "chart" seen my chemo was just 13 days "prior to admission" and individualized my care throughout my hospital stay.
 At no time did any caregiver check me every hour from 6a to 10p and every two hours as "promised." Realistically, IMPOSSIBLE! The skeleton crew worked the 6a shift and even less worked the 10p one! Hire more nurses! They will solve all of this!
It "got out" that I was a nurse so instantly, I turned into a 'self-care patient.' Rarely saw anyone. I got the old "You're a nurse so you know how it is." I do know 'how it is and what the minimum care is for a surgical patient with chemo "on board." Nurses do, too. Hire More Nurses!
My son brought my laptop to me. Hospital internet access made me feel less isolated. Didn't all the booklets tell me I'd never 'go it alone'? Trying to get some of the things I read I "could expect as a woman with breast cancer" probably got me labelled as a "horrible patient," and with the 'skeleton crew' this floor had I wouldn't blame them at all! Solution? HIRE MORE NURSES!!!!!!!!!!!

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