Thursday, February 28, 2013

Misery, Desperation and Nightmares & Dreamscapes

From Charles Dickens we move on to something reminiscent of Stephen King. After the events in A Tale of Two Extremes, I had two doses of anesthesia and from a PTSD perspective, everything went well. In fact, by the third procedure in October 2012, I was starting to feel like it was a routine event. Totally and dramatically wrong. A failure of imagination as well as not attending to multiple warning signs are the only explanations I have as to why I was .... blindsided.. First, there was the orderly who thought I could see and was surprised I was sighted. Then there was the O.R. nurse similarly uninformed and also not aware of my lack of a nasal airway. There was then a floating nurse who thought I could see. Three in a row should have raised my suspicions, but I explained it away as a lack of charts being read with any care at all. Next there was the anesthesiologist who I'd encountered before. He wasn't my favorite, but nobody can live up to AnesthesiaSaint mentioned in the previous entry. However, when he asked what music I'd like to hear, I told him and he IGNORED ME, I should have paid better attention. When he continued to disregard most of my requests for how I wanted him to interact with me, there should have been red flags doing the cha cha in my head. Not knowing I'm blind is one thing. Totally ignoring what I want is another case altogether. I came out of anesthesia and was told, "We are moving you to your bed now." They didn't give me a direction, which is typical for people who don't know how to behave around a blind patient. I went to ask, "Which way?" and discovered I couldn't talk well. There were sounds I was unable to make. I tried asking the question in other ways, but was more or less ignored. So I tried all the nonverbal communication skills I know, including trying to fingerspell, which is when I realized my right arm was fairly numb and unresponsive. I started getting pretty agitated. Nobody really did much to sort it out. I was the man having the breathing treatment who was shot down when he tried to get the reassurance he needed. My brash proclamations that I had the skills to handle such a eventuality crumbled in the face of medical staff unable to notice that I was communicating. Finally, I managed to get across a need for pen and paper because I found ways to express the concepts using sounds I could utter. I demanded my doctor. It took extreme insistence to get him. My awesome, amazing TracheaDoc was not prepared for the situation and handled it suboptimally. He had no idea I had just experienced enough trauma to take my PTSD from "mostly managed" to "completely out of control." That's because doctors aren't educated on such things. Unfortunately, in this one way, he turned out to be like other doctors. Guess he's not superhuman. He did share one crucial fact – the paralytics used in surgery hadn't worn off and my vocal cords were effected. Also, the blood pressure cuff had cut off my circulation. I pretty much cursed him out saying he'd better be right or else with a few tears managing to escape. You know what? I'm extremely proud of myself for not losing it more than I did. The circumstances of this situation could not have been better for triggering my PTSD if I'd picked them myself and went beyond anything in my most vivid nightmares. If the events had been described an my opinion as to my probable reaction sought, I'd have predicted screaming, yelling, throwing things and behavior likely to get you sedated and put into a padded room. Instead, I had a fairly understandable response. Or, well, to me understandable. I don't think the sighted medical staff had that perspective. I'm concerned about what my medical chart now says. I'm looking at surgery in the next month and the thought is... not pleasant. People Aren't Broken is our new home!

3 comments:

jesse-the-k said...

Aieieiei! This is horrifying. In an earlier life I was a sign language interpreter, and whenever a Deaf person was hospitalized they had a bumper-sticker sized info card "PATIENT IS DEAF."

Stunned that there isn't a similar standard for blindness, which will after all interfere with communication in the best circumstances.

Worst part was that you didn't get any advance notice about the paralytic effects on the vocal cords.

Congrats on surviving this.

jesse-the-k said...

Aieieiei! This is horrifying. In an earlier life I was a sign language interpreter, and whenever a Deaf person was hospitalized they had a bumper-sticker sized info card "PATIENT IS DEAF."

Stunned that there isn't a similar standard for blindness, which will after all interfere with communication in the best circumstances.

Worst part was that you didn't get any advance notice about the paralytic effects on the vocal cords.

Congrats on surviving this.

Jen said...

Jesse,
I've had a ton of surgery in my life and that's never happend making it a rare outcome. I'm not surprised they didn't warn me because they wren't expecting it.

I sometimes just want to shake medical professionals until theyGET IT. I suspect you know the feeling.There isn't a methodolgy for dealing with telling staff I'm blind except for my chart. One of the issues is that there are multiple things consider really important for people to know, so the part of the chart where blindness would be listed is cluttered with other things, like lack of a nasal airway.

I'm going to have a conversation with the head nurse and hopefully we can come up with something.