Let me start by saying the nurses and staff were fabulous. I had a nurse and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assigned to me every day, and they were professional, expert and quite pleasant to deal with. They took care of my every medical need.
Okay, one did come in every day at 5 a.m. to take my vitals. That definitely could have been done during a waking hour, I think. And, the rest of the staff from transportation (pushing you in a wheel chair or bed to get to far locations) to the dietary were equally fine.
For some reason, the great care fell apart on the day of my presumed discharge, about five days after the surgery. It wasn't the nursing staff that was to blame.
The doc filling in for my surgeon’s rounds that day told me at 7:30 a.m. he was discharging me. Normally you walk out the door early afternoon, the nurses told me after the doc signs off. Now, I'd been in the hospital since Tuesday and this was Saturday. If you've been in the hospital for longer than one night, you'll know the desire to get home and recuperate there.
Logical, normal people might deduce that as a doc makes his rounds and leaves a floor, he’d report to the nurses any special instructions, such as discharging a patient. As Steve Martin would say ‘but noooooooo.’
Remembering the nurses told me discharge normally was in the early afternoon, I asked the nurse at about 2 p.m. my status. She said the doc hadn’t signed off on my release yet and they had a call in to him but he was in emergency surgery.
Now I had the moral gut check to go through: Do I hope for a quick emergency surgery to hasten my release or pray the emergency surgery patient gets all the attention he or she deserves to bring him/her out healthy, no matter how long that takes?
Also, as one who was anxious to leave I told the nurses I really would like to be released early enough so that my wife, who was picking me up, didn’t have to drive the half hour to the hospital and half hour home in the dark. They said they could work with me on that.
They also told me, in a generous gesture, that they would start my release paperwork without the doc’s sign off to save a half hour when he did sign off. As I've said, really nice, considerate nurses.
As the nursing shift changed still no word. In fact, the CNA I had the day before and came in for today’s shift said to me, ‘’I thought you were going home today but your name is on the board with a notation ‘DC (discharge) with a question mark.’ ’’
Soooo, at about 3:55 my nurse for the new shift, Caitlyn, came in to say the doctor signed off and she’d start the paperwork which takes about 30 minutes. No, I didn’t mention the previous shift said they’d get ahead of things and do the paperwork in advance.
I was grateful the process could begin.
I called my wife and told her I’d be out in half an hour making the timing perfect, and still with sufficient time to get home before dark.
Caitlyn disappeared. Then after about 45 minutes reappeared minus the paperwork but with machines to take my pre-discharge vitals. My blood pressure has been fabulous for years. In fact, when I met with my surgeon the first time his nurse, Zach, took it and said, ‘with that BP you’ll be vertical for years!’
But noooooot this time
On first taking I was at 190 over 80 something. A number I’d never seen before. Take it again and it’s 180 over 80 something. I said this has to be because I’ve been anxious/pissed off about my discharge taking so long. She let me rest 10 minutes and took it again, manually this time. 150 over 70 something. Unfricking believable.
She finally got the ok from someone she consulted with to let me go with that number.
Home free! So let’s say it together, but noooo.
She disappeared again to print out the paperwork to review discharge instructions with me. Half an hour later she did that and said, I’ll call for a wheelchair to take you down. Twenty minutes later, no chair.
I pick up my bag, which weighed more than the 10 pounds the doc warned against me lifting while the stitches healed, walked to the nurses station and said, can you tell how to get to the main lobby? But we ordered a chair, they said, please I just checked and it’s listed as "pending." I’m outta here, I said, making sure to point out, and I meant this, that the nursing staff has been fabulous through my five-day stay! I also said, if awards are given out for ‘longest discharge wait,’ I’d better win.
With that, the pending wheelchair arrived and I was on my way. Ten-and-half hours after the doc told me I was being discharged, I really was discharged!
Once again, the nursing staff and all were fabulous, all knowing that one floor away were the COVID patients and their colleagues were facing challenging, life-threatening circumstances daily on that floor.
I realized what a jerk I was being all day being angry about a dismissal that, a floor away, patients would kill for.