Wednesday, April 11, 2007
So my clinical is at a busy city hospital on an acute care floor. Half the patients are telemetry patients (on heart monitors) and the other half are...just real sick. They say no one is in the hospital unless they're real (sic) sick these days, but I mean coughing up blood, gasping for air, moaning real sick. So it's...exciting and interesting and-can I admit?- a little scary. I'm always nervous when I'm driving to the hospital and then I get there and I feel oddly competent (um, not that I am) and calm for the most part.
This week, after Easter, things were not so busy and a whole group of five nursing students were told to make ourselves useful, but the nursing assistant wanted to do patients' vitals so all five of us gave a woman a bed bath. It actually took all five of us, though, and, an hour later, we still could have been working on it. The patient weighed at least 400 pounds and maybe lots more. She was so large she was barely able to move. It was hard work and many of us were sweating from moving her body parts to clean under them. And it really took all five of us to one, two, three HEAVE the patient a couple of inches back to the top of the bed. I've always kind of looked at very obese people and thought that they look kind of, um, fluffy, like, if you poked them a little you'd make a dent (and I mean no offense, I just had no idea), but this woman was substantial, solid. Each breast took all of my strength to lift and her legs were literally elephantine down to the thickened rough skin. Her feet didn't look anything like feet except that there were sort of five toes and toenails on each of them. This woman had had heart attacks by my age. Our bodies can do interesting things.