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The Gulf Coast (Week 13)

I had to make an emergency trip back home this past week. My husband had another horse accident which resulted in multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung. He doesn’t own any horses that buck but apparently when you put on a brand new saddle (that doesn’t fit quite right), it can end with a bucking horse and a man down. I found out about the incident when he was on his way to the vet to get x-rays. The first red flag that indicated something was terribly wrong was when I found out that he had someone else drive him to the vet. In all previous traumas he has driven himself to seek medical care, so the fact that he asked someone to drive him was a bad sign (I should have just packed my bags and headed home at that point). The x-rays at the vet did not show any apparent injury so he went home. He called me later overly concerned and fearful. In the medical profession, when a patient presents this way we label it “impending doom”. It is nothing to ignore. It often indicates that something is terribly wrong. Our daughter was with him and she and our friend were able to convince him to seek further evaluation/treatment. It was difficult because he had already taken his starched pants off and put on “wiggly” shorts. He has strong convictions about what is appropriate to wear in public and athletic shorts do not fit his criteria.

It’s incredibly difficult to take care of a member in your family. I would love to sit back as the wife or the mother and coddle and cater to the sick patient, but as a nurse I am not able to. My family probably thinks of me as the cruel “Nurse Ratched”, but there is meaning behind my madness. I will force them to do things that are uncomfortable knowing that it’s in their best interest. This is what I know: a patient that is dependent for everything (even when following best practice) is at risk for developing complications such as blood clots, pressure ulcers, pneumonia, and debilitation, among other things. All of these delay the healing process and cause complications that are not always reversible. The sooner a patient is independent with bed mobility and the tasks associated with self care, the better the outcome. But it is so difficult to watch someone that you love suffer and still push them to work through it. During this incident my husband told me multiple times to stop arguing with him (I’m pretty sure that he is the one that was arguing with me, but we can settle that at a later time).

Vomiting can be a very beneficial bodily function. It rids the body of waste during gastric illness. It clears infant secretions when they have a respiratory illness. It pushes the baby further down the birth canal in women that are laboring. Vomiting is what helped my husband turn the corner at the hospital. His pain was not manageable, he had stopped producing urine, and he had become febrile. He was desperate and nothing seemed to help. When he projectile vomited all over the hospital bed and floor (which was incredibly traumatic with fractured ribs and a collapsed lung) it relieved pressure and eased the pain as well as cleared out secretions (It also forced him to get out of the hospital bed and take a shower). Once he was back in bed, I saw hope. It was the first time that he had expressed some relief. He has a long road ahead of him. I pray that he is patient enough to allow himself the time to fully recover. Right now his biggest concern is not having a pocket knife with him (my dad fixed that when he visited us at the hospital). I still have it in my wallet (need to give that back).

I was awake for almost 40 hours straight (driving all night and then sitting at his bedside). I have not fully recovered from that exhaustion yet. I suppose we’ll both look back at this and laugh someday. But right now laughter would cause him grave discomfort and I’m just too tired to see the humor (yet).

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