You never know what the new day will bring. We can plan ahead our intentions for the next day, but unexpected or unwanted obstacles may present themselves. This happened to me last week. I went to bed Sunday evening with a game plan of what I wanted to accomplish the following day. When I opened my eyes Monday morning, I knew the prognosis for my day was not going to be good. I was immediately nauseous and grabbed the bathroom trashcan. I proceeded to dry-heave for more than two hours straight. I was so miserable and my stomach was on fire with pain. I hate vomiting, but I just wished that I would in hopes that I would feel better. I finally threw up and knew what I had to do next.
It was 11 a.m. and I was late on taking my morning kidney transplant anti-rejection meds. I tried to sip water and take a bite of a cracker but my body was not interested. When you are a transplant recipient, hydration and taking your medicine is key to survival. I knew I had to go to the emergency room so they could re-hydrate me and get my nausea under control so I could take my medicine. As my husband, Noah, headed home from work to pick me up, I did the normal drill of packing my hospital bag. I grabbed my medicine, medical history list, purse, ID cards, phone, phone charger, comfy clothes, a couple pairs of underwear and socks, as I knew this would be at least an overnight stay.
Upon arrival at the emergency room I sat in a chair at the registration desk and told the woman that I was a kidney transplant recipient and how awful I felt. She immediately said, “Don’t touch anything.” The registration clerk called back to the ER room and told them to have a nurse come out to get me, as she did not want me sitting in the waiting room. She then gave me her personal hand sanitizer to use and when she handed back my driver’s license, she did not slide it across the desk as I’m used to, but rather handed it to me. She did not allow me to use the public pen. The clerk was going to give me hers, but was pleased when she saw I had my own. Within two minutes of sitting in the registration chair I was whisked back to the ER. I was so impressed and thankful for the registration woman’s kindness and consideration. By her actions and mannerisms I felt like it was my mom dressed to look like someone else registering me.
I spent a few days in the hospital where they kept me hydrated, controlled my nausea so that I could take my medicine and kept a close eye on my laboratory results. My fever spiked to 101.2 and they believed I had a stomach virus. I was reminded on several occasions how important it is as a patient to pay attention to every little detail while hospitalized. When medicine is brought to you, or administered through your IV, make sure to ask what it is and why you are being given it. Make sure it follows your normal regimen. If it does not, make sure you are comfortable with what the doctors and nurses are doing. If you are not, stop them and talk to the nurse about it or call your doctor. I called my nephrologist on my cell phone to make sure he approved of the course of action for my hospital stay and had him on speakerphone to discuss my care with my nurse.
One of the interesting experiences I had was when the phlebotomist came into my room to draw blood for several tests and a 12-hour prograf draw. Prograf is one of my anti-rejection medicines. In order to get an accurate level of what it is in my blood stream, my blood needs to be drawn 12 hours after I take my last dose. The phlebotomist was 30 minutes late when she walked through the door. I have tiny veins and they roll. I get monthly labs done and know that it takes several tubes in order to get the results for all of my blood work tests. The hospital was checking my normal standing order labs and some additional tests. The phlebotomist was only able to get a minuscule amount of blood, hardly anything. She said, “I might be able to get your CBC and maybe your prograf level.” She then proceeded to say, “Did you come in through the ER? If so, I can use that blood for the rest of the tests.” I said, “WHAT? I came in through the ER two days ago. You can’t use old blood. We need to know what my kidney levels and others tests are as of today.” When she left I immediately called my nurse to inform her of this. I could not get over the incompetence of this incidence. Please speak up. We have the right to. It is our body.
A day after I came home from the hospital, I received a follow-up call from the hospital to see how I was and to discuss my care. During the conversation, I explained what happened with the phlebotomist. I also acknowledged the exceptional care I was given by the registration woman. The woman on the phone was surprised and said that they do not get many compliments for that department. I expressed how much it meant to me as a transplant patient to be treated with such respect and concern. The woman on the phone said, “Would you like to give her a ‘Shining Star’ recognition?” I said, “Absolutely.” This is a recognition program for employees to know that they are doing a wonderful job and that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. The woman on the phone said she would put my name on the certificate. I did not catch the name of the woman that checked me in at the hospital. I may never cross paths with her again, but she was the ‘shining star’ of my hospital stay. Although our days may not unfold as planned, I believe there is a ‘shining star’ or glimmer of hope in each day.
What was your ‘shining star’ or glimmer of hope today?