This is not our first cancer rodeo. We are a bit of an anomaly with our 24/7 supervision and detailed notebook of documentation. This second round of surgery watch has been a little easier than the first just because we aren't surprised by every single thing. There are still surprises, mind you. Finding that Rich had stitches with dressing packed in them versus the staples he had last time was one huge surprise. It's been the most stressful thing about post-op so far. Twice a day they have to pull out the dressing and repack it with new dressing. It takes 30 minutes at least and is very uncomfortable. So we've been learning how to make that as smooth as possible.
I came back to the hospital room around 9:30pm last night and there was a bit of a hubbub in the room. Rich looked utterly fed up with everything. His dad said that the night nurse had come by and Rich was not a fan of her. She was apparently pushy and asking about walking and saying he needed to get his dressing changed three times a day versus twice a day. Rich was not happy.
Rich Sr went back to the hotel for the night, leaving Shannon and I for the overnight shift. I was again doing my part as a heartbeat in the room while Shannon was being the brains. I talked over the dressing change with Rich and told him that if she was not good at it, or if she was doing anything he didn't like we could get the charge nurse. I wasn't going to go on a rampage or pick a fight with the nursing staff. We were just going to make sure they were aware that the dressing change is A Big Deal for us. I felt confident that Shannon and I were well adept at being kind under stress and we would not have security called on us.
Around midnight our night nurse stopped by. I was prepared for a Nurse Ratched, only to find this quiet Japanese woman. She asked what time we wanted to do the dressing change and we requested 5am. I told her that we'd like a 10 minute warning so we could start the morphine pump and get ahead of the pain. She said that was fine and she would be gentle and slow. I thought to myself, "This is bossy?"
5am came and Nurse Rina came in with all her supplies and a smile. She brought enough gloves for Shannon and I to participate as much as we wanted. She explained everything she was doing and was very gentle. It still sucked, but it sucked as little as possible. Rina was in charge of removing dressing and repacking dressing, I was in charge of cutting the dressing and holding Rich's hand, Shannon was in charge of the iPhone timer for the PCA morphine. We got through it in 30 minutes flat.
Rina thanked us for letting her do the dressing and wished us good night. I later discovered that when Rich's dad had left, he stopped to tell Rina that Rich was very sensitive about the dressing change, both physically and emotionally. He asked her to be patient with him and if he was grumpy with her to not take it personally.
When I was walking Shannon to her car this morning, she said she felt like she hadn't done anything. It was funny because I felt like I hadn't done much overnight either. And Rich's dad wasn't even there overnight. But each of us had a small job. Just because we don't feel overwhelmed, doesn't mean we're not doing what we're supposed to. It's actually just proof that Team Stryker is performing just like it should.