I took care of a woman who has had the crappiest medical life. She is a nurse as well, but has been through cancer, amputations, multiple infections in one “stump” that caused her to have a blood infection (“sepsis”) and become hemodynamically unstable (Blood pressure 60!), thus requiring the fine services of the CCU. By the time I got there for my shift, she was muchly improved and I had a lovely time with her. She was actually very cheerful, smiled a lot, and had a great sense of humor. Quite inspiring.
Anyway, she’s on fairly heavy doses of pain medication (you would be too, if you had people sticking 1.5 feet of gauze up a hole in your thigh every day). Her last scheduled dose for me was at 11pm. At 10:30, I went in to give it to her. She was fast asleep. I said her name, but she didn’t wake up. So I tiptoed out and tried again at 10:45. Still no response. So I had to, like, majorly wake her up by shaking her. Yes, I woke up a perfectly peacefully sleeping patient to give her pain medicine. (At least it wasn’t a sleeping pill)
Now I’d like to defend myself by saying that I *had* to wake her up… otherwise her scheduled pain medicine would have been late, her blood levels of it would have dropped, and we might have had a really hard time getting control of it again.
So, in addition to not playing with equipment that is attached directly to your heart, next time you are a patient and your nurse wakes you up to give you pain medicine, be extra happy that she cares enough to make sure that you will be pain-free when you next wake up! :-)