It Doesn't Hurt to Ask - A Helpful Hospital Tip for Caregivers
My daughter had a medical procedure last week that required anesthetic and a recovery room stay. After 28 years of caring for my daughter there is a huge sense of ease in knowing the system extremely well. So, when we were sent to the wrong location for check in, it was no stress on me at all because I know our particular hospital very well. (If the hospital only knew how much way-finding I help other patients with, I would like to think that they might be inclined to pay me! Haha!). Joking aside, I know that this could add significantly to the stress and worry about any upcoming appointment or procedure. In order to avoid that additional stress, do your best to find out exactly where you are going prior to your appointment. If you can't find information on the internet or by calling the department and getting directions, then try the hospital switchboard! They are always there to pick up the phone!
What I really want to share with you though is how I got the anesthesiologist I wanted for my daughter's procedure and how much that made a difference in her recovery. After 28 years of caring for my daughter, I have gained a significant amount of respect from the health professionals I speak to (not all - but most) because I know what I'm talking about and it's me who's teaching them about my daughter so that they can do their best job in caring for her. During her pre-op call with the anesthesiologist I asked who would be on for her procedure (after 28 years you get to know many of them!). He replied that he didn't know and I totally expected that response. (They never know beforehand, or so they say!) I invited him to speak with the anesthesiologist who knows my daughter best. He was happy to hear that one of his colleagues was familiar with her and said he would check his availability for the next day. Fast forward to the next day: We are getting ready for her procedure and the anesthesiologist comes to talk to me. Guess who it was? Yep!!! It was the one I mentioned, the one who already worked on my daughter several times (although it had been several years) and knew her better than the rest.
We had a good talk about what the options were, how intubating her is a risk and how it will take her longer to recover if she is intubated, etc. He mentioned using a less invasive laryngeal mask instead of intubation and I recalled that he did that the first time she had this procedure. To be honest, I have no idea what any of this actually looks like in the OR or procedure room because of course, I'm not allowed in during the procedure. But, I know this anesthesiologist well enough to know that he would use his best judgement and protect my daughter's vulnerable airway the best he could.
When the doctor who performed the procedure came to talk to me after it was all done, I asked him if she was intubated for it. The doctor's reaction to my question was one that was nothing short of incredulous. He said to me: "He didn't intubate her. Brenda, he used a mask and he sat there and bagged her the WHOLE time." (The procedure was at least 1.5 hours btw!) Stunned. I'm absolutely stunned. And happy!! I'm SO glad I brought his name up in pre-admit. I'm so glad the anesthesiologist I talked to in pre-admit actually did reach out to his colleague and I'm so glad that he agreed to step in. I don't know of any other anesthesiologist who would have done that. By doing what he did, he made his job a LOT harder. But also by doing that, he made my daughter's recovery a LOT easier! He put her first and that is the epitome of patient-centered care in my opinion!
It doesn't end there. When I was taken to the recovery room to see her, the anesthesiologist was at her bedside with the nurse. They both looked a little shook up to be honest (which can be rather disconcerting to a parent). They explained to me that my daughter had a bit of a scary episode waking up from the anesthetic. She was having difficulty breathing and her blood pressure and heart rate skyrocketed. She had this big white thing in her nostril called a nasal trumpet. It looked like a massive golf tee and it was a little unnerving for me to see that to be honest!. They explained that it was required to keep her airway open as they felt she was really obstructing when she was waking up. Scary. But I knew they were closely monitoring her. Seeing the anesthesiologist there also gave me a sense of protection. He was concerned and kept a very close eye on her for the next 2.5 hours until he felt it was safe to leave. She had me, she had her nurse AND she had the anesthesiologist all of that time. We all worked together extremely well and she was in very good hands. I honestly think he was worried she would need to be admitted after having a difficult time coming out of anesthetic but there my daughter goes again... proving to medical professionals that she's the toughest cookie out there because she came home with me that very evening!
My daughter is recovering well at home now because of the exemplary care we received from all those involved with her procedure and from that anesthesiologist.
Now that you've read this far… the moral of my story is to give you the confidence to just ask. Just ask! You might not get the people you want involved with your child's care but then again, you just might! I can tell you this: if you don't ask, you definitely won't get what you want. When you build a team who knows your child well it gives you a sense of ease during a really stressful time. Those who care will do all they can to support you and your child in your journey.
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