I was moved to the rehab floor about a week or so of living on the trauma level. I was scared about leaving all the things that had become familiar to me, my nurses and my doctors. I was worried about starting rehab and I figured the staff on that floor were going to work me to death and that I would hate every minute of it. I had no idea what I was in for. None at all.
The rehab floor was on the top level of the hospital and my room was the very last one at the end of the hall. I had a big window that looked out to the city below. My family decorated the walls with pictures and letters and cards. Flowers and teddy bears and more pictures sat on the window sill. On the nightstand I had a big jar of candy for all my visitors, and more flowers. I can say quite honestly that I loved this room. I loved the floor and I loved all my nurses and therapists. However that love did not start the day i was transferred. In fact the day i was transferred was slightly traumatizing.
There happened to be a nurse just starting work on the rehab floor. Her very first day. I can’t for the life of me recall her name, it bothers me to no end, but I just cant remember. I happened to be the lucky patient on her care list that day. Of course I would get a nurse on her very first day, we needed something to liven up our dull circumstances anyway. I don’t remember the reason now, but she had come into my room to move me. The plan was to use something called a patient lift and transfer me to a wheelchair and then go from there. The patient lift was like a giant sling, I remember it being hooked to the ceiling but that may have not been the case, either way it was this massive sling and you sat in it and the nurse would hook all the straps up and it would lift you off the bed and then move whichever direction you wanted by pushing the right buttons or levers.
this is an example of what a patient lift looks like.
So after plenty of turning, twisting, sliding and tugging my nurse was able to get the sling underneath me and all the straps firmly in place. She pulled on the lever and the machine began to lift me up. As soon as I was off the bed I began to scream. I don’t think the patient lift was intended for someone in my condition, actually I know it wasn’t. I was situated in such a way that I was sitting and applying all my weight, which at this point was dead weight, due to the fact that I could not do anything for myself, onto my broken femur. Have of which was also dangling haphazardly out of the sling. Besides that the sling was squeezing my broken ribs together.
I kept screaming and saying rather forcefully, “Put me down! Put me down!”
The nurse assured me that she would hurry and get me into the wheelchair and then the pain would be over. She did in fact get me into the wheelchair. But as luck would have it, My new nurse had unknowingly chosen the only broken wheelchair on the floor. Yes broken. We didn’t know of course until my unsuspecting body had been less then gently placed into it and it proceeded to collapse.
My screaming turned to begging as I pleaded with her to please put me back in my bed. I was probably a bit hysterical and I knew that I was being quite loud but I really couldn’t help myself. The nurse decided to forgo whatever therapy they had planned and instead put me right back to bed, using once again the patient lift. I was never for grateful in my life. I must have immediately passed out or gone to sleep because I don’t recall anything after that. Only that my introduction to the rehab floor had done nothing to calm my worries.
I feel horrible now for that poor nurse. She came back later after I had been there awhile and apologized. She told us it was her first day, and she didn’t know enough about what injuries I had to know that she shouldn’t have transferred me with the lift. She didn’t know about the wheelchair and she felt terrible. I assured her it was all right.
She was one of the sweetest nurses and every time I have been back to visit she always comes up to me and hugs me and says, “I really am sorry. I didn’t know. I feel so bad.”
And I laugh and say, “Don’t feel bad, Its ok. I really do understand.”
And I do, after having so much time to distance myself from the actual trauma of the experience its easy to be understanding and to realize that it was all a big mistake. One that could have happened to anyone.