On My Heart (A Series) … Another Round and a Shout Out to Nurses.


I am back in the hospital.

I’m retaining fluid in my chest making it difficult to breathe, especially when lying down, in turn making it difficult to sleep. Some fluid has hung around in my chest since the surgery, but this past week it seemed to be getting worse. I sounded all the world like a contented cat making biscuits – in reality I was not feeling at all contented. In spite of all the Lasix (water pills) I had been taking, the water just keeps building up.

So, I checked in Friday night. I have received 240 mg of Lasix over the last 24 hours and am finally feeling better. There are some concerns around my heart rate being so high (over 115), my blood pressure being so low (90/60), and how to get the two to play nicely together so they don’t compromise the new valve.

I am assured by my “Cardiac RN consultant extraordinaire” that this is all perfectly normal and not unexpected. I am still healing. My new valve and I are in the “getting to know you” phase and won’t be completely acquainted for up to six months. That is not something this type A who expected to hit the ground running on day 11 wanted to hear. It is also comforting to know my surgery wasn’t a failure and will not need to be redone – which is precisely where my brain went.

For now, it is imperative that my heart rate stay low so as not to blow out my new valve. So, some medicines have been adjusted and I’m being retained at the hospital while the fluid is pulled from my chest. At some point, hopefully soon, the body will stop producing so much fluid and it will level off. Meanwhile, I stay close to the bathroom.

While I am at it, I want to give a shout out to nurses. Nurses are so wonderful. During my last hospital stay, I recall hearing a patient down the hall shouting, “I don’t want to see a nurse, I want to see my DOCTOR!” I thought, “what an idiot.” The doctors have a very high level and technical knowledge of your case. But your nurse, your nurse knows everything. Doctors, particularly specialists, seem to take an arms length approach to the patient – we are the illness. But the nurse, she (or he) sees the whole person.

I’ve had some terrific nurses during this heart thing. Caring women (and a few men) who have served me like I was part of their (functional) family. Generous people who either care deeply for their patients or deserve an Academy Award for their convincing performance as someone who does.

If I want to talk to my doctor while I am in the hospital, I have to wait until he makes his rounds – and no one knows when that will be. Whenever it is, it is only once a day and if I am down in x-ray when he stops by, I am just out of luck until tomorrow. But if I want to talk to my nurse, I just have to push this button and she comes immediately. She answers all my questions, even if that answer is “I don’t know, but I will find out.” My doctor looks at my chart, and then consults with the nurse about how my day has gone. He never asks if I’m too cold or if he can get me anything. My nurse will stop by my room and offer a warm blanket or ask what I’m writing on my laptop. Often the doctor’s head nurse has to run PR for him as well, making excuses for his absences or forgetfulness.

I love nurses and have a new found respect for them all. I could never do what they do. I have a low tolerance for whiners, even though I can be a world class whiner myself. But the good nurses never let on that I’m being high maintenance or maybe a little hypochondriacal. They listen, they respond, they reassure, they comfort, they bring me things.

Sometimes they work 12 hour shifts days in a row, and they are not allowed to accept gifts. My waiter brings me guacamole and I tip him 20%. My ICU RN brought me successfully off a ventilator and she got nothing. That is all kinds of wrong.

Nurses are angels on earth. Give them some respect.

One comment on “On My Heart (A Series) … Another Round and a Shout Out to Nurses.

  • Kathy A Towry , Direct link to comment

    Diane while it may not be much comfort but with Jim’s first valve replacement his heart did the same thing, the doctors head nurse said that it was like he had ran a marathon, after some much needed rest, adjustment of medications the valve and heart got into a natural rhythm. I completely agree nurses are the best, while we love Jim’s cardiologist and his surgeon, the nurses were our to to people. We were blessed. With Jim’s second valve replacement he didn’t experience the same things, but he was on a ventilator for a week and in ICU for two, so if the new valve and heart were having issues he was completely unaware, but I know he was retaining lots of fluids his body was so swollen, his skin was seeping, so again a medicine adjustment. Hang in there and do not become to discouraged, you can climb this mountain but it just take a little time. God Bless and know prayers are going forward for you.

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