Monday, 9 February 2015

Tangles and angles - 50 shades of white

Today was one of those days where I spent the day in bed. I had a shower, got dressed and left the house with no nod towards hair and makeup. When I arrived at work I stripped and donned the gown of no dignity. (Luckily I had a clean out of my underwear drawer yesterday and can vouch for the decency of all my undies.) At the mention of a set of nasal prongs, a sling and a strap on IV, people start to give me funny looks. No, I wasn't filming the sequel to "50 Shades of Grey". I was working as a simulated patient for physiotherapy students today.

I love working with students who are still relatively inexperienced in their profession. It's so interesting to see the problems they encounter and be in a position to give really useful, practical feedback.

It was all about tangles and angles today. My left arm was in a sling after a (simulated) shoulder reconstruction. My right arm had the IV line for my PCA (patient controlled anaesthesia). That was simulated too. No drugs were flowing. Suddenly, a simple action like sitting on the side of the bed becomes a manoeuvre requiring a project manager and a crane booking. Adding to the drama is a very short gown, an educator sitting at the foot of the bed, and sheets that slip and slide and stick to the gown of no dignity. 

"Just swing yourself over and sit on the side of the bed." I hear the instruction and know that even with a simulated post-operative site, I'm not going to ":just swing" myself anywhere. They give detailed instructions about bending my knees, pushing down with my heels and using my right hand to lift and shift towards the edge of the bed. Bending the knees involves giving the educator full view of my nether regions. Lifting and shifting involves all the bed clothes shifting with me. The hospital gown seems intent on moving in the opposite direction to me and soon I am marooned on the very edge of the bed, gasping for air as my windpipe is almost severed by the demon hospital gown. (Who called them "gowns"? They are the least gown like garment I can think of. When I think of a gown, I'm thinking Christian Dior and red carpets, not this white apron masquerading as a functional garment.)

Compounding this is the fact that I'm wearing a sling. I'm then offered another "gown" to cover my back because "we're" going to try walking. They're very focused on the walking, even though it's my shoulder that's had the operation. Obviously, my briefing left out the information that I work as a circus acrobat where I'm regularly walking on my hands. The second gown is tied on the back "like a Superman cape", but of course, is as much like a Superman cape as the first gown is red carpet worthy.

There's a realisation that I've gone one way and my IV and nasal prongs are coming from the other side of the bed. They're also attached to me. We go through a further set of complex movements to reduce the risk that I will be mistaken for a chicken trussed and ready for the oven.

The students were terrific today. They're still at the stage where their thinking processes are slow and deliberate and nothing is really instinctive. I was often left in an unsustainable position while they discussed what needed to happen next.

The one thing I can't simulate is blood pressure and oxygen saturation - it's actually mine they're measuring. My sats were a bit low today - probably because I was holding my breath as I was precariously balanced on the edge of the bed. On the other hand, my blood pressure was a bit higher than usual - again probably because I was being choked by the hospital gown.

© 2015 divacultura

Angles and tangles seems like an apt description of life as a physiotherapy student.

What did you do today?

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