Friday, October 23, 2009

Nurse Ratched Really Does Exit!

Anyone who has ever spent much time in the hospital probably has a story to tell about a Nurse Ratched, of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest infamy.  Here's mine. 

 After four weeks of intense daily therapy my PT, Renee announced that I had progressed enough that I  could go on an outing with my husband on Saturday afternoon provided I satisfactorily learned how to transfer to and from my wheelchair to the car during my Saturday morning PT session with the weekend therapist.   After we (therapist, Pete & I)practiced the transfers, the therapist gave me a "pass"  and I was good to goon my outing.  I had not told Pete, my husband, about the outing.  I wanted to surprise him.  I was not permitted to leave  the car on my outing for safety reasons, so my plan was to have Pete drive me to the house and bring my puppies out to the car so I could snuggle with them  I missed them so!!!  While I was practicing my transfers in the parking lot a substitute head nurse (read Nurse Ratched)  took over the evening shift.  Back in my room, as I was telling Pete about our surprise outing.  This new nurse came into my room and abruptly informed me that she was canceling my outing.  Her reason was that I was a fall risk because I had fallen out of my wheel chair twice that 1st week in the hospital. Not knowing the nature of those falls she assumed I had impulsively tried to get up and walk around and that I would  again, thus potentially  endangering myself.  She didn't want to damage her "impeccable record of  patient safety". No amount of pleading or bargaining would sway her. Once I returned to my room  I learned that she not only canceled my outing but she put me on"sitter" status.  That meant I had to have a "sitter" in my presence at all times.   I was furious!  Pete assiduously tried to change her mind, to no avail.  He even tried to get the phone number of my Neurologist so he could call and tell him to intervene. Nurse Ratched refused to give  Pete the number claiming, " Doctors don't like to be bothered with such matters."  I felt as though I were in prison.   When Pete had to go home to bed I felt completely alone and powerless.  The only thing I could control were my actions. So, I refused to eat, take my meds.  or use the toilet or speak to anyone.    The next morning nurse Ratched came in my room to convince me to urinate because it had been many, many hours since I last relieved myself .  I refused.  She left but soon returned to measure the amount of urine in my bladder.  It was quite high.  In retrospect, I was curious why I never felt the urge to go.  I guess I was so angry that nothing else could get my attention.  Nurse Ratched looked me in the eye and threatened to reinsert the catheter if I refused to use the toilet.  I yielded.  To add insult to injury  the sitter was required to be in my presence even while I peed.  How humiliating!!!  I sobbed and sobbed and continued my belligerence in not cooperating.  The following Monday morning my neurologist on his rounds came to see me.  Having heard all the details of what transpired over the weekend from the floor nurses who witnessed it all, he was very apologetic, saying Nurse Ratched should have called him.  He would have rescinded her oder to cancel my outing and removed the sitter. Perhaps that was precisely why she did not give Pete his number. She was all about power. My neurologist informed me that she had violated my patient rights protected by the hospital and that he'd file a formal complaint and have her removed from the substitute list and thus she would never work at Evergreen Hospital again. Only after hearing that did I start taking my meds. and eating again.


  1. Intense. I've never encountered anything worse than mild incompetence and apathy. Long waits in intense pain and empty IV bags. But never outright viciousness!

  2. Yea, she was a real piece of work!!