Friday, August 3, 2012

Learn to prioritize, people, I beg you.

I don't know how many times I've written "In order to provide holistic care, a nurse must remember to consider the needs of the patient along with the current priorities of the healthcare providers." in all sorts of BS essays.

Oh I understand the point. I know that patients are not going to pay much attention to what you're saying if they're worrying about who's gonna pick up their kids from school while they're getting chemo. I get that. That's important.

I want to rant here, because I learned the other day that some people are so afraid of losing their hair during chemotherapy that they acquire certain ridiculous looking "cooling caps". The idea behind these cooling caps is that they shrink the capillaries in your scalp so that chemotherapy drugs can't reach the hair follicles and make your hair fall out. You have to put them on at least 40 minutes before the infusion begins and change the ice packs every 20 minutes to keep the scalp at the ideal temperature.

If that was all, I would just chalk it up to silly vanity and not bother writing about it. But do you know where tumour cells just LOVE to go? The scalp. Especially with breast cancer. They freaking love it. The cooling caps are basically preventing the chemotherapy from getting to the places where tumour cells want to hang out. This is such a problem that when we see these things in the chemo clinic, we have to check if the doctors know about it and notify them so they can talk some sense into the patient.

Sometimes, the patient decides that keeping her hair is more important than the terrible risk of scalp metastases. That's when the nurses are supposed to think back to that blee-blah-bloo sentence up there. It's kind of like Frank Costanza screaming "Serenity now!" , isn't it?

So I did my job. I asked if the doctor was aware that she was using that contraption. She replied that the doctor knew but she was going to use it anyway. My poker face was awesome. I charted. I hung up the meds. I stayed completely uninvolved in the massive ridonculousness of her relatives measuring the temperature of ice packs, figuring out how to put it all together and strapping that thing onto her head.

One nurse muttered in passing, "Her hair isn't even that nice." It was a catty comment trying to hide the genuine frustration that we were all feeling, I suppose. What a terrible waste of money, energy and resources.

Your hair? It's not as important as your health. I thought that was pretty much a common sense kind of thing. Obviously not.

Serenity now.

1 comment:

JG said...

Remember how "Serenity Now" ended and beware!

I think this ice thing was actually mentioned in an early episode of Breaking Bad.