24 May 2006

Bowel Programs

This week on the surgical rehab floor I learned a little about bowel programs, something you've probably not thought of if you've never spent time in a hospital. The nurses spend a fair amount of time monitoring how often and how much you urinate and empty your bowels. There are even special chairs for this. Nice white plastic contraptions.
Almost as soon as I arrived for my shift a nurse called me into a patient room and asked if I would sit with the patient while he moved his bowels as it was taking some time and he had meds to attend too. So I sat there on the bed and tried, really tried, to have a conversation with this (not so lucid) patient between his gripping the chair sides and squeezing his eyes shut... wow, he kept saying, oh wow.
When the nurse returned I was informed the patient was severely impacted and had just been administered a supository (a butt pill). Apparently this wasn't sufficient because despite the groaning nothing was actually leaving patient's colon. Out came the maximum strength enema and another 20 minutes of sitting. Nothing.
At this point the nurse gave the patient a shower and decided to just put a diaper on him and call it a night. Problem is, the patient can't stand unaided, so I was recruited to pull the diaper up over his butt while the nurse held him up. It was this moment that the patient experienced some anal leakage (and bleeding). Nevertheless the patient was transferred to bed and the nurse and I cleaned up.
About an hour later the patient was caught trying to get out of bed (a no no since he can't walk). When questioned what he needed he expressed the need to "take a crap." The nurse was called in and the patient examined, but he was still unable to expell the impacted feces. At this point the nurse asked me to fetch some lubricant (can anyone guess where this is going?) which I brought back with some extra pairs of gloves. The nurse then proceeded to lubricate the rectum of the patient and break up the large, very solid mass lodged in his colon. Thankfully I was called out of the room by the other nurse on duty...
... only to find I had been called to another bowl issue. the first patient's neighbor was experiencing an unexpected bowl movement and needed to be placed on his toilet and washed (a process I assisted more than carried out since I am not a nurse). When I took the used toilet to be disposed and cleaned I saw what looked like a large orange hairball inside. This of course had to be brought to the nurse's attention.
By the end of the shift all bowels had been sucessfully moved and the smell on the ward confirmed it. As did the stack of brown gloves in the trash. Eew.

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