Bells and Whistles

When you’re in the hospital, you might be hooked up to all kinds of different wires and machines.  When you’re in the ICU this is definitely going to be the case.  It’s pretty traumatic to see a loved one hooked up to all that stuff.  Some of it is going to be noisy and may freak you out.  Try not to let all the sounds scare you, most of those noises are to alert the nurses to something, that’s all.  In PT school when we were learning about what all those machines were for, they were collectively referred to as all of the “bells and whistles” in a hospital room.  These are all of the bells and whistles that I had.  I’ll start at the head and work my way down.

So, in my skull, they placed an external ventricular drain to allow extra fluid to drain out.  It’s a device that allows the inflammatory fluid to drain out.  Otherwise all that fluid would have nowhere to go and there would be a lot of problems.  Here is a picture of an EVD.  So for a while I had a bald head with a tube coming out.  Oh my God that must have been scary to see.  They never removed my catheter(the part that is placed in the brain), only the tube that drains it.  I will forever have it in my head.

I had a ventilator for a few days.  This is a machine that breathes for you/helps you breathe when your own breathing is insufficient.  I think I only needed this for 2 days, soon I was “over-breathing” the ventilator.  I learned that a normal respiratory rate is 12-15 breaths per second.  The decision to place someone on a ventilator comes about because of a lot of different factors and ventilators can be set at different breathing rates.  Do not watch this being put on or taken off a loved one, trust me.  I had an oxygen monitor on my finger.  It’s the little clip that is always falling off your finger.  It tells the nurses how much oxygen your body is getting.

I had an IV in my arm.  I probably don’t need to explain what this is, you can do a lot with an IV.  IV stands for intravenous in case you didn’t know.  Also on my arm was a blood pressure cuff that just had to be there constantly for a while.  I had a main line in my femoral artery.  This means that I had a tube inserted into the main artery in my leg right below the groin.  Femoral line

For a while I had a catheter inserted to drain my urine.  Gross.  Nobody wants a catheter.  A tube was inserted into my bladder and drained periodically.  Ick.

I had “leg squeezers“(bottom of page) for a while.  The purpose of these is to prevent a clot from forming.

I think that was it.  Once I was off all of the machines, I had my vital signs taken a few times a day manually.  When you’re all hooked up to everything, the nurse can just push a button and vital signs appear.  Vital signs are usually blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and temperature.  I had my blood drawn more times than I care to remember.  It wasn’t much fun to be hooked up to all that stuff.  But it’s an experience I will never, ever forget.

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Categories: Stroke stuff

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