Saturday, February 16, 2013

Restrain yourself

At times my recent hospital experience took on the feeling of a battlefield.  Sometimes it was a battle of wits while at other times it was more a  physical battle.  It was destined to be that way since my reason for coming to the ER in he first place was my struggle for a decent breath, one after another. But what surprised me was the early and then ongoing use of restraint.

I don't remember much of the admitting process.  I was spending most of my effort just getting  breath.  It never would have occurred to me that the restraint I was feeling was for my own good.

The first restraints were merely hook-ups, a connection of electrical pads, wires and monitoring machines.  With each new connection increasingly important vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, body temperature , and blood oxygen level -  a vital link was forged between me and the hospital. At this stage, I could have severed the relationship with little pain to either party.

The second set of restraints were more invasive.  An IV (intravenous) line was inserted into one of the veins of my arm for ready access to my blood for injection of chemicals as well as collecting samples. A suction system humidified my breathing air.  A particularly noxious device known as the NG Tube (nasal-gastric) was inserted through my nose cavity assuring (and also monopolizing) an open path for delivery of food and medication. This act, also called intubation has a feel of compliance enforcement because you sure as hell don't want to undergo it more than once.  The coup de grace, an indwelling catheter was inserted through my penis into my bladder.  I could no longer pee on my own nor could I move very far from the collecting hose without serious consequences,

Restraints in the third category are definitely compliance-based physical devices - straps, jackets, mittens.  How little it takes to immobilize a grown man.  A simple 1 inch belt can reduce the range of motion from "independent" to "helpless".  These appear to be used mostly for physical manefestations of "bad dreams" or to prevent recurrence of equipment removal.  Verbal teasing and taunts were often used in conjunction with this restraint level.

Finally, there are chemical induced restraints.  This can be as simple as a sleeping pill and as extensive as combinations of blood pressure medications and psychosis inducing drugs.  We will spend more time on this more controversial category in later blog articles.

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