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I miss being a nurse.

November 9, 2013

As most of you know, I am a disabled Registered Nurse.  While my cardiac symptoms are now under much better control, I still cannot withstand the normal stresses of work as a nurse.  Three or four hours of activity at the pace of even the most sedentary nursing jobs would leave me exhausted.  That’s because almost all nursing jobs involve a high level of stress due to productivity requirements, time sensitive tasks, and the extreme perfectionism demanded of us.  Fail to document the exact right words and you could face a lawsuit, etc.  I think the litigation threat is somewhat exaggerated, but it hangs over all in the health care field like the sword of Damocles.

I worked in critical care for many years.  I enjoyed the respect given to me as someone working in an elite field.  I liked the excitement of being involved in life and death situations, of trying to figure out what was going on with the patient and what needed to be done.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I faced a critical care situation in my own home.

Mr. Bebe and Miss Bebe in a relaxed moment.

Mr. Bebe and Miss Bebe in a relaxed moment.

My cat Mr. Bebe showed some signs of distress Thursday morning.  My guess was that he might have a bladder stone passing.  This had happened once before and he managed to pass it and was his normal self the next day.  Back when I was working and had much more disposable income, I would have taken him to a vet right away.  Thursday, I had $16 in my purse and maybe $20 left in my checking account that had to last until next week when I receive my Social Security payment.  We hoped that the stone would once again pass and Mr. Bebe would be back to normal.  Thursday night he came inside of his own accord and went to sleep on the couch without eating.  This was an ominous sign.  Friday morning he was still on the couch and showed no interest in going outside when I took the dogs out.  I knew he was seriously ill at this point.

My differential diagnosis included bladder or kidney stones, urinary tract infection, or some infectious disease, or poison (since he hunts and eats mice outside).  My husband noticed blood near the litter box Thursday morning.  That was the sign that made me lean toward a urinary tract problem.  He had become lethargic and weak with some tremor when he moved.  This told me he had a metabolic problem.  I feared renal failure due to bladder obstruction.  This was a life threatening emergency.

Cat bladder obstruction due to stones.

Cat bladder obstruction due to stones. Visit for a full explanation of this condition.

I had been researching urinary system problems of cats the day before.  I found that symptomatic stones are more common in male cats because they have a longer, narrower urethra (tube leading from the bladder to the outside of the body) than females.  I also found out that feeding kibble makes cats more prone to stones because cats have evolved to get most of their fluid requirements from their food (prey) and have a low thirst drive.  That means they may not necessarily drink enough water when on a dry food diet.  This causes concentrated urine which can predispose the cat to stones, material which crystalizes out of the urine and accumulates in the bladder.

We were fortunate that my sister was able to help us out paying for a vet.  We took him in and the vet said his bladder was the size of a tennis ball.  I’m not sure what size a cat’s bladder is supposed to be, but I suspect it’s closer to the size of a grape.  Mr. Bebe stayed at the animal hospital for emergent catheterization.  The vet called us after a couple hours to let us know he’d been successful in relieving the obstruction and Mr. Bebe now was getting IV fluid and had a catheter to keep the urine flowing.  He was also getting antibiotics and pain medication.

We visited Mr. Bebe this morning at the animal hospital.  He was very drowsy but did wake up for us and was able to rub his head on our hands and knead his claws in the towel under him.  This is an encouraging sign.  His urine is clearing up.  It had been quite bloody at first from the bladder distention.  We feel hopeful he will make a full recovery.

Being involved in this medical stuff this week reminds me how much I miss it.  This blog has been one way I keep a hand in, but I miss actually caring for patients and educating them and their family members.  I miss teaching nursing students.  I just haven’t found a suitable way to care both for myself and for them.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Swiss permalink
    November 9, 2013 5:56 pm

    Mr. Bebe, you, hubby, and your entire pet family will be in my prayers. I pray that Mr. Bebe makes a quick and complete recovery.

    You are an extraordinary person. May your many kindnesses come back to you a million-fold.
    You are an exceptional nurse and person.
    You are stellar and no doubt created many heartwarming experiences for the patients you cared for. You certainly do that via this blog. You are the best!

  2. November 10, 2013 10:42 am

    As I read this, I am cuddled up with one of my cats, Elvis, and am reminded both of the terror of having a male cat with urinary blockage and the risk for death that such an illness carries, and I’m also reminded of how much I miss being a nurse. For just the same kinds of reasons. While working my 35 year nursing career, I had a lot more self esteem. I was able to help people in very specific and often life-saving ways, and was also able to enable folks to help themselves. Now, as a disabled RN, I have opportunities to help, but need, more often, to help myself. Thankfully, I have my knowledgeable husband who’s an RN, and my very good friend (who writes this blog!) to consult when I have no business trying to diagnose and/or treat myself. My deep thanks to both of you as well as the WomenHeart Inspire site that allows me to seek out others that have had similar experiences.
    Thank you so much for your insight and perspective. You are a true blessing in my life.

  3. November 10, 2013 8:51 pm

    Bless you and your cats, and keep blogging!

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