I have been working on Samantha’s story. Regarding her health crisis and recovery. We had a nurse we were not impressed with. Her name is Mary. I call her Contrary Mary.

At morning shift change we had a new nurse, or new to us. I didn’t care for this one. I knew it immediately. I should have requested a new nurse. I knew the hospital rotated nurses to keep staff and patients from getting attached. I didn’t really like this policy but I understood it.

After shift change she came by with morning meds. Our doctor had changed Samantha’s meds the day before in preparation of being released. Instead of receiving the long acting insulin in the morning Samantha was now getting it at night. Contrary Mary was reading Samantha’s records and turned to Samantha and said it was now time to get her injection of long acting insulin. Samantha said no, she had received it the night before. Contrary Mary argued. Another dose of long acting insulin could have drastically dropped Samantha blood glucose levels. I told Contrary Mary there would be no injection until she verified that the insulin had not been given. Contrary left our room to call the nurse from the night before. When Contrary returned, she admitted she had been wrong.

Lunch was brought in, as usual. Most of the staff told Samantha how lucky she was that she didn’t have to eat the hospital food. Most of the staff I spoke with told me the hospital food was awful. One of the assistants talked about working at a hospital in New Orleans that had a chef on staff. She said the food was amazing. She never ate at this hospital. Hospitals really need to work on serving nutritious food.

Back to Contrary, she actually told my child she would never get better if she didn’t eat the hospital food. Good thing I was not in the room. That woman was a disaster. Every time she entered the room it was bad.

I went home to cook dinner. Samantha’s dad was with her. He knew Contrary had to be watched. He is a nicer person than me. Before I left Contrary had tested Samantha’s blood glucose. Samantha was high enough to need extra insulin. So we went for a walk and Samantha had extra water. We knew these things would bring her glucose down. Usually walking brought her down enough to avoid the extra insulin. Before I headed home I left instructions with Samantha and her dad to have Contrary retest before administering the insulin. We did this with all the other nurses and staff. I also knew from the time blood glucose was tested they have 45 minutes to administer the insulin.

I received a text from my child after getting home that Contrary had not been by with the insulin. Huh? I told her to have her dad go ask. Contrary finally showed up and was asked to retest. She said she didn’t need to because Samantha was snacking so Contrary knew Samantha was high. And with that Contrary injected Samantha. Almost an hour had passed since the first glucose test.

When I was told about this I called the charge nurse. I explained that Contrary had waited too long and she did not retest even when she had been asked to do so. I verified that the insulin needed to have been administered within 45 minutes from the glucose test. I made it very clear that Contrary was not to come near my daughter again. I explained I would be returning to the hospital soon and I would be chatting with Contrary. And after that I would come and find the charge nurse.

I took dinner to my child and her dad and then went hunting for Contrary. She was with another patient, so I waited. When she sat at the nursing station I asked her why she had not retested when asked to do so. My voice was quite loud. Not yelling, just loud. I wanted everyone to know she had messed up. She said she knew Samantha was high. I asked if she was God. Because only God knew in that moment what Samantha’s blood glucose was. I pointed out that she had mismedicated Samantha. (Others were staring at this point.) I told Contrary more than 45 minutes had passed between the test and the insulin. She denied this. I told her to pull up Samantha’s file and check. Contrary softly let me know 55 minutes had passed. I pointed out that 55 was more than 45, again loudly. And since more than 45 minutes had passed the hospital’s rules were to retest. I informed her if my daughter’s blood sugar crashed I would come and find her.

Then I went and found the charge nurse. I told her about my chat with Contrary Mary. I verified it was in Samantha’s file that Contrary stay far away from us. I was assured it was.

After shift change Samantha and I were walking the floor. My favorite charge nurse was on duty. She had heard about Contrary Mary and confirmed that Contrary would not be our nurse again.

We were lucky. Samantha’s blood glucose did not crash that night. Contrary Mary was sloppy and didn’t follow proper procedures. Medication administered improperly can cause damage. I have to wonder how many patients get the wrong meds because someone was in a hurry or not paying attention. Someone who just assumed they knew what was going on. Patients, and their advocates, need to know what meds they are receiving and why. It’s okay to ask questions, so ask.

About three weeks later my stepfather was in the same hospital, same wing, same staff. I went to the hospital and asked to see the charge nurse. I explained what had happened with Contrary Mary and I made it clear she was never to be near my stepfather. I was back later that night and my favorite charge was on duty. Again, she verified for me that it was in my stepfather’s file that Contrary Mary would stay away.

I believe all patients in medical settings need to have an advocate with them. From my experience with Contrary Mary I know I am correct.

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