My husband came to St. Luke’s by ambulance from West Allis Hospital where they believed he had a heart attack. He had to wait several days for surgery when it was discovered that he needed a “valve” repair or replacement surgery. Following the valve replacement he went through two separate procedures to have a pacemaker put in. Without going into so much detail, he was finally on the 9th cardio floor after being twice in the Cardio ICU for the valve surgery and pacemaker surgery. Perhaps now he would be ready to walk and maybe he would start eating.
It had been, for me, a vicious circle. He was not walking as he had no energy; he had no energy as he was not eating. His legs were wobbly and he was very adamant about even getting out of the bed to the chair. I tried using encouraging words, I tried pleading and reasoning. I tried begging. Nothing worked. While in conversation he would say “later,” tomorrow,” but tomorrow never came and I started using more forceful talking about the dangers of his lack of cooperating. Later I discovered that certain drugs/medications that he was taking brought on this anger and a change in his personality. Changes were made and he did get a little better.
But this was not the complete answer as he had been lying on his back for three weeks and now lost the stamina to even try. On a Saturday, RN Jenna (his assigned nurse at the moment) took charge. She had several conversations with my daughters (and me) and she suggested that we agreed that “she will be the bad guy” (the encouraging and gently forcing person) and I should pull back. The first day of reckoning came on a Sunday. When I arrived around 9:00 AM, I learned that my husband had already “walked”. When I was in the room he was having a “breathing treatment,” which he had been dismissing and saying to the nurse “come back later.” The whole atmosphere had changed. He was listening (better than before) to the attendants. Now he cooperates after almost three weeks of just lying in the bed, getting weaker and thinner as he was not eating or moving.
Jena developed a new “whiteboard” scheduling my husband’s walking, eating, and sitting schedule. I heard him complain about the schedule, but as I left I felt comfortable that he “thought” he should be following this written schedule. He didn’t always comply with the “whiteboard” but it was the start of a program that he “knew” he should follow.
Jenna exudes the role of someone with complete confidence in what she is saying. Jena talked to my husband with a stern but always friendly direction – even when my husband was not being as polite and respectful as he should be. Jena spent a great deal of time listening to my concerns as well as the concerns of our family. She never dismissed our suggestions and worked with them to “make a plan” to get his strength back.
Finally, after the surgeries were deemed successful, we moved him to a nursing home where he progressed a great deal and now he is home progressing slowly, but much better than those last weeks in the hospital. Jena’s influence was surely a step in the right direction.
There were many nurses, aides, and physical therapists that were very good and kind as well. But it was his nurse, Jena Cruciani, who seemed to take charge when it was needed.