I'd been diagnosed with UC, sister disease to Crohn's, just a few months earlier. I was still trying to figure out what it meant to have UC and what life was gonna look like from here on out. No way could I be objective and take care of this patient...
Unfortunately, my fellow nursing students (who, unlike me, didn't have diving practice and could come to the hospital to choose patients whenever they wanted to) had beat me to the floor and snapped up pretty much all the other "good" patients. I didn't really have a choice, so I jotted down X48's meds and labs, then trepidatiously began perusing the Crohn's patient's chart. Her gastro doc had written a consult or admit note or something. One sentence from the note stands out in my mind: "I do not feel that anything I have tried has helped Ms. X at all." I stopped reading, and my mind reeled. No, people don't stay sick with this stuff. They get on meds and go into remission. If the traditional meds didn't work, the new big gun meds like Remicade and Humira worked like a charm.
Yet here was this lady, who'd been on Prednisone for 30 years, tried countless surgeries, immunosuppressants, and diets, without success or remission. She was on disability. She'd tried Humira and wound up in her doctor's office with a reaction and got sent to the ER, and now, here she was.
As I cared for Ms. X (I've omitted and changed identifying details to protect her privacy), I brought her pain and nausea meds right on time, yet she kept rating her pain and nausea at an 8/10. I felt sick. I talked to my nurse, "She's still really hurting and sick... can't we do anything else?" The nurse sadly shook her head and said, "Honey, I'm afraid she's just one of those chronic pain people. Don't know that there's much anyone can do for her." I was terrified, selfishly, not just for Ms. X's suffering... but for my own. I had the uncanny feeling that this could be my future. That it could be me lying there in that bed, getting sick every few minutes, in constant pain that no medicine could touch.
As time went by, Ms. X faded into memory as I learned to live life with UC. Then one day, I saw her face as TCU Dr. described to me how I feel: "So basically, you're constantly nauseated, sick, exhausted, stomach hurts, bleeding all the time, and your joints hurt so much you can't sleep." Strangely, in many ways, my life is seeming to parallel Ms. X's. And now I'm starting Humira, the medicine that sent her to the hospital with a reaction.
What does all this mean? I don't know. But I think I've come full circle.