News/Editorials by ay5aByO

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									                                  From a Patient’s Point of View
                                       High emotions in the ICU
                                                By Louie Chan, 0T7

        Imagine yourself as a                     From      the     patient’s   were permitted to enter the ICU
patient in the intensive care unit       perspective, being in the ICU can      and see the patient. Such waiting
(ICU), intubated, ventilated, and        be a frightening experience.           was necessary because healthcare
connected to a heart monitor that        Patients often endure tremendous       workers could be busy caring for
softly beeps with your every             pain      and     are    constantly    the patient at any given time. In
heartbeat…                               bombarded with various tubes,          addition, the patient rooms were
                                         monitors, and catheters. They are      limited in space.
         When a patient is admitted      often in semi-conscious states                 My interactions with the
to a hospital’s ICU, it is because       because of their condition or due      families gave me insight into how
they are in critical condition. The      to the effects of medications.         they were able to cope under such
patient needs to be monitored                     Apart from the physical       trying     circumstances.      After
constantly by a team of healthcare       suffering they endure, patients are    talking to them, I found that most
professionals that includes nurses,      faced with the psychological           families were very anxious to see
respiratory     technicians,      and    challenges of being isolated in a      their loved ones discharged and
physicians from an array of              small room in the ICU ward and         fully recovered from the ICU.
specialties. Their collaborative         bedridden for long periods of          However, some of these families
efforts are vital for the patient to     time. They must deal with the          had to wait for months before
survive.                                 uncertainty of whether they will       there were any signs of
         Some of the tasks               recover and return to their regular    improvement. Sadly, some of the
performed by the healthcare team         lives. They often begin to             patients never left the ICU and
include monitoring the patient’s         contemplate death and worry            spent their final days in a hospital
heart rate, blood pressure, and          about their family and friends,        bed. My experience in the ICU
blood chemistry to detect sudden         especially how they will cope          exposed me to an environment
changes in the patient’s condition       throughout the ordeal.                 filled with emotions.
and deliver immediate therapy. In                 Although much of the                  A distraught woman once
addition, daily morning “rounds”         clinical         efforts        and    told me about her mother who had
take place, in which the team            responsibilities     are   directed    a terminal cancer. At first, she was
meets to discuss the plan of care.       towards the patients, healthcare       upset that her mother had to spend
Physical exams, lab tests, and           providers should also remember         her remaining days in a seemingly
diagnostic imaging are also              that a patient’s loved ones also       impersonal place like the ICU. But
necessary.                               suffer.     It is therefore often      with the attentive care given by the
         Treating critically       ill   helpful to include immediate           hospital staff, she realized that the
patients in the ICU is a highly          family members in the treatment        ICU was not such a horrible place.
demanding job, physically and            plan at the discretion of the          She was actually able to spend
                                                                                some quality time with her mother
emotionally. It is common for            patient. They often have the
                                                                                before she passed away.
these      dedicated       healthcare    responsibility of acting as
                                                                                       Such      experiences    have
workers to burn-out from running         surrogate decision makers if it is     shown me that the intensive care
a      hectic     schedule        and    not possible to ascertain the          unit is not just a highly stressful
coordinating all the tasks required      wishes of the patient.                 and depressing environment. It may
to treat patients. They must also                 For several years during      also be a place for reflection,
deal with the emotional stress of        my undergraduate studies, I had        celebrating a person’s life, and
caring for patients who are often        the privilege of volunteering in an    providing closure. For these
on the fringe of death. It is            ICU waiting room in a large city       terminally-ill patients, achieving a
especially difficult to deliver end-     hospital. The waiting room was         good death was the best kind of
of-life care, despite all of a team’s    designated for family members          care.
efforts to save the patient.             and friends to reside until they
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