The lady I had worked on at 6AM was still in recovery. Her son was outside, wanting her to be released immediately to the floor. The lady was fully recovered, sitting up in bed wondering why she was still there as well. I took a look at the post-op orders. The surgeon had written orders that she could return to the floor at 12:00. She was to be recovered until that time. I went outside to speak to the son.
The son was quite agitated as I told him his mother was doing fine in recovery. He said he knew that, and that was not the problem. It seemed his father was being discharged from the sixth floor at noon to be admitted to a long term care facility. His parents had not seen each other for over a week. The gentleman's father had Alzheimer's, and was being combative.
I went back into Recovery, and informed the nurse I was taking the patient upstairs. I was told I couldn't do that, not without an order from the surgeon. I explained recovery would not stop. I told the nurse to give me a quick verbal report as I assisted the lady into a wheelchair, and retrieved her teeth and spectacles. I wrote down the last set of vitals displayed on the monitor and I disconnected it. The lady was not on oxygen anymore. Her vitals were stable. I had two nurses fussing at me as I told them I was assuming my patient's care again. I had ten minutes.
The elevator ride was silent, neither of us speaking to the other. As the elevator doors chimed open, I asked the lady which room her husband was in. Room 626. I rolled her up to the door and took a peek inside. The EMTs had an ambulance stretcher beside the bed. A nurse, a nurse aide and two EMTs were trying to convince the old geezer he would be fine if he allowed them to transfer him. He was having nothing of it. I could tell by the twisted sheets and furrowed brows that it had not been pretty a few minutes earlier in that room.
"Howard!" she demanded, "Howard, just what the Sam Hill are you doing?" A snaggletoothed grin crept across the old man's face as my patient rolled her wheelchair into the room and inserted herself between the nurse and me. "Howard, you behave. You know I wouldn't let nothin' happen to you that would be hurtful." The glow of recognition enveloped the man as he lay speechless gazing at the woman he loved. The old man said nothing, only staring contentedly at his bride as the EMTs moved him gently to the stretcher and strapped him down.
"Howard, now you be good. I'll be by to see you as soon as I can," his wife told him. I rolled her backwards into the hallway to allow the EMTs to finish up. While we waited, I strapped a Dinamap to her arm and recorded the vital signs on a scrap of paper. As the old gent was rolled out of the room, his bride leaned forward to kiss him on the forehead, telling him it will be OK, she will be there soon. Then they parted yet again.
The lady's son shook my hand, telling me he had to go with his father to make certain he settled in comfortably. We bade him goodbye. It was another quiet elevator ride back down to PACU. Once there, I again hooked the little lady up to the monitors, and recorded her vital signs and notated them on her chart. The recovery nurse fawned over our patient a bit, giving me a distinctly icy shoulder as I gave report back to her. I finished, and started to leave, but the little lady grasped my hand quickly. She couldn't quite say it, but she silently mouthed thank you. A single tear rolled down her cheek.