Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a taste of perspective

Working on the max-fax ward involves giving a lot of tube feedings. Many of our patients are unable to eat for a week after their surgery, since they've had their jaws and faces operated on, and they come back from the operating room with an NG (nasogastric) tube in place and require feedings every 3 hours. We usually use Ensure for our tube feedings - that's a milkshake-like nutrition drink that comes in cans. About a week after I started working in the ward, we ran out of liquid Ensure and had to start using powder instead. That meant that for every tube feeding, instead of just calculating the total amount based on the patient's weight, we first had to calculate how much water and how much powder to use, then mix it up really well to get all the lumps out so it wouldn't clog the tubes. Kind of annoying, right? At least, it seemed annoying until we ran out of Ensure powder too. I was working night shift, and we were down to one can - enough for our 2100 feedings, but there wouldn't be any left for the next day. We hunted in all the other wards and the pharmacy, but to no avail - there was no Ensure left in the hospital. So we paged the dietician, and she got to spend her Saturday night inventing a substitute. A couple hours later she showed up in the ward with a recipe that included milk, peanut butter, sugar, liquid multivitamin, and fiber powder. Yummy! We're glad our patients won't starve, but this new concoction is kind of tricky. The fiber powder doesn't exactly dissolve, and it tends to settle to the bottom of the feeding bags and get clogged in the tubes. That means that while the feedings are going, they need to be checked very often. We asked our ward supervisor how long it would be before we'd get more Ensure. She replied that apparently, there's some in a shipment container sitting on the ship that's docked in front of us. So near, and yet so far away.

All this makes me very thankful for creativity, God's provision, and coworkers who make the best of difficult situations instead of complaining about inconveniences.

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