Last week when I went for chemo, I had Dr. Hanna’s oncology nurse, Donna. She had recently quit working for my doctor. She wanted to get back to more hands on with the patients. When I sat down she asked if they had explained to me about the saline shortage. Ummm, No. A saline shortage?
She proceeds to tell us the factory that supplies the small bags for the saline is located in Puerto Rico. It was destroyed during Hurricane Irma. Which means the patients who use the small bags of saline are not receiving them. She told us it may take a year to get the bags for the saline.
When administering the premeds and chemo, I am given a small 8 oz. bag of saline through my port. The saline helps dilute the drugs being administered and helps hydrate me. When she tells us this, I’m not worried as think the saline was more for hydration than dilution. I would be wrong on that and would find out very quickly the hard way.
Donna is fast when administering my premeds. Bing, bang, boom they’re flying into my port. The last one she administers is dexadron, a steroid. Now at this point, I’ve assumed my usual position. I’ve got my warm blankets, my feet are up and my head is resting comfortably. We’re discussing our families and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday when she begins to administer the Dexadron. Whoa Nellie! My lower back and groin area begin to severely itch and burn. I bring my lazy boy to a sitting position and say “Something is seriously wrong!” Donna calmly says you need more saline to dilute it. She administers another syringe of saline and it goes away. Who knew a little bit of salt water could do so much good! The rest of the appointment goes smoothly.
I’m now apprehensive for my next appointment. Since there’s no saline will I have to experience that again? Yikes! We arrive today, and low and behold I get Anna my very first chemo nurse. I was lucky enought to have her a few times (though every one of my nurses were great). I ran into to Donna and confirmed it was the Dexadron that caused my pain. I talked to Anna about my fears the big baby that I am. She said she would dilute the Dexadron in saline before she administered it and follow up with a syringe of just saline. She would also administer it very slowly. Okay, I feel a little bit better. Still apprehensive but there's a plan.
She begins with the Pepcid and that goes well. Unbeknownst to me, she administers the Dexadron next. She does this very, very slowly. I feel nothing. It works! I’m pain free! My anxiety has left my body! She follows with the Benadryl. My head gets my usual fog but other than that it was uneventful. I know I can survive the premeds and chemo without my 8 ounce bag of saline. Life just got back on kilter.
I am seeking to understand how a hospital the size of Beaumont cannot supply small 8 ounce bags of saline for a year. Who negotiated that contract? Where is your contingency plan? Is Puerto Rico the only place that manufactures these bags? This is poor management Beaumont. There are patients who are experiencing pain in an already stressful process who don’t need to be. This pain is preventable with the use of saline while administering meds. Your patients deserve better Beaumont.