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“It really opens your eyes”: Nurse Nacole’s story from the other side of the hospital bed

iStock | AdrianHancu

iStock | AdrianHancu

I’m a nurse, but I’m a human first and that was made apparent the second I woke up from anesthesia. I received gastric bypass surgery in October 2015. I reviewed evidence-based research and spoke to multiple medical professionals about the benefits and risks. I am morbidly obese. For the surgery, I was required to get clearances from different specialties (e.g., cardiovascular). I thought I knew what I was getting into. I thought I knew exactly how this procedure was going to go…but I had no idea!

When I woke up from anesthesia, I had crushing chest pain. It was so painful, I couldn’t talk. I could barely breathe. I called to my PACU nurse and she explained to me that I had a hiatal hernia repair. This repair was causing my current chest discomfort. The kind nurse continued to explain what occurred in surgery, what was going to happen and what I would soon be facing. Her knowledge, her skill, comforted me. As a patient (not a nurse), I then understood just how important nurses are. I’m in my darkest hour; a nurse came to my rescue.

Nothing is scarier than your physical condition being weakened. I’m not the strongest person, but I know my limits and what I’m capable of. The following day (post-operative day one), I was expected to get up and sit in a chair. I did everything I could do NOT to perform this task. I was nauseous, weak and just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t care about what was “best” or what was “needed.” I was weak and afraid, and wanted nothing more than to lie in bed and sleep all day. It was the nurses who reminded me of what was needed and why I needed to do certain tasks (e.g., sitting in the chair, using the incentive spirometer and walking around the unit).

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Nacole Riccaboni

Nacole Riccaboni BSN, RN is a critical care nurse living in Orlando, Fla. She currently is in school for her Doctor of Nursing Practice in family and adult acute care. Nacole, also known as Nurse Nacole, has a YouTube channel with more than a million views. The Nurse Nacole channel provides advice and tips for prospective, new and current nurses. Nacole also shares daily nursing tips and tools for bedside nursing success at

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One Response to “It really opens your eyes”: Nurse Nacole’s story from the other side of the hospital bed

  1. lishastew

    I was just discharged from the hospital after 8 days in PCU and I had such a horrific experience that I actually want change professions. and this was at a hospital where up I work on staff. I had never been an inpatient before and in hope to never be again. now I am unsure if ibwven want to be a nurse.