Nursing Voices

Monday, July 31, 2006

Nurse on the Beach

Pretty Meg Ryan, nurse at Whitefield Memorial, was pleased with life. She had her looks, her health—and a long series of dates with the handsome Dr. Lee Corey. But Meg’s happiness was short-lived, for one day she found out about Lee’s interest in a beautiful blonde patient. Hurt and depressed, she sought solace in the strong, compassionate company of an artist friend who lived on the beach—Wylie Burke.
Then, with terrifying savagery, a violent storm struck the area. And, in the dire emergency that followed, Meg realized, with an abruptness that took her breath away, where her greatest happiness lay—and whom she was going to marry.

Unlike Meg, I rarely wear my white uniform and cap on the beach. I'm not happy when my cap flies off my head and sand gets into my Nurse Mate shoes, especially on those days when I’m wearing my heavy white support hose. Meg is standing on the beach with Wylie Burke, while her looser doctor-boyfriend, the one with poor professional boundries, is at the hospital, hitting on his patients. It looks like Dr. Lee Corey needs to work on improving his professional ethics. Meanwhile, Meg’s mother is at home crying, as her daughter throws away her golden opportunity to become a doctor’s wife. She sent Meg to nursing school so she could nab a doctor, but now she is dating a starving artist. Meg’s mother thinks her daughter has lost her mind. What is a mother to do?

At least Meg is cooler than I am today. I’m sweating bullets, and Meg looks comfortable, wearing her sweater on the beach. Maybe Meg is smarter than she looks.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

One more candle on the cake.

I'm one year older, but I'm not worried. Instead of a facelift, I’ll just buy a pair of sunglasses and become one of the beautiful people. How do you think I'd look in a little red sports car?

It’s going to be another hot day, but I’m ready for it. I’m armed with another gallon of ice cream and a six-pack of diet Pepsi. It's true, diet soda really does cancel out the calories of ice cream.

Dog Tired

This is me after working a sixteen hours. I work a double shift every Saturday, and I just got home. I'm sooooooo tired, and oh yeah, today's my birthday. I'm going to pass out now, and dream of blowing out birthday candles, and eating chocolate cake. Yippee.

Good night.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

In the Heat of the Night

Merciless heat + sitting idly at the computer while eating 5 gallons of ice cream = my expanding waistline. I never could get into a itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, yellow polka dot bikini, but now I can’t even squeeze into my “relaxed fit” jeans.

Shopping for ice cream was a great adventure. If you’re my age, you remember three favors of ice cream, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Do you know how many types of ice cream they make now? I walked into the frozen food section at my local grocery store and went into flavor overload. What the heck is Cherry Garcia? Then came the question of fat content, yeah like ice cream is healthy for you. Who are they trying to kid, and what’s the point of eating low fat ice cream? Part of the fun is eating something decadent. If someone is that health conscious, they should eat a green leafy salad and call it a day.

I hope this heat wave ends quickly, while I can still waddle to the refrigerator.

Today’s Book Report

I found this book many years ago at a thrift store when I lived in Champaign, Illinois. After I read it, I couldn’t believe someone hadn't thrown it in the trash. Facts For The Married by William Lee Howard, M.D. was published 1912. In his book, Dr. Howard gives young couples advice on how to have a happy sex life. Wait a minute, I take that back. He told MEN how to have a happy sex life. He told women that good, obedient, God fearing wives are happy, so if they aren’t happy, it’s because they are evil, and they are going to hell. How’s that for being therapeutic.

I looked Dr. Howard up on the Internet (while I ate a third bowl of chocolate ice cream), and learned that he was more than just a chauvinist pinhead, he was a hateful bigot. Dr. Howard published an article in a 1903 medical journal that said African-American men are immoral because of their biology. Not surprisingly, Dr. Howard also hated gay men. He wrote extensively in the popular press, warning parents to keep their sons away from men he called “fairies." He also told parents to keep boys away from “embroidery, dolls, and make-believe tea parties with girl playmates.

I’m sure glad they don’t make doctors like that anymore.

Friday, July 28, 2006

More From the News Desk

Today in New Mexico, Donna Morrow, a surgical nurse at Plains Regional Medical Center, took her Chihuahua to the vet for his shots, and ended up delivering a baby.
Morrow heard a woman screaming from the vet's restroom, and when she investigated, she found a woman about to give birth. With the help of the vet and a 911 operator, Morrow delivered a healthy baby boy. Take your dog to the vet and deliver a baby. Just goes to prove how nurses can multi-task.

Nursing leaders in the United Kingdom are calling for action after a survey revealed that one in five nurses in the UK have been bullied at work during the past year.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey also showed that a quarter of the nurses who were bullied changed jobs, or left nursing because the problem.

Now for the editorial:

I’m sorry, but no one is going to help nurses with this problem. It’s up to nurses to stop the abuse. I know you’ve heard me say this before, but we teach people how to treat us. Case in point; I was pulled to a medical floor this weekend and was in a patient’s room when I heard yelling out in the hallway. When I walked out of my patient’s room to investigate, I saw two nurses huddled in the hallway, cornered by a doctor. I walked up to the doctor and asked her to keep her voice down because she was disturbing the patients. She turned and glared had me. I thought, “Oh honey, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.” In a rage, she screamed, “Who the hell are you?” I responded in a calm, low voice, “I'm the nurse you're not going to talk to like that. When you can talk in a professional manner, look me up, but until then I have nothing more to say to you." Her jaw dropped. Yeah, she was speechless. No one had set limits with her before. When the thunderstruck doctor left the unit, the two nurses I rescued told me I was going to get in trouble. They said I had to understand that doctors "get like that sometimes,” and that nurses "just have to deal with it." I just rolled my eyes and walked away.

If I took a job on that floor, I would be fired my first day on the unit.
If that sort of behavior is deemed acceptable, it’s a good thing I worked behind locked doors.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No Bad Men

There is nothing like kicking back after a hard day at work, drinking a glass of wine, and reading a good book. My husband picked this book up many years ago, and surprisingly, he didn't hide it from me. It’s a satire based on BarbaraWoodhouse’s book, “No Bad Dogs: The Woodhouse Way,” in which she teaches readers how to turn the most out-of-control K-9 into a lap puppy. Today's book report is on the book, “No Bad Men The Lovehouse Way,” by Dr. Barbara Lovehouse. In her book, Lovehouse has taken Woodhouse’s method of dog training, and applied it to men.

As a psychiatric nurse, I was intrigued by Lovehouse’s theory. She brings up a valid point that we teach people how to treat us. Let take a look at what she has to say.

Chapter I: Does Your Man Need Training?

In this chapter, the reader is given information on how to decide if their man needs training. If the guy in the picture looks like your man, read on.

Chapter 2: Men vs. Dogs: Some Clear-cut Comparisons

After working with men and dogs, the author concluded that dogs are easier to train than men. In chapter 2, Lovehouse compares problem men to problem dogs. Here are a few comparisons from her book.

Lovehouse teaches readers that they don't have to live with bad behavior.

Chapter 20: When to Send Your Man to the Pound

In chapter 20, Lovehouse confesses that, although the message of the book is that there are no bad men, she lied. She said there are ALMOST no bad men, and if you have a man that can’t be trained, dump him at the pound. It sounds cruel, but she’s right. Life is too short to live in an unhappy or abusive relationship. Remember, there are fifty ways to leave your lover. If you’re in a bad relationship, choose one of those fifty ways, and get out of the relationship.

I read the book to my boy, Daniel. He laughed through the whole thing.

Good News!

Finally, Andrea Yates gets justice. Yesterday, a jury in Houston, Texas found Yates, a former nurse, not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of her five children. Yates suffered from post-partum depression, and was psychotic the day she drowned her five children in a bathtub. Yates believed she was saving her children from Satan.

Her 2002 convictions were thrown out on appeal last year after it was discovered that an expert witness for the prosecution lied on the stand.

I never understood how the first jury could send her to jail. Don't they have post-partum depression in Texas?

Just one nurse’s opinion.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Alphabet Soup

Nurses love alphabet soup.

Maybe it’s a sign of aging, but I don’t know what most of those letters behind a nurse’s name mean anymore. Yes, I know they indicate what academic and certification credentials someone has earned, but there are so many new ones now, I'm getting confused.

I know I’m going to stir up a hornet's nest by bringing this subject up. Nurses are passionate about our profession's alphabet soup. To those nurses who have worked hard to earn degrees and professional credentials, I say well done, take a bow. You’ve earned it. However, I'm not the only nurse who is confused by the alphabet soup, and if nurses are confused, how can we expect the public to understand what all those letters mean.

Sometimes, I think nurses get a little crazy about collecting letters behind their name. There are six basic types of credentials nurses may possess and use after their names.

Degree: These credentials are based on the completion of an educational program. Examples: BSN, MSN, PhD, EdD, JD.

Licensure: These credentials are based on the successful passing of a national licensure exam. Examples: RN, LPN

State designation or requirement: These credentials are similar to licensure, but go beyond the basics, designating authority and recognition to practice at a more advanced level in a state. Examples: APN, APRN, NP

(OK, so far I understand what's going on, but now it starts getting murky.)

National certifications: These credentials are awarded by a nationally recognized certifying body, such as the American Nurses Association’s Credentialing Center, and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners' Certifying Board. Over the years, they have developed all kinds of “add on” letters including RN-C, RN-BC, and NP-C. These organizations have invented so many different credentials, few people know what they mean anymore. One reason for this explosion in credentialing could revolve round the revenue it generates for these organizations. You know they don’t give these credentials away. Nurses buy study guides, pay to take the tests, and must keep their credentials up-to-date by acquiring CEUs. Oh yes, developing CEUs also generate income for those organizations. Interesting isn't it.

Awards of honors: Two examples of awards of honors are FAAN (Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing), and FCCM (Fellow of Critical Care Medicine). Those credentials are for members only, and are awarded for outstanding service or accomplishments. I doubt that many people outside of our profession know what those awards are, or what they mean.

Other certifications: Like nursing, other fields have alphabet soup. Some nurses venture outside of the nursing profession to glean additional letters behind their name.

I've met nurses who wear credentials like kids wear designer jeans. It's all about the label. When I graduated from nursing school a bizillion years ago, you got an RN, period! Please, stop the insanity and lay off the alphabet soup.

Things are getting too complicated for old nurses like me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I love eBay!

I’m addicted to eBay, and I revel in my illness. As a history buff, I love all the cool stuff you can find online. If I had unlimited funds, my house would be crammed full with eBay treasures. By the way, my birthday is at the end of the month, so I'm including some gift ideas just in case my friends and family are peeking at my blog.....hint-hint.

I love old post cards and photographs. This picture was taken before the turn of the century in a children's ward located in Europe.

Old books are great, especially books about the nursing profession. This book is about women serving in the Civil War and was printed in 1866. Many women mentioned in the book are nurses. Here is an example. This lady was a nurse for the Union army.


My favorite goodies on eBay are old posters. Here are two examples I just love. Thanks for looking at my wish list, and if you need anymore suggestions on what to get me for my birthday, drop me a line. I'll be happy to help you out:-)

The Country Doctor

'The Country Doctor': Selfless Devotion. LIFE magazine, September 20, 1948. Photographs by W. Eugene Smith.

I first met Dr. Estes when I lived in Iowa. It was 1958 and I was three years old. My parents had rushed me to our small town hospital late one night after I broke a toe. I remember sitting on my mother’s lap as a young man in a white lab jacket walked into the exam room. Dr. Estes was new in town, and no one really knew much about him. He sat down next to me, and we talked before he wrapped my injured toe in white medical tape. He had straight, jet-black hair and the deepest brown eyes I had ever seen. I don’t remember what he said, or everything that happened, I just remember his smile and gentle manner.

The years past, and Dr. Estes took care of our community. Whenever a child came to see Dr. Estes in his office, Millie, his office nurse, gave the patient cookies. When someone was too sick to come to the office, Dr. Estes made a house call. And if someone was too poor to pay for his services, Dr. Estes took produce or other services in lieu of payment. He took care of everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

When I graduated from high school, I decided to become a nurse. I never thought of nursing as a subservient profession because of Dr. Estes’ relationship with Millie. Yes, she passed out the cookies, but she did a lot more than that. Millie and Dr. Estes worked as partners. Millie had been a nurse a long time, longer than he had been a doctor, and Dr. Estes admired Millie's wisdom and intelligence. He always treated Millie with the utmost respect.

I remember everything Dr. Estes and Millie did for me when I was growing up, and I wanted to do the same for others. I wonder how many other people they inspired to become doctors and nurses.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Do You Remember When......

Doctor Anonymous, do you remember these young ladies?

This picture was taken many years ago at a hospital golf tournament before doctors carried beepers or cell phones. These nurses are searching for Dr. A because they need orders on a new patient.

The average age of a nurse is somewhere between 48-50 years old. And if you’re in that age range like I am, you know how much things have changed since you graduated from nursing school.

Do you remember when there were no IV pumps? Nurses had to run IVs by timing how fast the fluid was running through the IV chamber. Hanging piggyback antibiotics was always an adventure, especially if you were running IVs on multiple patients. The trick was getting back in time to switch bottles once the piggyback was empty, otherwise the patient’s IV would clot off.

Do you remember when there were no cell phones or beepers? It wasn’t easy tracking down a doctor when you needed something. Finding the doctor after hours was an art, and required a wealth of information at your fingertips. I learned the favorite watering hole of every doctor at the hospital. I knew the names of their wives, and the names and phone numbers of their mistresses. Tracking down a doctor took guts. On occasion, when a doctor took his phone off the hook because he didn’t want to be bothered, I would have the police go and knock on his front door, and tell him to put the phone back on the hook.

Do you remember when there were no computers or fax machines? Nurses were expected to be stenographers, typing up reports they received over the phone from other hospital departments, and hand delivering them to the doctors as they made their rounds. Nurses were also expected to give up their seat when a doctor came into the nurses’ station.

Do you remember when you HAD to wear a white dress, white nylons and nursing shoes, and a nurse's cap? The dress was hard to keep white (you know what I mean), the nylons were uncomfortable and would run, and the hat was always getting tangled up in IV tubing while you were counting those infernal drops. At the end of my shift, I looked more like a bag lady than an angel of mercy.

There are so many things I remember, and so many things I wish I could forget. What do you remember about the good old days?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Blind Date

Did your friends ever talk you into going on a blind date? My two friends convinced me to go on a blind date when I was in nursing school. We went out as a group. My date looked like Moe. He was a nice guy, but he just wasn't my type.

I went to nursing school in the backwoods, redneck town of Danville, Illinois. I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I moved there. During the 1970s, the biggest social event in Danville involved putting on bed sheets, going into a Black neighborhood every Friday night, and burning a cross. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Mike, my blind date, was a native son. His idea of a successful life was getting a job hauling garbage for the county, and earning enough money so he could go out drinking every weekend with the boys. He thought it was nice I was going to be a nurse, but said I was wasting my time. He said a woman needs to "know her place," and that place is in the home after she gets married. Yeah, right Jug Head.

I shudder to think what my life would be like if I had married a guy like Mike. I get queasy just thinking about it. As soon as I graduated from school, I packed up and moved out of Danville as fast as I could, never to return again. Today, I'm married to the most wonderful, enlightened man I've ever met. Sometimes you really do get to live happily ever after.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

From the News Desk........

If you’re looking for fair and balanced news commentary, stop reading. I am an opinionated nurse with a lot to say about the news. I will try to keep my comments about current events brief and to the point. I will also be respectful of others, and I ask that if you want to comment, you do the same. So now, on with the show.

Magic Carpet Therapy

News flash! Researchers at Johns Hopkins University just discovered that ingesting certain types of mushrooms produces feelings of euphoria. Well, duh! I thought everyone knew that. The scientists at Hopkins must be too young to remember Timothy Leary.

The research suggests that “magic mushrooms” containing psilocybin, a plant alkaloid that affects the brain’s serotonin system, could be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and drug dependence. According to Hopkins researchers, the feeling of wellbeing produced by psilocybin lasts for at least two months.

If the research pans out and the drug companies cash in, I predict these little botanical morsels, also known as Boomers, God’s Flesh, and Hippieflip, will change how we live. Drug companies will mount huge ad campaigns, promoting the use of new drugs such as Nirvana-zide, Shroomzac, and Haldo-high. We might even see full page ads in USA Today, featuring elated house wives ingesting their daily dose of chocolate covered shroom pills.

The nursing profession will feel the impact of any further research involving the use of elicit drugs. Maybe someday medication carts will include drawers for bongs, pipes, and roach clips. Nurses may also have to update their patient education materials to include information on ways to roll a joint before smoking medical marijuana, and how to determine when it’s time to replace a worn out water pipe.

DuPont always said there’s better living through chemistry.

Blaming the Victims:
A physician and two nurses were arrested this week in Louisiana on suspicion of second-degree murder. Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti Jr. said the healthcare workers were playing God when the allegedly killed four patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Monday morning quarterbacks are gearing up. Were the deaths a result of murder or mercy killing? Who knows, but I think that unless you were there and lived through the horror of watching your patients suffer in triple digit temperatures with little food or water for six days, you don’t have the right to judge those you lived through the experience.

I find it laughable that the attorney general is filing charges against the hospital staff while letting local, state, and federal officials off the hook. Why aren't they being charged with murder. I will never forget hearing the words “good job Brownie” while watching televised images of people suffering in the floodwaters.

I guess it’s easier to scapegoat a doctor and two nurses than it is to go after the rich and powerful.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hot Nurses........

I wonder how many hits this post is getting because of its title. Sorry, no porn here, just a discussion about hot weather and nursing uniforms. Look at these poor ladies. I can't imagine what it was like being tied up in corset and wearing a long starched dress on a hot summer day. No wonder women were always getting "the vapors." It got up to 98 degrees today, and there is no way I could wear one of those uniforms in this kind of heat. Good thing today's uniforms are comfortable, and that nurses work in air conditioned facilities. If we didn't, the nursing shortage would get a lot worse.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lois Lane, Super Nurse

Statistics show that an increasing number of individuals are leaving established careers to join the nursing profession. I thought this was a new trend, but after doing some research, I've learned some interesting facts. Some people change careers because they want a more challenging job, while others look for work that is more rewarding. However, there was one individual who changed careers because the Man of Steel couldn't get his act together. That's why Lois Lane, girl reporter, left journalism and became a nurse.

Lois tinkered around with the idea of becoming a nurse long before making her decision to leave journalism. She started working as a health care professional at Metropolis Hospital in 1963 when DC comics published, “Superman’s Girlfriend: Lois Lane, Volunteer Nurse.” Instead of sitting by the phone waiting for Superman’s call, Lois spent her time away from the Daily Planet working as a volunteer nurse. Lois’ duties as a nurse’s aide included reading to pediatric patients, serving meals, and hanging up an autographed Superman poster in the children's ward. She also falls in love with a handsome patient and is kidnapped by criminals. And you thought your job was stressful. Of course, Superman comes to the rescue, saving Lois, and their relationship. But just a few issues later, Lois returns to Metropolis Hospital. Apparently during her brief absence from the hospital, she attended a fast-track nursing program and passed her state boards. When she returns to the hospital, she is seen passing medications and assisting surgeons in the O.R.

In 1968 Lois dumps Superman when he forgets to come to her birthday party. The super hero was out crushing cars in a junk yard, just for fun, and the party slipped his mind. Sometimes Superman could be very insensitive. After telling Superman he is a super-jerk and that their relationship is over, Lois changes her name to Lois Lorne, moves to Coral City, and starts looking for job as a nurse. When Lois arrives at Coral City Hospital to fill out an application, she is shocked to see hundreds of other nurses applying for the same job. What happened to the nursing shortage? Anyway, while waiting to fill out an application, Lois’ critical thinking skills come in handy when she helps a ten year old boy retrieve a toy that had fallen down a storm drain. The head doctor is so impressed with Lois' commitment to customer service, he hires her on the spot. During her career at the hospital, Lois worked in many departments. She administered radiation treatments, and worked as an operating room nurse, a physical therapist, a floor nurse, and as a clinic nurse. Everyone at the hospital loved Lois. She was too good to be true.

Florence Nightingale would be proud of Lois Lane, and would welcome her into the profession with open arms. Lois dumped a man, became a super nurse, and lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Family Nurse

When someone in my family has a question or problem, they call a relative for expert advice. I have siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, who collectively, represent every profession known to mankind. And when someone in our family has a health care question, they call me. I’m the family nurse.

It’s odd how family members start coming out of the woodwork once you become a nurse. Relatives you only met once in your entire life, when you were two years old, start dropping by your house and calling you on the phone. During family reunions, my relatives have been known to stand in line for hours, just to tell me where it hurts. I’m sure this phenomenon happens to every nurse on earth. You listen quietly as relatives go into painstaking details about their aches and pains, not to mention their bowel habits, and when they are done, they sit silently, waiting for you to utter health care words of wisdom. My words are, “Call your doctor.”

Surprisingly, Lystra Gretter, the author of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, didn’t include a clause about dealing with family members when she was writing the pledge. I’m sure that Lystra, who lived in the 1800s, fielded plenty of questions from her family about consumption, rheumatism, and the vapors. I've often wondered if Florence, herself, felt overwhelmed by family questions. Did she head off to the Crimean War just to get away from her kinfolk? That's something we may never know.

I predict that as access to health care continues to diminish thanks to greedy HMOs, the family nurse will continue to reign supreme in the family tree.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My Expanding Vocabulary

Today's word is "Mouse Potato"

I sit at my computer every morning, eating breakfast, and catching up with what’s happening in the world. Starting at a leisurely pace, I check out Google News and then cruise over to the Drudge Report. Then I check out my daughter’s blog—the one I’m never suppose to look at—to see what my little darlings have been up to with her friends. Yes, I spy on my kids. It’s my job because I’m their mother. Then after walking the dogs quickly around the block, I return to my computer and read my e-mail. I look at the clock and notice it’s getting late, but before signing off, I’m compelled to visit Ebay, Yahoo, and about a bizillion other websites too numerous to mention. I finish off my routine with 600 mg of Motrin because my carpel tunnel is flaring up, and before I know it, my day is shot. Time just seems to fly by. Could I possibly be a mouse potato?

According to the 2006 Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, a mouse potato is someone who spends as much time on the computer as his/her 1990s counterpart did on the couch. As a side note, Whatis?.com adds that, just like couch potatoes, mouse potatoes eat tons of junk food. They said that a recent survey by the American Snack Food Association found that 85 percent of Web surfers snack while at the computer. There goes my voluptuous figure.

I think nurses, by our nature, excel at whatever we do, including surfing the web. Nurses obsessively perform tasks in an organized, efficient manner, and we never quit until the job is done. That is why we are able to do the work of ten people while performing our nursing duties. Surfing the web is a task, and like our duties at work, we will not stop until we visit every website we’ve bookmarked, even if it takes all day. Are you an over achieving mouse potato? Find out by answering the following questions:

Answer true or false

1) I’d rather hold a computer mouse than my spouse’s/significant other’s hand.
2) I can name ten websites faster than I can remember my cell phone number or the names and ages of my children.
3) I go through clinical withdrawal (sweaty palms, nausea, vomiting, the urge to kill) when I’m away from my computer for more than eight hours.
4) My pulse starts racing whenever I see a Mac commercial on TV.
5) My Christmas wish list looks like an invoice sheet from Best Buy’s computer department

If you answered true to any of these questions, you might be a mouse potato. If you are at risk for developing these symptoms, consult a computer specialist at Geeks are Us, or at

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Workplace Romance

(Warning: This post contains highly opinionated material. My husband is in hiding, so I must be cranky today).

Their eyes met across a crowded room. They knew in an instant they were kindred spirits. The problem? The crowded room is the nurses’ station, and the kindred spirits are coworkers.

I've never understood why anyone would consider dating someone from work.
Personally, I've never dated a coworker. It just struck me as being kind of incestuous. I always thought dating someone I worked closely with would be like dating my brother. Eeewww!

It embarrasses me to watch coworkers make goo-goo eyes at each other. I feel like an intruder when I walk into the nurses’ station and overhear the happy couple chatting away, engaging in pillow talk at the desk. The rumormongers are in their glory as stories about the couple start circulating throughout the hospital. No one gets any work done.

And then there is the issue of breaking up. That’s always complicated no matter whom you are dating, but it’s especially awkward when you’re breaking up with someone you have to see everyday at work.

He said, “Excuse me, please pass the scalpel.”
She said, “My pleasure. Where would you like it? In your back, or through your heart,”

Yeah, things can get messy.

And when things get too dysfunctional on the unit, the boss has to fire someone. Who gets canned depends on the situation. If it’s a doctor-nurse relationship, guess what, the nurse gets fired. Rank has its privileges and nurses are more expendable. If a nurse is seeing another nurse, it’s a tossup. Sometime they both get a pink slip. In the end, someone has to start looking for work somewhere else.

If you’re looking for Mr. or Ms Right, I suggest trying Internet dating services, and pickup joints, such as bars, health clubs, and Starbucks. Life is a party, just don't bring it to work.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I've been tagged.

I've been asked to answer the following questions:

Four jobs I have had:
1) Gofer in a Congressman’s office when I was 14 years old
2) Sales girl in an upscale clothing store.
3) Psych nurse in an inner city hospital
4) Freelance writer for a national trade magazine

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
2) In and Out
3) Fried Green Tomatoes
4) Steel Magnolias (The ultimate chick-flick)

Four places I have lived:
1) The hog hollers of Iowa
2) Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (The home of the University of Illinois)
3) Oak Park, Illinois
4) Maryland

Four TV Shows I love to watch:
1) Will and Grace
2) My Name is Earl
3) 60 Minutes
4) Boston Legal

Four places I have been on vacation:
1) Washington, D.C.
2) St. Louis
3) Morning Sun, Iowa (I told you I lived in the hog hollers of Iowa)
4) New York City

Four sites I visit daily:
1) The Drudge Report
2) The Washington Post
3) E-bay
4) Blogs, blogs, and more blogs.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Devil Doesn't Always Wear Prada

The movie marquee announced, "The Devil Wears Prada." My patient would disagree. He thinks the devil wears a hospital ID badge and works on a psych unit.

Alan glared at me from across the desk. “Oh wonderful,” I thought. “Another outstanding holiday weekend. ” The police brought Alan to our emergency room in handcuffs. His girlfriend had called the authorities after finding a stash of weapons under their bed. Alan told her he wanted to kill his parents because he wanted to rid the world of evil. It was Alan’s first psychotic break. I hoped Alan would stay calm during the admission process. As with every holiday, we were working short on the unit.

“You bitch,” Alan screamed. “You can’t keep me here against my will.” So much for staying calm,” I thought. I had asked Alan to sign his admission paperwork. “Alan, I’m your nurse and you are at the hospital. You are in a safe place,” I said. He balled up his fist and shook it in my face yelling, “Liar! I know who you really are.” I leaned back in my chair and pushed the panic button under the desk to summon security. I responded “Alan, if I’m not your nurse, who am I?” He scowled and said, “You are the devil and you are going to hell!”

People ask me what it’s like to work on a psychiatric unit. As the weekend charge nurse, I’m responsible for making sure that things run smoothly on my unit. While the Monday through Friday crew is out enjoying the weekend, I’m stuck working with a skeleton crew. And because I have little backup in case of an emergency, I keep a tight rein on the unit. If a drug addict starts threatening staff or the other patients because it’s not time for a dose of Methadone, I put them in the quiet room. If they become violent, I put them in restraints. No questions asked. If a patient’s visitor becomes disruptive and threatening, I have security escort them off the unit. And if all hell breaks loose, I’ve been known to call the police. My entire focus is on patient and unit safety.

I can’t remember all the names patients have called me throughout my long nursing career. Nurses take a lot of abuse. However, being called a devil is pretty common when you’re dealing with a paranoid patient with religious ideations. I felt sorry for Alan. He wasn’t a bad guy. He was a decent person living with a very bad disease. I knew that unless Alan stayed on medications, he would never get his life back. I was relieved when two security officers arrived to help me escort Alan to his room.

As Alan repeatedly screamed I was going to go to hell, I prepared to give him an injection of Haldol and Ativan. As I leaned over him with the filled syringe, I thought, “No Alan, no one is going to hell today. I can't leave the unit because we don’t have enough staff."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy 4th of July...............

I’m young, energetic, and I look just like this nurse.
Hey! Rule number one, when dealing with delusional individuals, don’t challenge them unless you can replace their delusions with something else.

I’m working a lot this week, and will be away from my computer for the next few days. I wish you all a safe and happy 4th of July.

Mother Jones, RN