Nursing Voices

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cheating Hearts

Many people who check into a hospital psychiatric unit expect the doctors and nurses to change their lives, and to make all of their problems disappear. Somehow they’ve gotten the idea that we all have a magic wand in our back pocket and that by waving it, we can make their troubles go away. While it’s true that we offer them hope through the use of medications and talk therapy, there are some things that just cannot be fixed.

I have many patients who are admitted to the unit because he or she finds out that their partner is cheating on them. I’m not going to bash one gender over the other. Men and women are equal opportunity adulterers. The circumstances are different, but the result is always the same. Trust is broken and the patient is devastated. Many patients focus on their partner, and want us to fix their mate. I understand why they do this. It’s easier to focus on someone else than it is to face the fact that a relationship is over. They may also blame themselves for the failure of their relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I feel like I’m listening to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. I hear, “But I love him/her. I can’t live without him/her.” Sometimes I have to work really hard at not being judgmental. After all, it’s not my life going up in flames, but it’s hard to watch someone pine over a cheater.

Patients always ask me for advice. They trust nurses, and they think that we are wise, but I can’t give them advice. It’s my job to get my patients to focus on themselves, and to give them the tools so they can make their own decisions. Sometimes my patients decide to get a divorce, and sometimes they don’t. I have to bite my tongue when a patient decides to take back someone that will hurt them again. I know it bothers the other nurses, too. We joke about having job security, but we’re not heartless. Nurses aren’t angels of mercy, we’re people, and that’s how we cope with what we see at work. I wish I had a magic wand so I could make patients understand that there is no cure for a cheating heart. Sometimes, it’s just best to walk away.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Are Nurses Verbal Junkies?

According to a news story published in the Daily Mail, a new book written by a psychiatrist says that women talk more than men, and that we are verbal junkies. In her book, “The Female Mind,” Dr. Luan Brizendine writes that women talk three times more than men, and that the act of talking floods our brains with chemicals that give us a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they are high.

Look at these nurses standing by the Coke machine. When I first looked at this ad, I thought these ladies were just getting their caffeine fix for the day, but according to the good psychiatrist, they are getting a different kind of fix as well. During my long career as a nurse, I can attest to the fact that nurses love talking to each other about every subject known to mankind. But are we truly junkies? Let’s look at the facts.

People who are addicts share many common characteristics. Addicts are moody and they have huge appetites, especially for sweets. These characteristics are also prevalent among nurses. We crave chocolate, pizza, and Chinese takeout food when we are running our butts off at work, and we get moody when we work double shifts without taking a break. Ask anyone who works with nurses and they will tell you that you are risking your life if you take the last piece of pizza or the last doughnut sitting at the nurses station without permission. And yes, we love to talk. We talk about everything. There is no subject that is off limits, and it’s hard for our male colleagues to get a word in edgewise. Maybe that’s why doctors give phone orders. See the doctor on the book cover? He's getting ready to call in phone orders because he knows that the nurse talking to him can’t talk to anyone else while she’s on the phone. He's a smart doctor.

If nurses are junkies because we like to talk, it’s time to start Talkers Anonymous. Hello, my name is Mother Jones, RN and I’m a blaboholic.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Perfect Woman's Guide to Pregnancy

In my final installment of the Perfect Woman, we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s ideas on how to have the prefect pregnancy and how to give birth to the perfect child.

In her book, The Perfect Woman, Dr. Melendy writes that only a happy woman can have the perfect pregnancy, and that the only way a woman can find happiness is to have a domineering husband and a houseful of kids. She said it was a wife’s duty to bring children into the world, hence, she discouraged the use of any type of birth control. However, she said that in a few rare cases where birth control was necessary, a woman’s only option was to use the rhythm method to prevent pregnancy. Of course, we know how well that works. I think our favorite doctor was just being sneaky because she thought everyone should be burdened with too many children.

Dr. Melendy encouraged women to rejoice in their morning sickness, and to revel in their other symptoms of pregnancy. She also told expectant mothers that a toothache is a frequent sign of pregnancy, and that they should expect to loose one tooth for every child they bring into the world. She said that God didn’t make women suffer during pregnancy and childbirth as a curse, writing, “If you suffer, it is not because you are cursed of God, but because you violate His laws.” I guess only good girls could expect to sail through their pregnancy unscathed.

Dr. Melendy suggested that the sinners among us try these remedies for conditions related to pregnancy.

Sleeplessness: Dr. Melendy writes that pregnant women of nervous temperament are often kept awake night after night without apparent cause. She said that sleeping in a cold, well-ventilated room on a hair mattress is essential in promoting a good night's sleep. She said that taking a short walk could relieve an attack of “the fidgets” during the night. She also said that a nice Turkish bath could promote sleep.

Heartburn and Water Brash: Dr. Melendy said that heartburn and the regurgitation of watery acid from the stomach known as water brash are common and often distressing symptoms of pregnancy. She writes that digestion problems are curable by drinking crust coffee in place of water. She also instructs readers to mix 6 drops of tincture of night-blooming cereus in a full glass of water and take one tablespoon of the mixture every hour until symptoms are relieved.

Fainting: Dr. Melendy write that a delicate woman in pregnancy is apt to feel faint, and she recommended the following mixture to combat "the vapors:"
Mix 6 to 10 drops of tincture of Peruvian bark and 2 drops of tincture of Nux Vomica in a full glass of water. Take two teaspoonfuls three times a day and continue for ten days.

Sore Nipples: To treat the perfect breasts, Dr. Melendy advises women to bathe their nipples for five minutes every night and morning with either merigold ointment or with equal parts of brandy and water. Then cover nipples with soft linen, as the friction of a flannel vest would be apt to irritate them.

Dr. Melendy gives mothers advice on how to give birth to the perfect child. She tells readers that the development of a child’s moral character begins inside the womb. If a married woman reads the Bible and thinks good thoughts, she will give birth to a saint. If the mother is unmarried and gives birth to a bastard, the child will be wicked and the mother will burn in hell. Dr. Melendy also said that a woman’s thoughts during pregnancy influence the child’s physical attractiveness.

She warns that ugly thoughts make ugly babies.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts about how to become the perfect woman.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Runaway Nurse

Have you ever thought about running away from a job, never to return again? If you have, you’re not alone. Let’s look a Nurse Stowell’s case and see why she’s running away.

“For Nurse Jennifer Stowell, flight seemed the only solution. After the scandal involving her with the head of the Octagon Hospital, Jenny fled to the peaceful beaches of Hawaii, hoping to escape the gossip, the whispers and the pointing fingers. No one, it seemed, had believed her innocent.

But on the smooth sands of Waikiki, handsome Dr. Brain Craig fell in love with Jenny. And Jenny, knowing all too well the damage that malicious gossip can do to the career of a promising young doctor, had to run again—this time from the arms of the man she loved.”

How will a determined young doctor—bent on marrying Jennifer in spite of herself—bring out the truth of an old scandal while saving the woman he loves? If he’s smart he’ll figure it out. Jennifer must have a lot on her mind. It’s hard being the subject of malicious gossip while being pursued by a rich and handsome doctor.

There are all kinds of reasons why nurses run away from a job. Sometimes they run away because they are the subjects of malicious gossip. Nurses have been gossiping since the days of Florence Nightingale, and it’s degrading to the profession. Nurses also leave jobs because they feel that their employers are exploiting them. Employers can mandate nurses to work 16-hour shifts and many hospitals have been accused of using forced overtime to fill holes in staffing schedules. Many other nurses leave the profession altogether because they are tired of not being able to give the kind of care they want to give to their patients. And then there are nurses who leave the profession because they get married and live happily ever after. Some girls have all the luck. I’ve been thinking about leaving nursing because I’m getting too old to deflect punches when someone is out of control and is trying to hit me.

I plan to run away from my job just as soon as I hit the Lotto Jackpot. But then again like the old saying goes, once a nurse, always a nurse.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Turkey

Did you have too many cooks in your kitchen on Thanksgiving? People can get cranky when things get chaotic during the holiday season. I was watching the news today and saw a story about family members having a shootout at the dinner table. This princess nurse had a peaceful day as my prince prepared our Thanksgiving meal. We spent an enjoyable day with our family. If you’re heading out to shop today, I wish you luck finding that perfect gift and a parking spot at the mall.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

From the Mailbag

In today’s post, I am offering one of my readers equal time to respond to my rant, “What’s so Bad About Feeling Good.” The reader, Troy Dayton, was the subject of a CNN article about people who use antidepressants even though they are not depressed.

I am publishing his response to my post, followed by my thoughts.

I'm Troy Dayton, the person written about in the original post.

We all do artificial things to enhance our moods.

Most people spend many thousands of dollars extra for a newer, nicer, bigger, or more powerful car than they really need. Why do they do this? Because they think it will make them feel better.

The federal government doesn't threaten the car dealer for selling the nicer car to someone who wasn't depressed when he bought it even if the consequences of this purchase could be devestating to the person.

In fact, society has the opposite way of looking at extravagant purchases then it does at medication. People generally look down or pathologize the person who self-medicates their maladjusted moods through purchasing.

The irony in all this is that while most people think having nicer stuff will make them happier, the data consistently shows otherwise.

Conversely, the data clearly shows that anti-depressants really do make people happier. And very few people will ever go broke paying for anti-depressants. Cars, clothes, and houses on the other hand...

The pursuit of happiness is so intrinsic to the human experience that it is the last three words in one the most important documents of this country.

Happiness is a process more than it is a place to get to. It is a fleeting feeling and almost everything all of us do in life are efforts at attaining it.

It's just that humans are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy. New cars, big houses, another drink, more money wagered, a decadent dessert, hating gay people, stopping the dog next door from barking, etc. But those things don't make people happy despite the ever present belief that they will. But as long as those people aren't hurting anyone else I would never dream of supporting a law to coerce them to stop those behaviors.

I use data, reason, my faith and a deep inner knowledge of myself to create happiness.

Most people only take antidepressants if something is wrong. Most people only go to a therapist or get a coach if something is wrong. Why can't drugs and therapy be evaluated on the basis everything else we do in the pursuit of happiness is evaluated?

Do the benefits outwiegh the risks? Does the value outwiegh the costs?

Nurse Ratched and others make it sound as if the risks associated with taking antidepressants changes based on why it's taken. That is false and an absurd notion. The risks are constant. It is the benifits and the value palced on them that changes with purpose.

It is not surprising that medical professionals who are trained to alleviate diagnosable problems put a high value on that and not a very high value on maximizing human potential.

I've studied the risks and benefits of using Wellbutrin. For me and my values, the benifits outwiegh the risks.

I'm all for people having the right to disagree, but when they force their opinions through policy, I rightfully stand in defiance.

You have government coercion on your side. You even threaten doctors for prescribing off label.

How dare you support denying me and my doctor the right to choose the course of therapy we see fit?

Hello Troy, welcome to Nurse Ratched’s Place. I enjoy hearing from my readers and I welcome your comments.

Let me start off by saying I understand you feel that Wellbutrin helps you live a happier and more fulfilling life. However, it’s my opinion that antidepressants should only be used by patients who suffer from clinical depression. The article did not indicate that you are suffering from a mental illness. There are many risks to taking psychotropic medications. If I had a patient who was suffering from major depression and had constant thoughts of putting a gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger, I would advise that patient to take antidepressants because the benefits outweigh the risks. If on the other hand the patient did not suffer from major depression, I would not advise the use of antidepressants. I would encourage my patient to try other options that might make them feel better. You are right when you say that people use many different coping styles to deal with their issues, and as you point out, some of these styles are superficial, but I believe that taking serious pharmaceuticals to get “a lift” is not an appropriate use of antidepressants. There are other options you can use to feel better that don’t have potential side effects.

Does the government have the right to dictate to doctors how to practice medicine? That’s where it gets dicey. I’ve worked with a few doctors during my career who have done some really boneheaded things with their patients, and I believe the government must step in to protect patients from unscrupulous physicians. On the other hand, does the government have the right to bar physicians from prescribing medical marijuana? And what about euthanasia? I know I’m rambling a little, but I hope you get my point. Everyone has a different opinion, and there are many issues that need further examination.

Once again Troy, thank you for responding to my post. Please drop by again soon. I value your thoughts and comments.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Love and the Perfect Woman

In today’s installment of the Perfect Woman, we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s ideas about love, courtship, and marriage.

According to Dr. Melendy, falling in love, courtship, and wedlock are the most important events in a young maiden’s life. Love makes the world go round, and she sternly warns women that if they are not “pure at heart,” they will become an old maid. An old maid is a single gal over the age of 21. In preparation for marriage, Dr. Melendy tells women to look into their souls and rid themselves of unrealistic expectations, such as being happy after the wedding. She said that marriage is about sacrifice and duty, and that it has little to do with happiness.

Here’s how everything was suppose to work. During the courtship, a young maiden was to be coy, and unassuming. The man was to be dashing and respectful. Dr. Melendy describes courtship as the voyage of discovery. During the engagement period the young maiden was to gather items for her new home and make plans for the wedding. The man, again, was to be dashing and respectful. After the wedding a young maiden, now a wife, was to be obedient and empty-headed, and the man was to rule his spouse. Dr. Melendy said women were meant to suffer because Eve screwed up in the Garden of Eden. Gee, thanks Eve.

Dr. Melendy said that marriage would keep a woman safe as long and she knew her place and didn’t rock the boat. She told women never to ridicule their husband if he came home late at night smelling of alcohol. She said that men work hard during the day and that they deserve to go out with the boys, and with the ladies, whenever they want to unwind. Dr. Melendy also said that if a man was a savage, it was the woman’s place to tame the beast. If the man remained a beast, it was because the woman wasn’t properly doing her job. Dr. Melendy wrote, “Kindness and love is the chief glory of woman—it is, indeed, her true prerogative—her scepter and her crown. It is the sword with which she conquers and the charm with which she captivates.” Personally, I would prefer conquering a womanizing husband with a cast iron skillet.

Dr. Melendy said that a good wife gives herself to her husband whenever he wants sex. She said that it’s a wife’s duty even though virtuous women do not enjoy sex. If a woman enjoys sex too much, she’s a slut. She tells readers love isn’t found in a physical union, and that the wife shouldn’t expect too much from her husband. Dr. Melendy said that women shouldn’t look for pleasure in the bedroom. She told women to look for pleasure in little tasks and duties, which when added together make a grand total of human happiness.

In the final installment, we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s ideas on how to have the perfect pregnancy.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What's So Bad About Feeling Good

The illustration is by Bob Watts, and appeared in Salon Magazine's article, "Wonderful Wellbutrin?"

I’d climb on my soapbox, but I can’t because I’m still on crutches. This is a rant.

Yesterday, CNN released a story about a guy who takes antidepressants. The problem is the guy doesn’t suffer from depression. He said he takes Wellbutrin because it makes him feel good, really good.

Troy Dayton started taking Wellbutrin when he was kicking cigarettes, but now he doesn’t want to give his little helpers up. Troy said the medication makes him feel great, and that the medication gives him the ability to think more clearly. It sounds like Troy has found pharmaceutical nirvana. Some of my past patients have told me that Wellbutrin gives them a rush, the same kind of rush they get when they take amphetamines.

Now hear this! Antidepressants aren’t sugar pills, they are serious medications that have risks as well as benefits. If you take them long enough, you might become physically or psychologically dependent on them, and they can trigger manic-depressive illness in susceptible people. Troy’s physician, Dr. Feel Good, should be reminded about what happens to doctors who promote and/or prescribe drugs for uses not approved by the FDA (read my post about Dr. Peter Gleason), and be counseled by his or her peers.

End of rant…….

Thursday, November 16, 2006

No Dumping Allowed

This photograph was taken by the Los Angeles police department on October 22, 2006, and shows an ambulance crew taking a patient to a homeless shelter in Skid Row.

Hospitals, beware, if you’re caught discharging homeless patients to the streets, you could end up in court. The Associated Press reports that a Los Angeles hospital accused of dumping patients in Skid Row is facing criminal charges. The investigation started last March when a 63-year-old woman was discharged from Kaiser Permanente’s Bellflower hospital and was found wandering the streets of Skid Row wearing a hospital gown and slippers. The hospital is being accused of false imprisonment and dependent-care abuse charges. The city is also suing Kaiser under a state law of unfair business practices.

At first, Kaiser defended their practice, noting that there are social service agencies located in Skid Row that can help patients get back on their feet. Then, after a lot of bad publicity, they apologized. Hospital workers can no longer sneak patients into Skid Row. They have to call Skid Row service providers first before they dump patients off at the provider’s doorstep.

We do not live in a perfect world. As a nurse, I believe it’s wrong to discharge patients to the streets, but as someone who recognizes the economic realities of running a business, and make no mistake, health care is a business, I understand why patients are being kicked to the curb. There are no easy answers, and I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Take My Kid, Please!

Warning: This post is NOT politically correct. There are two types of kids that are admitted to psychiatric units, those with serious mental disorders who need professional help, and those who need a spanking. This post is about the latter. Before you send me hate mail, please hear me out.

There’s a new diagnosis making the rounds on psychiatric units. The diagnosis is Conduct Disorder, also known to many doctors and nurses as Brat Disease. I’ve never been able to understand how this disorder develops. Let me give you an example of what I routinely see on my unit. Two highly intelligent parents bring their little darling to the hospital because he or she won’t mind their manners. The kid dresses like a thug, uses drugs, assaults his or her parents, and refuses to go to school. The parents are dismayed by what is happening. They stand in front of the nursing station, wring their hands, and say, “We don’t know why our baby is acting like this. We’re afraid of our child. Please, help us.” Meanwhile, the kid is making demands, and telling the parents to go to hell. The parents cower, and give in to the child's demands. That’s when I step in. I tell the kid that while that type of behavior is tolerated at home, it will not be tolerated at the hospital. I let them know whose boss, and the parents stare at me, slack jawed in disbelief. Yes, Mom and Dad, it’s called setting limits.

I feel sorry for the psychiatrist. The parents are paying big bucks to have their child hospitalized, and they expect results. The kid usually goes home within three days, and like clockwork, the parents are calling the unit the next day, complaining about the incompetent doctor. Of course, the parents are clueless that they are part of the problem, and nothing gets resolved. It’s a no win situation, and unfortunately it’s the kid who suffers the most. I’ve observed that children are cured of Conduct Disorder when they turn 18 years old. After they turn 18, their condition changes into Convict Disorder, and they go to jail.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Perfect Woman's Perfect Nurse

She’s back!

In today’s post, Dr. Mary R. Melendy, M.D., PH. D. tells readers what qualities make the perfect nurse.

Dr. Melendy advises the perfect woman that from time to time, she may need to hire a nurse to help care for an ailing family member. She said that a perfect woman must not only be a good mother, but a good wife as well, and that by hiring a nurse she will have more time to cook and clean, and wait on her husband. God forbid that a man should ever be expected to get off his dead-butt and help around the house.

It was hard to find a good nurse in the early 1900s. According to Dr. Melendy, the perfect nurse had a bright and cheery disposition, a light step, and a happy face. Since men were repressing women back then, I’m sure these requirements contributed to the nursing shortage. During the interview process, Dr. Melendy encouraged readers to look for a Christian woman with a pleasant voice, a cheerful smile, good dexterity, a strong back, and good culinary skills. A nurse had to be a whiz in the kitchen so she could whip up a batch of gruel when it was needed. Readers were also told to look for an obedient woman who required little sleep. Dr. Melendy warned readers against hiring anyone who was “croaker” or a “putterer,” saying that they ought to be either “married or widowed.”

It was very important that the perfect nurse know how to setup and maintain a sickroom, because without an ideal environment, the patient would never regain his or her health. Dr. Melendy said that good health depended on superior room ventilation, so the perfect nurse knew to open all the windows, even in the dead of winter. The perfect nurse protected her patient from drafts, removed wilted flowers from her patient’s room, and protected her patient’s eyes from the direct rays of the sun or lamp light. She also knew how to use a mop, and a scrub board when washing her patient’s bed linen. Like today, the perfect nurse could multitask.

As archaic as Dr. Melendy’s ideas seem today, she did give her readers one excellent piece of advice on how to find and retain a good nurse: Follow her advice, pay her well, and most importantly treat her with respect and dignity.

In my next installment of the Perfect Woman we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s thoughts on courtship and marriage.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Transcending Gender

What is abnormal? This book was published in 1964, and its cover illustrates the many misconceptions people hold about those who live an alternative life style. Susan Palwick over at Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good posed the question, “What kind of education do emergency-medical personnel get about gender and sexual identity? If they don’t get any, how can that be changed?”

I was never given any information about or training on handling patients with sexual orientation/gender issues when I was in nursing school. I went to nursing school many years ago, and my school was located in a town where people were routinely wearing white sheets and burning crosses in a public park that was designated for Blacks only. Believe me, no one in that town, or in my school talked about tolerance. I thought things would be different when I graduated from school and moved to a liberal university town, but in 1983 I nearly lost my job for letting a gay man sit at his partner’s bedside after visiting hours. His partner died of AIDS during my shift, and I was suspended for breaking the rules about non-family visitation. I’m not telling you this story because I want you to think I’m a saint, I’m telling you this to illustrate how misconceptions about people can interfere with the delivery of good patient care.

Like Kim from Emergiblog, I have always asked my patients what their needs are, and how I can help meet those needs. There’s nothing magical about taking care of a transgender patient. All you have to do is treat them like everyone else.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Hard Boiled Virgin

Here’s a picture of the hard-boiled virgin. The man is “testing” her to see if she’s done. I don’t know how a virgin becomes hard-boiled, but some of you have voiced some intriguing ideas.

Men fawn over girls who look like this young woman. I had a classmate named Mary when I was in nursing school. She was a knockout. Leagues of men adored her, and they all wanted to take her out on a date. Mary enjoyed the attention, but she wasn’t a tramp. She was a rare combination of beauty and brains, and she was very serious about her studies.

I never thought that being beautiful would have a downside, but Mary occasionally had problems with sexually preoccupied patients. She approached this challenge with dignity and grace while providing superb nursing care to dirty old men, horny teenage boys, and the sporadic sexual pervert. They would grab at her, and she would bob and weave. They would ask her out on a date, and she would tell them she was their nurse, and nothing more. Some of the men exposed themselves to her and she would just walk out of the room. I was amazed at her unflappability. She was never demeaning when setting limits on inappropriate behavior, and she always enjoyed taking care of her patients.

Maybe the hard-boiled virgin is a nurse. She looks intelligent and kind. She also looks like she can take care of herself. Watch out! I think she’s going to put this guy in his place.

Election Day Painkillers

What does Mother Jones RN and these boulders have in common? We’re all stoned. Get it? Those pains pills I’m taking for my injured ankle are kicking my butt.

I taped up my ankle, took my pain pills, grabbed my crutches, and hobbled to the polls first thing yesterday morning. My husband dropped me off in front of our local firehouse, and then went to park the car. While I was waiting for my prince, several people came up and asked if I need any help. Oh no, I was fine, really fine, because the pain pills were kicking in. Some very nice redneck good-old-boys let me cut in line, and my prince and I were done voting in about 15 minutes. Chivalry is not dead.

Like millions of other Americans, I watched the election results on ABC and Fox. The guys on Fox looked glum. I also heard that Vice President Cheney went hunting on Election Day. I hope someone took the buckshot out of his rifle when the election results started coming in.

Do you remember this?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Princess Nurse and her Prince

Here I am at home in my favorite red gown. My prince adores me and he’s waiting on me hand and foot. He just polished my tiara. How do I look? Ok, maybe I don’t look exactly like this, but a girl can dream, can't she?

I am a princess nurse who is very tired when I come home from work at the hospital. My prince appreciates all of my hard work, and he spoils me rotten. I work 16 hours every Saturday, and my prince serves me breakfast in bed every Sunday morning. He makes me French toast, my favorite. My prince supports my dreams of returning to school, and he takes me shopping for books whenever I want. He is kind, considerate, and patient, which is a good thing because I can get cranky when I’m having hot flashes. My wish is his command. He works on keeping the passion alive in our marriage.

When I’m not at work or at school, I kickback and relax by blogging or by reading a good book. Like I’ve said before, I’m not Martha Stewart, and if you enjoy a spotless home, don’t step foot on my property. My house is cluttered, but this doesn’t bother my prince. He just steps around the junk that’s lying around the house. It’s also a good thing that he likes to cook because I can’t boil water. The last time I tired boiling water, the pan caught on fire, but that’s another story. The kitchen is his domain, however, I do have visitation rights to the refrigerator whenever I want a can of Coke. He won’t even let me clean the kitchen when he’s done preparing our meals. The best thing about my prince is that no matter how old and wrinkled I get, he always thinks I’m beautiful. Love is blind.

I think I'll keep him. I'm the luckiest princess nurse in the world.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Registered Voter, Registered Nurse

Democrats, Republicans, Independents, lend me your ears. On November 7th, log off your computers, go to the polls, and vote. This is very important, people. You need to be a part of the political process.

One in four registered voters is a nurse. Unfortunately, most nurses don’t understand the political process and feel powerless to change the things they don’t like about the government. There are 2.9 million nurses, making us the largest group of healthcare providers in the country. Imagine the impact we could have on government policy if every nurse voted for the candidates of their choice.

Nurses can no longer afford to be part of the silent majority. I urge you to vote.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sick Call

This is substandard nursing care. I want a Coke! My weekend is not going well. It all started when I was admitted to my hospital's ER. I’m a klutz and I fell down some stairs while doing housework yesterday evening. People who know me know how much I hate cleaning my house—I’m no Martha Stewart—and after my tumble down the stairs, it will be a cold day in hell before I get the urge to sweep up anymore dust bunnies.

Like most nurses, I’m the world’s worst patient. I didn't want to go to the ER last night even though I was screaming in pain and crying like a baby. No, not me, I’m on the schedule to work the weekend and I’m not going to call in sick. My ankle was swelling, so my darling husband packed my ankle in ice, elevated my foot, gave me Motrin, and I called it a night. At 4 a.m. I woke up in searing pain. I roll out of bed and crawl to my office to use the phone. I called my nursing supervisor.

Me: Hello Nice Supervisor, this is Mother Jones RN. How many patients do we have on the unit?

Nice Supervisor: Well, good morning Mother Jones RN, you’re up early. What’s going on?

Me: I fell down some steps and my ankle is painful and swollen. I think it might be fractured. I’m NOT calling in sick, but if we’re busy, is it alright if I just sit behind the desk with my foot elevated and take off orders and answer the phone.

Nice Supervisor: This sound serious. I’m marking you down as sick for the entire weekend and I want you to be seen in the ER. You may have a compartment fracture, but even if you don’t, we need to be checked out. I hope you feel better. Goodbye.

I was overcome by guilt. “Maybe I’m over reacting, and I should get a second opinion,” I thought. I called the 24 hour health hot line number I found on the back of my insurance card. I spoke to a nurse and told her what was going on. She laughed when I got to the part about feeling guilty. She said that nurses are the worst patients, and that I must listen to my nursing supervisor. She said she was preauthorizing my visit to the ER. I woke up my sweet husband from a sound sleep, and we started our trek to the ER. I'm going to live, I just have a bad sprain.

Too bad the doctors in our ER don’t look like the ones on TV. I would still hate going to the hospital, but at least it would be more fun. I’m still feeling guilty about not going into work today, but every cloud has a silver lining. Now I have more time for blogging.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Inservice

My boss scheduled a mandatory inservice yesterday, and I had to go into work on my day off. No, I wasn’t happy, but it gave me a break from housework, and I got the chance to catch up on some hospital gossip. When I walked on the unit, the meeting was about to start. The first order of business was to watch a video about pandemic flu. Look at the people on the book cover. I think they saw the same video. They look scared and they are running to the grocery store to stock up on bottled water and nonperishable foods.

(Cue scary music from a 1950s B movie) World Wide Pandemic Flu: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You!

Sitting behind a desk we see Nurse Germicide, the hospital’s infection control nurse. She’s wearing her white uniform, her hair is pulled up in a bun, and her glasses are perched on her nose. She is the picture of decorum. Nurse Germicide is smiling as she reminds viewers that the pandemic flu is lurking in the shadows, and that it will kill millions of people around the world. She calmly reviews hospital policies involving crowd control, mass casualties, and how to care for patients while everyone around you is dropping like flies. She reassures hospital employees that there is no cause for panic or alarm because the hospital would be on lockdown when rioting breaks out in the streets. She also reminds staff to bring their own food and water from home because hospital supplies will quickly be depleted, and that we can’t depend on outside help from the government. At the end of the video Nurse Germicide says, “We all hope that there will never be an outbreak of pandemic flu, but if there is and thousands of people in our community begin to die, our hospital will be a beacon of hope during a time of despair.” (Cue cheery, happy music) The End.

We then welcomed the head of our security department to the staff meeting. He told us how to use a metal detector wand like the ones they use at the airports. Referring to the video, he said the wand would keep us safe when drug addicts break into the hospital during the riots. I said, “Excuse me, but a junkie would kill his own mother for a fix. How will the wand keep us safe?” He said that the wand would tell us where they were hiding their weapons, and that we could hit them over the head with the wand if they tired to hurt us. I said that if we were being robbed, we wouldn’t have to worry about finding their weapons—they would be waving them in our faces—and that when
someone breaks in looking for drugs, I will give him what he wants and send him on his way. He frowned at me. I don’t think he liked my grumpy attitude.

I know that the threat of pandemic flu is serious business, but must I hear about Armageddon on my day off? It makes me feel like I’m going into battle with Braveheart. Too bad he’s wearing the wrong kind of personal protective equipment. Hey Braveheart, where’s your mask and gown?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pulp Psychology

Do you remember the book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? Here are the men from mars. Note the antennas on their space helmets. The men use the antennas when they try to read a woman’s mind. Silly men, all they have to do is ask her what’s she thinking about. When will they ever learn?

Pop psychology books have really evolved over the years. My favorite book is Feeling Good by David D. Burn, M.D. It was first published in 1980. Whenever I see a copy at a thrift store, I pick it up so I can have it on hand for my patients. Times have really changed, and here are some books I think you'll find entertaining.

If you want an entertaining look at the bad-old-days, this is the book for you. Plain Facts for Old and Young was written by John Harvey Kellogg, and was published in 1892. It was a very popular book in its day, and told readers how to have a healthy physical and psychological life. It was also the book that first suggested that you would go blind by “doing it.” I’ll write more about that later. What makes this book note worthy isn’t it’s content, but it’s author.

Dr. J.H. Kellogg was a surgeon, and was the director of the Kellogg Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Kellogg believed that natural foods, along with enemas and hydrotherapy, could cure everything except chronic masturbation, which was the cause of every illness known to mankind. Dr. Kellogg believed that natural foods such as corn could cleanse the body of impurities and cure a variety of nervous disorders. He invented Corn Flakes so his patients at the sanitarium could start their day with a healthy breakfast. Dr. Kellogg’s brother, William K. Kellogg had a sharp business sense and convinced his brother to go into partnership with him in 1906. They formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company under William’s management.

Dr. Kellogg was known as a champion of healthy eating, high colonics, and a disdain for sex. I’ll never be able to look at a box of corn flakes the same way again.

Sigmund Freud wasn’t only the father of modern psychoanalytic, he was the father of pop psychology books. In Psychopathology of Everyday Life, published in 1951, Freud is the first to bring modern psychiatry to the masses. This book first introduced the American public to the concepts of the Freudian slip and repression.

The back jacket reads:

“Have you ever forgotten the name of a person you know well, mislaid a familiar object, or used the wrong word in writing or conversation? If, like most of us, you’ve made these everyday mistakes, are you sure they were accidents?

According to Sigmund Freud, the founder of the modern psychoanalytic movement, most common slips of the tongue or annoying errors are reflections of disturbances in our personalities, some of which may be buried so deep that we ourselves are hardly aware of them. In this fascinating and useful volume, he analyzes the unconscious sources of ordinary errors and lapses, and draws frankly on his own experiences, as well as those of his friends and patients, to show that there is nothing accidental in psychic life.” If you ever find this book in good condition at a thrift store or flea market, grab it. This book is a first edition and very hard to find.

When a student asked him why he always had a cigar in his mouth, Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I wonder what he was really thinking.

Dr. Phil wasn’t the first guy to tell men how to get along with their wives. All About Men, written by Dr. Joseph H. Peck, is a self help survival manual for men. The book was published in 1958. Dr. Peck said he wrote the book for “ordinary men who are trying to feed their families, raise children, pay taxes, and stay a few steps ahead of the sheriff.”

Dr. Peck didn’t have a fancy Ph.D. from a elite university, but was one of the first physicians in pioneer Utah. His practice covered a section the size of Connecticut, and his patients included a whole tribe of Gosiute Indians. He said he learned about human nature during his days as a country doctor. Tracing his subject from birth to death, Dr. Peck gives men advice on solving everyday life dilemmas. Of course many of these dilemmas involved women. He was very insightful, and admits that his wife trained him well. Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book regarding pregnancy, and the man’s role in caring for his wife.

“A pregnant wife has a whim of iron. In the middle of the night she may insist that you run downtown and get her a bottle of beer and some pastrami. Do as she says. If you pity yourself, go to the zoo and look at the king of beasts crouched in one corner of the cage while his pregnant mate prowls, growling and snapping and, as like is not, making a pass at him now and then. Your troubles aren’t unique.”

Yep, he was one smart cookie.

This book is about recycling your life style the psycho-energetics way. Doesn’t that sound far out? Recycle Your Lifestyle was written by Dr. Paul Mok and was published in 1972. Dr. Mok tells readers that if they are ready for an “exciting lift off,” he will provide the answers to help them find nirvana. He tells readers how to recharge their psychic energy systems and resist and control negative energy forces while “getting it together.” I read this book and had the urge to run out and buy a lava lamp and break out my Jimi Hendrix records and my tie-dye shirts.