Nursing Voices

Monday, December 31, 2007

Dirty Talk

This publication is from my growing collection of paperback books. It’s a first edition, and it was published in 1961. Nurses have always been portrayed angels of mercy, or as loose women in popular culture. This book takes the latter approach. The book’s main character is Eleanor. She is the eavesdropper who is listening in on her friend’s conversation. According to the author, Eleanor has a million-dollar body and no mind of her own. I hate to disillusion the porn crowd, but I’ve never met a nurse who didn't have a mind of her own. Mindless nurses only exist in the mind of smutty writers. On the other hand, I'll admit that not all nurses are angels. I once worked with a young woman who worked her way through nursing school as a call girl, and I’ve just starting working with a woman who wished that she had Eleanor’s million-dollar body.

I met my new coworker last night. She’s a very nice older lady with graying hair, three grown children, two grandchildren, and her husband who just retired. Half way through our shift, she turned to me and said that she needed some advice. She said that she is under a lot of financial stress, and that the other nurses had told her that I’m always looking for new opportunities, and that I always have creative ideas. She told me that she was getting behind on her mortgage payment, and she asked if I had any ideas about how she could make some extra money.

I listened to her plight, and then I asked her what she liked to do in her spare time, and where her strengths and talents lie. She thought a moment, and then said that she likes working with people, that she is a good listener, and that she likes making people happy. Then she quickly added that she was thinking about working in the sex industry. After a moment of stunned silence, and I asked her if she thought she might be a little too old to stand on a street corner all night while wearing four inch stiletto high heel shoes. She looked surprised by my response, and said that she was thinking about working as a phone sex operator from home. She said that she was too old to turn tricks, but that she enjoyed talking dirty to her husband over the phone. She wanted to know if I thought that she could parlay her talents into a new, lucrative career. What could I say?

I wished her luck in achieving her career goals in the New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sigmund Freud and the Man Who Wears Tights

People always ask me to interpret their dreams. Freud examined dreams, so people think that psychiatric nurses do that kind of stuff, too. I’m not an expert, but I can imagine what Freud might have said about this dream-like photograph of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Freud: “The man, symbolizing the ego, is in conflict with his superego and his id. The suspended ego is rising above the id, which is symbolized by a woman who is playing a piano. The erotic female image and the piano represent sexual desire. The id and the ego are separate, yet a part, of a forest. The forest symbolizes the conscious and unconscious mind, and the trees represent the strength and the moral integrity that is found within the superego. This photograph illustrates the human condition, and the internal conflict that we all face on a daily basis."

This is my interpretation…

Mother Jones, RN: “Mikhail Baryshnikov is hot.”

Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I've always said that a well-built man dressed in leotards makes a great centerpiece on any woman’s piano.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas From Nurse Ratched's Place

Isn’t this nice? The nurses in this 1920s photograph are celebrating Christmas with their patients. I remember when we could have a real Christmas tree on the unit, but thanks to the fire marshal and update fire codes, those days are gone. Now we have to put the patient’s gifts under an artificial Christmas tree.

Many thanks to all of you out in the blogosphere who have enriched my life throughout the year. Here’s wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

No Patients at the Inn

Look at this. Christmas time means toys, and there is no better toy than a vintage nursing kit. Vernon at Nursing Pins sent me an email about this item, and I wanted to share it with you. I had a nursing kit just like this one when I was a little girl, except I don’t remember my hot water bottle looking like the one found in this kit. The hot water bottle in this kit didn’t grow old gracefully. I shop the Internet all of the time looking for vintage nursing items, and I think that Vernon has one of the coolest sites on the web. Vernon said that he would give anyone 10% off any item if they mentioned Nurse Ratched’s Place at the time of purchase. I don’t usually promote online shopping sites, but Vernon’s website is too cool to pass up. Go check it out.

Christmas time also means having a low census on my unit, and nothing says Christmas like an empty psychiatric unit and a night of blogging. I’m blogging from home tonight because my unit closed down after we sent our last patient home this afternoon. I love this postcard. It was given to me by one of my coworkers. The young lady in this picture is enjoying a holiday evening with her family thanks to Prozac. She knows that it just takes a little bit of planning to get through the holiday season. People generally don’t want to be admitted to the hospital just before Christmas, and who can blame them? They want to finish their Christmas shopping, and hospital food just can’t measure up to a home cooked Christmas meal. Unfortunately, Christmas cheer quickly evaporates on December 26th when people swarm the emergency room. Post Christmas shifts can really get chaotic, but it won't be a problem for me this year because I’m taking the day after Christmas off. Like I said, it just takes a little bit of planning to get through the holidays season.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Greetings From ASU

Is it me, or is there something unnatural about this picture. It looks like the Three Wise Men are traveling to an ASU alumni meeting. This is a picture that I took this morning at ASU. My kids are keeping me busy, and I’m having the time of my life. We went Christmas shopping yesterday. I don’t think I’ll ever get use to seeing plastic inflatable snowmen in the dessert landscape.

Here’s a picture of my daughters, Dani and Coty. I’ve learned a lot by watching them this week. Men have been hitting on my girls, and I’ve been taking notes. Some men are suave and know all the right things to say, while others need a lot of help. Here’s a tip. If you want to date a girl, you need to make points with her mother.

My daughter, Dani, is a pretty girl, and she has many suitors. She works at a coffee shop, and her boss told me that business always picks up when Dani is working behind the counter. One day, while I was visiting the shop, three bachelors dropped by to flirt with my daughter. Dani wanted my input about her boyfriends, and she introduced me to each young man. Bachelor Number One was smooth and genteel. He said, “Oh Mother Jones, it’s so nice to meet you, and I’d like to thank you for bringing your beautiful daughter into the world.” Really, I’m not making this up. Then he also gave me his cell phone number, and made me promise that I would call him if I needed anything while I was in town. This young man is on the right track to winning my daughter’s heart. He was saying all of the right things, but I wasn’t sure about his sincerity.

Then I met Bachelor Number Two. He tried to impress me, but he fell flat on his face. He told me that I was hot for my age, and that Dani is a hot date. Please note that this is definitely something that a man should never say to a girl’s mother. My daughter is not hot, she’s a lady, and the only hot thing going on in my life is menopause. I told my daughter that Bachelor Number Two needs time to grow up.

Bachelor Number Three dropped by later on during the day. I immediately fell in love with this guy, and I told Dani that I really want this guy as my son-in-law. He was sweet and kind, and we chatted for nearly an hour. He also gave me his cell phone number, and he made arrangements to escort me to Dani’s graduation ceremony. Bachelor Number Three was prepared for the ceremony. He handed me tissues when I started to cry when Dani walked across the stage to receive her diploma. The best part about this guy is his sincerity. I adore compassionate men and we agreed to stay in touch. I told Dani that I’m planning their wedding, and that I want grandchildren. Now!

I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meet the Graduate

Meet my little graduate. This is my daughter, Dani. I took this picture of her when she was at work. Yes, I’m sure that I embarrassed her when I whipped out my camera, but it’s my job. I’m her mom. I’m having a great time out in Arizona, but I almost didn’t get here because U.S. Airways sucks! My stewardess and I had words. Loud words. She wanted me to hand over my Mac so she could “check it in” because she let some of the other passengers bring too much carry on luggage onto the plane. I told her that I was sorry, but that I wasn’t letting anyone place my beloved Mac in the belly of a plane. I strongly suggested that she think of another solution to her luggage problem. I was getting ready to get kicked off the plane when she gave me a “what-ever…(eye roll).” I found my seat and we took off. The plane was over booked, and they ran out of dry, tasteless sandwiches. Each one of those terrible boxed meals cost seven bucks! And I’m not even going to discuss the lame in flight movie they played for our “viewing enjoyment.” I will never fly with U.S. Airways again.

I can’t wait to spend the day with my kids. I promise that I’ll embarrass my kids more today, and that I’ll post their pictures later.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mother Jones Visits the Little Joneses

Are you old enough to remember when traveling was a pleasurable experience? It wasn’t that long ago when you could sit on an airplane without feeling like you had just been packed into a can of sardines. Everyone had comfortable legroom, and even the passengers flying in coach were treated to a hot and tasty in flight meal. Really! Check out this lady and all of her carry on luggage. She’s relaxing at the airport and sipping on her bottle of Coke. Imagine what would happen to this poor woman if she were traveling today. She would be standing in a long line waiting to check into the airport with hundreds of other passengers, and she would be shocked to learn that she couldn’t carry on all of her little bags when she boarded the plane. And forget about carrying liquids onto a plane. She wouldn't like having to say goodbye to her makeup and to her bottle of Coke. I wonder what she would think when she walked through the airport security metal detector while wearing her underwire bra. Oh my, she really would be shocked if she knew what was coming next.

I’m packing my bags, and I’m flying out to Arizona next week. I’m working two twelve-hour shifts before my flight, so I plan on getting some serious shuteye while I’m on the plane. My first-born is graduating from ASU, and I’m going to watch her walk across the stage when she gets her diploma. My youngest girl lives out there, too, so I’m going to be in Mommy Heaven. I really miss my kids. Watch for updates, and pictures of my trip.

Au revoir, Arrivederla, Adios

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let Nurse Hilary Help You Beat the Holiday Blues

Editor’s Note: I hope you like reruns. I published this post last year, but it contains information worth repeating.

Nurse Hilary is on a quest. She’s teaching people how to survive the holiday season. See Hilary talking to the doctor? He’s feeling blue, and she’s trying to lift his spirits.

Many people think Ebinezer Scrooge was right. “Christmas-Bah-Humbug!” How, you may ask, can anyone enjoy the holidays? Do you spend too much money during the holidays, visit relatives you can’t stand, and get stressed out while planning the perfect holiday party? To those of you who believe that the holidays should be outlawed, take heart. Nurse Hilary is here to tell you how to get through the holidays without loosing your mind.

Unfortunately, the holidays can be a lonely and stressful time of year, but there are ways of beating the blues. Setting realistic goals and priorities can keep the holidays from spinning out of control. Don’t get carried away with buying gifts. Happiness doesn’t come from a gift-wrapped box. Nurse Hilary thinks that the holidays have become too commercialized. She’s afraid that one day we will see commercials where Joseph tells Mary, “We’re going to have the baby in the stable. The inn-keeper won’t take American Express.” Parents go deep into debt while trying to create the perfect Christmas for their kids. Nurse Hilary says that this is not healthy. She encourages parents to keep the holidays simple, and to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

Family strife doesn’t disappear just because it’s Christmas time. Putting up a tree and covering it in tinsel won’t make hurt feelings and anger go away. Don’t feel compelled to spend time with people that make you miserable. If you are obligated to show up for a family function, say hello, have a glass of punch and one of Aunt Martha’s cookies, and then make a break for the door. You say you don’t have a family to visit during the Christmas season? Then make one of your own. Spend time with your friends, neighbors, or coworkers. Celebrate the holiday season with people who make you happy.

Don’t be a doormat. Practice saying the word no. “No, I won’t bake 200 cookies for your school Christmas party being held tomorrow.” “No, I won’t cook Christmas dinner for the entire family—again—by myself. I need help.” It’s all right not to be all things to all people. Set limits and celebrate a guilt-free holiday season.

The holidays may drive some people to drink, but over indulging in the Rum laced eggnog and other alcoholic beverages can lead to depression. Mixing alcohol with prescription or over the counter medications can be dangerous, and remember that drinking and driving is a fatal combination. If you have a holiday party, offer soft drinks and other nonalcoholic beverages. If guests become drunk, don’t let them drive themselves home. Call a taxi, let them spend the night, or have someone else take them home.

Nurse Hillary says it is possible to survive the holidays. She wishes you a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Give Until It Hurts

Theses two characters are friends of Columbia, the late 19th century representative symbol of the United States. I’ve been staring at this picture for the last couple of minutes, and I can’t tell if these individuals are homely women with man hands, or two guys dressed up in drag. The nurse on the left scares me. He or she looks like a zombie who is under the influence of some sort of mind control. I hear a telepathic message:

“The Red Cross commands you, give money, give money now.”

Sorry, folks, no one is getting into my pockets this year because I’m broke. Remember, I work for Mr. Grinch. I’m not really complaining though because, as we all know, it’s better to give than receive. It's good to give until it hurts. Just ask the security officers who work at my hospital. They just gave Mr. Grinch a Christmas gift that he’ll never forget.

I recently discovered that there is nothing more vindictive than a group of pissed off hospital security officers who have too much time on their hands. You may remember that our hospital administrator, Mr. Grinch, installed an expensive water fountain in the hospital’s new serenity garden instead of giving us our yearly Christmas bonus. I think he prefers hearing the sound of trickling water to the sound of extra coins jingling in our pockets. This didn’t amuse the security officers, so they decided to create a very special gift for Mr. Grinch. One day when they didn’t have anything else to do, they conducted a thorough inspection of the fountain. This netted Mr. Grinch no less than 20 building code violations. The fountain was condemned, and the security officers drained Mr. Grinch's pride and joy because it was a fire, drowning, and an electrical hazard. The fountain isn’t a total loss. Smokers are now using it as a big ugly ashtray when they go outside to smoke.

The security department returned holiday cheer to all of the hospital employees when they gave Mr. Grinch the "perfect gift," which proves that it really is better to give than to receive during the holiday season.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sick Guilt

Have you ever been so sick that you think that you have to die first before you can start feeling better? I felt that way last weekend, and I thought that my nursing supervisor was going to cry when I told her that I wasn’t coming into work. She was very nice to me over the phone, but I knew what she was thinking:

“What?! You can’t call in. Oh please, God, no! (panic, panic, panic…..) I don’t have anyone who can replace you. I am so screwed.”

And of course I felt guilty about calling in sick, despite the fact that I was delirious from a fever, and I felt like I was about to take a trip to the morgue. It’s a capital offense in the nursing world to call in sick, especially on the weekend. Nurses start feeling guilty the moment we pick up the phone to inform our employer that we are on death’s door. I’ve often wondered about the origins of this guilt, and this answer came to me in my delirium, as I was lying in a semiconscious state in my bed.

I read somewhere that nursing has its roots in the Catholic Church, and that the first nurses were priests. Many of my Catholic friends who endured the rigors of a parochial education have told me that the Catholic Church teaches its parishioners to feel guilty about everything. I’m not Catholic, so I don’t know if that’s really true, but my friends don’t have any reason to lie to me. So following this line of logic, is it unreasonable to believe that our nursing culture is based on Catholic guilt? It’s just a thought, and, after all, nothing else makes sense. Why else would perfectly sane, highly educated individuals beat themselves up for taking care of themselves when they are ill? It goes against logic that people who care for others wouldn’t want to take care of themselves.

Perhaps the Pope will find this blog post, and will take steps to rectifying this perplexing situation. Your Holiness, please tell nurses that it’s OK to stay home when they are sick. I think a papal edict would be a nice touch. Let nurses know that they won’t be excommunicated from the nursing profession for taking care of themselves.