Celebrity Death Match: Nursing Edition

(Originally published 2006)

Welcome, ladies and gents, to the first ever Celebrity Deathmatch: Nursing Edition. Okay, so neither contestant is a celebrity, and only of them is a nurse…but why be bothered with trivial details when today’s match promises to be a harrowing, nail-biting experience.

And on with the show!

In this corner, standing a robust 5’2″, but wearing clogs that add 2 more inches to an already intimidating height. Short blonde hair, and hot pink scrubs…is the voluptuous, the sarcastic, with the ability to bring quivering First Year Residents to their knees: GB the RN! (wild applause)

And in this corner, towering at 6’4″, weighing in…well, we don’t know the weight because he broke the scale, a patient who is no stranger to psych meds, who boasts the ability to seduce unsuspecting females with his sheer manliness, presenting: Chester the Molester! (boos from the audience)

Both contestants take their place in the ring. GB on one side of the desk, Chester on the other. Before the match begins, we had the opportunity to talk to them both to find out just who will win this match, and why.

CDM: GB, why do you think you will win this match?

GB: Because I have a high IQ, razor wit, and quick access to hospital security.

CDM: Chester is 3 times your size. Aren’t you worried he will squish you?

GB: No…because I can always outrun him. I can toss some cookies from the galley at him and distract him while I run away to the safety of the Med Room.

CDM: An excellent strategy, indeed!

CDM: And you, Chester, why do you think you will win tonight’s match?

Chester: I will use my secret weapon.

CDM: And what would that be?

Chester: I will flash my penis at GB and she will become so enamored, that she will surrender herself to me and my wills.

CDM: What makes your penis so special?

Chester: It is magical. Why today, two nursing students saw it and they were so intimidated by it, they never came back to my room.

There you have it folks. Two opposing forces at work. Who will come out the victor?

Ding!

Round One:

GBsits at the desk across from Chester’s room. She appears to be charting on her other patients. Chester comes out of his room and approaches GB. He is wearing a hospital gown and clutching a sock.

Chester: I have a question.

GB: What is it?

Chester: Well, I have a friend coming over tonight, and we plan on having sex. So, what is your policy on that.

GB: Would this be related to the escort services you were calling all day today?

(Wow! A quick sucker-punch from GB. That short girl sure is sneaky!)

Chester: We don’t want to be bothered. So, can you not come in the room because we are having sex?

GB: This is a hospital, Chester, not a hotel. It’s midnight and you need to go back to your room because you are disrupting the other patients.

GB 1, Chester 0

Chester turns around and drops the sock. He bends over to pick up the sock and the gown parts to reveal a very large, very dimpled ass. GB throws up in her mouth a little and vows never to eat cottage cheese ever again.

GB 1, Chester 1

Round 2:

GB is sitting at the computer entering orders. Chester comes out of his room, pushing his IV pole, still wearing his gown. He meanders down the hall, exposing his ass to the rest of the staff, and offers to show his penis to anyone who asks to see it. Charge nurse appears and orders Chester back to his room. The staff is nauseated. GB glares at Chester when he smugly returns to his room.

GB 1, Chester 2

Round 3:

Chester calls from his room announcing that he has peed all over himself and he needs the tech to personally give him a sponge bath. GB and staff tell him there is nothing wrong with his hands and he is fully capable of giving himself a shower. Chester goes off to the shower, but not before inviting one of the nursing assistants to come and take a shower with him. The staff all tell him no. GB is still glaring at Chester.

GB 1, Chester 2, Staff 1

Round 4:

It’s morning, and the day staff is in. Day-nurse is getting report from GB and appears to have taken his place in this match: a tag-team partner! Chester, not to be ignored, comes out of his room stark-ass-naked. This atrocity is witnessed by GB, Day-nurse, 2 residents, and 1 other nurse. The horror is collective.

GB/Staff 2, Chester 3

“My gown is too big” Chester complains while absently playing with his nipple. In unison, GB and Day-nurse demand he return to his room. GB also barks that he needs to shut his curtain because no one wants to his his naked butt. First year resident turns green.

GB/Staff 3, Chester 3, Resident -1

Chester comes out of room 5 minutes later with a sheet wrapped around his waist, only the sheet doesn’t fully wrap around, and there is an opening right in the front, strategically showcasing his wiener. All the residents retreat.

GB/Staff 3, Chester 4, Residents -5

GB stands up and points a finger at Chester and yells, “Get back to you room and cover yourself! If you come out of your room one more time, I will have the police come up here and they will deal with you personally!!”

Chester beats a hasty retreat to his room and closes the door. If one thing trumps his penis, it would be police with tasers.

GB/Staff 4, Chester 4

GB and staff ask his primary doctor for discharge orders and get it. Chester will be going home!

GB/Staff 5, Chester 4

And GB wins in a come-from-behind victory!! We tried to get a post-match interview with her, but she grumbled something about going home and jabbing sharpened pencils in her eyes before going to bed.

So, tune in next time for Celebrity Deathmatch where we will pit Lindsay Lohan against the entire medical encyclopedia of sexually transmitted diseases!!

Surviving Nursing School: Your First Patient

(Previously published, May 2009)

After mountains of prerequisites and enduring a waiting period of two-years because every other Tom, Dick, and Harry want to be nurses, you finally got into nursing school.

Hooray. For. You.

You get your list of crap you need for school…books, charts, other books to tell you how to read the nursing books because they are written in some dead language, but you really get excited about the list of stuff you will need for clinicals. Clinicals!! It is the opportunity to get out there and get your feet wet. You get to show off those new skills you learned in skills lab on a practice dummy that can’t tell you what an idiot you are for putting it in the wrong hole. This is your time to shine! You’ll be so good at it, the nursing instructors will have no choice but to pass you after your first day, and recommend that you take your boards immediately!

Usually, you start out slow. You get one patient to take care of for a clinical day, which generally lasts 8 hours, but actually breaks down into 4 hours when you subtract lunch…and conference with your instructor before and after your “clinical day” where you dissect everything you managed to fuck up without actually killing the patient. The day before “clinical day”, you go to the “clinical site”…which is just a fancy way of saying hospital or nursing home, to get information on that one patient that will be your charge for a total of 4 hours.

So, you get dressed up in your smart business wear, because you have to look professional when you go to piss off the nurses by stealing their charts to pour over for 3 straight hours, writing down all the information that is pertinent: diagnosis, past medical history, current orders, old orders, procedures, medications, when they last passed gas. If you’re patient is relatively new, you struck gold. If your patient has been there since the invention of the foley catheter, you probably pissed off your instructor at some point, and this is their retribution.

Armed with your mountains of notes, you go home and spend the remainder of the evening writing up care plans, and small essays defining the diagnosis of your patient, and researching every little medication the patient takes, right down to the medicated pad they use for their hemorrhoids. And when you are done, you have just enough time for a 2 hour nap, get up, get dressed in your snappy nursing school uniform, and report for clinicals…usually stopping at Starbucks on the way to pick up the strongest drink they make. (I blame nursing school for my caffeine addiction.)

Most nursing programs start their students out in nursing homes before exposing them to the cutthroat world of hospitals. You go, get your standard little, blue-haired lady. You give her scheduled medications. You give her a bath. You do an assessment. You chart about the whole experience. You spend the day talking to her and have her brag to you about her grandchildren, (or sometimes you get to hear them complain about their horrible children who put them in the home and never come to visit). You go home feeling good about the new career you have chosen for yourself because you get to help people. A relatively easy and positive experience.

Yeah, too bad that didn’t happen to me.

I got my patient assignment, and made a beeline for the facility after class because I was an excited, young nursing student. I asked the nurse for the chart of my patient, and I could have swore she smirked at me. Whatever! I sequestered myself to the staff break room and furiously wrote down everything, right down to the last time the patient pooped and a summary of what it looked like. As I wrote down the history, I gave pause to the phrase “morbid obesity”.

Webster’s Dictionary defines morbid as “grisly” or “gruesome”. Apparently, there’s Garden Variety Fat, and there’s Stephen King Fat. My patient being the latter.

After my copious note-taking, I went to my patient’s room. It was customary to introduce yourself to your patient, as the student nurse who would be taking care of them the following day. Maybe this served as a warning to the patient that they had approximately 12 hours to try to hurl themselves down a stairwell, or find some other means to get themselves transferred to another facility, hospital, or mortuary.

I knocked softly and entered the room. All the doctor’s notes in the world could not have prepared me for what waited on the other side of the door.

If Jabba the Hut and a troll doll were to make mad, passionate, love and out of that forbidden love created a child, that child would have been my very first patient in nursing school. For there, in a bed that could have easily supported the weight of a Chevy Silverado, lay my patient. All 700lbs of her. And crowning the top of her head was the hair in an eye-catching shade of hot pink. It was standing straight up, just like a troll doll.

After an internal struggle to keep my shocked and mortified expression in check, I talked with her for ten minutes. As I drove home, I tried to figure out just what I did that curried the anger of my clinical instructor. Not even two weeks in, and I was already pissing people off.

The next day, I show up, Starbucks in hand. I’m told I need to give my patient a bath, as in get her out of bed and into the shower. I blanch. This requires the work of ten nursing students, using a hoyer lift. We wheel my patient into the shower and proceed to hose her down, all coming out equally drenched. We find out later that the patient hadn’t seen the shower room since the previous semester when nursing students invaded the facility, and that this patient had just been getting bed baths up until now.

But on a positive note, I found the remote control she had been missing for a few days.

Somehow, I managed to survive the day. While I never had to have Bertha the Troll back, my other classmates did get their turns…and clinical days were much of the same: hoyer lift, shower, the twist being the item we would find nestled in her, ahem, folds. Sometimes it was food. Sometimes it was a comb. Other times it was something we couldn’t readily identify.

The charming, blue haired lady with delightful tales of her grandchildren? I never got to take care of her. Instead, I get the frosty old bat who complained about her hemorrhoids all the time. The mentally retarded patient that ate his boogers. The senile old man that pinched my boob and left a big, bruise. And the lady with Alzheimer’s that pulled me into the bathtub with her during that fleeting minute I turned my attention away.

And such was my first semester of clinicals in nursing school. Nursing…welcome to it.

As If a Million Mormons Cried Out At Once…Or Something

Have you heard a loud, shrill noise coming from the West? No, it’s not KU’s crappy football program. Further. It’s coming from the great state of Utah. It’s the sound of an entire state falling into chaos because the law banning same-sex marriage was overturned.

Now, some of you may confused why they are so butthurt about it. Well, let me toss in my two cents and tell you my theory.

A year ago, the church launched a new website, in which they seemed to reverse their stance on homosexuality. Instead of being a “lifestyle choice”, they conceded that being gay was just something that went deeper than a personal choice, even biological. This was a HUGE deal, as the church had previous spearheaded the Prop 8 effort in California. Their involvement lost them a lot of members. Some left the church outright. Some of those members who were struggling with their own sexuality, took their own lives because they couldn’t reconcile the views of the church and their own personal feelings. That was particularly horrifying.

It left the church looking like big, intolerant, assholes. Hate the sin but love the sinner and all that bullshit. So, when the church seemingly reversed their stance (somewhat), it looked like winds of change were finally blowing in Salt Lake City, and those winds were pretty fabulous.

But what does this have to do with marriage? And why make a big deal out of it? Well, this is where it gets exciting.

You see, a person could be gay in the Mormon faith. They could serve callings, hold the priesthood, visit the temple and all the trimmings as long as they didn’t act on those urges (i.e. have teh gay sex). Church doctrine (as it stands) forbids any sexual contact outside of marriage, and before shit hit the fan last month, was only legal between a man and a woman in the state of Utah. It didn’t matter if you were a straight member or a gay one, if you have sexual relations to someone you were not married to, you could be punished equally under the rules of the church, and no one could ever accuse the church of being discriminatory. The laws of chastity were already in place in the infancy of the church, so having openly gay, but chaste, members would change nothing. As long as gays were not legally allowed to marry, they would never be allowed intimacy with a partner, and have it sanctioned in the eyes of the church. Instead, they could all sit in their meeting houses and feel magnanimous that they are so tolerant of teh gays, without the guilt of oppression. After all, state law is state law and beyond the powers of the church to change (even though the church has a very powerful influence in state government there).

It’s sort of like neutering a cat.

Still with me?

The Mormon church has what is called the Articles of Faith. Basically, it just outlines the basic church principles without getting too deep into scripture. Take a look at Number 12.

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

So, if the law banning same-sex marriage is struck down, and gays are allowed the freedom to marry the people they love, the Mormon church has to recognize it, much as they recognize any other garden-variety marriage.

Oh sure, they could deny gays the opportunity to be sealed in the temple, citing whatever doctrine they wanted to. They are, after all, a church, and can practice any way they wanted. Churches are given the freedom to worship in any way they deem fit, so I am not interested in challenging the laws to change that. If people don’t like how a church runs their own show, go worship at a different one. It’s as simple as that. Quite frankly, I am surprised that a church that has a strong history of polygamy would be so against same-sex marriage. It could be seen as a segue to bring polygamy back legally into the mainstream, and who didn’t like Big Love?

On the whole, Utah is a pretty intolerant state, no matter what they may try to tell you. I still hear stories of non-Mormons being shunned by the Mormons there. So, it’s not surprising that they are fighting the ban overturn with the fire of a thousand hot suns. Here’s hoping that the Supreme Court tells them to suck it up because there’s plenty of room for everyone, gay or straight, to be happy and be with the ones you love.

Being Poor

I stumbled upon this blog post quite a few months back, and even though it was written in 2005, so much of it resonated with me. I could relate to a lot of what the guy posted, and the feeling he was trying to convey because I grew up poor. Oh, there were periods of feast, when Dad had a steady job and alcoholism hadn’t taken over his life. But for the most part, it was famine.

Log and I have a lot of discussions about financial structure. His family had experienced lean times when they first immigrated to the U.S. Leaving a comfortable life and starting completely from scratch in a different country. Gradually, they pulled themselves up, and now they are all doing well. To hear Log tell his story, you can’t help but have a deep respect for him. It truly is the American Dream made reality. However, there is a difference in the mindset of those who go from financial stability to poor and those who have just always been poor.

There are also some quirks that come with that background.

-Adding bread or rice to food to make it go further. Log is still trying to understand the attraction of casseroles.

-Shaking the jug of milk when you pull it out of the fridge out of sheer habit. This stems from a childhood of powdered milk, that had to be shaken before pouring.

-Reminiscing about the greatness of commodities. Especially the government cheese.

-Automatically wracking my brain to think of who I know that can fix things that break around the house, or who knows about automotive repair. Log has to remind me that we can pay a professional to fix it. This was unheard of growing up.

-Poor people don’t retire. They work until the day they die, or plan to. I have to keep reminding myself that this will not be my fate as I see the retirement plan deductions from my paycheck.

-Reticence to throw out things that still have use, even if I don’t use them. Growing up poor, you throw nothing out. Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Policy.

-Excitement at getting new pillows, but still feeling remorse at throwing out the old ones.

-Leftovers.

-Still learning how money works.

-Not being excited about Christmas.

I have a college degree, and a really good job that pays well. I still find myself looking in the rear view mirror to that life, terrified. I look at family members who haven’t made it out of that rabbit hole, and I feel guilty. Survivor’s Guilt doesn’t always have to do with death.

There’s a lot of poverty in this country, and yet we never talk about it. Oh sure, it’s referenced by politicians who use it as a talking point. Or masses of asses who assume that poor people are lazy and simply exist to be a drain on resources. But those who would mock poverty-stricken really have no clue what it’s like. They view poor people as a demographic that deserves every bad thing that happens to them. The poor should be punished by making them even more poor, and then leering at them because if they wanted better for themselves, they could just pull themselves out of it. When they can’t, they obviously didn’t want to bad enough.

I’ve been thinking a lot about poverty in this country. About my experiences with it, and reading those of others. Of the accounts I have read, there’s almost always ignorant assholes that has to try to call bullshit, offering up their judgement (often without knowing all the facts), and telling that person what they should have done differently. They don’t believe it. They don’t want to know that people in our country are allowed to live in conditions you expect to hear about in a “third world” country. They want to believe that getting out of poverty is as easy as just saying, “I don’t want to be poor” because they don’t understand that the system is designed in such a manner that it is almost impossible to get out of the snake pit by merely “pulling up your bootstraps”. Cut those benefits because it will make people get off their asses and work more…at the shitty job that pays you less than a livable wage.

It pisses me off. Because all the hate and vitriol directed at the poor, was once directed at me. I know it well because I was schooled when I was a kid. When you are poor, the world doesn’t care about you because they think there’s nothing you could contribute to society, but rather be a drain upon it. If you get sick and die, one less mouth to pay your hard-earned money into feeding. Occasionally, for people who were fortunate enough like me, there are people out there who do care. Small pockets of compassion, that offer something much more than money.

They teach you to fish for life, rather than just giving you one for the day.

Let’s go fishing. I’ll bring the Shiny Hook.

Grow Old With Me, the Best is Yet to Be

Close friends and family, and about a couple hundred others on Facebook now know what I am about to tell you…I’m engaged. To be married.

Logtar and I have long discussed nuptials. We always knew it was in the cards. I never pushed for a proposal because I figured it would come down the pike at some point, but I did figure that I’d have an official fiance around Christmas. So, imagine my surprise when he dropped to one knee, in front of close friends, Saturday night, at dinner. Very few situations occur where I am left absolutely speechless. This one did, other than the word “yes”.

If you would have approached my 20 year old self and told me about my late-30′s self, I wouldn’t believe you. At that time, I had a list “Reasons Not to Get Married”. At the time, bad, failing marriages was all I saw in friends and family. All the anger, animosity, and heartache just didn’t seem like marriage was a viable option in this day and age.

Then, I met Kant, and her family, and my way of thinking changed. Here was a great family. Her parents, having been married a while, long weathered great trials, just as in love with each other as they were when they first married. From them, I saw what it looked like when it all “worked”. With her family, I got to experience a lot of things I never got to with my own.

Life just went on and no prospects of marriage presented itself to me. When I got to 35, and after a couple failed relationships, I just sort of gave up on the whole idea of me being married. Marriage…the nice thing that happens for other people. I settled into a routine that mostly centered on home and work and an occasional vacation. A rut. Life was boring and black and white.

Then, Logtar came into my life, and with him, he brought color, and spices, and music. Previously, having an aversion to peppers and onions, I now eat peppers (onions are still vile and disgusting). I seek out new experiences with other cultures. I laugh more. I’m less cynical. I am excited about the future. I’m even excited about peppers (but not the hot ones, they scare me). My life has changed so much, and for the better. I wouldn’t say that Log changed me, but by being who he is, he has coaxed me to come out of my shell, and allowed me to be myself. It turns out, I’m a pretty awesome person. No wonder he wants to marry me!

October of 2014. A Las Vegas adventure!!!

Nurse Follies: Getting Out

I’m getting the hell out.

Not completely out of nursing, just out of floor nursing. The time has come to move on and do something different.

I’ve read the stories of veteran nurses getting away from the bedside in droves. I now understand why. At first, I couldn’t articulate my reasons. I just hated my job. Every night before a shift, I would whine to Log about not wanting to go in. I’d come home, exhausted, and filled with stories of horrible patient antics and other dumb things. Occasionally, I’d have a good night. But those stories were grossly disproportionate to the bad ones.

Then, I read this blog entry, and it summed up part of my nurse-fatigue perfectly. I stopped caring, I became jaded. I would cringe whenever people would gush about my profession and refer to me as an “angel” for doing what I do.

The face of nursing is changing with the times. It’s less and less about helping people, and more about money. I was happy to do my job and let someone else worry about the financial aspect. I never looked at a patient and thought about how their hospital bill was going to be paid. Everyone got cared for equally from me, from the homeless guy to the VIP in the room next door. (As a side note, I hate the idea of labeling a patient a VIP as it implies I’m supposed to give them preferential care. Screw that!) But now, nurses are being included in the financial stuff. We need to keep track of cost, and charges, and budget. On top of that, the mountains of charting with have to do. And toss in the actual patient care we do, just to get a giant “Fuck you, I’m going to sue your ass!” whenever we don’t give them what they want (usually narcotics).

The other night, I was actually able to sit down with a patient and have a conversation. A little old guy who was lonely and didn’t have a lot of people in his life. He talked about his life, his fears, his routine, the family he had created in the places he regularly visited. At the end, he thanked me just for taking the time to sit and listen. This human connection is what my job has been missing, and it’s now the time to get it back.

I’m done with floor nursing. I’ve been doing it for so long, that I feel like I don’t have anything to prove. I’ve “hacked it” long enough. I’m tired of being an ambiguous cog in the healthcare machine. I need to do something that has meaning for me and the person I am helping. I’m tired. I’m tired of patients being ungrateful. Tired of the drug-seekers. Tired of always being subtly reminded that I am easily replaceable. Tired of being pissed on. Tired of being pissed off. Tired of shortages and ambivalence. Tired of seeing self-destructive people over and over again. Tired of watching patients rot from the inside out because family members don’t know how to let go. And I am tired of being a party to all of it.

So, I’m going to a clinic. It will be easier in some ways, and challenging in others. I’m sure my horrible patient stories will be few and far between, and I am okay with that. Sure, this decision may be narcissistic and selfish, but at the end of the day, I have to do what is going to make me happy. I have peace with this decision, and that tells me it’s the right thing to do.