Monday, June 14, 2004

Grumpy Nurse.

Grumpy Nurse would like to make the following public service announcements. Sit down, read, and shut the heck up.

Things not to do in the hospital

If your children do not know how to stay in your room, instead preferring to run up and down the halls, playing on the equipment and entering other patient's rooms, please do not invite them to visit you on a Sunday afternoon.

If you have a particularly obnoxious child who tries to grab charts to read them, asks personal questions of the nurses and patients, and screams when it doesn't get its way, that child will be bound, gagged, and sold to Kurdish yak herders at our first opportunity. I'm not joking.

Please do not invite twenty of your closest friends to have a party in your room, complete with alcohol and loud music. Yes, this has actually happened.

Please do not complain to us about the food service. We have an excellent chef. You get a menu each day, with the option of substituting *anything you want* on that menu. If you want lobster and steak, some poor schmo will have to drive out and get it for you, but we'll do it.

If, however, you don't bother to fill out the menu, don't bother to call the food service number on your patient information card, and don't bother to let the visiting dietician know your food preferences, you cannot bitch. Unless you tell us, we have no way of knowing that you're allergic to lettuce, tomatoes, and bran. Unless you say something, we can't know that you don't like salmon. Unless you say something, you might just end up with a big plate of shut-the-fuck-up rather than the macrobiotic diet you're whining for.

Back to children: Do not allow your children, no matter how cute they are, to play with the call bell. If they pull it out of the wall, your nurse (me) will respond as though there's an emergency. You won't like that.

Do not pat, stroke, or attempt to kiss your caregivers. I would've thought that this was obvious. I don't care who you are or how many planes you own; if you grab my breast, there will be a confrontation that only you will regret.

Things not to say to a nurse

Grumpy Nurse thought we'd already covered this, but apparently some of you are slow learners. Therefore, here's another round:

"You must make a lot of money."

Um, not really. Today, however, after taking care of *you* for ten hours, with two hours still left on my shift, I am definitely in this for the money rather than any feeling of satisfaction I get.

"Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend? Would you like to meet my son?"

I'm not even going to get started on how inappropriate these questions are. Perhaps the only one worse is:

"How about you come home with me and be my personal nurse?"

Yes, I have gotten that question. Not, as you might think, from nasty men, but from elderly women with more money than sense. They're generally the same people who try to tip me (more on that in a moment). For some reason, really rich people seem to get the idea that they can purchase or squeeze anything out of anybody else.

"Here. Take this and buy yourself something nice." (Usually said as the patient is trying to hand me a twenty-dollar bill.)

Let's get one minor point straight right now:

I am a professional. I may be funny and cute and cuddly and make you feel better, but I am not your friend. I am a nurse who is paid to keep you alive, help you get better, and take care of your complex and dangerous problems.

Do not even attempt to tip me. In doing so, you're insulting me and demeaning my profession. I know what nursing was like in the 1940's and 50's; I can read history books. Things are not like that now, however...and I doubt that any nurse who took pride in her profession, at any point in time, would ever have been flattered by a tip.

Besides that, everything nice that I want costs way more than twenty bucks.

"Bitch. Cunt. Motherfucker."

It is always inappropriate to curse at the person who has control of the catheter, the needle, the IV drip, or the medications with narrow therapeutic indices.

I've never yet been sadistic--but it's been a temptation. It's a little-discussed fact of nursing that, when faced with an openly abusive patient, we tend to fantasize about pulling on Foleys or leaving wrinkles in the sheets. Those of us who are sadistic are sociopaths who rightly end up in court, but we all have those moments.

Do not abuse your nurses. We are doing the best we can. We cannot be six places at once, or do more than three things at once.

If you're very unlucky, you'll be like the man who cussed me out last Tuesday. I leaned down next to his ear and whispered, "You have the choice of being nice and getting help, or being mean and being alone. If you say those things again, I will walk out of here and not come back."

Have I made things a little clearer?

I certainly hope so. If you have any doubts that what you're about to say or do is appropriate, nice, kind, or necessary, please don't say or do that thing. Thank you.

I would really hate to subject you to a lecture about how to be decent.

And, if after all of this, you still persist in being an ass, there's always the county hospital (aka Bedlam) down the street. I'd be happy to transfer you there.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I always try to be incredibly nice and respectful to nurses - you guys deal with way too much crap on a daily basis. I'll never forget the INCREDIBLE team of nurses who got to deal with me when I was in the hospital for five weeks while pregnant with my twins... they were my sanity during that period of time, and I always looked forward to them even when they were only coming in for a second during rounds.