Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jo Muses: The Love/Hate Edition

I'm reading Heat by Bill Buford right now, partly because I mistook "Buford" for "Bryson" and thought, "Wow! Bill Bryson's written a book on learning to cook?" and partly because it sounded interesting--a blow-by-blow account of learning to be a chef by doing, rather than by schooling.

One of the most interesting bits in the book describes the process of learning to use a knife as though it's an extension of your fingers rather than something you pick up and put down. ChefBoy has, of course, this talent. I have the same talent--all nurses do--but in a different way.

Think of how you learned to start an IV. (New nurses and students, listen up! This will be heartening, I promise.) At first, you had to think about every step in the process, and things like tape felt foreign--getting stuck to every conceivable surface except the one you were aiming for; flushes went on the floor, gloves seemed too thick or too loose. Then, one day, it all came together, and what's more, the IV needle itself suddenly became something you could feel *through*--you could tell when you hit the vein dead on or when you'd scooted to the side of it.

Buford describes this as analogous to the process of learning to throw a ball--learning like a child, he calls it--and that's exactly what you're doing when you learn how exactly to juggle IV bags, tubing, medications, piggyback setups, needles, flushes, and everything else as though you've grown a third hand. It's visual and physical rather than primarily about reading and memorizing, and it uses a totally different part of your brain. 

I love that explanation.

Something I hate: Being tossed--lobbed, really--gently under the bus by somebody who's made an amazing, stellar, incredible, obvious, historical, unbelievable screwup. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say: Doctor ResidentBoy, if you fuck up and expect to blame me for your fuckup, not only will my boss not believe you, but *your* boss won't believe you. I know what you did was embarrassing, but it's not nearly as embarrassing as knowing that I know what you tried to do. 

I know what you did last weekend. And I will continue to smile and be helpful and pleasant and take care of your patients the best way I know how, but if you dance too close to the cliff again, I will not haul your ass back from the precipice. Have a nice day!

The first rule of nursing, after "If you have to jack with it, it's wrong" is If You Screw Up, Admit It And Move On. People screw up, okay? Nobody's going to remember that particular screwup in a year--or if they do, they'll remember it in a hazy, amusing, gosh-wasn't-that-funny kind of way. 

That is also the first rule of medicine, right after "Do no harm."

Another thing I love: Waking up in the morning on the first really cool day of fall, with all the windows open, and dogs and cats sprawled everywhere on and off the bed, and realizing that I do not have to get out from under the covers and work out or go to work. It's totally different from checking in the mirror to see exactly how far down the tire tracks from that bus go.

3 comments:

GingerJar said...

I love the concept...how far down the back do the tracks go...hummmm I've had a few of those and they really piss me off...and not in a good way!

Enjoy your crisp fall day...ours started crisp and is turning into a surprise scorcher. It's 80 degrees but feels hotter with the humitity and out in the sun working on the roof. Oh, not me working on the roof, I have an alcoholic beverage in my hand and I'm blog hopping. Have a nice day.

pelican said...

The coverup is always worse that the crime. You're exactly right- if he'd owned it, in a year, it would be hazy and at least somewhat funny.

But, trying to pass it off on you- that will be remembered clearly and sharply for a very long time. What a putz.

AlisonH said...

Went to a 20th high school reunion a few years back and saw someone I didn't ever know well back in the day, but--he had stood out to me back then for the fact that he was just a really nice guy. One that I used to wish I knew better because of that.

That totally made his day.

People who aren't close friends, you don't remember what they did. But you always remember how they made you feel.