Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Random musings

The benefit of a liberal education

The following scene is why everyone should get at least a couple of years of liberal arts education before doing anything related to their profession:

Me: That's a really nice pendant.

Snooty, more-cultured-than-thou coworker: (archly) Thanks, it's a Mackintosh.

Me: Charles Rennie Mackintosh?

SMCTTC: (looking confused) Er...yes.

Me: (peering closer) Hm. Looks like the motif from the organ screen at Holy Trinity.

SMCTTC: (spluttering)

I was nice enough not to pump my arm and whisper "YES!!" soundlessly until I got into an empty room.

The basics of nursing

It strikes me that the three things that I've said most often in the last almost-four years have been "That's perfectly normal; don't worry", "I'll call the doctor", and "Don't pick."

A lot of nursing involves reassuring patients and their families that yes, everybody gets symptom X after situation Y happens. Especially in surgical situations, people get understandably nervous about things that we nurses see every day.

Yes, it's normal to hear that slooshing sound in your head; we filled the space where the meningioma was with sterile saline solution.

Yes, Mom will be kind of out of it for a few days; she's eighty, and that's what anesthesia does to eighty-year-olds.

Yes, that swelling will go down in a couple of days, but your eyes will stay black for a while.

There's also the occasional situation in which you really want a resident or PA there. Those are the times when it's essential to keep a straight face, show no signs of panic, and say something like "Let me give the resident a buzz and we'll let her clamp lamps on that there."

One of the nurses I work with who's done neuro for years tells the story of the patient she took care of in a neuro ICU whose wound dehisced (split open) and whose brain began to crawl out of said wound. When she saw the shiny grey-and-pink hallmarks of a cerebral cortex out of its natural environment, she calmly said, "Let me put some wet gauze on that; I'll give the doc a ring, eh?"

I always tell my patients this: If my hair catches fire, *then* you can worry. Otherwise, you're paying me an immense amount of money to worry for you; it's ridiculous for you to do it for free.

And, of course, every nurse knows the words "Don't pick."

Don't pick at those staples. Yes, I know it itches, but don't scratch that. Keep your hands away from there. Mister Jones, you'll need to keep your hand out of that, okay? Leave that stitch alone, dear, it's holding the tube in your brain. And so on.

The words "don't pick" might be just as essential to the profession as the words "drink this."

"It's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be." (The Whether Man, The Phantom Tollbooth)

I got to watch the latest cold front roll in this morning as I sat out on the porch. My porch is sheltered, thank heavens, so even 27* F is relatively bearable if you bundle up and put on slippers. The Cat has to see what the world is like every morning, which is why I was out there.

It's supposed to get nasty today. I can hear my Yankee friends laughing at the idea of a high of 30 and forcasted "wintry mix", but let me tell you: "wintry mix" this far south means one thing--ice.

By this time tomorrow, we're supposed to have three inches of ice on everything. Provided the power lines don't come down, I think we'll be okay. I'll be at Chef Boy's; I'm cooking a celebratory dinner for him tonight and don't plan to get back out in the middle of the storm. No sane person expects to be able to drive on ice, so my plan is to stay put until the insane people get out and clear the roads a bit.

Unfortunately, the reason for the celebratory dinner and the weather are comingled. Chef Boy has to start a forty-mile round-trip with an audition dinner in the middle of it just when the weather gets nasty. He's applied for a job at an Extremely Schwanko Restaurant that just happens to lie at the end of a not-well-travelled road, off a quiet spur of a not-well-travelled highway.

I think I'll make plenty of appetizers and not start roasting the chicken until he makes it back.

1 comment:

shrimplate said...

So that's why my head swooshes all the time.