Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An old-fashioned bitch session: What not to do if you are a patient of mine.

Remember the halcyon days of HN? Back before I was on this higher dose of antidepressants, when every little thing used to bother me, and I would expend insane amounts of electrons on complaining?

Those days are back.

Herewith, then, a list of things you Should Not Do if you are one of Jo's patients:

1. Please do not have bitchy family members.

Really. I'm doing all I can. I cannot make the patient suddenly remember that the left side of the universe exists, or that words have form and meaning. I can relieve pain, manage emergencies, act in therapeutic ways far beyond your puny imagining--in short, I am your only hope, and I am helping the fuck out of you--but I cannot work miracles. So don't be nasty. If you're nasty, I may forget that the economy is in a hole and respond in kind.

2. If you are simultaneously over six feet tall and over eighty years of age and have extinction of one side, please do not throw your remaining leg over the bed rail in an attempt to get up.

Because, honestly? That's the last thing I need. Your attempt to get out of bed without taking one side of your body along will lead to a whole lot of running around and me pulling a muscle in my ass that I can still feel two days later.

3. Don't abuse your elders.

Again, this is a tip for the family rather than the patient, but don't families make most of our problems? If you abuse your elderly aunt or mother or whatever, I will take you down.


I had one situation I tried to solve in the Manglement-Approved Way. Now I just dial a nine and a one and a one on the phone and go straight to the cops. You really, *really* don't want to deal with Bigtown's cops. They're used to crackheads and college students and other folks who are not amenable to reason, and they will put the hurt on your lousy geriatric-starving ass before you can blink.

4. Don't abuse me.

I am helping you as much as I can. (See point one, above.) The food service, doctors' rounds, and way the room is decorated is beyond my ability to control. And yes, I am making bank taking care of you.... .... ....which is the only thing that's keeping me, right now, from strangling you. I am here to be the last, best defense against mistakes and complications that might harm you, as well as to help you heal. If you're nasty, I'll notice a sudden dimunition in my enthusiasm. I'll still do my job, but I might not be as happy about it.

5. Don't smoke weed in your room, or consume large amounts of hydrocodone cough syrup, or otherwise fuck with your care.

I cannot tell you the number of otherwise intact people I've had through my hands in the last eight years who've done something really, really dumb that interferes with their care. From the woman who used to bring back homeless people for parties (and the homeless folk in the Miracle District are hardcore) to the weirdo who pulled out a crack pipe during his assessment, I have officially Seen Most Of It.

If you have to ask me when you can go back to snorting coke or taking large amounts of meth, there is a problem. I don't care what you do post-discharge: just please don't ask my advice or do anything stupid while I'm with you. Okay? Thanks.

Thus endeth the trip down memory lane. Coming soon: The Ballad of Pinky Prosthetic and Fun Links To Read!


messymimi said...

Similar to what i tell the kids when i am caring for them at Sunday School or other activities where the children are not my own: Don't do that! If you get hurt, i have to explain it to your mother, and she won't be happy that i broke her kid.

pita said...

I just want to say bravo for sticking up for the abused elderly. I know about the mandatory reporting of abuse, but unfortunately, not everyone will do it.

Wilma said...

Right on sister!

Penny Mitchell said...

And again, for the eleventybillionth time, I love you.

Laina said...

Jo, your first paragraph made me laugh so hard my co-workers are whispering about my sanity.
In conclusion, you rock.
that is all,

Heidi said...

"Those days are back."

HELLZ yeah!

Heidi said...

Now for a real comment.

Amen to everything in this post, and on the flip side, some of my most absolute favoritest patients EVAR are the ones who tell me that they love both the staff *and* the food. I get those folks some good coffee from our report room, cuz that swill they bring on the trays could seriously kill a (wo)man.

Eileen said...

Delighted to see the Jo I know and love reappearing! Keep it up!

PS - Blogger hates me! I'm fed up with it!

Jenn Clark said...

I stumbled on your blog today. boy do I love some old fashioned bitching! This sounds like my last few days at work! Thanks for being you!
P.S. The word I had to type to leave a comment was, "bowel."
Have a nice day!

Cat said...

Yeah. Florence Nightingale would have panic attacks if she had to put up some of the stuff I read that nurses have to put up with.

Just sayin'.


Elyse said...

Re:cops -- word!! :) I love telling people that I will call the cops or APS if **I** think there is reason to. Yes, that's right. Uh huh. I can. And I will. Moving right along now ...

---can't wait for The Ballad of Pinky Prosthetic! Hope it's filled with angst and disturbing allusions.

clairesmum said...

Your writing is ALWAYS welcome, no matter what the piece! I'm with you on this stuff, especially the elder abuse issue. Often it is the hospital where the abuse is visible AND a PS worker can come in and interview the elder before they go home again, if a report is clear and timely. Even if someone was not mother of the year to their kids, everyone deserves to feel some safety in their old age.

Molly said...

How are you "supposed" to report elder abuse? It sounds like the required method isn't exactly effective.

Judy said...

Jo: I know what u mean. I work Hospice and we have some elderly come in that you know have been abused. You wind up with a Jerry Springer episode in the hall. Trying to deal with the dying patient and trying not to kill the offender yourself. We have to alert staff not to let family members stay in a room without the door open at all times and make sure we do "frequent checks" making comments about the abuse noted, wondering what happened and assuring the concerned "family" the authorities will be notified. They can't get out of there fast enough. Special place in hell for those that hurt the helpless, young or old!

Caroline said...

That's funny. I have a post sort of like that:

How to Visit a Sick Person

And I was just musing the other day how I never, in 8+ years bedside nursing, walked in on anyone masturbating or having sex. Yeah, it could be worse, right?