Sunday, October 23, 2011

Remember back when I had CANSUH? Back when I was in a good mood?

Yeah. Been that sort of week up in here.

Something I should've told the "Reader's Digest" folks: If you're going to admit Junior to the NCCU after he's smoked/snorted/stuck into his body whatever the hell the kids are doing these days, you should not then expect me to police his friends and extended family.

It is not my job to be a policeman.

My job is to make sure that Junior, who's currently taching along at about 130, since he hasn't had his God-knows-how-much methadone in the last week, doesn't pull the tube out of his skull. It's also to make sure that he doesn't stroke out again as the result of three of your darling relatives getting into an all-out fistfight in his room. Additionally, I'd kind of like to be able to keep the arterial line he has in his wrist in place, and the ventilator tube in his throat, and the Foley in his bladder. Those, you see, have specific purposes. They can't accomplish their specific purpose if you're getting your nasty paws all over 'em and wondering if he could do without them.

Yes, yes, I know he's mouthing words around the tube, but *he cannot protect his airway without it.* I don't know why this is so hard to understand: just because you can talk doesn't mean you won't inhale your own spit and get pneumonia (yours truly being a case in point; see, Obturator: Fitting).

So after the Bigton Police showed up--you know, the ones who don't take silliness lightly--and led the majority of the family away in zipties, I got to thinking: This is the second time in a month that this has happened, with two different patients.

What the hell is wrong with you people? Do you not understand that a hospital is not the place to slug out your deep-seated familial resentments? We do not have time for this.

It is not about you.

It is about the person in the bed.

Speaking of which, I have thoughts on The Person In The Bed for next time. Meanwhile, I'm going to go try to find the Cooper's hawk that's calling "squeeee! squeeee!" in the back yard and rub some Max Belleh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary.

A year ago, I was here.

This morning, Dr. Elf put the new Bug in my mouth (thanks, Der Alter Jo, for that name!) with some tracing material, a nasty-tasting greenish-black mix of wax and diatomaceous earth, on it, in my mouth.

My speech was normal.

My tongue hit the back of my front upper teeth the way it did before this whole obturator thing started. I sounded funny to myself, like I had a lisp. It's gonna mean learning to talk normally all over again.

I wish Maudie, who was there at my first appointment, had been there for this one. She was off helping another patient, though. Still, she'll be there when I get the wax tracing and all that stuff.

On the third of next month, I'll spend five hours doing. . .something, I don't know what, with the Bug in place, with a firmer tracing wax atop it. That's to get a mold of the inside of my mouth in action, as it were. After that, the molded form will be cast in acrylic and then I'll have a permanent speech bulb and obturator. Permanent as in "I won't have to have it re-fitted every few weeks," not permanent as in not-taking-it-out. Once I get it, we'll have a Photographic Retrospective, right here on this very blog, of the Evolution of Bug.

At the end of November I'll have a CT scan and an MRI, then an appointment with Dr. Crane to see how things are going. I don't expect any new tumor or weirdness. Still, I'm a little nervous.

I can't read over the past year's entries without bursting into tears. What they don't tell you about surgery and cancer and treatment and all that shit is that the physical memory remains even after you think you've gotten over the psychological stuff. Reading what I wrote about my lymph node biopsy makes my neck hurt. Reading the stuff I wrote about downer days makes me cry harder. It was so lonely-feeling and bleak at some points, you guys.

But I'm here. I am *here*. I didn't die, I didn't have to be irradiated, or have more huge chunks removed from my head, and I've done okay. Tonight's dinner is cheese enchilada and Scotch; I might make myself something special tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day--even though I didn't know it then--that I was free of cancer. In a way, this whole year has been vamp-till-ready.

Thank you for sticking with me through it.

If there were a word that combined the feeling of watching the first snowflakes fall in a place where snow is uncommon, taking your first shower at home after a long trip away, the feeling of the pillow when it's smushed just right under your head, seeing your dog chasing a squirrel you know he's never going to catch, the cat on your lap falling asleep, and waking up with your back pleasantly cold on the first day of Fall, I would use it to describe how you all made me feel during this past year of weird unpleasantness.

All I have is "thanks."


Monday, October 17, 2011

Here's the real fatitude. Fatty fatty fat fat ground squirrel ahoy!

This might be the fattest ground squirrel west of the Mississippi. Seriously: I have a picture of her where she's stuffing her cheek pouches that is just unbelievable. This is what we sallied out to every morning, just after we'd had tasty muffinage and coffee in our room.

Since when are plumbers hot?

First, I'd like to welcome all the Minions who found me through "Reader's Digest." Welcome! This blog might not be at all what you're expecting.

Today I had to stay home from work for a doctor's appointment. Thankfully, Rosie-Posie-the-schedule-maker took me off three weeks ago, so there was no showing-up necessary. Which was good, because I might've strangled the person I took care of over the weekend if I'd had to see him again. Pro Tip for those who've had strokes: Just because you can make it ten feet walking with two physical therapists, a nurse, and a walker all holding you up does NOT mean you're fit to return to your truck-driving job.

Anyhow, today was a Scheduled Obturator Day. Fortunately for me, the dude at the gas station looked out of the window and said, "Uh. . .do you have a low tire?" That's Polite Gas-Station Dude-Speak for "Holy crap, your tire is, like, totally flat." So I aired it up and headed home, figuring it was a slow leak.

Aaaand by the time I was home (three blocks), it was flat. So I bopped off to the tire fixit guys and got the thing repaired, but that necessitated cancelling my New Mouth appointment. Dr. Elf is probably glad; he barely gets time to eat as it is, and has been taking lots of new fit-in appointments. Oral cancer's on the rise, people. See your dentist twice a year.

Since I was going to have to be home anyhow, I called the plumber. My kitchen faucet, a no-name brand that's been here since I moved in and which seems to have been installed with glue and staples, quit working. The plumbers, plural, just left. The upshot of their visit is that they agree that the thing doesn't work and that I'll probably just have to replace it.

That's not the weird thing. The thing that has me scanning the horizon, listening for four sets of hoofbeats, is that both the plumber and his trainee were cute. For embryos, I mean; neither one of 'em was within spittin' distance of thirty. Still, cute plumbers? When did that happen?

Next thing you know, there'll be cute neurologists rounding on my patients. If that happens I'll just be in the crawlspace, with my canned food and bottled water. You heard it here first.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Okay, try *this*.

Can you see us now?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Interesting question via the comments.

I got this the other day in the comments and decided to repost it for everybody to take a swing at:

Dear head nurse,
I am currently interning at a heart institute in Texas .
All (except one )the RNs here treat me like trash and also are slave drivers , Not exaggerating here.They get paid for the crap i am doing for them .
I would truly love to hear your thoughts on this.
And heres the best thing , they dont let me learn anything , or watch procedure s , as their filing and copying is of utmost importance to them more than my learning phase. What do you think?

First things first: If you're in a situation where you're supposed to be watching procedures and helping care for patients and you're not able to do that because you're getting saddled with copying, filing, whatever--it's time to talk to the person in charge of overseeing your internship. The primary purpose of a nursing intern- or externship is to learn the theory and skills you'd use in the unit where you're placed.

When you approach your internship coordinator, take in a list of times when you've not been present for procedures because you've been tasked with something clerical. If you've been assigned a job that's not patient-care-related and told that because of that task, you can't practice a particular skill you're meant to master, take that (or those) specific examples in with you as well. You don't have to name the people who've assigned you those jobs, but *make sure you have documented times when it's happened.* Be specific and timed and all that stuff.

("Specific, timed, and measurable" works for more than care plans. Who knew?)

Second things second: When you say the RNs treat you "like trash," what exactly do you mean? Is there a fundamental lack of respect, trash-talking, or lateral bullying? If so, again provide concrete examples--and in this case, you might be asked to name names--to your coordinator. It will help if you can keep a written list of times Person X has said something belittling or bullying to you. This is standard practice in situations when somebody feels discriminated against or harrassed, and it's a *good* standard practice: building a list of incidents helps you build a case.

While you're doing those things, do two more: take a look at your expectations for the internship versus the facility's expectations for the internship. If there's a basic disconnect--in other words, if you wanted nursing experience and they put you into a position where you're learning to be a unit secretary--you'll need to talk to the coordinator about that as well.

Examine the culture of the place where you're interning, too. There are some places that are great, some that suck, and a whole bunch stuck in the middle. If you're in a place that just outright sucks--where there's a lot of what they call "lateral violence," like bullying or back-stabbing--you might need to go somewhere else. If you're in a place that's great but just isn't a good fit for you, again, you might need to find a different position somewhere that's a better match. If you're in one of those facilities that's in the middle, you can work with the people who treat you well in order to carve out a better learning experience.

Can you talk to the RN you mentioned and ask him or her to act as your advocate? That RN might have some insight as to what's happened with previous interns. She or he could tell you if the way you're being treated is something that's habitual, or if there's a better place within the facility to get the experience you want.

When you present all this stuff to the person in charge, be as unemotional as possible. Avoid the terms "slave-drivers" and "crap" at all costs. There's a certain amount of drudgery and general-factotum-ness in every job, and some of that's going to spill over into an unpaid position. (By the way, yeah, those RNs are getting paid for what you're doing. . .but that's kinda the nature of the beast.) Focus on how the stated goals of the internship aren't getting met, and be sure to present possible solutions. You can't just go in with a list of problems; you'll get a much better reception if you can come up with ideas for fixing them.

And good luck. This is a tricky spot to be in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Had a bad day? Have an otter having its morning bath.

With a shoutout to Friend Johnny, who is Portuguese, like this otter! (I don't know if she bathes like this, though.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'd have fun nursing stories for you, except I haven't got any.

I've had nine patients in the last week or so. One of them had a stroke. The others were referred to us, for reasons I don't understand, for everything from constipation to heartburn to a torn rotator cuff.

If an emergency room doc can't tell the difference between constipation and a stroke. . . .Oh, dear.

Just Oh, dear.

So instead I'll talk about Dia de los Muertos and the costume I've worked up for this year's street party. I didn't make last year's party, due to that little altercation with a bone saw, so this year I'm going as. . .

a nurse.

Yep. A nurse. With a white dress (Barco still makes 'em: double-breasted, button-down nurse dresses with knee-length skirts and long sleeves) and cap (White Swan makes those, out of cotton, with a button in the back) and black-and-white sugar skull makeup, excepting the big red cross in the middle of my forehead and the drop of blood on my chin.

Basically I'll be my own calavera, complete with bottle of tequila and black-and-white flowers in my hair (small ones, so as not to compete with the cap).

The cap I'm going to trim out with black grosgrain ribbon, ditto the sleeves of the dress, and find a wide-enough piece of grosgrain for a belt. White stockings and black heeled oxfords, and all I'll need is some dude dressed as a calavera Navy guy to recreate The VJ Day of the Dead.

Dad was all excited that I was returning to a gentler, more modest past until I told him that the dress was for DdlM.

Pictures to follow, provided the makeup turns out and I don't end up in a white dress with some dude with a faltering grip on reality and a harpoon following me around.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Oh, yeah. I was reminded that I hadn't posted details about that date.

Uh. . .maybe I need to start another blog. Just for the comedic effect.

He ordered tacos at a Salvadoran restaurant, requested that they be brought without lettuce or tomatoes, made a face at the fried plantains, didn't touch the black beans, picked the cheese off of his tacos, and then left a dollar tip.

I came home and watched cute animal videos for a while.

Monday, October 03, 2011

I love the "artist" in the beret.

Letters! I get letters!

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Note: This post is Not Safe For Work, Mom, or Life. If you are faint of heart, scroll on past.
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Every blogger out there gets the occasional nutso comment or email. There's a dedicated group of trolls that reads HN and occasionally submits comments. I hear from the "ALL FEMALE NURSES ARE PERVERTS AND UNPROFESSIONAL" guy, the anti-vaccination folks, and the dude who claims to be an MD and says nurses don't know anything about anything, on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes I get somebody new up in this grill, and I always watch to see if they come back. It's exciting. I love my regulars, but it's nice to see a new face.

I got a comment on the post about the State Fair and the dude with an autoimmune disease the other day. I've sat on it because I couldn't decide what to do: ignore it, put it up and watch the fur fly, ask for contact info so I could excoriate the sender privately, or turn it into a post and let it rip?

Nice didn't win. Here's what somebody submitted:


You know what, it really sounds like you need to be serviced. I'm going to go out on a limb, here. I'm young (well, relatively so), hung, and I'll bang you. I'll make things right in your world, guaranteed. I know writing is a sort of release for you, but I'll give you a release that'll make you forget about writing for a good while....
You just name the time and place.


Ain't that something?

I have tried to take this point-by-point and be funny about it, but I really can't. I do admire the dude's grasp of basic grammar--unusual among trolls--but that's it.

Anonymous Commenting Dude, you need to cut back on the booze and the self-esteem. Only somebody drunk enough to be stupid and stupid enough to be mistakenly confident would ever submit something like this. Seriously, what were you thinking?

I mean, has this sort of approach worked for you in the past? Have women you've catcalled out of your car actually come running, hopped into the back seat while removing their clothing, and said, "Okay, baby, let's go"? Do the fifteen-year-olds you creep when they babysit for the neighbor's kids find your descriptions of yourself cute? Have you ever had an actual interaction with an adult female? I would think not, given what you seem to believe is appropriate for a conversation-starter.

I have less than no interest in getting "banged" or "serviced" by you. In fact, I've found that if a person, male or female, talks up their talents in any area, it's highly likely that they have no talents to speak of. (This is an oblique way of calling you a needle-dicked bug-fucker who couldn't find a woman's crotch with both hands and a candle.)

Plus, you're an asshole.

You probably got some sort of naughty thrill out of imagining me opening your email and sitting there, shocked expression and all. While you were typing one-handed, did you fantasize about how fast I would be posting a note asking for your contact info?

Did you have a vision of me laughing out loud, then showing your comment to everybody in the immediate area, emailing it to several more people, and collecting their extremely amused reactions? Because that's what happened. I wasn't creeped out or freaked out or turned on; rather, it was the funniest damn thing I've gotten in the HN inbox in years.

So why spend the energy to respond to this in public? Because guys who think like you do deserve to be mocked. (You really deserve to be humiliated, but given that I don't know who you are, I'll settle for mocked.) If I'd had the inclination, I would've found out your name and put it up here for the world to see, but you know what? Not worth it. It'd be too much energy expended for too little return.

Much like, I expect, being serviced by you would be.