Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Things that irritate me, part seventy gazillion and thirty-eight

If you're an instructor teaching nurses, please remember that we do "see one/do one/teach one." All you have to do is tell us what we need to know, once, and move on. Your (endless fucking horrible irritating) anecdotes (that attempt to cast you in a good light but instead make you look like the arrogant asshole you are) are not necessary. 

Running out of booze.

Patients who are reasonable, normal people while you're in the room, but turn into manipulative weirdos the minute you leave. The trouble with calling people like that on their behavior is that it's never satisfying.

Staying late in class because of anecdotes.

People who put on lots of light-colored eyeshadow or powder and either don't wear mascara or don't knock the powder off their eyelashes after they're done applying. Your mascara habits are your business, doll: I prefer mine as long as the list of people I hate and as black as my heart, but you do you. Just make sure you don't look like you've got eyelash dandruff from hell, okay?

Mushy broccoli. (This is one thing our cafeteria actually does well. I eat a ton of broccoli.)

Men--and they are always men--who ascribe political motives to the fact that I wear my hair in a buzzcut. Dude, if I were looking to be less attractive to men (and women, and mutant kangaroos), I would be wearing some other style, because this buzz brings all the boys to my yard. I wear it like this because it's easy, I can do it myself, and it looks sharp.

Tripping over the cat, when it's the cat's fault, and hearing that awful noise he makes. I have one who's especially bad about running under my feet.


Nail polish that looks hot in the bottle but ends up being some wimpy color on your nails.

Glitter everywhere.

Not getting my eyebrows on even.

Undercooked carrots.

Stockings, socks, or pantyhose that shift weirdly and cut off circulation at odd times.

Missing phone calls.

No fucking toilet paper why can't you assholes put a new roll in what is wrong with you WERE YOU RAISED BY WOLVES??

Lists of what annoys a person.


Monday, February 24, 2014

I have to go back to work in the morning.

(Actually, all I wanted was an excuse to use this gif. But it's pretty close.)

I am pleased to report that I am no longer a starfish.

Starting Friday night, I turned my stomach inside-out every hour or two for twenty-eight hours. 


Somehow I've managed to avoid--and here I'm knocking frantically on every piece of wood within reach--sinus infections, the flu, things falling on my head, alien abduction, and major broken bones this year. But I got whatever stomach bug is going around, and it SUCKED.

But now I'm better. 'Bout damn time, too.

Mongo, when I got home on Friday, was solicitous. He did everything but hold my hair back for me (because I have no hair to speak of) and then curled up next to me on the couch, carefully avoiding my stomach, and gazed soulfully into my eyes. He's a good boy. The only thing he couldn't do was get me ginger ale and meclizine, because he doesn't have a driver's licence and can't make change. 

In other news: The Powers That Be are expanding the neurocritical care unit, again. Apparently we've done well enough, what with staying full and winning awards and so on, that they want to add four more beds *and* an epilepsy monitoring area. I'm not entirely clear on where all these new beds will be, but whatever. I'm hearing rumors that they want to retrofit a couple of rooms for some mysterious purpose, as well: whether that means light-blocking shades or ceiling lifts, nobody has said. It's all very exciting and fluxy.

We've been seeing more patients with movement disorders and demyelinating diseases, as well, which is nice. Most of the nurses I work with are old med-surg or cardiac critical care folks, so Guillain-Barre and myesthenia gravis and Parkinson's are new territory for them. I learn more answering their questions than I realized I would.

Finally, there is a nice man coming this morning to fix the drain line from the kitchen sink. Ah, the glories of living in an old house. Do they ever stop? No. No, they don't.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I got this comment on a long-ago post. . . . 

It's a list of thirty-six reasons nobody should go into nursing. The author is a woman who spent eighteen years in a field she hated, then went on to get a medical degree and became a medical registrar. She's in Australia.

I'm having a lot of thoughts about this. The first two were along the lines of "How on earth did you survive that long in a job you hated?" and "Why did you even bother?" (Incidentally, I emailed her those two questions, figuring that the answer to the second would be either "kids" or "money," but I'm interested in the answer to the first. I would've flang myself out the window, I said, long before the tenth year.)

My next thought was: Does nursing in Australia and New Zealand really differ all that much from nursing in the US? Yes, it's damn near impossible right now for a new grad to get a job, but our programs aren't exactly easy to get into (certain exceptions apply). Yes, some doctors disrespect nursing and nurses, but the vast majority are collegial. Yes, you run into nurses who maybe shouldn't be allowed to cross the street by themselves, but again, the majority are pretty smart. And yes, bullying happens, but not everywhere and all the time.

And then there was this: She's spot-on as regards post-graduate education for nurses. Under the heading "Don't Get Me Started" in my own personal bitch list is the fact that we *still* have "Therapeutic Touch" listed as a treatment modality, even after repeated studies have shown zero therapeutic benefit to waving your paws a couple inches over a patient's body. If we expect to be taken seriously as providers, we have got to cut the bullshit and do real evidence-based practice.

The combination of Alison's list and the comments on it (forty-some and counting) give me what the kids call All The Feels. I know it's just one person's writing. Some of it I agree with, some of it had me wide-eyed and thankful that I don't work where she did. 

My experience is, to be frank, pretty limited. I went through a highly-ranked, competitive program and got hired at a nationally-ranked research and academic facility. In twelve years I've run into only three doctors (one resident and two attendings) who treated nurses like highly-trained monkeys--and, for what it's worth, they treated everybody that way, from other doctors to their patients. My work life has been about as good as you can get, barring the brain-farts from Manglement that happen in any workplace.

What do you think? Discuss it here; Alison's blog isn't the place for trolling or extended debates.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

It's coming. It's coming for all of us.

At this point, it doesn't matter whether it's a mismatch between this year's flu shot and this year's virus, or a secret government plot, or just plain crappy luck: everybody I know, practically, has the flu.

We have nine full-time nurses in our unit. Two of them have pneumonia. A third is out for another week, until the Tamiflu and chicken soup kick in. The remaining half-dozen of us are bathing in alcohol foam, refusing to get too close to each other (I swear; it's like Sweden up in there), and running away from anybody with the slightest hint of a cough. I myself have taken to bathing daily in boiling bleach and wrapping myself in plastic wrap, head to toe, before I leave the house. I figure a nice tight seal will still leave me enough oxygen to get to the grocery store and back.

Today I took advantage of a sale on soup at the local weird grocery store. I have something like ten cans of Campbell's in the cupboard, as well as a pot of homemade Mexican-inspired chicken soup simmering on the stove. I'll be making a simple salad later, with cucumber, red bell pepper, plum tomatoes, oregano, feta cheese, and about six cloves of raw garlic. (That number is not an exaggeration. Raw garlic, when blended with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, gets surprisingly mellow.)

I'm not even letting Mongo kiss me.

It's hard, to be honest. Everybody but me in the neurocritical care unit is from somewhere else, and they're all from touchy places like Southern India and the Phillipines and Italy. We practically snuggle while we're giving report. I'm the one person who's not A Delicate Tropical Flowah, so I'm the only one who's treating this lack of hand-on-knee, hug-and-cheek-kiss as normal. All the dark, large-eyed beauties I work with are starting to look positively glum. It's the paranoia.

Because, really? Having the flu--and I have had the flu, the real thing, twice in twelve years--is generally not as bad as you expect it to be. (The one exception to that is the first time you have it. That is the worst you will ever feel, ever, short of being shot repeatedly in non-critical places with non-expanding bullets, then roasted over a dying fire, then drawn and quartered by somebody with a dull knife, and finally hanged by an incompetent knot-tier.) A few days of body aches, some pills to swallow, the inability to walk to the couch without getting winded. The best thing about the flu is that when you start feeling merely bloody, it's like you feel great. The worst thing is the anticipation.

So I'm being proactive. I have now got three large tins of Tiger Balm Ultra (the white stuff) coming in the mail. I stocked up on soup, as I mentioned before, and plan to go out tomorrow for ginger ale and ramen (only because I forgot today). I'll get some of those Totino party pizzas. I'll splurge on the big bottle of ibuprofen. Maybe pick up an extra hot water bottle, or even a heating pad.

Putting things in perspective: My pal Joy came down with the flu on Thursday of last week, the same day that my pal Stacy got salmonella food poisoning. Joy is now, thanks to the miracles of modern antivirals, back at work teaching. Stacy just today managed to get through an entire shower without having to sit down in the middle of it.

. . . . .Still. You can talk all you want about the partial protection conferred even by a mismatched flu vaccine, realize intellectually that it's not as bad as a bad hangover, and still want a canvas mask with a bird's beak on the front when you walk around work.

In short, save yourselves. Invest in bleach-manufacturer stock and buy some NyQuil.