Monday, January 31, 2011


I am a rock. I am a brick wall. I have the blank stare to end all stares. I am impervious to small children and unicorns. I have a soft heart encrusted in a layer of steel and beer. I am a rock.

Let me set the stage...

8 months ago...
Frequent flyer: I don't know how I'll get home...sob story...I know how to work the system...sob story.
Other nurse: Well, I guess you can have a cab voucher.

7.75 months ago...
Frequent flyer: I don't know how I'll get home! Sob story. Whine. I have no money...Sob story.
Other nurse: Well, I guess you can have a cab voucher.

7.25 months ago...
Frequent flyer: I have no money, I'm so pathetic...Sob story. How will I ever get home?
Other nurse: Well, I guess you can have a cab voucher.

6.5 months ago...
Frequent flyer: How will I get home? I have a meeting with my social worker today, I think she can help me with bus tickets.
Other nurse: Well, I guess you can have a cab voucher.

6 months ago...

And so on.

Until tonight. We've been telling this girl for FOR.EV.ER. that she can't have a voucher, no way, yet she will always try and wheedle and whine and complain and look pathetic until someone caves, and if you don't cave she'll demand to speak to the charge nurse. Usually the charge nurse will put her foot down, but often enough someone will give her one and she keeps coming back with that in mind. Not today, bucko...

Frequent flyer: It's so cold outside! I have to watch my friends' kids in a few hours, and I don't have any way to get home! Can't you just give me a cab voucher?
Me: Um, no. You've been pulling that crap forever now, and I'm not giving you one.
FF: But I have to watch my friends' kids!
Me: Aaaaaaannnd?
FF: Well, how am I going to get there?
Me: How were you planning on getting there in the first place?
FF: I was going to walk.
Me: And it's too far to walk from here. So when you called the ambulance, how were you planning on getting home?
FF: Well, they gave me a voucher last time.
Me: Aaaaaaannnd?
FF: So I thought they would tonight too.
Me: So you called the ambulance for a complaint which you've had for years, and are feeling no different than usual, with the full knowledge that you have no cab money and no way to get home?
FF: I guess...but I really need a cab voucher!
Me...blank stare...Well, that's unfortunate. You're welcome to sit in the waiting room and make phone calls from your cell until you find a ride. No voucher for you.

Blah blah, sob story some more, I need the charge nurse, charge nurse backs me up 100%, peace out frequent flyer!

No cab voucher.

Just for tonight, the ER wins.

I am a rock.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The cost of night shift

Lots of people don't like working night shifts. It fecks* with your sleep pattern, makes you nocturnal, you miss out on brunch specials at the local diner because you're comatose in bed, and sometimes people mistake your pasty skin to mean you're a vampire.

But I love it. I love the night shift staff, I love the ability to sleep in until 11am and get away with it on any given day, I love the fact that EMS people bring us coffee at 0300 because they can.

There are, however, some things that make me wonder if I'm a little bit jacked in the head from working all these nights. Like this morning. I came home after a 4 day string of night shifts, and was seriously jonesing for some waffles. I'm bone tired and really want to go to bed...but those waffles need to come first.

There I was, standing at the counter with my waffle maker trying to stay awake. When they're done, I sit and begin to chow. A forkful is on the way to my mouth, when I notice a small piece of color on it - color that normally does not belong on a waffle. It's the same color as my scrubs. I eye it up. I could have reached my finger into the mess of syrup to pick that bad boy off. I could have set that bite aside and gotten the next one. I could...I could...but I didn't.

I am way too tired to get that piece of thread.

So I ate it.

Come to think of it, I'm not even sure it was thread. It might have been a small scrub-colored bug for all I know. Actually I hope it was a bug, because who knows what is on my scrubs after 12 hours in the ER. I barely slowed the fork down on the way to my mouth though so really it was a moot point. I don't think I could have stopped that trajectory even if I wanted to.

But whatevs. I don't even care. I was hungry. And now I'm full, and ten minutes from a carb coma, and I'm going to bed.

I love night shift.

Feck. My new favorite almost-cuss word.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted..."

It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave...

...The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them...We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touched the face of God.' -Reagan

I think that says everything.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I've been in a bit of a narrative funk recently; I just don't seem to have anything interesting to say. So with that in are some bits of not-that-interesting things for your consumption.

I'm taking a Spanish for Nurses class, and the professor warned us that she will be teaching us phrases that she doesn't usually teach to her high school classes. Because they're too immature. I didn't have the heart to tell her that my sense of humor is equivalent to that of an immature high school boy.

So we were supposed to put together some phrases for practice. I immediately went for 'voltéese, agáchese, y relájese.' Along similar lines, please refer to the pain scale discussed by ERP.

It's been noted that I'm a sucker for comic book action movies. Apparently not only does my sense of humor mimic a 16 year old boy, but so do my movie preferences. Thusly I went to see The Fighter recently, and while it was fabulous...I was also intrigued by the preview for Thor. It's going to be typical superhero cheesy, probably along the lines of X-Men 3, but still. Dude is hot. And shirtless. Sign me up.

It's also been noted that I'm out of shape. I've managed to avoid all forms of physical fitness recently, but somehow have gotten sucked into multiple events that will require not dying during extreme activities.

First, I'll be undertaking the Polar Bear Plunge in a few weeks. 40 degree water, 30 degree air temperature, me in a bathing suit. I don't see how this can go well.

And next, I've signed up for the Warrior Dash. 3.11 miles, extreme obstacle courses, hundreds of participants. I'm not so worried about the obstacles. Fiery log I have to jump over? Whatev. Climb a cargo net? Pfft. Run 3.11 miles? I'm going to have a heart attack. I haven't run that far since high school.

But let's be real. I'm just doing it for the Viking hat and free beer.

I love Beards. I love football. I love when the two meet with an epic clash. As Rosenthal puts it, "That thing is the seventh wonder of the world."

As as aside, I hate the Steelers. Kaley is right, I've got no self respect after putting this picture on here. If I knew how to photoshop, I'd change that jersey right up. But alas, no dice. And the beard is still amazing...


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Things that are not funny

Okay, I don't know what's wrong with me. I can hold my bladder for like eighteen hours and dozens of patients and a giant coffee and two diet cokes and most likely some cheez-its too even though they are my weakness but not related to the bladder in any way, but double-you tee eff is up with me INSTANTLY having to pee the minute I get into my car to go home?!

I don't have to drive far. Probably only four or five miles. And come hell or high water I won't pee at work, but damned if I'm not sitting at the stoplight 400 feet from the ER employee parking lot, crossing my legs and almost in tears.

It never fails. It's like I have a sixth sense. An ass-sense, if you will. My buttcheeks touch my car seat and it's like ba-blam! Contain the fountain of gold. Or perhaps that is my #1 sense, and all the other normal ones are two through six. Who knows.

All I know is that it's not funny, and it's not at all amusing to have to walk past my neighbor at 0730 looking like I'm attempting the new Olympic sport of Stair Climbing Whilst Not Moving Your Legs.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not helping.

Shrtstormtrooper: What medications do you take every day?

Patient: Um, it's prescribed by my doctor. It's a little white pill.

Shrtstormtrooper: Do you remember the name of it?

Patient: Yeah, it's round and small.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I love working in the ER. I really do. The chaos, loud noises, knowledge base required and crazy scenarios are what I most enjoy. Sometimes, though, I feel like I don't quite get the opportunity to interact with patients on a basic level. Sure, I can give them pain meds and talk while I'm assessing their mangled leg and reassure family members before we do a conscious sedation to reset that mangled leg...but in all the craziness it just isn't possible to give as much time to each patient as I would like to.

So the other night, when it was shockingly slow - only four patients in the ED for more than an hour - my attention wandered to the patient belonging to another nurse. I had overheard the staff talking earlier; apparently this patient was related to one of the more prominent administrative peeps in the hospital, and they just didn't know how else to help her. This patient also had severe, advanced early-onset Alzheimer's. The patient was waiting for a social work consult in the morning - but even though she had been reminded of that many times, the patient had no idea she was waiting for that social work consult. She also happened to have been PC'ed by the doc, so security was sitting with her.

Since it was the wee hours of the night, and dementia robs people of the ability to critically think or analyze a situation logically or even remember what situation they are thinking about in the first place, she was starting to get very anxious. She started pacing back and forth, going from bed to chair to doorway and back. Security kept getting gruff with her, telling her to sit down and stay on the bed.

Now this lady had been in the ER for 8 hours already...I'd be pacing too. She kept getting more anxious, and security kept getting shorter with her. Her primary nurse happens to be someone I like personally but detest as a nurse - she is lazy, preoccupied, and would rather go take a smoke break than talk to her patients. The primary had also been complaining about this dementia patient, since her agitation was preventing a long and relaxed lunch break. So when the lady wandered to the doorway for the umpteenth time, I walked up to her.

"I have to get out of here! It's so late, and my husband just died and I don't know what to do..." She rambled and paced, so I offered to take her for a walk.

And we did.

We circled the pod hallway at least ten times. How else to comfort someone whose husband has actually been dead for a decade, yet who is experiencing the grief as if it were new? After a dozen laps, I asked if she wanted to do another. "No, I think I want to go lay down," she said.

And she did.

She went to sleep for the next three hours, until change of shift. She woke up when dayshift staff came out, and so I went back up to her to let her know about the social worker coming in soon. She climbed out of bed and gave me a hug, and started crying. "Thank you, and please tell my husband that I'll be home soon," she said. "And also, you smell very nice."

I am glad for this slow night, for the chance to be able to be there for someone. I didn't need nursing school to do what I did. It required no critical thinking, no med knowledge, and no IV skills. I didn't titrate a drip, or do an EKG, or keep an eye on the cardiac monitor. But I think it made a difference to that lady, just having someone who was there for her, to hold her hand. And that felt real great. I felt more like a nurse in that short time than I have in the past few weeks. Even though, in six hours, she will forget I ever existed.

And let's be's always nice to be told you smell good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Obi-Wan never told you who ate your cookies

So I'm a terrible cook. I can potentially set the smoke alarm off by making pancakes. Make a three course meal? Chyeah right. Recently though I've been trying my hand at baking.

The verdict? Let's find out.

First, I make the dough. No wait, first I pour a glass of wine or two. Ah, yes, now we can get started.

I make the dough. I have some confidence about this thing. Right now, I feel like I could take on the whole kitchen by myself. Hey, the raw dough tastes normal! As normal as raw dough should, I guess.

Next I roll the dough out. Since I'm lacking a rolling pin, the wine bottle from earlier this week will suffice. I hope. Hmm. The dough is a little flaky. Not like Mom's cookies usually start...But whatever. I've got some awesome cookie cutters, and I'm already invested in this project. The dough gets cut and placed on cookie sheets. Minus the parchment paper, because that I forgot to buy. It's not my fault! Well okay, it is.

Minutes later, they're done! And...they look a little pale. I hope they're tasty. Imma tell you the rest of the story, but first I've got to scoop them up with my Darth Vader spatula.

And the final product! Okay so they taste subpar, but let's be real. These cookies are badass.

Now I know how I got so big. It's eating food of this kind.

The possibility of me successfully learning how to cook is approximately 3,720 to 1.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Act I, Scene infinity

03:52 am. Enter patient, lobby right. Patient carrying two large suitcases, one in each hand. Strong smell of etoh.

Shrtstormtrooper: So what brings you in tonight?

Patient: My arm hurts.

Shrtstormtrooper: Uh huh. You have a cast on. When did you break it?

Patient: Earlier this week, and they did surgery to fix it.

Shrtstormtrooper: Well, your arm is going to be sore for a while. It takes time to heal.

Patient: Yeah, but it's been almost a week and it still hurts. And it hurts a lot more when I carry my stuff around, like this.


End scene.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rest in Peace, DHC

Discovery Health Channel passed away on January 1, 2011. It was eleven.

The child of Discovery Communications Inc, DHC lived a thrilling yet short life showcasing the medical realities of our world and those who live in it. From birthing babies to the critical hours of emergency medicine to the autopsies of those who didn't survive, DHC showed it all.

During its brief but poignant life, DHC won a daytime Emmy and the viewership of millions.

Towards the end of its life, DHC was burdened with the knowledge that with its passing, a gaping hole would be left in the viewing options of those who work, live, and care about the medical field. Even with this heavy heart, DHC stayed strong until the end.

You will be missed, Discovery Health Channel.

Condolences may be stated on your own blogs.

And also, screw you Oprah. You are the spawn of Satan.