September, 2005 Archive

September 20, 2005, 2:37 pm

Would You Like Fries With Your IV?

One of the most difficult skills I had to perfect in nursing school was Pepsi Pouring 101. As new students, we began with non-carbonated beverages, namely Kool-Aid. As our skills developed past the novice level, we moved onto Ovaltine (cold). Those students showing a particular aptitude were allowed to serve their Ovaltine hot. This was before microwaves, so it was quite labor intensive. I’ll never forget the pride I felt the first time I was able to pour Pepsi for the waiting patients. A nurse’s cap and an ice, cold Pepsi…doesn’t get any better than that!

What happens when that kid on the couch who was just triaged for abdominal pain has to go for his appendectomy with a gut full of Pepsi? I guess if he aspirates it, the carbonation will keep his lungs inflated…..

I’ve discovered many stereotypes of nursing during my travels through the internet. I’ve discovered nurses as waitresses, nurses as whores (good heavens, be careful what you put in the search engine!),
and nurses as angels. My favorite is the “nurse as waitress” genre. I get teased about this at work. We have boxed lunches available for our hypoglycemia patients and the turkey sandwiches come with lettuce, tomato and condiments separate. I usually cover the table with a white towel and put the lunch together for the patient. This gets me untold good-humored grief from those who see me do this. Hey, the patients appreciate it; who wants to fumble with a bunch of packets when they’re sick? No one’s left me a tip, though.

I believe this image of nurses as waitresses are actually the result of old advertisements and the fact that in the old days, the nurses actually put the patient trays together. That was way before my time, but check out this Coke ad. These types of ads probably had a lot to do with it.

Of course, sometimes it can feel like you are a waitress as patients request that you address various needs. Every patient will ask for:

  • A warm blanket. Even the ones in for ankle sprains. ERs are cold! Give everyone a blanket, even the ones who aren’t cold. They will be.
  • The bathroom. Show the ambulatory ones where it is. Give a urinal to the men. Get a bedpan ready for the women – every woman will have to pee within 5 minutes of getting settled in the gurney.
  • Water. If they can have it, give them a cup. If they don’t want it, they will.
  • The call bell. They won’t ask for it, but make sure they have it and tell them to use it if they need anything. Just having it available tends to make them more secure and less “needy”. They also won’t be wandering the halls looking for you.

I make sure everyone is set up in the room at the time I room them. It makes the patients more comfortable from the beginning and saves a lot of running around for me.

Oh, and by the way I was a waitress at one time. There are two traits waitressing and nursing have in common. The ability to juggle many clients at once and the ability to prioritize. It was a fun job. But it just didn’t have that cap…….

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September 19, 2005, 4:19 pm

Mmmmm….I Love This ER!

Boy, the things you find on the internet! I found this watch by accident; having noticed a Nancy Drew watch in a Google search, I figured there had to be a Cherry Ames version and here it is! I needed a new watch anyway, so it should be here within a week. Everytime I check a pulse, I’ll be reminded why I became a nurse! How often do you own a watch that makes you smile?

Have you ever heard the song, “I Love This Bar” by Toby Keith? Every time I hear it all I can think is that someone should write a version called “I Love This ER”. Okay, I’ll do it! The original lyrics were by Toby Keith and Scott Emrich and the song is off the “Shock’n Y’all” album. My apologies in advance to them both. Here is my version:

We got winners,
We got losers,
Chain smokers and boozers,
We got chest pain,
We got fractures ,
Some psychotic nerve wrackers.
And the people who just had to crash their cars.
Mmmm, I love this ER.

We got dyspnecs,
Some have scabies,
Folks afraid they have rabies,
We got vomit,
We got bleeding,
Folks who cut themselves weeding,
And men who are afraid that they’ll have scars.
Mmmm, I love this ER.

I love this ER.
It’s a hoppin’ place.
Don’t bother to get dressed up
But wear good underwear just in case…..
Expect to be late
Because you will wait.
Mmmm, I love this ER.

We got old folks,
Kids with fever ,
Homeless and overachievers.
We got nurses, we got medics,
Drunks whose lives are pathetic
And they pee enough to fill a Mason jar.
Mmmm, I love this ER…Yes, I do.

Instrumental Interlude

I like my books.
I like my friends.
I’d like to read on my lunch break.
If I could have one now and then….

But, I love this ER.
It’s a happenin’ spot.
And the patients all come in, at seven pm on the dot.
Give your co-pay
Before you stay.
Mmmm, I love this ER.

Mmmm, I love this old ER.

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September 18, 2005, 5:59 pm

You Can Be An Emergency Nurse, Too!

How would I look in this uniform? Wonderful, if I was seven feet tall with the proportions of Barbie. Bruck’s Nurses Outfitting Company also made the old nurses’ capes. I checked to see if they were still in business but found nothing. Check out the $5.95 price tag! LOL! What was the nursing salary back then? One hundred dollars a month? I wonder what the nurses of the 1940s would think if they could see us now in our SpongeBob Squarepants and Betty Boop scrubs. Not that I wear those. Okay, I do pull out my “SpongeBob ScaredyPants” scrub top for Halloween and my Peanuts Baseball print in the Spring. I also have a Nurse Tweety Bird top with Tweety in a nurses’ cap. I always thought Tweety was a guy!

For those of you interested in changing your career or working in a new specialty, you can be an ER nurse, too! In this exciting specialty you can:

  • Have a verbally abusive 80-year-old flip you off behind your back as you gently guide his companion to a room. You will know about it from the ten people at the nursing station who witnessed it. You will have no clue what you did that prompted the gesture.
  • Confirm the physiological link between pulmonary edema and the need for a bowel movement. Oxygen can’t wait. Neither will stool. You’ll learn to slap on the non-rebreather on the face and get ready to put the bedpan under the other end.
  • Get smacked on the arm by a confused 102-year-old who does not appreciate the necessity for a blood pressure. Then again, that may be appropriate behavior for a 102- year-old who is spunky enough to protest a BP.
  • Play the “pain is what the patient says it is” game with repeat migraine patients as they lay totally relaxed, speech slurred after a trillion milligrams of Narcotic-of-Choice by IV, but their pain is still at a 9.9 out of 10 on a 0-10 scale. They know they are playing the system and you know they are playing the system and they know-that-you-know and you know-that-they-know-you-know.
  • Interact with a man who will not acknowledge women. He will not look at them and lord knows he will not talk to them. You’ll wonder if it is a cultural issue, but then you will realize it is an obnoxiousness issue.
  • Watch as a parent sweeps their infant off the gurney to the other side of the room because there is NO WAY IN HELL that you are going to take a RECTAL TEMPERATURE on their child. You pervert.
  • Deal with Dr. Snailspace by realizing that the harder you push to mobilize patients the slower the doctor will move. Deliberately. Run interference with said patients as they express their frustrations at you, the nurse. No one ever yells at “The Doctor”.
  • Answer phone calls from potential patients who want to know how busy your ER is at that moment. Realize that anyone who can shop-by-phone for the ER with the shortest waiting time doesn’t really need to be in an ER at all.
  • Learn that when a particular surgeon writes for everything to be done “STAT” on his appendectomy patient has no intention on taking that patient to surgery until the next morning. Learn this by letting the surgeon know the patient is “ready” after running for 90 minutes to get everything done “STAT” as ordered.
  • Realize that enemas are more of an emergency department function than you would have thought. Learn to be assertive as you let your internet-surfing-laid-back colleague know that he is expected to do the next one.

The stories you have just read are true. Just about everything has been changed to protect the innocent. But you get the picture.

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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