March 20, 2006, 12:55 am

Once Upon A Time

What on earth does Journey have to do with Emergency nursing?


So why is this old 1979 ad for a rock band on my professional blog?

Because I’ve had the, um…pardon my language, “hots” for Steve Perry for 21 years. (For the uninitiated he is the one on the far left.)

And because every single doctor and nurse I have worked with has gotten to take care of someone famous.

Except me.

I always “just miss” someone.

My only claim to fame is that I got to hold a real Super Bowl ring back in the early 80s.

Sadly, the owner is no longer with us.

But will the rest of you famous people kindly come into the ER when I’m working?

Thank you.


Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was an elderly patient. Tiny, petite and frail. Ninety-something. Bedridden most of the time, her caregivers sent her to an ER when they happened to notice a change in her vital signs, along with a depressed level of consciousness.

She wasn’t, as health care givers sometimes say, “out of it”. In fact, she mumbled something to her nurse about a “mother picking someone up”. “Your mother?”, the nurse inquired. At which point the patient opened her eyes and said, rather clearly, “My dear, I am over ninety years old. My mother is dead. I’m talking about your mother!”

Oh. Well that’s different.

The tiny, elderly patient was with it enough to cooperate with a foley catheter insertion.

And to thank her nurse.

When undisturbed, the elderly patient would snore. And some of her vital signs would change, necessitating a bit of oxygen by nasal cannula.

As the care of the patient progressed, it was noted by a health care giver that that patient had on many medicinal patches. Patches that could account for a decreased level of consciousness. Patches that are often used for chronic pain conditions.

These could certainly account for the decreased mentation. It needed to be ruled out.

Would she wake up if a very tiny amount of a medication was given to this tiny, elderly lady?

A medication that would block the effectiveness of these patches for a brief 20-30 minute period?

She went into withdrawl within sixty seconds.

Every osteoporotic-related pain receptor in the poor woman’s body blasted wide open.

She cried . She writhed in agony. She shook, curled up in a fetal position as she held the hands of her nurse and recited continual “Hail Mary”s. This poor woman went from sleep to incomprehensible agony without ever understanding what happened.

The nurse calmly and repeatedly assured the patient that this was temporary, and her pain would soon be gone.

The nurse was not calm inside. Indeed, she was nauseated at the suffering she was witnessing. In fact, had caused. The nurse kept down the lump that was forming in her throat. She held the patient’s hands and prayed with her.

Twenty-to-thirty minutes was all it would take and she would be painfree again.

It took an entire hour.

The patches that were so necessary for her comfort finally kicked back in and the patient once again appeared relaxed and with a depressed level of consciousness.

But not that depressed.

Upon hearing her nurse sneeze as she was being transfered to her hospital bed, she said “Honey, take care of that cold. You don’t want to get sick!”


The preceding story may or may not be true.

The patient may or may not exist.

And the nurse may or may not have held in the tears when she got home that morning.


  • Flea

    March 20, 2006 at 2:23 am


    Forgive me…

    *clearing throat*

    It’s tearing you apart/
    Every every every day/
    Tearing you apart/
    Oh, what can I say?

    There, I feel better.

    have a great week.


  • John Cowart

    March 20, 2006 at 5:47 am

    I’m sorry you nver got to take care of anyone famous; if I ever get sick, I’ll ask to be sent to your hospital. I think you’d take good care of me even though I’m a nobody.
    Thanks, on behalf of all us unknowns.

  • Tiesha's Place

    March 20, 2006 at 7:42 am

    I love your blog! It’s great!

  • Moof

    March 20, 2006 at 8:09 am

    *applauds Dr. Flea’s performance!* ;o)

    Kim … that was a beautiful post – yet again. It’s a comfort to know that there are nurses like you out there.

    Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  • kenju

    March 20, 2006 at 8:28 am

    Oh, that poor lady. Too bad she had to live that way.

    Hope you get somebody famous soon, Kim.

  • dribear

    March 20, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    I idolized Journey, and had the long hair to prove it. Don’t worry, I always just miss someone famous too.


  • Kim

    March 20, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    For some reason, long hair and big noses have always been what attracted me…
    and then I married “Donny Osmond”, so go figure!

  • Janae

    March 20, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    Just beautiful. I can only hope that my grandma had a nurse such as yourself when she was in the ER last December.

  • Student Nurse Jack

    March 20, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    *sniff* /wipes eye/

    Oh. You don’t need famous patients. You’ve got hypothetical patients like the one you hypothetically described to fill your heart with gifts of insights, wit and poignancy.

    Don’t Stop Believing. Hold on to the Feeling.
    (Just seeing the photo of Journey set my ear-worm singing)

    I love your blog.

  • mary

    March 21, 2006 at 4:09 am

    I once worked in a hospital to which Elizabeth Taylor was admitted. Far, far away from my unit, up in the penthouse private rooms this (large city) hospital has tucked away for celebrity patients. Does that count? 🙂

    Kim, the nurse who could experience that and not go home and cry about it, is not the nurse who could write so movingly about it. No, not that nurse.


  • may

    March 21, 2006 at 8:54 am

    crying is therapy, and i am glad the made up nurse was able to do that 🙂

  • Jodi

    March 21, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Aw…geez. Poor lady. Why is it that an ER can tell what the problem is in 10 seconds when nursing homes won’t even bother to try.

  • D Bunny

    March 21, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You had to see what her true mentation was, PLUS using opioid antagonists is a hard thing to titrate. You poor thing 🙁

    Hey at least her pain was being treated, which is in itself a near-miracle in these days of “everyone in pain is a drug seeker”.

    Now as far as Steve Perry goes… OH YEAH!

    He’s so awesome!

    Closest I came to someone famous was when the secret service spent 2 months preparing our ER, in case Bill Clinton needed us during a visit to our area. I loved Clinton, and realized that for him to go to our ER would probably mean he was shot, so I was glad he didn’t have to use our services. (This was before his bypass)

  • marcus

    March 21, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    The “hots” are good. We should never give them up.

  • Nurse Practitioners Save Lives

    March 22, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    I love Journey as well.. I’m an 80’s child.. I miss the music sooooo much!
    I haven’t taken care of any famous people yet either…I’m in a relatively small town..
    Where oh where do you get your pictures?? Do you have to pay for them? I found a few on an image search on Google but you have the best!!!!
    Cheers from The Nurse Practitioner’s Place

  • Kim

    March 22, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Actually, I often sign up for a site called that has ads for everything, not just medical. Very reasonable and you can sign up for a week or a month or a year, whatever you want. Other ads I just find by searching.

    And sometimes it’s following a link to a link to a link to a link. But I never take pics off another blog. Mostly they come from old magazines.

    And sometimes you have to use unusual search words. And don’t just look under “Images”, sometimes I have gone through ten Google pages to find one site with one item.

    My hubby scans many ads and sells them on ebay, although he is not doing that at the moment. I have a closet full of magazines from the 30s and 40s.

    I have GOT to get my scanner fixed.

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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