June 5, 2006, 9:40 pm

If It Makes You Happy, Then Why The Hell Am I So Sad?


Oh geeze, what a crybaby!

They put Sudafed behind the counter and now he’s too shy to ask for it!

I used to work in the Middle of the Methamphetamine Manufacturing Community.

Yep, those were the days.

Under forty with a tachycardia?

Don’t deny it. Don’t even go there!

‘Course, we’d catch it on a urine tox anyway and the patient would always be astounded, like there was such a thing as “second hand meth inhalation”.

Do me a favor and tell me if I have a tatoo that says “Stupid” on my forehead?

Anyway, this guy probably realized all he could make out of Benadryl was something that would make him sleep for twelve hours and then give him a hangover for another twelve.

Either that or he just realized he’d scheduled himself to work the night of the American Idol finale.

Been there, done that.


A Patient Encounter In Verse

by: Kim, RN


The unit had settled
Down to a dull roar,
When my next ER patient
Rolled through the door.

The medics of county
He doth abuse,
For the 911 System
He chooseth to use.

For chest pain he had
Or so he had said,
So we took his report
And we put him to bed.

I’d met him before,
Quite intelligent, he,
When not reeking of whiskey and feces
And pee.

For although his call
Was indeed a cry
For help, it was not
The dreaded MI.

The first question he asked
As his blood was taken,
Was could he have food?
And did we have bacon?

Why, how long had it been,
Since he last ate?
He said two days
Since he saw his last plate.

But he was not homeless,
Lived not on the street.
So why did this poor man
Have nothing to eat?

On alcohol intake,
This man had no handle.
It seems that is his best friend
Was “Mr.” Jack Daniels.

As nerves in his body
Began to awake,
He asked for a drug
So that he would not shake.

Of this we gave freely
Along with a meal,
And a dose of compassion
To go with the deal.

With EKG normal
Enzymes not elevated,
The patient was calmer
Although not sedated.

It’s time for discharge!
The ED doc said,
No need to keep!
(Patient thought he had the whole night to sleep.)

So I phoned his wife,
To come pick up her “pup”,
She said some choice words,
and then she hung up!

I went to the room,
What options were left?
I told him no ride home
That he was bereft.

I’ll call a taxi,
But he had no fare.
How’d he get Jack Daniels
From the thin air?

In my green scrubs I stood
There in defiance,
Hands on hips I sure looked like
The Jolly Green Giant!

For I had discovered
To my chagrin,
That this was the tenth time
This patient was in.

Each time via medics,
Each time with faux pain,
For a meal and a bed
He thought he would gain.

Compassion, my middle name
Tenderness, rote
But the fact is this patient
had “gotten my goat”

By “playing the system”
It made my blood boil,
I said he lacked wisdom
But still I did toil.

My City’s Finest
When called, did insist
What was known as a “drunk tank”
No longer exists.

They’d have to arrest,
That, I did not want.
This man was no criminal,
Just a bit of a sot!

So I said with vehemence
More than I felt,
That I’d give him a voucher
But then, no more help.

For awhile before going he asked
If he could sleep,
I told him “no”,
That his care was complete.

The taxi it took him,
Right to his front door.
He walked out of the ER,
Thanking me at the door.

Mission accomplished!
ED doc was glad.
But if it makes you so happy,
Why the hell am I so sad?

For my patient was gentle
When sober, so docile,
Would it have been wrong,
If he slept for awhile?

We can’t be co-dependents,
Can’t encourage behavior,
You can’t change a man,
Play the role of his “savior.

But a nurse it does hurt,
when you have to be rough.
The worst lesson of all?
Sometimes Love must be tough.


(And a hat tip to Sheryl Crow for the title post, a slight change on her lyric to her great song, “If It Makes You Happy”)


  • Billie

    June 6, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    One of my more frustrating times was when I was trying to secure transportation for a guy who was very adamant he did NOT NEED ANY HELP, though just a few hours ago he was in four-point leather restraints as he sobered up. He said he would walk. I was not convinced of his sobriety yet, but my attending insisted he could sign himself out. I wanted to try and find transportation for him, as I told my attending there is NO WAY he could walk home this time of night in the cold. My attending’s answer? “well, it’s not freezing out”

  • Erica

    June 7, 2006 at 5:51 am

    So true. Great poem, very entertaining. But the baseline truth is ugly, and I see it a bunch every day too. Ours is the city-owned hospital, so we get most of these guys. I’ll save my rant for my own blog, but some days it’s tough to walk the line between ‘caring nurse’ and ‘don’t feed the bears.’

  • NPs Save Lives

    June 13, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    Very awesome poem Kim! I do feel bad for people when they need our help but sometimes it is hard to help those who won’t help themselves..

  • kt

    June 14, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    love the poem kim!!

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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