July 25, 2006, 10:56 pm

Warning! Warning, Will Robinson! Whining Ahead!


Oh, don’t you just want to slap Dixie right off that gurney?

I bet she never had to run around a full department dripping sweat like a pig in heat.

She’s wearing freakin’ high-heeled shoes.

Who the hell has time to strike a pose in the emergency department?

Great cap, though.

Hey! I work with a doctor who looks like Bobby Troup (the actor on the left).

I thought that doc looked familiar.

Now I know why!


To quote the immortal words of Randy Jackson,

“Yo, man, check it out…..”

Today I am boycotting Borders by blogging on my front porch, laying on two comforters with a pillow atop bricks. Yep, bricks.

Don’t worry, it’s dark and no one can see me.

But inside my house it about 583 degrees.

Hence, the porch.

But what about Starbucks, you ask?

Been there, did that already today. For three hours.

My son calls my old Macintosh Powerbook G4 laptop my “life support system”.


Because you have to have a life before you need to support it, kiddo.


I’m known as “perky!” Yep, I’m one of those Happy Peppy Perky People and today I don’t feel so damn perky.

I did three twelve fargin’ hour shifts in four days.

It’s hotter than hell here.

(Yes, we coastal Californians are heat wimps. Wanna make somethin’ of it? Put up yer dukes….)

You’d think that the ER would be air conditioned, and it is.

But it only takes five minutes of running around before the invisible humidity hits and I start sweating like a full bore faucet.

Ah, humidity, wilst thou ever leave?

None of the nurses are wearing make-up because it just runs off your face.

Literally. It takes off like an olympic sprinter.

My eyeshadow was on my toenails before I even had my badge on.

(Have you ever tried blow drying your hair but you are sweating faster than you can dry it off?)

There is a fan at the nurse’s station.

Great. I spend about 5% of my time there.


So I get to work all Happy Peppy Perky and go into see one of my patients.

He’s very sweet, can say only two sentences and won’t stay in bed.

His family is a pain in the ass.

My ass.

But because I’m miss Happy Peppy Perky, I smile through the torrential downpour of sweat that has caused my Versace glasses to drop precariously to the end of my nose and is driping down the sides of my face.

Then Doctor Hospitalist comes to see the patient, and this is good, except I now have fifty bazillion orders to do before I can get this patient up to the floor.

Except that another of my assigned patients is undergoing conscious sedation and the third one is ready to be admitted.

And it’s only 1530. I have 11 1/2 hours to go…..


Uh oh. Hematoma alert! The IV that didn’t work is growing a rather large bruise.

Wife wants an ice bag for it…..

……except that I’m kinda busy hanging up the drip that will save her husband’s life, along with the hydration he so desperately needs while he tries to get out of the bed, THEN get a cath urine and THEN get the EKG.

Wife mentions icebag no less than five times.

She sees me running. She sees me wipe my face with a towel three times since beginning care.

I’m not sipping mint juleps on the ER veranda, okay?

I haven’t left the room since I got there except to get the meds and refrain from stangling the hospitalist who was probably young enough to be my son and wondered who was this crazy woman in the dripping scrubs.

But I smiled through the whole thing and cajoled and encouraged.

And finally got the ice pack, only to have wifey say, “Oh….he won’t let you keep that on him.”

I desperately look around for Rod Serling because I know this has to be the Twilight Zone.

Nope, the dude was not in sight.

So I sat on the edge of the bed, smiling and talking to the patient and holding his hand with the ice bag on top of it for a full five minutes. Having a conversation even though he could only say two sentences over and over.

Then the family decides that the patient is in distress because, he points to his chest and his stomach and wife wants everything checked so get that doctor back in here and the patient might need to go to the bathroom and he can’t tell us so I better get the commode.

So….I run to get the commode and we get the patient up and undress him the rest of the way, with the patient fighting our every move and sit him on the commode.


Soooooo….we (wifey and Happy Peppy Perky Nurse) put the patient back in bed but to keep the patient IN the bed, a family member has to hold the patient’s ankles to prevent the patient scooting down. Yes, we could have done soft restraints but that would have agitated the patient even more and as long as the family was there, I could utilize them.

They were still a thorn in my side. A pain in my rectum. A pox upon my shift.

But my patient gave me a kiss. Two of them!

And trust me, anyone who wanted to kiss the diaphoretic water slide that was now my body, had to have dementia.

But it was still neat!


It’s a good thing I didn’t wear my cap those last three shifts.

It would have slid right off my drenched scalp.

Oh, but don’t worry, it wouldn’t have fallen on the floor.

It would have stuck to my sweaty rear-end and I’d have sat on it.


Oh, and the reason I was able to do everything I did for this patient was that one of my co-workers, who knows who he is if he is reading this, saved my hide by taking care of my other two patients AND doing charge at the same time.

I think I’ll buy that man a Guiness.


So, even though I could wring out half a liter of fluid from the bottom of my scrub top, I managed to get through three days of that blistering air-conditioned (just barely) heat and meet a few neat patients in the process.

But I did notice two things.

  • For the first time in all my years of nursing, no patient asked for a warm blanket. Everyone was quite happy half-naked.
  • My diaphoresis regulator must be on the blink. I seem to sweat more than most. I must be of that “certain age”.

So now that I’m cool I’m back to my Happy Peppy Perky self.

But I would kill to be able to wear a white tank top, running shorts and flip flops as a uniform. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it sure would be comfortable.

With a cap, of course!


  • John Cowart

    July 26, 2006 at 2:21 am

    Here in Florida, the weather is as you describe it all the time.

    Thanks for taking care of your patient so well and for putting up with his family.

  • MotherJonesRN

    July 26, 2006 at 7:00 am

    To Miss Kim, our favorite Happy Peppy Perky nurse:

    Thank you for that entertaining glimpse into your day. Your life in the ER sounds so glamorous:-) Oh yes, I think slapping Dixie off that gurney is a great idea. The nerve! I never get to sit down at work unless I’m sitting on top of someone while putting them in restraints.

    Sorry about that heat wave you’re dealing with out there. I hope things cool off soon.

  • kt

    July 26, 2006 at 8:59 am

    that was great kim! hilarious… “I’m not sipping mint juleps on the ER veranda, okay!” loved that line 🙂 oh how we nurse/actresses have to put on that fake smile at times when families are crawling up your butt to figure out why an eye lash is out of place. thank god for the team members who can help us take care of the other patients..when we can’t be there ourselves!

    hang in there with the heat…riding the humidity wave on the eastcoast as well.

  • birdy

    July 26, 2006 at 11:06 am

    Can you believe the heat around here? I’ve had to go out to Walnut Creek for work lately…oh lordy!


    July 26, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Kim, I love it. “Wife mentions icebag no less than five times.” Classic!

  • kenju

    July 26, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    I’ll bet the men patients would love to see the nurses in tanks, shorts and flip-flops…..LOL

  • colleen

    July 26, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    Oh, I LOVE Nurse Dixie. Controlled her ER with the lowering of her false eyelash.

    If, god forbid, my sister (who lives in SF) ever winds up in the ER, I hope you’re her nurse….so much patience with the patients!

  • Hannah

    July 27, 2006 at 7:47 am

    I always thought it was funny that she was always semi-flirting with Bob Fuller (the other actor/doc) but she (Julie London/Dixie McCall) was married in real life to Bobby Troup.

    I remember being VERY impressed when she would give Engine 51 directions to start an IV with D5W and instruct them to transport IMMEDIATELY.


  • jen

    July 27, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    on assignment in a houston ED, a paramedic actually handed me a clean wash cloth and told me to keep it in my pocket, ( like everyone else does) to wipe the sweat from my brow. i had to laugh

  • Dawn

    July 27, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Welcome to summer in the upper Mid West, where it’s gunning on hitting 100 tomorrow!

    Loved this post Kim, especially the mint julep on the ER veranda (where is that veranda anyway?) line. I had to deal with a difficult family situation on my last rotation in Ortho, and was amazed how an “Everybody OUT” command worked when the patient sneezed out her IV (don’t ask).

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog!

  • mommimi

    July 29, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    I would feel sorry for you but I’m too busy laughing my head off at your post, I love the photo too! The weather is hotter than hell on the East Coast too but we crank up the air and stay inside.


  • Sid Schwab

    July 29, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Cap and heels, I’d say. What’s in between is up to you. Seriously, my first nurse always wore a cap (not heels, tho) and many patients said how much they liked it. Old folks, mostly, of course. (By “first nurse” I mean the nurse who worked with me when I started practice.)

    Good post. Too damn hot up here, too, until a couple of days ago.

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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