August 1, 2006, 12:23 am

Ninety Eight….Ninety Nine…..


She would certainly have to be a special girl!

I have a hard time being just one nurse, let alone three!

Besides, nurses are women not girls.

Hopefully in this day and age, the distinction is obvious.

The fact that she is three nurses in one could explain the ten inch waist.

Cap gets a 10/10.

Maybe that doll gives her special powers.

Gives me the creeps.

It’s as if Stephen King decided to write a nurse series.

Oooooo….that could be interesting now that I think about it!


Sitting at Starbucks, my defacto Borders boycott ongoing. Tonight it’s Marvin Gaye and Chris Isaak on the speakers. Am I groovin’or what?

And did you know Tom Pettty put out a new album produced by Jeff Lynne? (and a big tip o’ the hat to Beajerry at the Cosmic Watercooler for that info!)

If the above doesn’t make sense, I apologize as it has nothing to do with nursing but the rock-and-roller that exists just below my facade of domesticity and respectability is totally thrilled and had to make an appearance on my blog.


I’m pretty happy but rather perplexed. The Cherry Ames series has been re-released and is available on but I was under the impression it had been updated to reflect the reality of today’s nurse.

It appears that they are the same as the ones we read as kids.

No matter. Buy a few for the eight and nine-year old girls you know. Let’s get the next generation of girls thinking about nursing as a career. Better yet, give them to some eight or nine-year-old boys and tell them the adventure can be theirs now, too!

Now there’s an idea. A series for boys about a male nurse. I’m serious……maybe I could write it….hey, you guys out there! Think it would fly?

Maybe we’ll even see a resurgence of caps! For the women, of course.

And you know how I feel about that!


Oh, and there is a new post up at Scared to Health and I’d like to thank Enrico over at Mexico Medical Student for pointing out something I should have thought of long ago. You can see it in the comments under the post. I’m so embarassed I did not think of it before now.


I’ve had a very unusual run of patients in the last few weeks. Nonagenarians.

Yep, folks in their nineties.

Unusual because they aren’t the stereotypical bed-ridden nursing home patients with eternal urosepsis.

These are alert, oriented, independent, vibrant elderly people.

They live alone or with their kids. But very, very independent.

There is something I have noticed about this generation; those who range from about 88 to 100: they are tough!

They don’t make a huge deal about what could be a very painful situation.

I mentioned to one patient that it seemed to me that people in their nineties, as she was, were often suffering internally more than they let on externally via grimacing or moaning.

She nodded. Her pain was a 10/10 and the only reason she was in the ER was that she couldn’t manage the pain at home at that point.

She had leg pain and was taking medication for it.

Oh, but during the eight hours of pain-free time that the medication gave her during the day she had: vacuumed her entire house, knelt in her garden for two hours, did some wash and got some windows clean.

I got tired just writing that sentence.

These are amazing people. Just look at all they have lived through…..

They have seen life go from horse-and-buggy to international travel in one day. From party-lines to cell phones and e-mail. From watching people die of gastroenteritis to surviving the most invasive cancers via chemotherapy. They lived through the depression, two World Wars, the fear of nuclear extermination during the Cold War and everything that we younger folks remember.

These people do not complain. I swear it is a generational trait.

And our nonagenarians are national treasures. The stories they tell….history? They lived it! And this is really our last chance to actually hear it from those who made it.

Precious are the times when the ER is slow and I can sit and listen to a patient discuss his time in the Pacific or Europe during World War II. Or what life was like back on the farm……

Or sit with a dying nonagenarian and have his wife and children and grandchildren tell me stories about his childhood and what he did for a living for fifty years and how he managed to keep gardening until just last week…

Or in my grandfather’s case (he is 90), what it was like to live through the Dust Bowl and travel out to California. When you did what you had to do to make money to live. None of this “on the dole” business. If you had to work seventy hours to make a living then that is just what you did. And you didn’t gripe about it, either. You were thankful you had a job.

(Oh, and for the record, he’s lived through bladder cancer, prostate cancer, a hip replacement and six months of G-tube feedings, which he did by himself once he was strong enough and recovered from the small stroke that caused the swallowing problem and is now tube free.)

We just don’t make them like that anymore.

Let’s treasure them while we can whether they are in our family….

…..or on our gurneys.


  • Erica

    August 1, 2006 at 5:33 am

    I completely agree, that hardiness is a generational trait (and one that would do well to be passed on to younger generations, methinks). Last week I took care of an 89 year old lady who fell off a ladder while trimming the trees in front of her house, and last night a 92 year old lady who finally couldn’t take the pain of her L-1 fracture after working in her garden all day. (Those, alongside a 22 year old pregnant girl who “didn’t feel well” – no other symptoms – and a 27 year old man in a no-damage MVA who whined more than the rest of my patients all week.) And notably too, during my clinicals in nursing school I cared for a woman who’d just turned 99, had about 14 different disease processes working against her, and her first words to me when I introduced myself as her nurse for the day: “I sure hope you can get me out of here quick, sweetie. I’ve got way too much to do to be cooped up in here, hospitals are for sick people.”
    Food for thought.

  • Sid Schwab

    August 1, 2006 at 8:15 am

    You are right on so many levels: older folks are some of my favorite patients. And I’ve thought so too: pain doesn’t seem to bother them as much, and I don’t think it’s they feel less. Somehow, it seems as if they’ve been around enough to put it into a different perspective.

    The oldest person I recall operating on was a man of 102. Had cholangitis from a gallstone. Back working in his garden in a couple of weeks. Had fantastic stories of his days growing up in the Ural mountains. Wrinkles can be beautiful.

  • DisappearingJohn

    August 1, 2006 at 9:27 am

    I’m glad you mentioned trying to get more men into the profession. Our ED actually has quite a few men on staff, more that the floors do, at any rate. Maybe its the “adrenaline junkie” thing, who knows…

    If you write the series, let me know! I’d love to preview it!


  • Debbie

    August 1, 2006 at 10:09 am

    Happy blogiversary! Many more.

  • Mother Jones RN

    August 1, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    I love your idea about writing nursing books for boys. Kim, you are a very good writer, and I know you could do it.

    Mother Jones RN

  • Dr. A

    August 1, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    Older people are so fascinating. I had a great conversation with one of my 90 year old patients at the nursing home today. He’s getting physical therapy there but will be discharged home tomorrow after a bout of vertigo. He lives at home with his 60 year old daughter and her husband.

    BTW, great blog. I’ve been reading for a long time. Thanks so much for including me in your links. I never noticed that until now. I’ll do the same. Keep up the great work!

  • […] Summary Next week’s host will be Hospital Impact. Thanks to Dr.2 Nick Genes for allowing me to host, and thank you for reading and listening. It has truly been a pleasure being your host. Epilogue I want to dedicate this Grand Rounds edition to my Grandpa Robert whose birthday is today. He passed away in January of 2002, but ever since I read this post on Emergiblog I have been thinking of him. I have a post written, but right now I want Grand Rounds to stand on its own. Since today is his birthday, though, I thought I’d simply mention it and invite you to return in the next couple of days to read the post at your leisure. Happy Birthday Grandpa. enrico @ Tue, 08 Aug 2006 6:30 am Filed under: Medical and Health […]

  • Mexico Medical Student » To Grandpa

    August 11, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    […] Your name was Roberto Mosqueda (mo-skeh-duh), but I just called you “grandpa.” I didn’t call you “Grandpa Robert” really, because I didn’t have any other grandfather; my mom’s dad died of a sudden heart attack when she was in her teens, so you are the only grandpa I ever knew (not counting great-grandparents). You were enough for two or three, which is why I’m writing this. The other day would have been your birthday, and I’ve been thinking about you lately, especially after reading this post by Kim…it described so many things about you to a tee. I never heard you complain about anything. Ever. You had so much pride, it sometimes worked against you–you often needed help and refused to ask–but you wouldn’t have it any other way. […]

  • Patricia L Daniels

    September 13, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Hello- Can you please help me get info on what I can do to protect
    myself? I am a RN who works in a large hospital Recovery Room.
    I was brought a patient with a very virulent form of herpes zoster virus
    in his lungs. He was supposed to be in strict isolation but no one told
    us. I was in very close contact with him for over 2 hours. Now I have
    chronic herpes zoster with outbreaks on my face. The hospital will not
    allow me to work when the rash is on my face and refuse to grant me
    workmans comp. Also I applied for FMLA and they have ignored it and now
    my hours are cut in half. My medical bills are mounting by the week- I cannot
    keep up and my health is failing. Even Social Security has denied me.
    Please advise. Thanks so much! Patricia L Daniels 25606 NW79th
    Place// High Springs, Florida 32643 3864545652//cell 3864336000. Any
    advise would be appreciated. I have been a nurse since 1971- never
    contracted any illness- this is affecting my retirement pension- I have
    used up all my savings and am in debt. Mediation is set for next week and I cannot get anyone to help me. The Hospital says that all the records are lost . Another child contracted a very similar disease there at that time. DNA testing could prove without a doubt. I need Workers Comp coverage and they refuse to help. Please advise. Sincerely~PatriciaDaniels

  • Tess

    September 14, 2006 at 8:32 am

    Loved your comments on our elderly folk. I wish more people would appreciate them like you do!

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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