December, 2006 Archive

December 31, 2006, 10:44 am

The Story in Your Eyes


I swear I was born thirty years too late.

I was meant to wear this uniform.

This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!

Navy nurses had the best nursing caps, too! Perfect shape with your rank in stripes across the top!

I rue the day padded shoulders went out of style.

Everything I wore had padded shoulders in the ’80s.

It is sort of ironic.

By the time I was in a position to join the military, they told me I was too old.

Cherry Ames never aged, we don’t have that luxury in real life.

How my inner hippie manages to co-exist peacefully with my inner military officer persona is something I will never understand!



Not quite end-stage, but the patient couldn’t talk.

Couldn’t cooperate with any procedures.

Needed three people to hold her arm down for a blood draw.

Definitely felt discomfort when straight cathed for a urine specimen.

Just another elderly patient with advanced alzheimers and a fever who required a full septic workup.

Could do it with my eyes closed.

Except she looked me in the eye. She didn’t flinch when I told her I was going to put a tube for oxygen in her nose and gee, wasn’t that mask uncomfortable.

Dorothy was in there.


Dorothy was a nurse.

Oh, she had been retired for years.

She had served in the United States Navy Nurse Corp in World War II.

In the Pacific, and in Japan after the war.

Following her service with the Navy, she was a staff nurse in the midwest.

After taking a few years off to have children she returned to the profession as a school nurse for a decade, followed by community nursing for another decade.


I asked her son if she had gone to school through the Nursing Cadet program.

He didn’t know.

I asked him if she had ever told him any stories of her work in the navy.

He couldn’t remember any.

I would have given anything to have her tell me some of those stories.

I would have remembered them.


Dorothy had lived through an amazing era.

She had experiences and experience now lost to history. Stories she could no longer relate.

To anyone.


Dorothy is a member of what has been termed “the greatest generation”.

And we are losing them daily.

So many times I have sat at the bedside of a veteran of World War II who will regale me with stories of their time in the Pacific theater or in Europe.

“I was a fighter pilot, you know.” (Translation: please see me as a productive human being and not just this elderly shell of a person in a gurney).

So many times I have sat vigil as my patient was dying, hearing stories from their family about how proud the patient was to have served during the war.

But they’ve never been nurses.

Now I had in front of me a real “Cherry Ames”.

How I would have loved to sit with a cup of coffee and talk about her life.

I like to think she would have been willing to tell me her story.


That patient with advanced alzheimers, Dorothy, came alive for me that night.

She was a human being, not just a febrile elderly body.

She is a nurse.

For you see, although Dorothy had been retired for many years, once you are a nurse you are always a nurse.

I am proud to consider myself her colleague.

She is a veteran.

For that she has my respect.


If you know an elderly nurse, talk to her. Write the stories down. Tape the conversations.

The pioneers of our profession are getting older and someday their stories will be lost to us forever.

Before we are resigned to reading their stories in history books, let’s take advantage of their vast experiences while we still have the opportunity.

Nursing practice has changed dramatically in just the 29 years that I’ve been privileged to be a part of the profession.

But the basics of nursing, the heart of the profession has not changed.

It lives on in nurses like Dorothy.

Let’s find them and learn from them.

Before they are gone forever.

Read »

December 30, 2006, 11:50 am

Unmitigated Gall, And I Don’t Mean Bile


Aw, man!

I see this two days after Christmas.

I want this doll and I want her bad!

They gave her a stethoscope!

And a totally freakin’ cool cap!

They made her shoes look like flats instead of pumps!

(You can’t blame Barbie for wearing pumps. She has spent the last 45 years wearing high heels and has horrible foot-drop.)

She probably has plantar fasciitis and has to wear heels.

Oh, and by the way, this is exactly how I look at work, every day!

I kid you not!

I look exactly like this until I happen to glance into a mirror and see reality staring back at me, but until I do this is me!


My little Mac widget dictionary/thesaurus (which I cannot live without) defines “gall” as “bold, impudent behavior”.

Once upon a time a patient was talking on her cellphone while sitting in the gurney awaiting evaluation by the ER phsician.

She glances up and keeps on talking!

The doctor stood at the bedside, hands behind his back and stared at the patient.

She kept on talking! The conversation wasn’t even related to her ER visit. If I remember correctly, it was gossip about last night’s dinner companion.

The doctor pulled up a chair, sat down, crossed his legs, folded his hands and continued to stare at the patient.

She kept on talking!

After ten minutes, she ended the conversation and turned to look at the doctor, who promptly informed her that (1) she had talked through the entire time he had to evaluate her, and that (2) she would have to move to the back of the queue before he would be able to see her again.

He left the room.

She looked at me.

I said something about “blowing it” by talking on her cell phone when the doctor was at the bedside.

“Well it would have been rude to just hang up!”



Fast forward a bazillion years.

Father brings in son in the middle of the night for a fever. They are welcomed into the triage room.

The nurse begins the assessment. The cell phone rings. It’s grandma, wanting to know what is going on. Never mind that the kid has only been gone from the house for five minutes.

The nurse politely waits for the father to cut the cell phone call.

He doesn’t.

The nurse politely asks the father to stop talking on the cell phone so the triage assessment can continue.

The father lays the cell phone down but does not hang up! The nurse asks a couple more questions regarding the history and the father picks up the phone and starts talking again!

The actual physical exam was next and febrile screaming toddler would have none of it. As the nurse tries to ausculate the lungs the screaming, febile screaming toddler is hitting the nurse in the face and all the nurse can hear though febrile screaming toddler’s chest is the father’s voice.

The nurse sits back and waits for a break in the conversation to ask father to hang up.

It never comes.

She decides to assert herself anyway and ask the father to hang up the phone so that triage may continue.

Father nods his head and keeps on talking.

The nurse ever so subtly brings herself up to her full height while siting in the chair, ever so slightly elevates her voice to an authoritarian timbre and informs the father that if he does not hang up the phone now, this triage session will end until he does.

The father pouts (actually pouts!) and hangs up the phone.

“Well she is concerned!” he explains.


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December 28, 2006, 8:50 am

Change of Shift Rings In the New Year!


….is up at NeoNurseChic!

Many thanks to “LizzPiano” for taking on the duties of host during this hectic Christmas week!

Next edition, Change of Shift returns to Emergiblog! If anyone would like to host an edition, please let me know!


I just worked my last 12-hour shift for the rest of my life.

Yes, I have decided that in honor of my 49 1/2 birthday, I will no longer subject this still youthful (ha!) body to the ravages of the extended work day.

I’m an eight-hour-girl beginning tonight.

And starting tomorrow I’m back to my Starbucks cushy chair to blog away!  Been so busy it’s been hard to keep up, and I’m having withdrawls!

I think with a whole week off,  I can catch up!!!

Read »

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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