July 15, 2007, 1:43 pm

Drama! Action! Humor! – or – How I Spent My 50th Birthday!


In August of 1957, American Bandstand went from being a small, local show to national prominence on the ABC network.

My mother was seventeen years old.

My dad was nineteen and stationed in Hawaii with the Navy.

I was three weeks old.

American Bandstand + Rock and Roll + teen-aged parents = rock and roll Me! How could I have been anything else?

My destiny was sealed at the genetic molecular level.


I turned fifty this weekend.

It didn’t seem like a big deal, so I didn’t ask for the day off.


I spent the entire shift feeling sorry for myself.

When I had the time…


My shift began at 2300 hours. In two hours we had signed in nineteen people, five arriving by ambulance. Now for some ER folks, that is just a drop in the proverbial bucket. For us it was a big slam.

Constipated kids. Febrile kids. Septicemia. Abrasions. Fractures. Chest pain. Abdominal pain.

And the ubiquitous chief complaint of “weakness”. I hate weakness. Nine times out of ten if you are over the age of seventy and you are weak, you are septic. I hate septic.


Then came the most interesting, uh….group.

HIPPA is such a, well, limiting factor when describing one’s duties in the world of emergency care. To protect confidentiality I shall simply mention a few concepts/descriptions/words and let you put them together in a story. Whatever you come up with will not match the actual scenario, trust me.

Multiple individuals. Female reproductive organs. Vomiting. Disinfectant solution. Pain. Giggles. Heat. Mucous membranes. Spacey. Family members. Heart stopping. Rapid speech. Medication. Something in the throat. X-rays. Breakfast food. Joint (as in “don’t bogart that…”).

I didn’t know whether to laugh hysterically or cry.

The shift ended with six patients coming during the final hour, three by ambulance. The perfect ending to the “perfect” night, and only the beginning of my birthday “adventure”.


I arrive home to find a pretty birthday card from my husband and a made-from-scratch cake made by my daughter.

I was feeling better already!

Later in the morning, my son had some information. Apparently my husband was going to purchase an iPhone for me! I’m an Apple fanatic and this would have been fantastic! I’d have that iPhone right now, except…

My son talked him out of it!!!!

Something about extra money every month, battery life and never get the first release of any new product until they work-out-the-bugs.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

My son is lucky he isn’t a soprano this morning and I mean the singer, not Tony.

I slept the rest of my day and treated myself to a Caramel Frappucino with whip at Starbucks on my way back into work last night.

With an add-shot.


My co-workers put on a pot luck for my birthday and another co-worker’s return from leave. We both had toy tiaras as it was our “special” day. I put mine on and went in to see the two pediatric patients, then I removed it.

It is hard to demand professional respect in a plastic tiara.

Later, when the department was empty I put my tiara back on and practiced my Miss America walk around the station.

Just having a little fun.

Two patients arrived, were triaged and treated.

I was still wearing the tiara!

Retroactive embarrassment. The worst kind!

That’s what I get for not acting my age!


I do believe that this will win an award as the most inane Grand Rounds post of all time. I could have written any number of things, but Vitus wanted Drama! Action! Humor! as the theme this week.

This should fit the bill. I ran all night = action. I didn’t get my iPhone = major drama. And female reproduction and disinfectant = humor. I even added pathos and embarrassment!

Do I get extra credit?


  • AlisonH

    July 15, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Rofl! My husband walked in the door from work one day to find me wearing a gold lame’ and turkey feather headband, put together as a super-tacky angel halo. He was dumbstruck. He finally got out, WHY are you wearing THAT?!

    Because I’d had a truly growly, rotten attitude while paying Christmas bills and balancing the books, and put that on knowing that if I looked ridiculous, I’d have to laugh at myself rather than take my growls out on an innocent kid of ours.

    But note that I did take it off while running to the post office. You, on the other hand, will have kids remembering the hospital as a friendly place because you had yours still on, and I see that as a Good Thing, definitely. Who knows? They might go into nursing someday because of it.

  • Ali

    July 15, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!

  • may

    July 15, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    happy birthday kim! many more posts to come:)

  • Annemiek

    July 15, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Happy birthday!

  • Rhea

    July 15, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Happy Birthday! I was born in 1958, so next year…
    I am adding you to my blogroll. A small birthday present.

  • Barbara C. Phillips

    July 15, 2007 at 6:34 pm


    Happy Happy Birthday! You were acting your age! Acting our age means doing anything we desire!

    I love being 50 (well, 52 now). The key is to celebrate yourself every single day.

    As for your son…sigh. Some day he will learn…


  • Terry

    July 15, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Happy Birthday, Kim, and remember, 50 is the new 35!!!

  • POPT

    July 15, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Happy Birthday, Kim! May every year bring you a plastic tiara and the fun that goes with it.

  • David Loeb

    July 15, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!

    I spent my 30th birthday (12 1/2 years ago) as an intern on call in the NICU. I, too, at first thought it was no big deal, then proceeded to feel sorry for myself… until the giant pink gorilla wearing diapers came in and sang Happy Birthday to me! Not only did it embarrass me no end, but it gave the parents in the unit a chance to laugh and smile and think about something else, even if only for a few minutes. What a gift that ended up being!

  • Mother Jones RN

    July 16, 2007 at 5:26 am

    Happy birthday, Kim. I vote that you go out and buy your own iPhone so you can have something else to write about. Forget your son’s logic. You MUST own an iPhone! Girls just want to have fun.


  • rlbates

    July 16, 2007 at 5:49 am

    Happy Birthday to you Kim!! I’ll hit the big 50 in less than 2 weeks. My husband and I are going to Nashville (late August) to a quilt show. One of my quilts got accepted and will be in the AQS Expo. Hope you have a great (blessed) year!

  • TC

    July 16, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Happy Birthday! Talked him out of the iphone!? Wait til his birthday comes around!

  • […] Febrile kids. Septicemia. Abrasions. Fractures. Chest pain. Abdominal pain. And the ubiquitous chief complaint of “weakness”. I hate weakness. Nine times out of ten if you are over the age of seventy and you are weak, you are septic. … …more […]

  • Dawn

    July 17, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Congrats on your bday! I have 5 years to go before I reach that one – hopefully my shift won’t be as, uh, adventurous, as yours was!

  • Dean Moyer

    July 19, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Happy Birthday Kim! Another great post… and a great submission for Grand Rounds. Good luck with the site remodeling. Will be interesting to see what you do with the joint. 🙂

  • Self Help Zone

    July 21, 2007 at 5:08 am

    OOPS.. and sorry I missed the party… 🙂

    belated Happy Birthday Wishes…

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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