December 27, 2007, 11:30 am

Gingerbread, the Bee Gees and an Epiphany


Oh, now this is attractive!

I guess the family that sprays together, stays together!

Now there have been times this last month when I have loved me some Afrin, big time!

I did not, however, buy individual bottles for my family for a group squirt!

“Gee, Mommy! Can I shove a plastic nozzle up my nose like you and Daddy, puhleeeeese?”

Besides, the mother has hers sticking in the wrong nares.

I guess she didn’t get the memo that this was a “right nares” squirt.


Change of Shift is in progress as we speak! Caroline at Brain Scramble is working her heart out on this edition. God bless her for taking on the carnival during the holidays! I hope Santa was very good to her this year!


I’m at Starbucks on my absolutely, honest-to-goodness last gingerbread latte of the season. Really. It is. I’m back to Venti-non-fat-one-equal lattes tomorrow. Yeah, that’s the ticket….tomorrow!

Oh. My. God. Andy Gibb just came on the Starbucks radio! “I Just Want to be Your Everything”! He’d be 50 in March. RIP, Andy.

Someday I’ll tell the story of seeing him in a small club with about 20 people. I still get goosebumps.

Damn, now it’s “More Than a Woman by the Bee Gees. Okay, who’s into the Gibb brothers here? There are only 15 of us in the store. Somebody else is a Bee Gees fan, too! Come on. Show yourself!


I have a confession to make.

I’ve been fighting burn out. It’s been hard to write uplifting posts lately and who wants to read depressing, morose, bitchy posts?

Oh, you did? My bad. Too late!

I had an epipany at work this week. I feel like Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

Lights, please!


80% of the patients I care for are not having an emergency, nor are they in any danger.

They are, however, uncomfortable.

Pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, fever, laceration, asthma

And while the patient never sees it, I sometimes do an internal eye roll at what would make someone leave their bed on an ice-cold, rainy San Francisco night and come to the emergency department. Blame it on thirty years of dealing with illness, but I’m only human. For the last few month it’s been harder and harder to keep the smile on my face and the compassion flowing uninhibited.

Oh, I do it. I just can’t stand feeling like an actor on a stage who gives the performance of a lifetime and then crumples backstage, or in my case, the break room. I feel like such a phony.

This week was different.


This week a feverish, dehydrated child sat bolt upright and politely asked for “Foah apple juices and thwee owange juices. Pwease!” A little IV fluid, a little medication to stop the vomiting and the result was a very relieved family and a perky child who guzzled juice like it was the nectar of the gods.

They made it home in time for Santa’s visit.


A patient literally keeled over from exhaustion after finishing 18 units of classes while working overtime for the holidays. A couple of liters of saline, some TLC and a discussion on the limits of endurance left the patient feeling better and vowing to take it easy on himself from now on.

I hope he made the flight back to Boston to be with his family on Christmas Day.


The problem: bilateral epistaxis and five visits to the emergency department in four days. It’s hard to follow up during the holidays. An exhausted patient. An anxious family.

The treatment: some reassurance, a simple explanation of expistaxis, observation for an hour to make sure the bleeding was controlled, some pain medication to help with bilateral nasal tampons and a business card with my name and a direct line to the ER so they can call me during the night with any questions.

The result: a marked decrease in anxiety and no further visits required. I hope she was able to enjoy her Christmas dinner without the nasal tampons in place.


Writhing abdominal pain with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Many tests. No serious problems, thank goodness.

But hydration, a little Zofran and a bit of Dilaudid and the patient was able to go home to recouperate over the holiday.


My epiphany was a simple one. So simple that it was almost embarrassing.

Yes, we are there for life-saving treatments.

But for the most part, we are there to make people feel better.

And we are able to do that. Many times. Every shift.

And that, Charlie Brown, is the reason I’m a nurse.

It’s good to be back.


  • Beth

    December 27, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Thank you for that. I went to an ER once knowing full well that I all I needed was fluids and something to stop the heaving from eating an allergen several hours before. And thats what I got, and it was great.

  • sean

    December 27, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Man, I am SO jealous! I freakin’ LOVE gingerbread lattes!!!

  • ednurseasauras

    December 27, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you for the attitude adjustment! Now, I must go kick out that freaking drug seeker….

  • kmom

    December 27, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Yes! I’ve had a couple occasions to go to our local ER. Neither life-threatening, but it was after-hours on a weekend (no Drs offices open for >48 hours). One was with my 2 year old, in pain from a dislocated elbow. The other was for vomiting and dehydration. Just couldn’t do the IV at home! Both times we’d have waited for anything that needed to be seen more urgently, but we were very thankful for the help we got!
    So, Thank you!

  • Melissa

    January 1, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Uplifting posts are nice, but I also enjoy grouchy, bitter posts. That way, I know I’m not alone.

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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