April 29, 2009, 9:21 am

Oh, the Humanity!


This is bizarre!

Check out the claim:

“Laboratory tests over the last few years have proven that babies who start drinking soda during that early formative period have a much highter chance of gaining acceptance and “fitting in” during those akward pre-teen and teen years.”

Say what?

Well then my kids all should have been voted “Most Popular” because they were exposed to Diet Pepsi from the get-go through breast feeding. I loves me my Diet Pepsi!

I always wanted to be more popular.  Now I can blame my parents.

Did people really believe this tripe?



Tomorrow, Gina at Code Blog: Tales of a Nurse will be hosting Change of Shift.

The theme is, well, being human.

You know, those times when maybe you don’t quite act like a professional?

My problem wasn’t thinking of one.

My problem was picking which one to use!

I can take a lot.  I do take a lot.

But play me for a fool, push me far enough, and I will break.

To claim otherwise would be playing myself for a fool.


He was elderly.  From South America. Or South Africa.  The location isn’t important.

He didn’t speak English.

He had arrived via 911 transport from a nursing home.

Because he vomited.


I’m sure there was more to the story.

But that was the story I got.


The family arrived later.  All ten of them. In the middle of the night.  They were cool.  They stayed in the waiting room.

Except one.

I didn’t mind.  I can work in front of family.  And now I had someone who could not only give me an idea of the patient’s baseline, but who could also communicate with the patient.


When Family Member arrived, I started to explain what tests we would run, when I was cut off mid-sentence.

“Why did he vomit?”

“Well, we aren’t sure, we are running tests to see what the problem might be, we are looking for….”

“It’s not that. Get him a blanket.  He’s cold.”

I got him two more warm blankets to go with the five that were already on the bed.

“….and we will also be checking for…”

“He doesn’t have that.”


Two differential diagnoses ruled out secondary to Family Member insistence that they do not exist.


I had already set up to place an IV.

I exposed the forearm and placed the tourniquet.  Ah, a good one!

I turned to put on my gloves.

I turned back.

The arm was covered.

“He’s cold.”

I explained that while I could keep the rest of the patient bundled up, I had to expose the arm for the IV.

I inserted the angiocath.

“Do you have to do that?  It hurts.  Can you not do that?”

“Actually, I need to do it so that I can get blood samples and give him something for nausea.”

“Are you in yet?  It hurts?  Do you have blood yet?  Oh God!  It hurts.  Why don’t you have it yet? When will you stop?”.

I had the line within 15 seconds, max.


I left the room to get the nausea medicine.

I came back in, exposed the forearm where the closest IV port was located and turned to get the syringe.

When I turned back the arm was covered.

“He’s cold.”

I gave the medicine and covered the patient back up.

I turned to dispose of the syringe and then turned back to the patient.

Family Member was feeding the patient a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Where the hell did that come from!

In the middle of the night!

“Oh, he can’t have solid food right now!  He was vomiting!”

“He’s hungry.”

“Please put it away until we know what is wrong with your father/brother/husband/uncle/whatever.”


I entered the room a few minutes later to do a straight catheterization for a specimen.

The light was off.

No biggie, those lights are bright!

I turned the light on, explained what I was going to do and bent my head to open the package and set up.

The light went out.

“It bothers his eyes.”

“I understand, but I have to see what I am doing.”

The light went back on.

I exposed the little bit of anatomy required for the straight cath and turned to put on my gloves.

I turned back to the patient to place the drape.

The patient was covered.

“He’s cold.”


I threw up my (gloved) hands in obvious frustration and said in a voice that I’m sure was a bit to loud and a bit too harsh, with a more than a touch of “pissed off”:

Hon, you have GOT to BACK OFF and LET ME DO MY JOB!

Family member apologized and the catheterization commenced.

The patient was covered by the time my gloves were off.

I heard the click of the light switch as I left the room.


I was not proud of that outburst, and it won’t garner an “Excellent” on the patient satisfaction survey.

But I was past frustrated and more than angry.

I was seething.

And I erupted.

And I wonder why I’m on medication for high blood pressure and acid reflux.

What’s next?

I need to find another field of nursing.

But that’s fodder for another post.


  • GrumpyRN

    April 29, 2009 at 11:26 am

    “Hon, you have GOT to BACK OFF and LET ME DO MY JOB!”
    Nowhere near strong enough. You should have told this bozo off in no uncertain terms and if necessary thrown him out.

  • Walt Trachim

    April 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I agree – definitely not strong enough.

    FWIW, I’ve thrown people off of my ambulance for less…. If a family member/friend/whatever impacts my ability to assess and intervene on behalf of my patient, I won’t think twice – I’ll get them off of the truck one way or another. I will also say that I’ve been written up multiple times for doing this, but I don’t care. If I can’t do my job because I’m being interfered with, I’ll make the conditions work for me.

    Great post, Kim.

  • Reality Rounds

    April 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    You didn’t say “This isn’t a hotel!” I hear that one all the time. I actually thought you handled that situation with way more patience than I would have.

  • Black Cloud ER Tech

    April 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    “Waiting Room, Please!” works very well.

  • Black Cloud ER Tech

    April 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Kim… you were just doing your job!

  • Karin RN

    April 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Well done, both this post and your performance at work. 🙂

  • Medic999

    May 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Im sure many others would have snapped before you did Kim!

    I dont think my patience would have lasted that long.

  • Jen

    May 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Just the night before last I had a kid (10-12 yr old, in for a simple surgery and antibx) under my care. Early in the evening I mistook his questioning as interest in all things science/health/technology (what’s that liquid in the IV? What medication is that? How did they do my surgery? Why..? How..? When..? ad nauseaum). To the point where I was teasing him that he’ll sail through first year nursing with the grilling he was giving me.

    Unfortunately, it was actually related to a schoolmate’s recent death in hospital and manifested as a 4 am pointed, anxiety-filled questions (Is that the right medication? Another nurse was in here, does she know anything about me/IV’s/my surgery? Is my IV going too fast/slow? Will the stitches absorb too fast and my [body part] split open?). I really wish I’d known about the death aspect before hand because my lil guy got a toned down, exasperated, 4:30 variation on “Hon, ya gotta lay off and let me do my job”.

  • AlisonH

    May 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Don’t kick yourself. You did just fine.

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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