"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Never Work a Full Moon

You'd think that by now I may have learned my lesson, but alas, that is false. When self scheduling as a nurse, I always forget to check when the next full moon is and almost always find myself working over the full moons. Not just one shift, or two, but three fabulous shifts all in the spree of the full moon. And this past one was extra special, being the lunar eclipse last night. Patients were lining up outside the hospital 5 days ago for this full moon.

Now I'm pretty sure everyone knows that full moons make patients go crazy in hospitals. But it's not just that. Normal patients start acting crazy, and the crazy ones just get even crazier. It's like they all gang up and conspire with each other on how they can plan the most eventful full moon shift ever. And that's not even it. Equipment acts up. You'll hear the strangest noises come out of your machines and equipment, or all of the sudden it stops working, or all the sudden your hospital phone won't work anymore. And things come alive and get lost and walk away. You'll be looking for your bladder scanner and turns out its 4 floors down and they have no idea how it got there. And then there's other just weird stuff, like your patient comes in with one thing and you're dealing with a completely different, extremely time consuming issue. Great fun.

So, within the past couple shifts I worked over the full moon, these are the top 15 reasons  that I hate working full moons.

1) I asked my patient if she could tell me her full name. She tells me, "I'm Italian! Do you think I know not my name!?"

2) A patient on the floor tried to convince me he was legit abducted from aliens, I wasn't good enough to have been abducted, and he was looking to speak with a scientist. But I was definitely not the scientist.

3) Same guy as said above proceeded to injure staff and scream down the hall, wrestle people in the hallways, despite 5 doses of Ativan, 2 geodon, and 1 haldol.

4) My patient tells me when I get on shift, "I just had diarrhea." Me, "Ok.....thank you....for....letting me know..."   patient,-"yeah...its still in the toilet. I need you to look at it."   Me,-"why?"  patient, "I think I swallowed something. Can you tell me what those colored things are?"

5) one of my IV poles presented with "ERROR" on the screen. Despite me being tech-savvy and familiar with the IVs, I have not only never seen this error message, (or the horrifying beeping eradicating from the machine), but I couldn't get it to turn off, either. The best part is it wasn't even on in the first place.

6) Call light goes on, about 330am.  Me, "Hi, how can I help you?"  Patient-"The music! I turned on the music box and it kept ringing, and ringing, and I couldn't get it to stop, but then it stopped. Do you hear the music now?"

7) my (previously normal) patient tried to pull out her NG tube and foley. At the same time.

8) same patient, turns out her NG tube was draining poop. Because, why not?  For my fellow nurses out there, you know how rare this is, but it definitely happens. lots of fun.

9) The giving nurse tells you, "the patient came from home taking ThisWeirdDrugIveNeverHeardOF but were not giving it to him here because you can only get it from canada. WTF.

10) I take a chest pain admission and the patient speaks ONLY (literally) Italian. So does the wife. And the son is trying to order pizza to the hospital room, and only speaks Italian and is trying to ask me (In Italian) how to order pizza. I only know this because he's shouting PIZZA and the 8 year old grandson is translating into English for me. Turns out the patient has no chest pain, he's severely constipated. So you know, pizza should be good for that.

11) Same patient as above was angry that we could not get his Italian drugs imported from Italy for him to take during his stay with us. Because that is extremely unreasonable.

12) I had to explain to said patient that I had to give him a laxative suppository. Since I don't speak Italian, I tried to do this through gestures. That Involved a lot of gestures I hope to never have to use again.

13) One of my dementia patients told me he wanted his Easter bread. If he didn't get his Easter bread, God would strike me with zebras and the patient was going to leave and go to the hotel next door ( room # 745 specifically) so he could get his Easter bread.

14) Patient asks me for Morphine. I told patient she doesn't have an IV, how am I supposed to give her morphine? She told me I can inject it into her brain.

15)  Patient asks me for food at 3:30 AM. I offer crackers. He asks for an egg sandwich. I tell him kitchen is closed. He says OK how about Cornbread? Ummmm, no. I don't have cornbread. He then asks for fresh fruit. I tell him again kitchen is closed but I can give him crackers. He said he's not hungry enough for crackers but what about a Milkshake?

16) The nurse before you tells you she charted she gave medicine but really didn't and can I please call the doctor to see if he really needs it? Um no. No I cannot do that.

17) My 93 year old patient asks me what a Hookah is.

18) My 36 year old female patient tells me she hasn't urinated in the past 14 hours because she doesn't like to use public bathrooms and asks me what I can do for her.

I can't make this stuff up you guys. Seriously.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankity Thanks Thanksgivingsly Thankful

Hey everyone! So although I don't get to post much, it wouldn't be thanksgiving without my annual thanksgiving post. It has after all been....four years?

So my personal tradition annually is to list things I am thankful for each year. Just like my traditional new years resolutions, I don't really do it for others to see, more so for myself to see each year and watch myself grow.

What am I thankful this year? Where do I start?

I am so thankful to have had a very successful first year in my first house! No disasters, no fires, nothing bad so far. Just a couple ghost sightings (friendly!) and lots and lots of house improvements!

 I am thankful for having a big-girl job that pays me well enough to be able to afford all of these amazing improvements to my little humble house. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I am decently comfortable.

On that note I am also extremely thankful for a job that although comes with some drawbacks, I am so blessed to be able to have the schedule I do and go into work every weekend and see what I can truly call some pretty awesome friends. My weekend co-workers and I are a true team, we help each other out and don't let anyone drown and that truly makes the difference in hospital nursing, when someone has your back.

I am thankful for my family, all healthy, all loving! My father is absolutely the most helpful father I could ever ask for when it comes to starting up a first year house with lots of necessary home improvements! And my mom is certainly helpful when it comes to critiquing home improvements and help decide on future renovations!

I'm thankful for my healthy grandma that finally got to see my house just a week ago! Although facing severe macular degeneration and hip pains, she strives every day to enjoy life and enjoy time with family.

I am thankful for what is now my year and 3 month boyfriend, Brian.  He teaches me and motivates me every day on how to be a better person. He also keeps my house looking amazing and helps with a lot of improvements as well! What more could I ask for?

I'm thankful for my sister, we've been getting to know each other on a more adult-personal level and turns out she's a pretty cool cat, a lot cooler than when we were 5 ;) I think I'll keep her around.

Speaking of cats, I am thankful for my two most adorable kittens in the world, Ms. Lilly and Belle. Although they at times torment my house and my sleep schedule, they make me laugh every single day and are always there to greet me when I come in the door and always know when I need a hug and some love. And they are cuddly :-)

I am thankful for my own kind heart. I've been facing a lot of adversity lately. I've been feeling slightly jaded as a nurse and I hate that, and I've been going through a lot of self reflection lately. And although many in the world believe the only way to survive is to only think and fight for yourself only, I strive to believe that is not the only way. Through all this self reflection and taking a step back to look at myself, I've noticed the things I do that I consider to be very kind, and I do it out of pure reflex, or instinct. I don't do them for any monetary or personal enrichment. I just help people because that's what needs to be done. I'm trying to spread this attitude and I want others to see that if we just sprout more and more kind hearts, that maybe we can overcome the evil in the world. SO many kind hearted people out there are masked with evil actions because they feel that the only way to beat evil is to be evil themselves. I'm thankful for my acceptance that for at least the time being, I refuse to screw someone else over in any way just for my own benefit.

I'm thankful for my new side job, with Premier Designs Jewelry! Although I never would have guessed I'd be an independent business owner for jewelry (I used to hate jewelry), it has truly been a wonderful and interesting experience, and certainly worth my time!

I'm thankful for my vision, as I've seen what my grandma is going through and it makes me so, so thankful for my own. I do wear glasses and my vision is awful without them, but at least I have no tunnel vision or black spots, I have full range of vision and for that I am thankful. Without my vision I couldn't do three of the things I am most thankful for, art, writing, and reading.

I am thankful for my hearing, for without it I would not have music. Music is my therapy, the only way I know how to calm down and focus. Music Is there for me when I've had a nursing shift from hell, music is there for me when I want to just be calm, be by myself and create art. Music is always there for me and it is my love. Music can do so much more for me than any person.

I am thankful for my studio. Although I haven't had time to be a writer this year, I am thankful for my new space that is just for my studio and I have since created multiple pieces of art that I love. I am thankful for that space.

And most of all, I am thankful for this blog! Woot! I have readers from all over the world and over 50,000 views and you guys are seriously awesome for reading what I just think is my regular thoughts every day.

That's all folks,
love you, all. Miss you, all. I'll write soon. :-)

<3 p="" wnb.="">


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Life in the Middle Lane

Hello lovely, lovely readers! You are lovely because you still read this blog, even though I never post as much as I should! I really do always have a lot to say, just never the time, or balls, to actually say it.

I write this blog today because I've just about exactly hit my "Two Years" Nurse Anniversary. This is a definite bittersweet anniversary/year.

Lets discuss.

It is sweet because, hell, I've been a nurse for two years! I've SURVIVED! If I can survive this long, chances are I'll survive the entire career. I've made it past that point where I doubt myself every minute of every shift. I've made it past the point where my coworkers doubt me every minute of every shift. (Now only some coworkers do, lol). No really though, in all seriousness, I've been on two very autonomous, heart-wrenching (literal and figurative), fast-paced hospital nursing units now, and I can proudly say I've seen and done a lot in those two years where I legit feel comfortable with my knowledge base now. So much so in fact that I'm craving more knowledge. 

This is also the problem, knowledge. Now, roll with me guys. Does it make sense at all, if I tell you that despite what I just said above, hitting the two-year mark also means I'm hitting the "I've been a nurse for two years and I still don't know what the hell I'm doing" mark? I know you're confused but let me (try) to explain. Despite having a wide array of skills and a comfortable knowledge base that has grown in these two years, there is still so much I don't know. And I understand that nurses feel like that after fifty years of nursing, too. There's always going to be something new or confusing. I know enough now where my unit seems to think I'm charge-nurse quality and I'm frequently elected charge nurse to this telemetry unit, where I'm in charge of 2-6 nurses and 14-36 patients at a time. And yet when I am in charge, there are still so many times I run into a new situation that I don't have an answer to. And those times, I have nurses that need those answers from me, like I needed from my superiors back when I first started. And that's batshit crazy.

It's just, nurses are required to know the entire body system. Even though I work on a telemetry cardiac-focused care floor, the heart can affect many other organs and I must be prepared to handle anything. And there's so much to know and remember I don't think I'll have it all down by the time I'm retired, but I'll always be trying. I want to be the nurse that knows everything, that can help everyone, my staff and my patients. I want to always have an answer. But as the saying goes, the nurse that knows everything can be the most dangerous. So I have to be patient with myself. I have to accept the fact that it's okay to not know everything. But I'm finally at the point where at least I know a lot of things.

So that's where I am now. But looking towards the future, I'm still at a loss. I don't want to become stagnant In my position, I want to keep growing. I talk to my patients in their 80's that tell me they worked the same job for 50 years and I can't even fathom that. I know that generation workforce is entirely different than the one today. Not only could I not last 50 years in this position, but I feel almost pressured to move on. Like good nurses are supposed to keep growing, keep changing, keep moving to different units so their knowledge base becomes even more diverse and themselves more experienced. Like If I stayed on this unit for 10 years and did nothing else, I would feel like nothing. Like I'm taking my life nowhere, In no direction.

So now that I've hit that two year mark where I feel slightly confident in my skills, I feel that pressure that I need to do something else with those skills. I've recently successfully passed ACLS, which stands for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, which is a major step up from only being allowed to do compressions and airway support with just a BLS (Basic Life Support) Certification. Now with ACLS I can direct and lead a code blue in an emergency situation, even without a doctor being present. I can push life-saving medications into a patient during, just before or just after a code. I can participate in advanced airway management techniques now. So this has quenched my thirst for more self-evolution and knowledge, but only temporarily so.

So where does that put me now? Well, I want to go back to school. Not only because I just actually really do like school, but because that's the ticket to advancing my career. The only major problem is, what career?  Applying for a masters in nursing is like a senior in high school that is trying to pick a career out of all the choices in the world again. Yes I am trying to advance my career in nursing, but in what route? There are so many choices and routes that I could potentially see myself being successful in, but how do I know which one I actually will be happy in? I can't get a degree in everything (as much as I'd like to), so I have to be sure.

I've debated starting to a local program near me that is for a "Nurse Executive" degree, basically a dual-degree of MSN/MBA. It would take forever and be super expensive but would put me down the road of maybe eventually being very high up in the hospital administration pool one day. But as high-paying, important and as cool as that is, is that really what I want? To leave the patient bedside? To lose what it really is to be a nurse? To hold someone's hand and tell them they are not alone and will be okay? To instead be in an office making and revising policies, firing and hiring people and enforcing rules? Is that what I want? I don't know yet.

I've also been interested in the future of nursing informatics, but I would also completely lose the bedside nursing aspect there, too. With a degree in there I could help formulate programs and design new computer charting for nurses. I've also fantasized about working in epidemiology, where I could easily travel and investigate new diseases around the world and help stop or control them.  I'm also very interested in the route of emergency nursing, where that would keep me at the patient bedside, but in a totally different manner. I'm slightly interested in ER nursing, but even more interested in field nursing, but even that has many different routes. I could do pre-hospital nursing (riding with ambulances providing pre-hospital care), or I could go completely crazy and apply to be in a disaster relief system to travel to new disaster areas and help triage (that really is crazy I don't think I'd actually do that). I'd miss my kittens too much. ;-)

But can you see how overwhelming this could be? That is the blessing and the curse of nursing. Just because you're in nursing as your one career, does not make you limited. I can still pretty much do anything I want and that scares the shit out of me.

So that's where I am. I know a lot but am craving to know more. I've been a nurse for two years and don't know where I'll spend the next 30 years. So (too) many options.

I just try and like....meditate, and try and picture myself in the future, what am I doing and am I happy? And I just can't see it. I guess that's because I can't tell the future....makes sense I guess.

Anyway, with love.....



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Patient Freedom

Hey everyone!

This post stems from something that's been brewing in my mind for quite some time in my nursing experience. It is an unrealistic fantasy, but still one I'd like to talk about. Enjoy!

When patients are admitted to the hospital, a lot of things happen. They go to the ER, their problem either gets resolved or it needs further treatment or observation and they get admitted to a floor. When I receive patients, they only have a couple of orders to start out. These being medication orders and nursing task orders. When a patient then gets settled and is being taken care of by day 2-3 ish, these orders are probably bound to change a little based on the patient plan of care. Now, lets say a patient gets a headache- a normal headache that is completely unrelated to the problem admitted with, but instead related to the high amounts of stress from missing work and being away from family and stuck in hospital? So this patient with the headache asks me for a Tylenol. Simple request, right? Something the patient would naturally do if at home with a headache.

Well, I as the nurse, take this request. But if your doctor wasn't nice enough to order you Tylenol as a pain management preventive to begin with, I have to call the doctor for an order for Tylenol. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind doing this at all. But then when he finally calls back, it may be up to 10 minutes already. Then lets say he says yes, he orders it, it goes down to pharmacy and they can take up to 30 minutes for it to be profiled in your orders and in my medication dispense machine. So you as the patient have a headache that's bad enough for you to have reached out for help from me, and it may take me up to 40 minutes, 20 if you're lucky. Maybe up to 3 hours if something else- like CPR or something- takes precedence- if you're unlucky. For a Tylenol.

Don't you think this severely restricts patients freedom? Patient's involvement in their own plan of care? How do you think patients feel when treated like a 5 year old asking for something they can easily buy over the counter and take at home, without a doctors order?

So here's what I propose. What if we gave patients that meet a certain criteria a packet of OTC medications that they can take at their own will in the hospital? Some things included in these packs would possibly include: Tylenol, Motrin, Colace (stool softener), Benadryl, just for starters.

I realize that this idea comes with a lot of complications and responsibilities.  First off, only certain patients would qualify for having the privilege of having this pack. Some qualifications to start might include being in complete stable mental health, no drug abuse history or impulse decision making, and patient must have no dementia-short term or long term, and patient must be 18 or older. Those are just some qualifications I can think of on the top of my head. Also, there are some health qualifications. For example, someone admitted with liver cirrhosis or alcohol abuse shouldn't exactly be taking Tylenol. Or someone receiving a lot of Percocet or additional high strength relief NSAID therapy, shouldn't have access to their own reach of Tylenol or Motrin.

Next complication is cost. It would be very expensive to give each patient a pack, and to replace the supplies and stock of medications in the pack. But would it equal out in the high amount of patient satisfaction? In the press ganey scores? If you remember from my last post, happy patients make happy scores, which makes a lot more insurance reimbursement to hospitals.  Plus, giving a patient freedom to lose Tylenol and restocking that has got to be less expensive than constantly giving patients the most powerful narcotics such as Morphine and Dilaudid, right? I know that there will always be that patient population that purposely seeks out those types of narcotics, but for the patients that have minimal amounts of pain that could lead into a more serious amount of pain in the future, maybe having bedside OTC painkillers to start out with might help prevent that pain from exceeding too much in the future, therefore saving having to give the patient an expensive narcotic.

Take the following scenario as an interesting example:

A patient of mine not too long ago was in her 60's. She was admitted with kidney failure and was having a lot of back/kidney pain as a result of a recent stent placed. When I initially assessed her, I asked if she was having pain. She said no, but she was having pain earlier that day. I told her that if that pain crept back, to let me know and I could give her something to help with that. She said OK. Now, the way my hospital is designed is that we can sit in between two patient rooms and chart if we so desire. It's supposed to help with keeping an eye on our patients, but I see it as a peaceful escape from the nurses station sometimes.  So it just so happened that I was charting outside this patients room, the one with the kidney pain. It was a couple of hours after my initial assessment, and I overheard the patient talking with her daughter, small talk mostly. The patient must have repositioned herself and winced in pain, because the daughter asked "are you having pain, mom?" The patient must have nodded and the daughter said "Well you gotta tell the nurse, mom", in response the patient said "No I hate to bother those girls, they are busy."

Now I could write a book about that statement right there. I hate it when patients think they can't call because we are too busy. And all it takes is one time, one nurse to really have been too busy with something else - to make the patient feel that way. Other patients think we are too busy because they hear stories from family members or friends that work in healthcare. Others just genuinely don't want to rely on other people and don't like calling for something they need.

So in these examples, these patients could take their bedside pack and take something like Tylenol or Motrin. A lot of times, its enough to do the trick- especially with the elderly.

Something else to worry about in terms of cost is waste. How would healthcare handle leftover medications in these packs that the patient didn't use? For infection control reasons, anything that enters a patients room cannot be used again in another patients room. So we would have to throw good OTC medications away at the end of the patients stay. However this could be reduced with a couple measures: We perhaps can only give these packs to patients that have been declared inpatient status, those that are more likely to be there for longer than 2 days- rather than those on observation status (supposed to leave before 24 hours). Also, we would only stock about 2 doses of each OTC medication in each pack.  Also, analytical studies can be done to see which medications patients are using or not using the most in these packs, and we can adjust what we offer.

Another complication is how do we keep track of how much the patient has taken? Easy. Like I said earlier, these packs would be given to patients in sound mind, and would receive an education sheet on these packs AND drug information about all medications in the pack. They would sign a sheet on admission, upon receiving this pack- that they acknowledge the responsibilities of the pack and respect it.  They would be given a sheet that would be at bedside, for them to log what medication they took, and what time/date. Now either nurses can collect these sheets at the end of each shift, or every 24 hours (like midnight), depending on what system works best. Now the nurse can log into the computer what the patient has taken at this point, or can log when the patient needs more supplies.

Consider the following example:

The patient has 2 doses of Tylenol in her pack, amongst other OTC meds. She uses her 2 doses of Tylenol within the recommended time frame, every 4-6 hours. Now she needs more doses replenished in her pack. The nurse at this point would look at her log and make sure the patient would not exceed the safe amount of Tylenol per day, and replenish the pack- at the same time completing medication documenting in the computer.

It would be very hard for a patient to lie that they took less than what they said, because missing medication packets would be in the pack. If at any point the nurse feels the patient is using the pack irresponsibly or if the patient outwardly breaks the commitment signed upon admission, the nurse can take it away. Of course this creates confrontation between the nurse and the patient, confrontation that a lot of nurses would feel uncomfortable with. But its the same thing as confronting a patient about hiding cigarettes or unsafe medications or street drugs in their possession in the hospital. We've all been there and it sucks  to have to be the bad guy and take it away.

The way I see it is, patients are going to take whatever they want when they go home, regardless of the doctors firm instruction. There aren't cameras watching them at home, and patients are free to make their own choices upon their own judgment. So maybe if we watch them, watch what they are most inclined to do, we can better predict what they will do at home.

I know its a long stretch, and will probably never be adopted as a practice in the hospital. But I do think it would be nice. Maybe in futuristic hospitals. Although we have potential for our hospitals to be even stricter in the future, at the rate we're going now. So thanks for listening to my inventive rambling! Anybody in healthcare have any thoughts? Pros or Cons to this idea? I'd love to hear some other viewpoints!

Anyway, with much love,