"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?"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Just Can't Agree

Alright so back in Mid-Winter I had to spend 3 days in the hospital for a general GI workup. Long story, doesn't have to be retold.

Well, ever since then I've felt a lot better. However ever since then I've been getting claims from my insurance company. None of them have been bills, but they've simply been telling me "We spent this much money on you-I hope you're happy!"

Well, I just got the total one for claims, that basically clumped everything together that I had previously known about. All together, my 3 day hospital stay- which included the following:

-ER services (medications, lab workup)
- CT Scan (1 view)
- daily lab workups
- blood cultures
- EGD (includes anesthesia)
- GI consult

Keep in mind this is a Community, non-profit hospital. Its the hospital I work in.

Whats the total bill?  $21,117.


Alright so thankfully I work there and so far all I've been asked to pay is $20 for the initial ER visit. So far benefits are awesome.

But still. What if I didn't have insurance? How in flipping monkey bean kingdom do people, so many of MY daily patients, pay for the extraordinary amount of care we provide? If my stay was 3 days, what does a 2 week stay look like? What does an ICU stay look like? How do the people pay that get 6 MD consults? Multiple unnecessary tests run?

So I thought about it. $21,000. That's like a year, A YEAR, at college. At my college I went to, that would cover my room and board and tuition combined for one year. Then I thought, whats the most expensive college I can think of, offhand? Harvard?  Its probably not the most expensive in the country but Its the one I chose to look up.

Tuition for Harvard for one year, for a student of my/my parents income, would be $20,600. So my THREE DAY hospital stay for a GENERAL work up on a MED/SURG unit at a NONPROFIT community hospital, cost $500 MORE than a YEAR at an IVY LEAGUE school.

How do we live in this kind of country? What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with this health care system when a year's worth of education at one of our countries best schools is less expensive than a 3 day hospital stay when you're really sick?

Granted, I could go buy a corvette right now and spend more than a year's worth of tuition in just one signature, in one hour. Yes. But that would be my choice. I would save up for that, plan for that, work that into my budget. But people don't plan to get sick. They get slammed in the face with it.

I understand that I was seen in my ER after a two hour wait and I got a CT scan within 3 hours of being seen. In a country where healthcare is free, I might have had to wait weeks for that CT scan. I get that. But right now- If I hadn't had insurance, I damn well would have waited weeks for that CT scan if it meant I didn't have to pay. Then again they were ruling out appendicitis, so...

It just bothers me. I don't have enough research or political drive to slam against the entire system. I'm just pointing out a small flaw.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Observation Skills WIN

So last night at work we emptied out for the holiday weekend, but-as always- emptying out can only mean one thing....Admissions. And lots of them.

Well, every nurse has their "thing" that they really prefer not to do if they can avoid it. My "thing" is admitting people. It makes me anxious, the unpredictability. From the first moment we get their information called up to the floor, nurses try to predict what their patient will be like. Based off their diagnosis, what problems will we encounter with them when they get to the floor? What will we be doing for them? Based off their age, what do we need in the room to accommodate their needs? Based off the Doctor, is it an attending and we won't have any orders all night? Or is it a hospitalist and getting orders won't be a problem?

However, admitting/ER sometimes ***forgets*** to tell us certain things about the patients because they don't want us as floor nurses to freak out and try and "divert" the admissions. So, usually the common result is we get patients admitted for one thing and turn out to be a complete psycho. Or they come up screaming, when the diagnosis is something not scream-worthy like cellulitis. Or, sometimes, they totally come up handcuffed to the bed with a police officer with them, because they live in....the jail. And they are violent and loud and not cooperative in any way. And the admitting department just *forgot* to give you a heads up.

Well, last night I get an admission called up. Pneumonia, older gentleman. I figured it would be pretty routine. Patient feels like total crap after multiple days of failed attempts working cold medicines at homes. We get them situated, start some antibiotics, nebulizers, get them to sleep, etc.

Well my "pneumonia" guy comes up on the stretcher, with nothing less but a city cop- hand gun, their little walkie talkie scanner thing, badge, uniform, the whole get up. Legit.

So I'm like, oh- fabulous. I mean a nurse cares for her patients regardless of their status. Regardless of race, age, gender or poor life choices. But still, I wasn't thrilled about the idea of listening to a prisoners bowel sounds that might spit in my face.

Before entering the room, I so badly wanted to pull the cop over in the hallway (ha-ha, no pun intended) and ask what the patient *did*. But I didn't. I decided it didn't matter and I didn't want to know anyway. I was going to care for him the same no matter what.

So I start my admission assessment, composed of a whole bunch of questions about the patients history. The patient is elderly, a little scruffy, tall, lanky. Not your typical prisoner type, but then again who am I to know what a typical prisoner looks like besides whats on TV?  So as we discussed his medical background, the cop kept chiming in, "Oh, you had that ulcer right? And that lung cancer, you had the chemotherapy for 30 weeks, right?"

So I'm like, Wow- This cop really knows a lot about his inmates. He must have been in this jail for...a long time. Wouldn't that be the state jail? I don't know much about our criminal justice system. Clearly.

So I go about my clinical hands on assessment, trying to keep my guard up for any *sudden* movements from my patient, noting that for some reason he wasn't handcuffed to the bed as all prisoners usually are. And why is he in penguin sweatpants?

So then comes a question that we have to ask. Who do you live with? Do you have a support system? If so, who? I always think it's an awkward question, prying into personal lives as such.

So this is how this short lived conversation went down that made me look like a total idiot, which- I am.

Me: "So...........You live with.....I mean, In.............the....jail?"  I make awkward eye shifting contact between my patient and this cop. The patients facial expression was pure confusion and therefore I felt the need to verify my statement with looking at the cop. Awkwardly. Long pause.

Cop: "Oh! OH! NO! noooooo. Oh! I'm his son! I'm on shift, they just called and said he was over here."

Me: "Oh....I was wondering why he wasn't handcuffed to the bed."

Patient: "Do I really look that bad?!"

Me: "No! No of course not!"

Thank goodness we all had a good laugh over it but I was seriously kicking myself. I should have known when I saw the penguin sweatpants.

I went and told my coworker the story, thinking it would be totally suspenseful and she wouldn't guess that the cop that came up with my patient was actually the son in the end. Instead she's all like, "Didn't you see the cops badge? It was totally the same as the patients last name."

I win the super award for naivety because she was with this patient for like 2 minutes and I was with him for 45 minutes and I didn't notice the nametag. Super observations skills WIN.

-A Writer in an (unobservant) Nurse's Body


Monday, May 21, 2012

Epiphany of the Month

Hey all,

So lately my brain has been in a major blank status. Each day I rise and I think, what can I blog about today? And I come up with nothing. Reasons being lately all I have been able to do is:

1) Work

2) Sleep (you don't really want to hear about my dreams, do you?)

3) Eat ( I actually almost did blog about my dinner the other night, I was desperate)

4) Photography job (this is not interesting to blog about, I tried)

5) See friends (I don't usually blog about people I know)

6) Play Racquetball (I'm failing miserably- not blog worthy)

And thats it. Yup.

This entire month of May has not only been very hectic but as my friend put it, "I am a very lucky girl and have many blessings, but sometimes life just keeps slapping you in the face." Thats how I feel. Like I'm swimming in the ocean, enjoying myself one minute- then I get hit by an enormous wave, it knocks me down. I think- OK- I am strong, I can get back up. Big setback but I can handle it. Then I stand back up and there's another wave waiting for me, knocks me down harder. I sit on the ground a little longer this time, wallowing- but get back up more slowly this time. And you guessed- another wave. At this point you're at the bottom of the ocean, sand between your fingers and you're just thinking REALLY?! You remain at the bottom (figuratively speaking- otherwise you'd drown) and try and think of a gameplan. The waves can't keep knocking you down if you just stay down, right?

So within the past couple days, I've been sitting down on the bottom of the ocean, so to speak. I've just recently "learned" that I can swim to shore and just get out of the water. I know success comes to those who go back out and surf (stay with my metaphor here), but sometimes you just need a moment to reflect and sit on the damn sand, dry.

I'm starting to learn that the waves will always be there. But if I want to get out to the peaceful ocean beyond those incoming shore waves, I have to get knocked down first. A lot. And as much as that sucks, I'm okay with that. My defense mechanisms start to turn on and say, "Hey, this is starting to just be comical. Keep it coming! It can't get any worse and eventually it has to get better."

I had a really good April. And so far my June is looking pretty darn awesome....So I just have to sit on the sand for a little and play in the shallow end for a little and remember how lucky I am to have all four limbs, to be alive, to be able to walk, to see, to hear, to have family and friends that love me, a full time job with opportunities ahead, a home to live in, etc......the shallow end isn't so bad.

 Just gotta lay low and roll with the punches.
And laugh about it every once in awhile.
Tell the devil, I really don't give a flying shitwad. Then wiggle.  :-)



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Total Movie Moment

The male cashier at my local Barnes & Noble cafe just knew my complete order-down to my size, type of tea and even my weird preference for only one tea bag in a large cup.

I have never seen him before.

I feel like he's waited for a long time for his moment to do that.

I feel like an unobservant jerk!

But it was one of those total movie moments, very sweet. Blown away!

Then again.....I DO Go there like 3 X a week..... Not sure whose case that helps.

Good story.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank You Dr. Improv....

So the other day I go into see my patient. I'm assessing him, being that it's the beginning of my shift. I noticed the surgeon had just left the room but I was tied up with another patient and didn't get to talk to him.

So I notice on my patients bed sheet above his leg area, it's bright red.

Obviously, being that we're in a hospital, I'm a nurse- this is my patient ...my first thought is somehow my patient is bleeding profusely...from his....thigh area...

Noticing my sudden concern regarding the bright red marks on the sheet, the patient laughs.

I have a raised, expectant eyebrow expression- like this- ^_^ (sort of).

Patient: "oh don't worry. Dr. Improv did that."

Me: (again) ^_^....... "um....can I...see what happened...?"

Patient: "what do you mean?"

Me: "the blood? On your sheet."

Patient: "oh! No. That's marker. Dr. Improv was drawing pictures for me about the surgery hes doing on me tomorrow. See, this is my stomach, those are...the intestines...I think...that's the duodenum there..."

Me: "well, this is a first."

Reason # 37291 why I don't advise using red markers to draw pictures on your patients bed sheets.




Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Nurse's Week!

Ah my profession has a week! This is cool!

I've always known about nurses week....well, for the past six years that I've worked in a hospital I've known- that is. But this is my first year that I actually get to celebrate it, as an official nurse. Way cool.

And this is the first year that I'm noticing society celebrating it, too! Which shocks me. I mean, Its one thing for hospitals to celebrate it.....but society? Non-medical people? For example, in the mall today I did a total double glance- I was walking past "Cinnabon" (food) and I noticed a sign that said "Nurses week! Bring in your hospital ID badge, all nurses get a free cinnabon roll!"

I was shocked! Fo realz?

And then my local radio station is having this huge luncheon for just nurses. Cordial invite and everything..... They have been advertising it for about a month now. Thats super nice! Unfortunately, I can't go. Because I work. Nurses don't get off work for nurses week, lol.

Anyway, being that a lot of my friends on facebook are also nurses, I have been seeing quite the medley of hilarious "memes" as they call them nowadays. So I want to share the funniest ones I've seen. Please keep in mind, I did not make these, I do not know where they originated from nor who the maker is.

This is definitely my favorite. I see it in a hugely sarcastic tone and I love it.

I want to tell this to the cops that pull me over (ever so rarely, of course).

Sad, but exceedingly true.

If only our patients were actually this considerate.....

As for good news on my end, my hospital is starting this new thing to prompt......eh...competition? Hard work? Good customer service? About a month or so ago they announced they would be giving out awards based off nominations from peers to nurses and supporting staff that excelled in that particular award denomination.  So, somehow- I'm not sure how- (other than the fact that my nominating peer wrote a killer essay to nominate me)- how I won. But I won! I got an award for being a "rising star nurse", qualifications being a nurse under two years, and shows exceeding potential for future excellence. So, that kinda made my day week month year?! "  :-) I'm super stoked and honored.

On other happier notes, I seem to have a super duper outlook on my future job prospects...I've been interested in getting my MSN in nursing informatics, and today the head of the informatics team at my hospital told me herself she is retiring and her along with our Vice President of Nursing  said that they are looking into me to come into the department and maybe eventually fulfill her duties. Which is totally terrific!! Lots of door openings today!!!!!

So I have to super speed up my MSN. Must start applying now, ahh!

Lots of good news today. I am super blessed to be living this wonderful life. I have my own place, I have a full time job in my college major study, I have a lot of doors opening for my future, I am healthy, I have phenomenal friends, I have exceedingly phenomenal coworkers (those two overlap), I have the best most supporting family...what more could I really ask for?!

I hope all nurses weeks to come are this wonderful! :D

Happy Nurses Week Everyone! Try not to get peed or pooped on this week, you owe that to yourself ;) Duck the punches!

With love,

A Writer in a Nurse's Body

PS- Please remember the memes are not mine! I do not own a copyright to them. Google them. Re-post them, I dont care!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Most Epic Blood Donation Fail Ever

So I  like to donate platelets. It takes about 90 minutes, and the collection center by me gives you a DVD player to sit with during and watch any movie (that they provide) that you want. Snacks galore, free. All you have to do is give them your arm and squeeze a squeegee every 10 seconds.

So here I am, trying to donate. The nurse I had that stuck me was new (i think) and didn't get a great vein. The machine kept beeping and they couldn't get it to flow (I also have weird veins). They called over their more expert nurses to try and get it to work and no one could. So, they said the words I thought they would never say- "We can't use you today."  I thought.....aren't they desperate for blood? Didn't they- CALL ME- Asking if I can *please* donate my blood type? And now they're giving up?

I asked them, well- "Can't we try the other arm?"

Nurse: "No."

Me: "Why not?"

Nurse: "because we can't."

Me: "Okay. Well can I still try and donate whole blood, then?"

Nurse: "No."

Me: "Why not?"

Nurse: "because its our policy. We tried you once already today we can't keep trying."

Me: "Okay. Fine...."

So I closed my nifty DVD player, and off I went.

Nurse: "Oh, but m'am- we still ask that you sit in our little snack area- being that we did take some blood out of you."

Me: "-_-"  (facial expression)

So if you ever have donated blood, you know that the snack area is usually composed of elderly volunteers that like to talk your ear off and get you snacks. You are given a slip after you donate that marks the time you finish, and the time you can leave- So they can make sure nothing happens to you. They still gave me the full time to sit and wait, even though I donated an 1/8 of the regular donation. But the little elderlies don't know this, nor did I feel like explaining it so I could ditch early.

Volunteer: "What can I get you to drink?"

Me: "Oh, nothing- I brought ProPel to drink from home."

Volunteer: "Oh. Well I'm supposed to offer you something.....Soda? Chocolate Milk? Coffee?"

Now, I can't drink any of those, being that I'm allergic to everything. So I take a look at their fridge, their contents open for everyone to see because it had a clear door, like a vending machine.

Me: "Um.....Okay.....Can I have some orange juice then?"

Volunteer: "Oh, no. We're not allowed to give out the orange juice."

Now, here I thought she was kidding- being that she was already giving me a hard time about picking a beverage out. But she wasn't.

Me: "Um...?"

Volunteer: "Its a new policy they made the other day. See, it says so right up there (in fine print), that they did a study out in TimBuckToo that says orange juice after blood donations causes upset stomach.

THis is where Volunteer #2 steps in: "Well, if we can't offer it then why is it visible? I think if it should be visible then I can't possibly say no. Thats a tease. We should give it away. We can't throw it away."

Volunteer #1 (says to me): "Do you want to take home the orange juice?"

Me: "Um..."

Volunteer #2: "You can't ask her if she wants the orange juice after you just said she couldn't have it!"

Here pipes in another prisoner waiting at the table, "Um....I had the orange juice From Volunteer #2, and my stomach is fine."

Me: "Yeah, actually I barely got to donate- So I think I'll be fine."

Volunteer: "Okay fine, but I'm giving you a little. And if you get a stomach ache, I warned you."

Me: "Got it, thanks."

So here is where I pull out my allergen free cookies from home to munch on. I bring these because I can never usually eat the junk food they offer to replenish sugar levels after donating.

Volunteer: "Oh, you brought your own cookies?"

Me: ".....yes."

Volunteer: "Oh. Are they sugar free?"

Me: "No. Dairy free."

Volunteer #2: "oH, are you a diabetic?! I am too."

Me: "um....No. The cookies have plenty of sugar I'm sure. I am not a diabetic. They have no milk...because I am lactose intolerant.

Volunteer: "Oh.....my cousin's aunt's brother's friend is lactose intolerant. He has a terrible time with it."

Me: "Yeah......."

Volunteer #2:  "Oh!!!! We have these cookies over here that are GLUTEN-FREE! Do you want THEM?!"

Me: "Um, no thank you. I can eat gluten."

And that is how you make friends.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sounds Way too much Alike....

So I'm standing at the nurses station, awkwardly drinking my ritualistic tea- listening to my coworker speak with a family member of one of her patients...

Family: "he needs a doctor in the room right now! I want to see and speak to a doctor!"

Nurse: "okay, sir- I'll call the hospitalist."

Family *horrified look*: "YOU'RE CALLING HOSPICE????!!!"

Nurse: "no! The hospital-IST! It's a doctor. To help him.. Live."

Most awkward family/nurse encounter ever.

But it's true, the two words do sound alike...



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Most Awkward Moment of my LIFE

I just happen to have been born and raised about 20 minutes from the hospital I work in. That being said, I think I can count on ONE hand the amount of times I bumped into a patient that I had, outside of the hospital. We aren't a very big county, but somehow we are big enough that I didn't think this happens. Then again, I don't live in- nor have I ever- the actual town the hospital is in.

Apparently, seeing patients outside of work is a daily occurrence for employees that also live in this small town. I was not aware of this.

So the other day, my superawesomeincredible nurse aide needed a ride home. This nurse aide happens to live in the same very town as the hospital, not far. So we happen to be at a stoplight.....chit-chat, observing the surroundings in front of us. I see two men sitting on a front stoop, one is wearing long-johns and flannel coat, the other in a suit and boots. Otherwise there wasn't much going on. But the following went down:

Coworker: "Well that guy sure looks spiffy."

Me: "yeah. Must have an interview or going to work or something."

Coworker: "Yeah......hey....wait a minute...Isn't that SoandSo?!"

Me: "Who?"

Coworker: "We had him as a patient, a month or two ago."

I take a closer look, visualize him in a patient gown....

Me: "Oh my god isn't that the guy from the jail?!"

Coworker laughs, "Yeah- he's always in and out for traffic violations. I wonder why he's looking so spiffy today he's got nice boots and everything..."

Me: "OH! MY! GOD!"

Coworker: "....what?"

Me: "I.....sucked POOP.....out of THAT GUYS stomach! And now he's standing in a suit, across from me on the street!"

Coworker: "You did what...?"

Me: "You know.....an NG tube and all..."

it was seriously the funniest, most awkward, most enlightening and most awful moment of my entire....week. It will NEVER not be weird seeing patients outside the hospital....knowing what I know about patients, remembering what I've seen them do, spit up, poop out, etc. Weirrddddddd.