Friday, May 8, 2015

Nurse Week

When anyone wishes me a "happy Nurse Week", I feel about the same way as I do whenever someone who finds out about my military time says "Thanks for your service."

Which is, specifically, that I think, "Yeah, whatever."

I know the vast majority of them mean it in both instances out of sincerity and a desire to say thank you for a couple of largely thankless professions. So I respect them for making the effort, and I know their hearts are in the right place.

1) I knew the jobs were tough when I took them;
2) I was (fairly) well-compensated for both of them, and I was just doing my job;
3) Random thanks don't cost anything, especially as they largely come from the sort of people who probably say thanks to their actual nurse when it actually matters.

But in my heart of hearts, what I'd rather have a cup full of, rather that the wheelbarrow of thanks from people I didn't likely do anything special for is this:

1) Pay your goddamned hospital bill, and on time, so my employers won't be such penny-pinching cheesedicks when it's time to hire enough staff to do the jobs
2) When you have to wait for any sort of care, write a letter to those MoFos, for not properly staffing everything from the registration desk, to the OR, to the recovery ward, to the outpatient clinic, which is why your dog or cat gets better care faster than you do (and cheaper!) for the same injury and level of care.
3) When you're in the hospital, stop pulling the kind of crap and general assholery that would get you punched in the dick with brass knuckles if you tried it at the supermarket or the mall.
4) Go back and read #3 again, and then go back and read it one more time. Then make your spouse/relative/friend/coworker who was probably a big @$$hole the last time they were in the hospital read it too. Or, punch them in the dick.
5) Tell your congressman/woman to kill Obamacare, before it kills all of you and the entire medical care sector, replacing it forever with care that will make the VA look good by comparison, before it gets even worse than that.

Those things would mean more to me than another mountain of cutesy Nurse Week cupcakes in the break room, and more than all the "thank yous" do from people who I've never directly cared for ever will, regardless of how well-intended both are.

Part of my bittersweet outlook on Nurse Week is the fact that every year since forever, it seems I get $#!^ on the hardest during Nurse Week. And not just figuratively, as I've related in an earlier post.

This year has set a new personal world record, although it's nothing so clinically related, and nothing I can share at this point in time; maybe I can at some point down the road. Maybe.

At any rate, I'm pretty sure getting craped on from great height during Nurse Week is in the contract somewhere, kind of like when the SAS holds selection, and the trucks pull away just before the guys trying out finish their 20 mile march can get to them, and have to march another 10 miles back to base.

That's pretty much every day in nursing, one way or the other. Those of us doing this gig shrug it off, but it takes a toll on our backs, and on our souls, even so.
So does the fact that my personal number ( a la a certain scene in The Guardian) is now 13.
Not my fault, but still my patients.  And every once in a while they come back into memory for a bit, and it gets dusty if you think about it very long.

Some of my colleagues "fix" that with a bottle, or pills, or turning a blowtorch on the part of a person that makes us human. As Will Rogers said about the two theories on arguing with women, none of them work.

So I blog from time to time. And I try to spend a lot of time not thinking about work once I leave it.

I like what I do as a nurse very much.
But sometimes, being honest, if I had a good Plan B that'd pay the bills, I'd probably walk away from the entire profession without a second's hesitation or a backwards glance, and even odds I'd toss a lit Molotov cocktail over my shoulder as a parting gift.

And then I get a good night's sleep, wake up tomorrow, and go back to work again.
Even if it's Nurse Week.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Emergency Vs. Not So Much

For the benefit of about 85% of those of you who visit Emergency Departments annually, this helpful guide:

Having a heart attack: Emergency
Not giving you a pillow during your heartburn: Not So Much

Having a stroke: Emergency
Not getting you a cup of ice: Not So Much

Having acute appendicitis: Emergency
Not letting you eat your flaming Cheetos while we rule out appendicitis: Not So Much

Having febrile seizures: Emergency
Not letting you have 27 warmed blankets with an oral temp of 103F: Not So Much

Admitting you for acute status asthmaticus: Emergency
Not fetching you OTC cough syrup during your asthma attack treatment: Not So Much

Your child having bacterial meningitis: Emergency
Not allowing you to bring in the seven not-sick siblings to the same room: Not So Much

Admitting you for suicidal ideation: Emergency
Not getting you a blanket, a pillow, two turkey sandwiches, three orders of juice, and two varieties of crackers while waiting for a transfer to a psychiatric facility for same: Not So Much

This is not intended as any sort of comprehensive list, but I offer it as a guideline, to assist you in deciding firstly whether or not to come to the Emergency Department at all, and secondy to further assist you in Shutting The Eff Up vs. complaining to my supervisor about my alleged attentions or failings regarding any of the above situations, and perhaps towards explaining why, after your piehole closes regarding such complaints, their response is hysterical laughter, and a hasty exit from your room to go deal with actually important things.

If afterwards you really feel peeved off about things, do what most people do: don't leave me any tip in the tip jar, and don't go back to that restaurant, m'kay?

As a bonus, if you think you might wish to elope from the ED at any point, I heartily suggest you do so while still in your car before even darkening the door mat on the lobby door, rather than after taking up 4 hours of valuable time when I and your doctor(s) could have been treating one of the other patients for actual emergent illnesses and injuries instead of wasting it on your drama queenery. For you, there's Oprah, not the ED. Just drive the eff through and go back home, and I won't mind a bit, pinkie swear.

And it's also why if I ever meet Mr. Press or Mr. Ganey alive and in person this side of the hereafter (or even beyond it), I'm going to tenderly and lovingly beat the ever-loving shit out of them with my bare hands until the desire to continue to do so passes away, and/or they do. Nothing less will suffice, and it will be worth the charges, I promise you. I'll probably only be able to raise several million dollars in legal defense funds, if I only get a dollar apiece just from my medical colleagues. (Seriously, you two, you're that evil and worthless, and you should kill yourselves now as a service to humanity, ideally by setting fire to yourselves inside your corporate offices with all your employees locked inside, and I'm not kidding about any of that one little bit.)

Hear me, God.