Registered Voter, Registered Nurse

6 Nov 2006

Democrats, Republicans, Independents, lend me your ears. On November 7th, log off your computers, go to the polls, and vote. This is very important, people. You need to be a part of the political process.

One in four registered voters is a nurse. Unfortunately, most nurses don’t understand the political process and feel powerless to change the things they don’t like about the government. There are 2.9 million nurses, making us the largest group of healthcare providers in the country. Imagine the impact we could have on government policy if every nurse voted for the candidates of their choice.

Nurses can no longer afford to be part of the silent majority. I urge you to vote.

Sick Call

4 Nov 2006

This is substandard nursing care. I want a Coke! My weekend is not going well. It all started when I was admitted to my hospital’s ER. I’m a klutz and I fell down some stairs while doing housework yesterday evening. People who know me know how much I hate cleaning my house—I’m no Martha Stewart—and after my tumble down the stairs, it will be a cold day in hell before I get the urge to sweep up anymore dust bunnies.

Like most nurses, I’m the world’s worst patient. I didn’t want to go to the ER last night even though I was screaming in pain and crying like a baby. No, not me, I’m on the schedule to work the weekend and I’m not going to call in sick. My ankle was swelling, so my darling husband packed my ankle in ice, elevated my foot, gave me Motrin, and I called it a night. At 4 a.m. I woke up in searing pain. I roll out of bed and crawl to my office to use the phone. I called my nursing supervisor.

Me: Hello Nice Supervisor, this is Mother Jones RN. How many patients do we have on the unit?

Nice Supervisor: Well, good morning Mother Jones RN, you’re up early. What’s going on?

Me: I fell down some steps and my ankle is painful and swollen. I think it might be fractured. I’m NOT calling in sick, but if we’re busy, is it alright if I just sit behind the desk with my foot elevated and take off orders and answer the phone.

Nice Supervisor: This sound serious. I’m marking you down as sick for the entire weekend and I want you to be seen in the ER. You may have a compartment fracture, but even if you don’t, we need to be checked out. I hope you feel better. Goodbye.

I was overcome by guilt. “Maybe I’m over reacting, and I should get a second opinion,” I thought. I called the 24 hour health hot line number I found on the back of my insurance card. I spoke to a nurse and told her what was going on. She laughed when I got to the part about feeling guilty. She said that nurses are the worst patients, and that I must listen to my nursing supervisor. She said she was preauthorizing my visit to the ER. I woke up my sweet husband from a sound sleep, and we started our trek to the ER. I’m going to live, I just have a bad sprain.

Too bad the doctors in our ER don’t look like the ones on TV. I would still hate going to the hospital, but at least it would be more fun. I’m still feeling guilty about not going into work today, but every cloud has a silver lining. Now I have more time for blogging.

The Inservice

2 Nov 2006

My boss scheduled a mandatory inservice yesterday, and I had to go into work on my day off. No, I wasn’t happy, but it gave me a break from housework, and I got the chance to catch up on some hospital gossip. When I walked on the unit, the meeting was about to start. The first order of business was to watch a video about pandemic flu. Look at the people on the book cover. I think they saw the same video. They look scared and they are running to the grocery store to stock up on bottled water and nonperishable foods.

(Cue scary music from a 1950s B movie) World Wide Pandemic Flu: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You!

Sitting behind a desk we see Nurse Germicide, the hospital’s infection control nurse. She’s wearing her white uniform, her hair is pulled up in a bun, and her glasses are perched on her nose. She is the picture of decorum. Nurse Germicide is smiling as she reminds viewers that the pandemic flu is lurking in the shadows, and that it will kill millions of people around the world. She calmly reviews hospital policies involving crowd control, mass casualties, and how to care for patients while everyone around you is dropping like flies. She reassures hospital employees that there is no cause for panic or alarm because the hospital would be on lockdown when rioting breaks out in the streets. She also reminds staff to bring their own food and water from home because hospital supplies will quickly be depleted, and that we can’t depend on outside help from the government. At the end of the video Nurse Germicide says, “We all hope that there will never be an outbreak of pandemic flu, but if there is and thousands of people in our community begin to die, our hospital will be a beacon of hope during a time of despair.” (Cue cheery, happy music) The End.

We then welcomed the head of our security department to the staff meeting. He told us how to use a metal detector wand like the ones they use at the airports. Referring to the video, he said the wand would keep us safe when drug addicts break into the hospital during the riots. I said, “Excuse me, but a junkie would kill his own mother for a fix. How will the wand keep us safe?” He said that the wand would tell us where they were hiding their weapons, and that we could hit them over the head with the wand if they tired to hurt us. I said that if we were being robbed, we wouldn’t have to worry about finding their weapons—they would be waving them in our faces—and that when
someone breaks in looking for drugs, I will give him what he wants and send him on his way. He frowned at me. I don’t think he liked my grumpy attitude.

I know that the threat of pandemic flu is serious business, but must I hear about Armageddon on my day off? It makes me feel like I’m going into battle with Braveheart. Too bad he’s wearing the wrong kind of personal protective equipment. Hey Braveheart, where’s your mask and gown?

Pulp Psychology

1 Nov 2006

Do you remember the book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? Here are the men from mars. Note the antennas on their space helmets. The men use the antennas when they try to read a woman’s mind. Silly men, all they have to do is ask her what’s she thinking about. When will they ever learn?

Pop psychology books have really evolved over the years. My favorite book is Feeling Good by David D. Burn, M.D. It was first published in 1980. Whenever I see a copy at a thrift store, I pick it up so I can have it on hand for my patients. Times have really changed, and here are some books I think you’ll find entertaining.

If you want an entertaining look at the bad-old-days, this is the book for you. Plain Facts for Old and Young was written by John Harvey Kellogg, and was published in 1892. It was a very popular book in its day, and told readers how to have a healthy physical and psychological life. It was also the book that first suggested that you would go blind by “doing it.” I’ll write more about that later. What makes this book note worthy isn’t it’s content, but it’s author.

Dr. J.H. Kellogg was a surgeon, and was the director of the Kellogg Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Kellogg believed that natural foods, along with enemas and hydrotherapy, could cure everything except chronic masturbation, which was the cause of every illness known to mankind. Dr. Kellogg believed that natural foods such as corn could cleanse the body of impurities and cure a variety of nervous disorders. He invented Corn Flakes so his patients at the sanitarium could start their day with a healthy breakfast. Dr. Kellogg’s brother, William K. Kellogg had a sharp business sense and convinced his brother to go into partnership with him in 1906. They formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company under William’s management.

Dr. Kellogg was known as a champion of healthy eating, high colonics, and a disdain for sex. I’ll never be able to look at a box of corn flakes the same way again.

Sigmund Freud wasn’t only the father of modern psychoanalytic, he was the father of pop psychology books. In Psychopathology of Everyday Life, published in 1951, Freud is the first to bring modern psychiatry to the masses. This book first introduced the American public to the concepts of the Freudian slip and repression.

The back jacket reads:

“Have you ever forgotten the name of a person you know well, mislaid a familiar object, or used the wrong word in writing or conversation? If, like most of us, you’ve made these everyday mistakes, are you sure they were accidents?

According to Sigmund Freud, the founder of the modern psychoanalytic movement, most common slips of the tongue or annoying errors are reflections of disturbances in our personalities, some of which may be buried so deep that we ourselves are hardly aware of them. In this fascinating and useful volume, he analyzes the unconscious sources of ordinary errors and lapses, and draws frankly on his own experiences, as well as those of his friends and patients, to show that there is nothing accidental in psychic life.” If you ever find this book in good condition at a thrift store or flea market, grab it. This book is a first edition and very hard to find.

When a student asked him why he always had a cigar in his mouth, Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I wonder what he was really thinking.

Dr. Phil wasn’t the first guy to tell men how to get along with their wives. All About Men, written by Dr. Joseph H. Peck, is a self help survival manual for men. The book was published in 1958. Dr. Peck said he wrote the book for “ordinary men who are trying to feed their families, raise children, pay taxes, and stay a few steps ahead of the sheriff.”

Dr. Peck didn’t have a fancy Ph.D. from a elite university, but was one of the first physicians in pioneer Utah. His practice covered a section the size of Connecticut, and his patients included a whole tribe of Gosiute Indians. He said he learned about human nature during his days as a country doctor. Tracing his subject from birth to death, Dr. Peck gives men advice on solving everyday life dilemmas. Of course many of these dilemmas involved women. He was very insightful, and admits that his wife trained him well. Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book regarding pregnancy, and the man’s role in caring for his wife.

“A pregnant wife has a whim of iron. In the middle of the night she may insist that you run downtown and get her a bottle of beer and some pastrami. Do as she says. If you pity yourself, go to the zoo and look at the king of beasts crouched in one corner of the cage while his pregnant mate prowls, growling and snapping and, as like is not, making a pass at him now and then. Your troubles aren’t unique.”

Yep, he was one smart cookie.

This book is about recycling your life style the psycho-energetics way. Doesn’t that sound far out? Recycle Your Lifestyle was written by Dr. Paul Mok and was published in 1972. Dr. Mok tells readers that if they are ready for an “exciting lift off,” he will provide the answers to help them find nirvana. He tells readers how to recharge their psychic energy systems and resist and control negative energy forces while “getting it together.” I read this book and had the urge to run out and buy a lava lamp and break out my Jimi Hendrix records and my tie-dye shirts.

Groovy!

Happy Halloween

31 Oct 2006


Happy Halloween everyone, and welcome to Doctor Zombie’s Same Day Surgery Center. Doctor Zombie and his colleagues are busy today. I wonder what procedure he’s performing on his patient. Whatever it is, it looks like the anesthesiologist needs to get his act together and check out Surgeonsblog. Doctor Schwab wrote a great post about giving anesthesia.

My little friend, Sparky,and I are sending birthday greetings to our good friend in Baltimore. Happy Birthday, Counselor. Enjoy your special day.

My Day Off From Work.

29 Oct 2006

I wish my mechanic had wireless Internet at his garage.

I’m having the oil changed in my car tomorrow and I won’t have any way of reading blogs. I wish I were like this girl. She’s young, cute, and knows how to work on her own car. Now if I could get my mechanic to install wireless Internet along with a day spa, I’d be all set.

Don’t you hate spending your day off doing something that you’re not looking forward to doing? Nurses always enjoy having time away from the hospital. It’s nice to have a day to yourself. I once had a nursing supervisor who just didn’t “get it.”


The sun is peeking through my bedroom window. It’s 5 a.m. and I’m in a deep sleep. The phone rings:

Nursing Supervisor: Good morning Mother Jones, RN, this is Mrs. Annoying from the hospital. I’m calling because we need you to come in today to work on your unit.

Me: What? Who….what did you say?

Nursing Supervisor: Oh, did I wake you? I’m sorry. I wanted to call you early so you wouldn’t be late for work.

Me: It’s my day off.

Nursing Supervisor: But we NEED you. You MUST come in. We’re DESPERATE.

Me: No thank you, (grumble-grumble), I’m not coming in (muffled swearing), stop calling me (homicidal thoughts). Goodbye!

A day off is a sacred day. Girls (and boys) just want to have fun!

Perfect Motherhood

28 Oct 2006

Ladies, according to the book, The Perfect Woman, written by Dr. Mary R. Melendy, M.D., Ph.D., we’re all raising our children all wrong. The perfect mother’s soul mission in life is to raise sons who will one day dominate their wives, and to raise daughters who will obey their husbands. I missed the boat on that one. My daughters won’t take crap from men, and they make their boyfriends take out the garbage.

Dr. Melendy uses Lititia Bonaparte as an example of the perfect mother. She’s proud of her son. See the bust of her son sitting on the pedestal? I think Dr. Melendy had a thing for Napoleon. She said that Napoleon was an “extraordinary man, and quoted him as saying, “The fate of a child is always the work of his mother.” Napoleon was quite the emperor. He waged war against his European neighbors for 17 years, is responsible for nearly six million European deaths, fathered numerous illegitimate children, and bankrupt the French treasury. I don’t know that it’s fair to always blame parents for how their kids turn out, but Mrs. Bonaparte raised a little megalomaniac. Way to go, Mom!

The perfect mother knows how to prepare healthy meals for her children, and good nutrition must start in infancy. Here’s my favorite recipe for baby food from her book:

Take a pound of flour, put it in a cloth, tie it up tightly, place it in a saucepan full of water, and let it boil for four or five hours; then take it out, peel off the outer rind, and the inside will be found quite dry. Grate and serve with new milk.

Yummy!

Dr. Melendy also gives mothers advice on teething. She warns that teething can cause water on the brain and is responsible for many infant deaths. One remedy for teething pain is taking the child to the country for a bit of fresh air. She said, “The number of deaths in cities from teething is large, in the country it is comparatively trifling.”Dr. Melendy said to give a baby laxatives if the child develops diarrhea and to coat the child in olive oil. Oh yes, there’s one more thing, NEVER rock a baby to sleep. It can cause convulsions!

A perfect mother knows how to keep her child from becoming sick. Dr. Melendy said that if a cold stable makes a healthy horse, then a cold drafty room should make a healthy child. However, Dr. Melendy concedes that from time to time every child gets sick. Here are some of her recommended remedies for childhood illnesses.

Croup: It is imperative that a child with croup be placed in the state of “free vomiting.” At the earliest sign of croup, give Wine of Ipecac every five minutes until free vomiting is established. If after an hour vomiting does not occur, give the following mixture:

One scruple of Powdered Ipecac, 1 ½ oz. of Wine of Ipecac. Shake well and give one to two teaspoons every 5 minutes until free vomiting occurs. After the vomiting, place the child for 15 minutes in a warm bath. When out of the bath give him small doses of Wine of Ipecac every two or three hours. If all else fails give a teaspoon of kerosene.

Bronchitis: Confine the child to his bedroom, and if very ill, to his bed. Let him rest on a pillow on your lap. If fever occurs give the following:

Mix two drops of Tinct. Of Aconite with one full glass of water. Give one teaspoon of mixture every 15 minutes. For external application, take a strip of old muslin, wet in kerosene, and wrap around the neck and cover with a dry cloth. Leave on until the skin is red.

When a child becomes a teenage, the perfect mother’s duty is clear; make them ashamed of their bodies and tell them that sex is bad….very, very bad. But most importantly, the perfect mother must warn her children about the “evils of self abuse.” You know what I’m talking about. Dr. Melendy explains that self abuse drains blood from vital organs, and is an “offense against moral law.”

Is it safe to say we’re all going to hell?

In my next installment of the Perfect Woman we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s thoughts on what qualities a good nurse must have, and recipes for the sick.

News Flash: Clara Barton was a Nurse.

26 Oct 2006

Warning: This is a rant. I’m on my soapbox, and I’m not in a good mood.

I was having lunch the other day with some nursing colleagues when someone mentioned Clara Barton. My associate had visited Clara Barton’s home in Glen Echo, Maryland when she was on vacation. She said that walking into Clara Barton’s house was like walking on hallowed ground. Another nurse a the table tilted her head, smiled, and said, “It sounds like you had a lot fun, but you do realize that Clara Barton wasn’t really a nurse.” There was dead silence at the table. We stared at her in disbelief. I finally broke the silence. “Clara Barton is a nursing role model,” I said. “She cared for wounded soldiers during the Civil War, and she was the superintendent of NURSES for the Union army. How can you say she wasn’t a nurse?” Our colleague, who holds a Ph.D. in nursing and who is a nursing educator, didn’t flinch. She said, “Clara Barton didn’t go to an accredited nursing school, and she didn’t have a degree, therefore she wasn’t a real nurse.” After hearing this logic I headed for the bar—I needed a drink.

There’s a feud going on in the nursing community, but this feud isn’t between the Hatfields and the McCoys, it’s between nurses who hold a nursing degree and those who don’t. It’s a passionate feud and the battle lines are drawn. I graduated from a three-year hospital diploma program, and even after working as a bedside nurse for nearly thirty years, there are some who claim I am not a “real nurse.” This infighting is tearing the profession apart.

I wonder what Clara Barton would think about all the bickering if she were alive today. I think she would be amused that some highly educated people view her as less than a nurse. Unfortunately those same people wouldn’t care what Clara thought because she never earned a nursing degree. Nurses are a catty group, and I’m sure Clara’s detractors would belittle her ideas, undercut her efforts to improve health care, and snicker at her qualifications to run the American Red Cross.

Here’s a news flash to my nursing colleagues that just don’t get it: Clara Barton was a nurse, and so are ALL the men and women in the nursing profession who work everyday, taking care of their patients.

Lustful Men

25 Oct 2006

Don’t you just love it when studies confirm what we’ve known for years? According to researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, men are always thinking of sex. Well, duh! I wonder how they collected their data.

Reacher: “Sir, are you always horny?”

Male Subject: “What?”

Reacher: “Sir, do you lust in your heart?”

Male Subject: “Are you on drugs? What kind of a question is that!”

The research also found that 19 percent of women think about sex on a daily basis. I’m not in that 19 percent. I’m getting forgetful in my old age, and I’m always trying to remember where I put my car keys. I don’t have time to think about sex.

Click here to check out the Kinsey Institute website.

Grass Roots Nurse

24 Oct 2006

Here is a grass roots nurse who is working to improve health care in America. She is asking the doctor to support the National Nurse Act. He thinks it’s a great idea. Smart doctor.

Heads up everyone, Alisa Schneider and Teri Mills from the National Nurse Team will be guests on Satellite Sisters next Friday, October 27th, at 10:30 am PST. To find a radio station near you, click here.

Mother Jones RN will be listening, and I hope that you will be listening, too.

Nurse Ratched

There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about medical bloggers and HIPAA regulations so let me make this very clear: I write composite stories about many different people that I've cared for over the years.

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Amanda Trujillo, MSN, RN, DNSc-NP(s) Media & Blogger Coverage