Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break!

I made it through my finals and am now officially on spring break! Who would have thought that only working full-time could feel so easy?

This last week at work was extra stressful too, with a barrage of needy/cranky/drug seeking/on isolation precautions patients who made sure that at least one of them was pushing their call light every 3 minutes throughout my entire 8 hour shifts. I got home cranky after those, let me tell you.

After my final today, I stayed after class to have an uncomfortable talk with my instructor that went a little something like this:

"Hello teacher, I want to talk to you about your behavior and how you might improve it in the future. You seem like a good person who ultimately wants his students to be successful in this class, right?"


"Well then let me tell you something, when you talk during class about 'Which head do I think with' [meaning brain or penis] or about pornography, or about who might have a 'thing' for urine it is offputting to your students and makes you much less approachable. I took late points on an assignment rather than speak with you one-on-one earlier in the quarter before I'd observed you enough to decide you were actually all right."

"Oh, that's strange, no one's ever told me that before"

"Really?? No one? Not in your anonymous performance reviews, not face to face, not via email?"

"Oh only 2 or 3 students in all the years I've been doing this. I don't get performance reviews much anymore, I'm tenured you know."

"Yes,I know. Well, think about it - if you intimidate and make people uncomfortable, they're not going to come to you and tell you you're doing that. So assume that I'm speaking for any number of students when I tell you this is not appropriate workplace behavior."

"I like to joke around, it makes me approachable. Most people like it, that's good enough for me."

"It doesn't make you approachable, it makes you inappropriate. There are ways to joke around that are great, do those."

"No, I don't think so. Thanks for the chat, bye. Oh by the way how are you going to handle me next quarter?"

"I'm taking a different teacher next quarter, of course. Goodbye."

ARRRRGHHHH! I want to rip my/his hair out in frustration.

Seriously, who does that? Who in their right mind wouldn't say "Oh, I see, perhaps you have a point, I'll think about it. Or tone it down. Sorry about that."

What a jackass, right?

So then I went home for my much-anticipated post-final nap and had a nightmare that I'd been demoted from working at the hospital to working at our sister facility nursing home. Only problem is, it was full of very acute patients, including pediatric ones! In my dream, the CNA that was orienting me suddenly had a little girl start coding and casually gave her a sternum rub and then some compressions until she revived and told the CNA to stop because it hurt. Then a doc came by and said "Oh, it was probably just postural, her vitals drop when she's supine. Turn her over and carry on." I was horrified that I'd be expected to be saving children's lives one-handed and that they all took it so casually, and was tangled up in a bunch of IV tubing and suction tubing trying to get my butt out the door before I killed someone.

Stress dream, much?

Stupid tenured teacher.

Good news: quarter is over, no more teacher, and I'm NOT demoted in any way at the hospital, and I will never have to be responsible for critically ill children unless for some ungodly reason I decide I want to be, which seems very, very unlikely. Old people, sure. Kiddos, no way. Can't handle that population; the very idea makes me shake.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Little Old Ladies from Little Old Towns

I worked at the GreatRep today, where I was unsurprised to find out that one of my residents is in the process of dying. This is a woman who's lived at the GreatRep for about half of my life. When I was in high school, she moved in. She's been there longer than any other resident, longer than the current Director of Nursing, longer than anyone else who's worked there. Pretty amazing.

The entire time I've known her, she's been almost like a living doll. She doesn't speak, rarely makes noises, and doesn't initiate movement barely ever. We move her from chair, to wheelchair, to bed. We feed her with a spoon and hold a cup up to her lips to drink. We use a mechanical lift to put her on the toilet and change her briefs.

I've heard she used to be quite a spitfire back in the day, and would scream at people. There was one caregiver whose voice she just hated and this woman would have a cataclysmic reaction if that caregiver attempted to do anything for her.

Now this woman is ready to go, and she let us know that the way most of them do; by stopping to eat or drink. She'd simply hold it in her mouth or let it roll back out, whatever you put in there.

Her sister stopped by to say goodbye to her today, brought by a younger and more oriented family member. I never would have thought I'd laugh about what someone said to a loved one on their death bed, but this is the cutest and silliest little thing; you would have had to excuse yourself from the room too!

Little Miss Clara marched right up to her dying sister, telling us "I have to go see Sister! We had a violent disagreement a few days ago, and I've just got to make things right!"

Rememeber, Sister hasn't said so much as a word in years.

Miss Clara whipped out a sheet of paper where she had painstakingly written out her speech to Sister. She stepped right up, and gave Sister's arm a good shake, saying "Sister, wake up! It's me, Clara! Nurse, don't you think she oughta wake up?"

The nurse gently replied that no, sister would probably not be waking up and that Miss Clara might want to say her goodbyes.

"Oh, then. All right."

Miss Clara began to read from her paper.

"Sister, first of all, you were always prettier than me."

I wish mightily I could have known what all was on that paper, but it's hard to beat an opening like that!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Watch out for WOLFS

It's been another weird weekend over at the hospital, y'all. As I've probably mentioned on here before, weekends are the time when all my nice, normal, elective joint replacement patients are not there. So weekends are when I am either floated to another unit or I stay on my own unit but we get atypical patients there (OB-GYN issues, medical problems that don't involve bones, etc.)

Last night I got sent to another unit to do a one-on-one with a very large, schizophrenic patient with a history of methamphetamine use. I'll just let that sink in for a few minutes, shall I?

I spent 8 hours in a hospital room alone with someone who, on paper at least, I would normally sprint away from.

And boy, was it an unusual night.

As I soon discovered, my patient had quite a fascination with "wild animals". Since my patient was a little edgy, I took this person on about eighteen million walks around the floor to try to burn off some nervous energy, toting along the IV pole with us each time. On one of these jaunts, a framed poster of a baby animal that looked like some sort of canine caught my new friend's eye.

"Oh, is that a hyena? Look at him! He's so nice and symmetrical. I've never seen a hyena. One time I saw a wild animal that was like a bobcat or a wildcat or a mountain cat. I saw it walk by the window here too [note; we were NOT on a ground floor level]. One time I saw an Orca whale in a lake. They don't usually live in lakes, so I took a picture of it."

This proved to be a fruitful topic, so my patient thoughtfully provided me with more tidbits throughout the evening:
"If you were by the woods you might get picked off by a wild animal. Like some wolfs. Or mountain bobcats. You should really be careful. If a wild wolf comes out of the woods, you give it a cookie. If it takes the cookie, it'll just, like, go back into the woods. If it doesn't take the cookie, point to the lake. It'll go jump in the lake. I saw that happen but then the bobcat got eaten by an orca whale. In the lake. The whale just ate it all up. It was weird."

My patient had the flattest affect during all this, and consistently called wolves "wolfs" very clearly. I checked in with a nurse at one point to find out if perhaps this person was messing with me, and nope, the nurse said this patient was a bit of a 'frequent flyer' and advised me not to laugh at any advice or stories the patient told me.

We made it all through my shift just fine. Then tonight, in the cafeteria, I saw another CNA who works that unit. She said that my wild-animal-expert patient was pacing the floor, ranting, and attempting to get dressed in all sorts of things because the patient believed it was time to leave.

WHEW! I dodged a bullet there, didn't I? So glad I got floated last night instead of tonight!