My Patient's Diagnosis

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Semi vs. Fire Truck collision.
The driver of the 18 wheeler died at the scene.
The Fireman remains in ICU.

3 suppositories and 5 enemas later...

Friday, December 5, 2008
Wow. I am now officially a night shift nurse and can't believe that my body will ever get used to it. I think I'm going to like it. The entire atmosphere is completely different and everyone is more relaxed. It's pretty weird to eat lunch at 2 am and go to sleep at 8 in the morning. You sorta forget that the world is sleeping while you're saving lives ;)

I think I made the right choice as far as units go. The staff where I work is really fun and young. Last night 6 of 7 nurses working were between 22-27. That's a little scary but fortunately we have some awesome Charge Nurses to help us new-bees along.

I've got to accept that I'm going to make mistakes though. That's really hard for the perfectionist in me. I think every week I do at least one really stupid thing. Fortunately none of them have injured my patients in anyway. But it's hard to accept that your screw ups can have some pretty significant impacts on another person's life. It makes you want to double and triple check everything you do. I wish there was time for that.

I called a MD in the middle of the night for the first time, and despite the fact that it took three times for him to call me back, it wasn't nearly as bad as people say it can be. I guess that's something else I have to look forward to. But all in all, I know this is right where I should be and something about getting up as the sun goes down makes you feel like you're a part of some adventure.

Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit

Monday, November 24, 2008
For those of you who have been wondering/praying/asking...

Today I chose to commit to the STICU for the next year. Not the ER like many people expected. A LOT of factors were involved, but the main thing that knocked me off the fence was that in the ICU, despite all the death you see, you also see people get better.

Last week a man came into the unit to say hello to the staff. He had been in the ICU for over four months and no one thought he would make it out. His liver was so damaged that his eyes were florescent yellow, he was on dialysis, maxed out on blood pressure meds (among other things), and is still battling his leukemia. The doctors wanted to give up but kept on because he's only 29 years old.

He WALKED into the unit last week and the nurses started freaking out. Many of them crying. You never get to see that in an ER. I'm not sure I could watch all the pain without the occasional happy ending.


Saturday, November 22, 2008
We've been studying how to engage the poor at my church. It's the most relevant topic I can think of in a city that has at least two homeless people standing at my Exit on 16/75 everyday, and blanketed bundles in nearly every alleyway downtown.

We've talked a lot the last two weeks about how we don't have to go looking for hurting, poor and broken people. They are surrounding us. Even though we often don't take the time to look under the old blankets, in the garbage bins, or even just behind our neighbor's door.

This week God didn't even give me the chance to look around. He put a homeless, hurting, child in one of my hospital beds for three days. Stephen (name changed to protect the innocent) is a 19 year old, mentally handicapped foster child. He has had no friends visit in three days. He had no one call to check on him. He had a previous foster mother come in once on my shift. He is fighting for his life.

He was brought into the ER with a temperature of 89 degrees, he was covered in staph infections and his platelets and white blood cells were so low that everything pointed towards an autoimmune disease...perhaps HIV or even leukemia. He should have been in the hospital weeks ago. But there was no one to take notice.

Engaging the poor occurs pretty often in my job. And I don't say that to make it sound easy. It just isn't something I have to go looking for much. The hard part for me is believing that there is anyway to make a difference. Believing that anything will change.

I like fixing people. I'm not great at it but I always try. My mom has laughed at me over the years because I tend to have close friends with huge catastrophes in their lives...divorce, cancer, abuse, deaths, eating disorders and so on. I'm not sure how it happens. But God shows Himself to me through their pain. Even if it takes years.

I'm not sure what I'll learn from Stephen though. It makes me angry. Angry that no one wanted him when he was born, angry that he's been thrown into the foster system, angry that even at 19 he was unable to escape the system, angry that he's sick and no one noticed, angry that he's in the ICU and no one cares. And perhaps most angry that if and when he gets out...none of those things will change for him.

Where is the hope in that?

We're singing a song tomorrow at church that contains the hope.
"A Father to the orphan, a Healer to the broken, this is our God.
He brings peace to your madness, and comfort in our sadness.
This is the One we have waited for, this is our God."

I'm not sure I've really engaged the poor this week. But they have engaged me.
Friday, November 21, 2008
grace disguised.

by jess parks.

overdue therapy.

This week has had me so deep in my own head I wasn't sure I'd ever surface.

Let's start with Monday. I went to see my friend's art show in Milledgeville. She is a graduating art major and an old "house-mate" of mine. Her mother has been fighting a brain tumor since she was in the 8th grade. Her mother was given 6 months at the time of diagnosis. Doctor's don't know everything.

Jess's artwork reflected her parents and siblings and much of their pain and heartache that came with losing the mother and wife they used to know and excepting the new one that could no longer take care of them or talk to them the way we expect our mothers to. Jess talked about the crap that we have to face in our daily lives and how the only hope is that one day we will all be made new. She made mention of her realization that even if God took her mother's cancer away and healed her, she would still face death some day. We will all face death someday. And only He can make us new.

However, what I could most relate to was when Jess thanked her dad. Her dad who helps her mother bath and dress everyday. Eat and get into her wheelchair. Her dad who helps her mother on and off the toilet and into the car. Her dad, whose entire life is forever changed because when he said, "until death do us part," he meant it. He meant it to his God and to his beloved wife.

I relate to this because "love" is what I learned the most about from my mother being sick. I've made mention of it before, but my senior year of high school my mom had a GI bleed that lead to acute organ failure and she was not supposed to make it out of Emory hospital. It's taken me years to realize what I learned from it all.

The main thing was the love of my father. Yes, my earthly one. Although I know it's the one Above him that deserves all the credit. Jess and I both stand in awe of the selfless love our fathers have had for our moms over the years. And I know it's only a small picture of what my heavenly Father has for me.

I watched my mother go from an upset stomach to a concentration camp looking human in 41 days in the ICU. I hardly ever saw my dad that semester. I hardly ever saw him because he went from work to the hospital everyday. And while I hid in my created business, he was caring for my mother daily. When my mom came home things got even harder. My dad was her nurse because I was too selfishly trapped in denial to be of any use. My mom had an ileostomy for months and it took her frail body close to a year to mostly recover. You never realize how much a mother does for you until she can't to it anymore.

I had a small piece of what Jess has experienced since the eighth grade. And while my mother made a full recovery, it seems that Jess's only will when she goes home.

Photography has a certain way of moving me. Differently than other art forms. It is a silent communicator, although sometimes it screams at you. There is something so powerful about a motionless picture on a gallery wall. Something that puts me so deep into my head...

...and that was only Monday.

words of wisdom

Saturday, October 11, 2008
"you can touch the sick, the leper and believe that it is the body of Christ you are touching, but it is much more difficult when these people are drunk or shouting to think that this is Jesus in His distressing disguise. How clean and loving our hands must be to be able to bring that compassion to them."

~ No Greater Love, Mother Teresa

We had three homeless people ask us for money Wednesday night downtown. I had a patient curse at me this week and another drunk schizophrenic threaten to kill someone in the ER waiting room. My roommate literally washed a homeless patient's feet because they smelled so bad. I was fighting to remember...

..."whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do it to me." Matt 25:40

Alabama's Sweetness

Friday, October 10, 2008
There is this really cute old man that works out at my gym. He favors my grandfather who passed away when I was eleven so I love to watch him. I don't remember too much about my grandfather except him sitting in his recliner chair, him handing out the Christmas presents, and the seat at the kitchen table that was off limits because he always sat in it. Oh, and prune juice. I feel like he was always drinking prune juice. My now extensive nursing knowledge understands why he drank prune juice.

I always had a sort of reverent fear of him. I don't remember being around him hardly at all as a kid. I remember that he was quiet. He had kind eyes and he liked to fish. He always cleaned the fish on the bricks in the driveway. I thought it was cool. And of course he liked Auburn football. I used to think it was so dumb when my Dad, Uncles and Grandfather used to gather around the tv on fall Saturday afternoons to watch football. I now understand the indulgence.

I miss the fall in Alabama. It even smelled different there.

After grandaddy died grandmother got Alzheimer's and now lives in a nursing home. In my head it happened directly after the event, although I know that isn't true.

Most Emergency Room nurses dread getting a patient from a nursing home. But sometimes they are my favorite. To me, every one of them is my grandmother. Yeah, they tend to be a lot more work because the nursing home usually sends them in when they are being irritable and they are almost always incontinent and you can't gather any medical history from them because it's still 1935 and they are perfectly healthy. They also have paper thin skin and terrible veins. So yes, Emergency Room nurses hate receiving nursing home patients.

I remember vividly as a little girl talking to my grandmother about my Maamaw (my great grandmother, her mother) and how we wanted Jesus to take her home so that she wouldn't have to live in a nursing home without her mind. I remember the smell of her nursing home and her bent over in her wheelchair. I hated going there. That nursing home and my own mother later being in the ICU made me say that I'd never be a nurse. Funny how things change.

I am determined to care for the elderly however I can. That may be in the ER or later down the road in a hospice setting. Every elderly patient I have causes me to think about how Maamaw's , Grandaddy's, and now Grandmother's nurses care for them. That makes the incontinence and terrible veins not seem so bad, and even if it is 1935 it's going to be a good October.

The cute old man at the gym is in amazing shape. It makes me imagine that he took his doctor's advice seriously after a heart attack. The man wears a name tag while working out. I can only assume it's in case something happens to him. He can do more pull ups than me (I can't do any) and he runs fast too. Elderly people can be such a blessing, and I hope that somewhere in Alabama my grandmother is blessing someone too.

buckle up, who cares if it's the law? It saves lives.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
After riding with three of my guys friends to a Blockbuster several weeks ago it came to my attention that people my age don't wear seat belts. Now, maybe I'm being sexist but I believe that the majority of them are males. This is just based on my personal experiences of the Blockbuster trip, my sister nearly pulling over her car once when her guy friend refused to put his seat belt on, and a guy riding with me last week stating that he refuses to wear his because the government tells him to do so.

It's almost no surprise to me that in 2006, 16,975 more men than women died in motor vehicle accidents (

I've worked in a Level One Trauma center's ER for a year and I am currently rotating through it again. I cannot begin to stress the important of wearing seat belts. I know its annoying, but I have to get on my soap box for a minute.

Today I sat through a three hour trauma lecture by the Registered Nurse in charge of evaluating every trauma at my hospital. She has worked in Grady's ER, been a flight nurse for many years and works hand in hand with my hospital's head of trauma surgery. Needless to say, she knows her stuff.

She shared with us that it is six times more likely for you to be ejected from a car if you are not wearing a seat belt.
She also stated that 75% of occupants ejected from cars die.

I personally have two friends that died after being ejected from cars. Neither were wearing seat belts.

Some statistics from James Madison University's website might also make you think:

Safety Belt Statistics

One out of every five drivers will be involved in a traffic crash this year.

Approximately 35,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year.
About 50 percent (17,000) of these people could be saved if they wore their safety belts.

More than 90 percent of all motorists believe safety belts are good idea, but less than 14 percent actually use them.

For every one percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.

Safety belts when used properly reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60-70 percent.

For maximum protection safety belts should be fastened before traveling any distance or speed. Seventy-five percent of crash deaths and injuries occur within 25 miles of home. More than half of all injury-producing motor vehicle crashes involve low speeds under 40 m.p.h.

Motorists are 25 times are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when they are "thrown clear" than when remain inside their vehicle.

A common cause of death and injury to children in motor vehicles is being crushed by adults who are not wearing safety belts. On out of four serious injuries to passengers is caused by occupants being thrown into each other.

Of every 100 children who die in motor vehicle crashes at least 80 would survive if they were properly secured in an approved child safety seat or safety belts.

An estimated 80 percent of American children area immunized against contagious diseases, but less than 10 percent are properly restrained when riding in a motor vehicle.

Pretty scary huh? Amazing that 2 seconds of your time could save your life.

what's that Scarlett says?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Well sometimes it sucks.

We had a 2 month old baby girl come into the ER today in cardiac arrest. She never had a pulse. We coded her fully with no results. Her parents had left her sleeping in their bed and she suffocated in the blankets.

For those of you who have never heard of SIDS...Sudden Infant Death's for real! DO NOT LET YOUR INFANT SLEEP WITH YOU! I don't care if you think it's sweet or how much they cry without you there. This happens ALL the time!!! Perfectly healthy infants die suddenly with no known cause other than that they probably weren't getting enough oxygen.

I know that that advice probably applies to very few, if any, of the people who read this. But pass it on or something. I just needed to get that off my chest.

The nurse I was working with refused to be a part of the code. She has an eight month old at home. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to survive it I guess. I'm glad that I didn't have to see the family. If I had seen that baby's mother I'm not sure if I would have wept with her or wanted to yell in her face. I hope I would have done the first.

It's interesting to see how staff reacts in situations like that. Some of them get really quiet. The ones who have kids usually talk angrily about how some people shouldn't have children. Some need to know the patient's name. Others don't care one bit. They refuse to get involved. I'm the quieter kind I guess. It do my business with God and try to go about my work. I don't want to be unaffected, but I know I'd cry for days if I let myself think about it all too much.

Sometimes it sucks.
"But tomorrow is another day."

can someone please tell me what to do with my life??

Friday, September 12, 2008
Okay, not really...I mean, I LOVE being a nurse. It's the greatest thing I can imagine doing right now. But honestly I am ridiculously indecisive in this area of my life and have NO IDEA what department I am supposed to work in. I wish someone would just tell me.

I know that I want to do critical care, I am too young and get bored too easily to be on a general Medical Surgical floor and I don't do kids or really, kids are cool but holding them down while sticking them with needless and telling them "this won't hurt" when you know you're lying through your teeth is no fun. I'm also not very sympathetic towards whinners....yeah, not sure where I got Oh, and yeah. I don't do pregnant women either. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Anyway, I know that I want to work in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Room. I've worked in the ER for over a year as a student nurse and I LOVED it. I did my practicum in the Surgical Trauma ICU and loved that too. And for all of those that don't know...I am currently in a program where they rotate you through our four ICU's (Surgical Trauma, Medical Surgical, Neurological, and Cardiovascular) as well as the ER and then you get to choose who you are gonna sign a contract with.

Besides completely wigging out about the contract anyway, I cannot decide where I fit in this hospital! I think the best and worst part is that I've enjoyed everywhere I've been! I haven't hated anything, by any means...I guess that's just confirmation that I'm in the right profession.

But I feel like I should have some direction after being in this program for two months. And I don't.
"They" say that ER nursing is have to know a LITTLE bit about LOTS of things, everything in fact. While ICU nursing is much deeper. You know ALOT about a FEW things. I'm just not sure where I fit. The ICU is also very structured. You operate within a somewhat restricting time table of when drugs are to be given, when labs must be drawn, how often you turn your patient and at what times you feed, bath, talk to family, and meet with doctors.

There is much more freedom in the ER. Although lately mine has been fighting to try to structure a bunch of creative personality types...and failing miserably. In the ER you never know what is going to walk through the door. You might be treating a migraine, a nursing home patient with a broken hip, a spider bite, a schizophrenic with suicidal ideations, a pregnant lady who is scared out of her mind, a kid who broke her arm when she wrecked her golf cart, or a man who got T-boned...I saw all of those last week. You never know.

And there is something about that that makes you look forward to going to work everyday. But at the same time, most days I leave wondering if I made a difference at all.

I was talking with one of the Surgery Residents yesterday and he told me that a guy I took care of for four weeks in the STICU was about to be discharged home. Now that's exciting. This guy was in a motorcycle wreck and over a period of three weeks I saw him go from respiratory failure to talking and even walking. Through those weeks he threw up on me and I had to clean him up numerous times, his wife called me about three times a day to see how he was doing, and his 4 and 7 year old girls stared at me while I gave him his medicine. He had to be restrained because he kept trying to get out of bed, he was given a trach and had a feeding tube, he even coded and was resuscitated. This dude had been through hell and back and he's gonna be discharged next week! The ICU is slowly, but steadily rewarding.

Usually. I also had to assist in taking six patient off of life support in four weeks. Three of whom I had gotten to know their families pretty well. It's never easy...

And so the indecision continues. I welcome any advice.

No Greater Love

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I'm finally reading a book about and by Mother Teresa. It was given to me my first senior year by a friend and professor who lost her son to AIDS. I want to be like Mother Teresa in a lot of ways. It was said about her that "rather than avoiding suffering, she became intimate with it. Rather than heroically trying to overcome death, in the style of modern Western medical philosophy, she focused her attention on a person's emotional state and sense of meaning in their last moments." America needs more healthcare professionals like that.

"I believe if God finds a person more useless than me,
He will do even greater things through her, because this work is His."
~Mother Teresa

"from life's first cry, til final breath, Jesus commands my destiny"

Sunday, August 31, 2008
I had one of those "life is short moments" on Friday. My hospital plays a lullaby over the intercom system every time a baby is born. It's pretty cool. It makes you stop and remember that there is new life everyday, despite the death that you usually have to deal with in my unit. On Friday the lullaby played twice in a row, meaning that someone had twins. The ironic part was that one of the nurses on my unit had taken her patient off of life support a few minutes earlier. Several nurses where watching the heart monitor as his vital signs decreased. It was so strange.

On the floor below me two beautiful babies had been brought into the world while a door away there was an old man breathing his last.

Sometimes I wonder why we think that anything of this world matters. The only eternal things are the word of God and souls of men, right? How often I forget that. The hospital is a constant reminder though. I just wish I was better at doing something about it. I wish I was of those people who lives like every day matters. I think I'm gonna work on it.

what's in a name?

Thursday, August 21, 2008
It's funny how God reminds you or Himself sometimes. Just in case you get distracted by your daily life.
I had a rough day at work on Monday. I was irresponsibly operating off of four hours of sleep and was slammed with one patient going bad, at the same time as a discharge that turned into a new transfer who had coded in CT, and been transfered to the ICU. (sorry if that sounds too nursy, but some of you get what i mean). Anyway, it was busy. And me and the nurse I was working with knew that we would not be clocking out at 7pm.

I was beginning to admit our new patient, trying to stabilize her and communicate to the faimly that her posture was indicative of brain damage, while still being hopeful that she would recover. The only man in the room of five women, and I assume a family member, looked at me and said, "I don't know how yall manage this sad place. I truly hope that you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ."

I think I let out a sigh of relief as I felt the room soften. "Yes sir," I said. "I couldn't do this job if I didn't." He went on to say something about how sad it is that people don't serve the Lord in their work like they should, and he was glad to know that I was honoring Him.

The attention at that point turned appropriately back to the critical patient. But his comments changed the entire atmosphere for me. It's funny how just the name of Jesus can trump everything else you're dealing with at the time. Even when there is someone lying on what may become their death bed, there is something about His name that is comforting to me.

I really couldn't do this job without It.

benefiting from the lack of experience.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sometimes I don’t know how in the world I got here. Things were much easier before I had an RN on my name badge. Now I can’t hide behind the person in charge or default the questions to a higher authority. Most of the time I am the authority.

And most of the time I feel like a child lost in the grocery store screaming on the inside for her mother, but too embarrassed that she’s lost to say anything out loud. So I just stand there alone. Not knowing what to say.

Oh the days of childhood…sometimes I wonder when I turned into a grown up.

I have had more family members in the last two weeks ask me hard questions than I can count. How am I supposed to know if her brother is gonna make it through the next shift or if they should take their 18 year old daughter off of life support? How did I ever get in a position where I have any authority on the issue?!? And am I really qualified?

I had lunch today with my roommate, another new nurse, and a good friend of ours who’s still in nursing school. And as hard as we try to talk about things other than the hospital it never happens. We talk about our patients and the doctors and the cute new residents… and then we talk about the pain. The crap that we have to see and how much it hurts and the stuff that we are expected to know. All the answers we are supposed to have.

I am humbled everyday by my profession. And yes, that’s what it is. I’m a Professional Nurse. They used to warn us about that in nursing school. How it’s not just a future job, but how we are going to become healthcare professionals and it will feel like it happened overnight. They were right. I mean, nursing school was a long, hard fight for me. I never felt smart enough and I worked harder than most people to get through. But I still don’t feel worthy of my title.

I hope that I never do. I want more than anything to have experience and knowledge and confidence in my work. But I greatly fear the apathetic and bitter attitude that comes with seasoned nurses. The thoughtless comments that are uttered in front of patients and the reasoning that sometimes it’s just a waste of money to care for certain hopeless people.

I took care of a girls dying father last week (she was 20) and she apologized to me for having to handle her situation. Her dad’s heart was failing and the doctors had told her they couldn’t do anything else. She said, “I’m sorry that you have to deal with us, being a new nurse.” I literally wanted to grab her and say, “No, you don’t understand! You want new nurses. You want the ones that still cry on their ride home or will sit with you even when they don’t really have time, because they are hurting too. The ones who are going to help your father fight until the last moment. You want a nurse who still feels pain.”

I never want to have so much experience that I start to forget that there is a person in the hospital bed. A person who has a wife, a mother, a son, or maybe a fiancĂ©… a best friend who isn’t sure what they are going to do without them. Sometimes those family members need the nurse more than the patient does. I hope I never outgrow feeling.

even when it's not so well

Sunday, August 3, 2008
I've written a lot this weekend...for me at least. I guess I've had some free time. This is the first weekend I haven't been in the hospital since I started. I've had the privilege of singing with the New City Church praise, that makes it sound so official :) It's really not...but it will be. It's going to be amazing. I love being a part of something so new and so passionate and so Jesus focused. I love my church.

Anyway. We sang this pretty phenomenal song..."It is Well with my Soul." Know it? I'm sure you do, but if not listen to it asap. It was one of those times when I sang it perfectly in practice, belting every note on key and not even struggling to remember the many verses. But the worship service... I just couldn't do it. I got about half of the song out I think. (good thing I was only singing harmony).

I am not one of those people who talks much about the spirit of God moving. I know it happens and it's amazing when it does. But I've been so drilled with how our relationship with God isn't supposed to be about feelings and emotions all the time that I probably don't recognize the Spirit as much as I should. But I felt it this morning. I had some pretty interesting convo with Jesus the night before and then in church... Well, He was in there...

Back to "It is Well"....

Is it well? Do you believe that it is? I mean really. Not in a "yeah, Jesus died for me, of course" kinda way. But in a yes, it is well with my soul when kids die in house fires because their drunk father was passed out, or when a man murders his kids and shoots his wife or when teens OD on prescription drugs, and when your grandmother is dying of Alzheimer's and for some reason God won't take her home.

That is my problem. With me, it rarely feels well. I have such a hard time singing those words. Sometimes I just don't get it. I know that death is part of life, but how do you rationalize it all? How do you see the pain that people experience and just say....alright, it's okay.

I'm no theologian. I don't clain to know much about this song except I know the dude who wrote it had just lost his whole family in a shipwreck. But I think the words he wanted us to remeber are the verses. The chorus is great, but I feel like it mocks me.

The amazing part about the song is that it doesn't have to be okay with your soul! That's what I've decided anyway. Because he says, "My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin not in part but the whole. Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh, my soul." ...MY soul. My soul that doesn't feel like it's okay. My soul that questions the death I see daily and cries about the crap that doesn't seem fair. My soul that doesn't always get it.

It's okay because "Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul." He did that because He knew it wasn't always going to be well. He knew that I'd get mad and have doubt and questions...and yes, even anger. He planned on it. He can handle it. He can handle it because He is well and He understands every ounce of my soul.
Saturday, August 2, 2008


The Red Cross is desperate for blood this summer. Last week at work I cared for a patient whose open heart surgery had to be delayed because there were no platelets in our hospital. I work in the largest hospital south of the ATL in Georgia. And one of three Level One Trauma Centers in the state! This is a big deal. I checked on our intranet the same day and saw a report from the Red Cross begging Georgians to donate.

"The total blood supply throughout the Southern Region stands at just over a 24-hour supply. Supplies of types O negative, A negative, and B negative blood are below a day's supply. The supply of type O positive - the universal donor is at a SIX HOUR supply!

In the U.S. about four million people need blood each year. That's one person every two seconds, and the overwhelming majority of people who need it, would die without it...Blood donations decrease in the summertime, while demand increases, resulting in severe shortage."

It is safe for you to give blood every 56 days or six times a year. Donations of platelets, the component that enables clotting, can be made every two weeks, up to 24 times each year. Platelets are often needed for cancer patients on chemo." I wish Relay for Life would preach that!

We need 1,200 people to donate each weekday to meet the needs of our hospital patients. If you are at least 17 years old and weigh 110 pounds YOU ARE ELIGIBLE! There are NO blood substitutes.

14 blood donation centers exist in Georgia and drives are held all over. Visit or for more info.

Please fit this in your schedule! I personally gave blood every 56 days through high school and college and then disqualified after traveling to a third world country. I've never done it since.

Take a friend and donate some of yourself! My patient's surgery delay could have caused another heart attack and led to death. DONATE. It really could save someone's life.

Nursey News

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses issued these stats this year.
I found them astounding. Thought you might want to know what some of your nursing friends experience:

64% of nurses reported having experienced verbal abuse in the workplace (I assume mostly from MD's)

22% have reported physical abuse on the job

20% of nurses have been sexually harassed at work

AND YET... 88% of nurses would recommend their profession to someone else!

Guess that says something about the rewards that come from caring for people.
Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who profits?

I spent eight hours in boring lectures of orientation today. But about five minutes of my day made it all worth it.
Four months ago during my practicum I had cared for a 20-something Mexican man who was here illegally working for a construction company. He was involved in a car accident in which he was in the luggage carrier of a pick up truck. He was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a multitude of injuries. I don't remember them all. The most significant was a spinal fracture which left him a parapalegic. He did not any speak English.

A local church flew his wife in from Mexico to be at his side. I used translators and my VERY limited Spanish to communicate with them. For several weeks I watched him improve from being on complete life support to an awake, alert and oriented patient. My hospital does not deny care and is a not-for-profit organization.

The staff in my unit was divided in their feelings of sympahty. Some thought we never should have helped him since he was illegal. Others made remarks about how sorry they were for him. Some were apathetic only thinking of their paychecks. One even said that, "If he'd been in that wreck in Mexico he'd be dead. Why should we pay to help him?"

All I could think was what would happen to him? He had little, if any money. No insurance. No friends. And he could not even talk to his nurses and doctors. This would pose problems for any patient. But a paraplegic?! He will never walk again! He needs rehab and a wheelchair and someone to help him bath and toilet and move...for the rest of his life.

I finished my practicum never hearing what would become of him except that the local Spinal Rehab facility was denying him care because of his illegal alien status.

BUT TODAY I learned that my hospital fought the system :) I asked a discharge nurse if she knew about my patient and she beamed in response stating, "I'll tell you that one. It's one of the good stories."

The spinal center "did us a favor" and took him to rehab. My hospital bought him a basic wheelchair (because anything nicer would be stolen in Mexico) and flew him and a clinical technician who speaks Spanish to Mexico after his recovery. The tech assessed his home and helped him settle in to his new lifestyle. She ate dinner with his family and then came back to Georgia. I cried (yep, in front of the whole orientation class) when I heard this.

I've said for awhile that I never want to work at a hospital that can deny a person care. And yes, it's sometime a pain, because the chest colds that clog our EMERGENCY rooms slow us down, and the drug seekers getting high off my tax money are easily enabled. But then something good happens. Someone is helped. And the profit to the patient and staff far outweighs the monetary loss.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

therapeutic: adj. ~of or relating to the healing of disease. ~having a good effect on the body or mind, contributing to a sense of well-being.

Well, if you are a nurse, nursing student, or nursing instructor you can just skip over this posting. You, like me, probably remember your Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing instructor standing before you stating that she is going to teach you to communicate like a nurse. "Communicate?" you're thinking, "didn't I learn that when I was two?". Not only do I have to memorize hundreds of new medical terms, relearn how to wash my hands, wear a stupid white uniform, and pretend like I know how to give a shot, I ALSO have to learn how to communicate??? AGAIN?!?!

Before anyone panics, this whole therapeutic communication thing will turn into, like most other things I've learned in my life, not as big of a deal as it seems. Sure, they say you are never allowed to ask "Why?" (it's not your business anyway). You can never lead an answer, "You don't smoke, do you?" And you must never ever ask a yes or no question, "Are you in pain?" Because none of those things would provide you with sufficient information and of course they would be devestatingly untherapeutic, and hey! We're nurses right? That means we are nice people and even if that isn't true we must make people think we are nice people by speaking sweetly and of course, therapeutically.

Now, do you really ever consider those things when you've got a 5 year old screaming that he wants his mom or an 89 year old nursing home patient telling you that she needs to pee, when in reality she has had a foley catheter for three days? Of course not. You are more concerned about the old lady's urine output and the kid's broken arm than you are about what comes out of your mouth. Maybe that's good. Maybe it's not. But hey, it's truthful. And I think that's what therapeutic communication is all about anyway.