Nursing Your Unrealistic Expectations

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 20, 2018

(I am an NCT — a nursing care tech — basically one rung down from a nurse. We check vitals, help transport patients for surgeries or procedures, track their progress and double-check their treatment plans, help patients shower or get to the bathroom, and generally make sure that nurses and patients have what they need, and that none of the patients are showing signs of any impending medical problems or complications. We are legally not allowed to give medicine, administer treatments, contact patient family members for any reason, or give medical advice. All of this information is told to the patients when they arrive, and is in the information packet all the patients are given, along with a flow chart about who to call for what problem. Additionally, in my hospital, all NCTs wear green scrubs, all nurses wear blue, and all doctors wear white. This patient, who has been here for about a week and a half, calls me in.)

Patient: “My back feels just awful. Could you go get my next dose of painkillers a little early?”

Me: “I’m not allowed to give you any medications, I’m afraid. I can go get your nurse, though, or you can call her with this number on the board. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Patient: “Well, can you adjust my IV at least?”

Me: “I can’t do that, either; I’ll have to grab your nurse.”

Patient: “What about my sister? Did you call her with the new care plan?”

Me: “That’s also the nurse; I can’t contact your family.”

Patient: “Well, what about my diagnosis? What do you think I should do?”

Me: “I’m not allowed to offer any medical advice, either. Let me call your nurse, okay? She’ll be able to help you with all of this.”

Patient: “But aren’t you going to help me?!”

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Has More Than Just Teething Problems

, , , , | Healthy | August 14, 2018

(My dad is a dentist, and his office is a suite attached to the house. As a child, I am home sick from school, and Dad is with a patient. The door to the office chimes, followed by a long bang. By the time his hygienist comes out to check, the waiting room is empty. Meanwhile, I wake up to a man standing at the foot of my bed. I yell in a panic, and he looks strangely at me, and then puts a hand to his cheek.)

Patient: “I know my appointment isn’t until tomorrow, but this is killing me. Can you fit me in today?”

(Sick and scared, I kept yelling until my dad came running in, still wearing his mask. The patient had walked into the waiting room and, finding it empty, had broken down the door between the office and the house. Then, he had wandered through the house until he found the ten-year-old asleep in bed, and tried to reschedule his appointment. My father was furious and refused to work on him. The guy was surprised.)

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“The Adventures Of Harold, Benjy, And Carmen” Sounds Awesome

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 13, 2018

(I’m in a short-term rehab center, recovering from surgery. A speech therapist comes in with a form in her hands.)

Therapist: “Good morning! I’ll just take a couple of minutes here to see how your speech and language skills are, all right?”

Me: “I suppose.”

(I teach special needs, and immediately recognize the form; it’s the mental acuity screener. BAH!)

Therapist: “Can you tell me where you are?”

(This goes on for awhile, and I’m getting irritated.)

Therapist: “Now, would you name these three animals?”

(She shows me sketch of a lion, an elephant, and a hippo.)

Me: “How about Harold, Benjy, and Carmen?”

Therapist: *silent*

Me: “Well, the task as phrased was to name the animals. If it were stated correctly, you would have asked me to identify the animals, and I would have told you they were a lion, elephant, and hippo.”

Therapist: *silent, but grinning*

Me: “And the number they told me to remember when I had this identical screening in the hospital was 74.”

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Their Etiquette Has A Few Developmental Issues

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 11, 2018

When I was around twelve I began experiencing repeated and painful skin infections in practically every scrape or scratch I got. This led to very frequent visits to my pediatrician for, at first, prescription strength antibiotic ointments, and then multiple tests to find out the cause of the infections. My doctors were amazing. But their other patients… not so much.

One experience that sticks out is the day I went in to get a blood draw. We were fairly early, so my mom and I waited out in the empty lobby. I tended to sit with one leg folded under me and the other knee pulled up to my chest so I could “crouch” on the chair and balance my Harry Potter book on my foot so I could read. It looked odd to most people, but I’ve always found it comfortable.

Not long after we settled in, another mother — a very rude lady — and her son came in. Though we didn’t know them by name, the pair were not unfamiliar to us, as we saw them around town often and the son had been doing occupational therapy with a partner at my mom’s company. The rude lady’s son had some fairly significant physical and mental handicaps and was vocal but nonverbal, and was, through no fault of his own, already making loud sounds and yells as his mother physically dragged him into the lobby.

Instead of sitting in any of the other empty twenty odd seats, the rude lady pulled her son over and sat down directly across from us, with about two feet of aisle space separating our knees. The rude lady immediately struck up conversation with my mom, while I continued reading.

They seemed to be getting along fine, and I tuned them out until I caught this lovely gem, seemingly out of nowhere: the rude lady suddenly leaned forward, patted my mom on the knee, and said in the most condescending and mock-sympathetic voice, “Is she mentally r*****ed?”

This, of course, caught my attention. My mom was staring at her in shock when I looked up and said, “Wow, that’s rude, lady. Just because your kid has some problems doesn’t mean everyone else’s does.”

In hindsight, this was quite cruel of me to say, and I regret saying it every time I think back to this experience. In private, my mom scolded me for pulling the rude lady’s son into it, and she was very right to do so.

The strangest thing out of it all, though, was that once the rude lady got over sputtering a few choice slurs at us, she roughly grabbed her son’s arm and marched out of the pediatrician’s office. Only afterwards did we realize she had never gone up to the front desk to check in or schedule an appointment. It seemed that her entire reason for coming in was to engage with another mother-child duo in the hope that she would find someone else going through the same experiences as her.

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With A Mother Like That, Pain Tolerance Is Through The Roof

, , , , , , , | Healthy | August 10, 2018

I am seven months pregnant, and my friend picks me up for a girl’s night. We watch movies, eat junk food, etc., until she falls asleep about one am. At two, I’m still up, unable to get comfortable. I’ve been having Braxton Hicks contractions for the last couple of days, but tonight they’re just relentless.

I consider waking my friend up to take me home; however, she has epilepsy, often triggered by exhaustion and lack of sleep. She’s a bit of a worry-wort, and I don’t want to have her be tired, panic, and end up having a seizure, especially while we’re on the road.

About six am, I get a hold of my mother, and she agrees to come get me. By this point, the contractions hurt, and I can’t really sit or stand. But I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, so I just grit my teeth and breathe until they’re over. Once there, my mom tells me that she doesn’t really know how to help me, but that she’s going to take me to the hospital, just in case there’s a problem.

When we get to the hospital, I have to stop every couple of steps to breathe and crouch over. My mother comments, “You don’t have a very high pain tolerance, do you? You’ve never really been able to handle pain.”

I ignore her comment because she’s been saying this since I was a kid. Once we finally make it to labor and delivery, the nurse — who has a really cool tattoo sleeve — tests for leaking amniotic fluid, and checks my cervix. She makes a less than promising face, then tells me that she’s going to grab another nurse for another opinion.

She comes back with an older lady that doesn’t even look at me. They go to the counter and I hear the nurse with the sleeve showing her the amniotic test. “It’s faint, but I definitely see a line.” The older nurse glances at it and quickly dismisses her, “No, no. It’s definitely negative.” The sleeved nurse says, “No, I think it’s positive for fluid. Can you at least check her cervix? I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I think it’s close.” The older nurse rolls her eyes, “It isn’t close to her due date, but fine.”

The older nurse then turns to me and goes to check my cervix. Her eyes widen, and she turns back to the nurse with the sleeve. Unfortunately, I have another contraction and only manage to catch a couple key words of their conversation. Then, the older nurse leaves. The sleeved nurse gently talks me through the contraction, and then tells me what’s going on:

At 29 weeks, I am in labor, already eight centimeters dilated, though my water hasn’t broken. The baby could come at any time now, but they are going to try to give me some medications to slow it down. She says that she is going to call the doctor to get approval on some pain medication for me.

Six hours later, I give birth to a healthy baby girl, who is rushed off to the NICU. I silently labored for almost 12 hours, and almost had my baby at my friend’s house. After everything calms down, I am bewildered at my mother’s “low pain tolerance” comment, and I wonder what would’ve happened if I had only seen the older nurse and not had the sleeved nurse to stand up for me. The sleeved nurse was the most amazing healthcare professional I’d ever had, because for the first time, she took what I said seriously. My daughter is doing well, and will hopefully be able to come home soon. My mother still believes that I’m over-dramatic and wimpy when it comes to pain, but at least I can say I went through most of my labor without medication or complaint.

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