Everything I Know About Life.......

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    .....I learned from nursing. Here, for the reader's enjoyment (I hope) are a few of the life lessons that nursing teaches us over the course of a career. Though my own sojourn isn't over yet, nursing has provided me with many moments I'd never have chosen to experience, mental pictures I wish I didn't have, and traumatic events I would like NOT to have to re-live for the rest of my days. And that's just the *fun* stuff!

    Am I the only person around here who's sappy enough to have owned a copy of that adorable poster with all the things someone learned about life in kindergarten? As cliche'd as it all sounds now, I've never forgotten such pithy sayings as "Hold hands when you're crossing the street" and "Wash your hands BEFORE you go to the bathroom". Oh, wait.....that was nursing school, not kindergarten. Oops.

    I was trying to focus on my weekly nutrition-at-risk report this afternoon when the memory of that long-ago collection of wisdom popped randomly into my brain, whose synapses had been misfiring all day even with benefit of lubrication in the form of caffeine. This is what happens when one a) falls asleep in front of the computer, b) wakes up just long enough to crawl into bed without taking her nightly handful of sanity, and proceeds to c) get all of 3 1/2 hours of broken sleep before hitting the floor at 0530. Add a gallon of Red Bull and a busy schedule, and what you have is one wide-eyed, overamped nurse who has to keep moving or she'll nod off. You know....like a shark. Hmmmmm.

    So now I know that if I want to be a functional human being, I cannot stay up half the night or forget to take my meds; staying up half the night AND forgetting to take my meds is simply a recipe for disaster. That's a handy bit of information I might never have discovered if I weren't a nurse. Being able to string together a coherent thought at a time of day when NOBODY should have to be awake is an oft-used (and very necessary) skill for someone who earns her daily bread by assessing patients and dealing with their families, most of whom actually expect the nurse to be able to speak in complete sentences.

    Here are a few more nuggets I've gleaned over the years:

    1) I've learned that things rarely---if ever---go well when you walk in the door at work and are greeted with "Oh, thank God you're here!" An even more ominous variation on this theme is, "RUN, while you've still got the chance......."

    2) Cell phones are a great invention that have saved lives when used to call 9-1-1 for a "resident down in room 245" scenario. When dropped in a full bedpan......not so much.

    3) There is one more inevitability in life besides death and taxes: no matter where you go in your career, the worst call-light abusers in the building are ALWAYS going to be located as far away from the nurses' station as it's possible to be and still remain within the same area code.

    4) Why are a family's expectations/demands for "Mamma's" full recovery always inversely proportional to what can reasonably be accomplished given the fact that she's had two strokes in the past month?

    5) Come on, admit it: you're a whiz at starting IVs in even the most challenging of patients. So you get bollixed up in the tape.......you can always finesse it, right? (snicker)

    6) I don't care WHAT the science supposedly proves---the full moon makes people crazy, I tell you. It makes old people fall down and young people drink up; it turns ordinarily reasonable folk into squalling cats and junkyard dogs. A full-moon summer Saturday night is healthcare's equivalent of a perfect storm: you have all the elements for a natural disaster, all you need is a gust of wind and perhaps a faint rumble of thunder, and it's "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!"

    7) Patients/residents who are alert, oriented, and cooperative during the day will reveal their psychotic sides only when it's after 2200 and there's nothing but a skeleton crew in the facility. Suddenly the invisible wolves surrounding the building begin to howl and Betty decides to throw her 19th nervous breakdown, right smack in the middle of Glen's second fall of the night and a ginormous code brown in Oma's room.

    8) And sometimes, what you see really IS what you get......like the grumpy elderly man in room 186 whom your less cynical (translated: inexperienced) co-workers believe to be a sad, misunderstood soul who needs love and understanding. No, what he is is a nasty old goat who needs a bath and an attitude adjustment. But he still deserves to be treated with compassion and respect.

    Just a few rambling thoughts on this, the second consecutive night of sitting at the computer at 2330 and not even being close to ready for sleep. With my luck, I'll grab another wonderful couple hours' sleep, get called in to work in the morning and then be unable to find my butt with both hands and a traffic cop directing signals. Wonder how I could finesse THAT?
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 16, '13
    brillohead, besaangel, teeniebert, and 11 others like this.

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    About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

    VivaLasViejas has '17' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych'. From 'The Great Northwest'; 55 Years Old; Joined Sep '02; Posts: 25,275; Likes: 36,824.

    Read more articles from VivaLasViejas

    8 Comments so far...

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    That's it!
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    Viva, I hope you're writing a book. Your articles and essays are priceless.
    prmenrs, clg2, NurseDirtyBird, and 2 others like this.
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    Nuggets 1 & 6 are SO true! Lol, the story of my life when I worked 3rd shift in LTC.

    Viva, this was really cute!
    poppycat and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    I'd probably never be able to publish a book without paying for it myself, but I've long thought about it and I do have a fairly good-sized collection of stories. One of these days when I can scrape together enough nerve, I'll just hold my nose, fork over the dough, and dive into the world of literature. Maybe.
    teeniebert, clg2, poppycat, and 2 others like this.
  7. 1
    You might be able to get some donations from your AN fans to publish :P
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  8. 1
    Viva, I enjoy your material!
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  9. 1
    So very funny but true and I can relate to almost every one!
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    We have some fabulous authors on this thread and you are definitely one of them!! As someone who is going into Nursing as a 2nd career, I've looked high and low for memoirs such as these. I've read a few but find the selection to be lacking. You should definitely consider writing a book, either on your own or compiling stories with other nurses on here who also write well. Future nurses (and likely, current ones) will eat them up!!

    I lurk on this site for stories such as these. I want the dirt behind-the-scenes, a taste of what it's really like when the rose colored glasses come off. Before I leave a cushy, yet unsatisfying, office job, I want to get as many glimpses behind that magic curtain as I can to ensure I won't regret it.....well....at least most days, I won't regret it.

    I'm taking a CNA course this summer and will work part time as a CNA prior to leaving said cushy job and these stories, actually make me look forward to it rather than scare me away. It's apparent you love your job even though you have Calgon moments where everyone is a loony toon.

    Thank you, thank you for sharing. Please continue to do so.......and keep said stories together to make that book easier to compile. =)
    brillohead likes this.


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