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ER and Hospice
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Irish339 has 22 years experience and specializes in ER and Hospice.

Mother of 5

Irish339's Latest Activity

  1. Irish339

    The Weeping Turkey Diaries

    As dinner time grew close, the family members of several of the staff brought in wrapped plates from the family dinner table. My family would have never heard of doing such a thing. According to my mother, my current holiday lot was my own doing. "You're the one that wanted to be a nurse". Several codes and a food bolus dislodgement later left me wondering if I did, in fact, want to be a nurse. As often would happen in this facility, someone ate my lunch. I moped and sulked through the first 4 hours of my shift. Admissions were winning 3 to 1 over discharges. It was truly getting hectic, and my mood was deteriorating beyond morose. I was wrapping a relatively large hand wound, and giving instructions to a fine gentleman who just happened to have been minding his own business and was attacked viciously just a few blocks from the hospital. As most of you know who have worked ER, minding your own business can tragically result in anything from gunshot wounds to beatings with a baseball bat. "I'll bet you've had your Thanksgiving dinner," I said...with just a touch of bitterness in my voice. "Well yup," my quiet little patient replied, "I did." "Really?" I said. "And what did you have exactly?" I wasn't wallowing in enough self-pity already. I needed to know. "Oh, well, I had a great turkey sandwich at the shelter." Oh, cripes I thought. A great turkey sandwich at the shelter. No cranberries. No mashed potatoes. No Norman Rockwell scene with happy, clean people chatting around the dinner table. Not even close to anything I was missing in my tiny cube of a brain. All the things I hadn't noticed. He was wearing 3 layers of clothes. Layer number one was a newspaper. He had duct tape holding his shoes together. There likely may have been small things living under his hat. And he was happy. He had a sandwich at the shelter. I wanted to crawl under a rock. I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I failed to see another's misfortune. And I was the one being ungrateful. Being ungrateful for a job, my health, and family...even though they hadn't come through with the stuffing and mashed potatoes that others had received. I felt humiliated and ashamed. What kind of a selfish, spoiled human being was I? I still remember this patient, 22 years later. Every time I do, I am astounded at my total lack of ability to step outside myself. I have such gratitude for this simple man that opened my eyes to my own self-absorption. Never again will I take for granted anything in my life. I silently thank him for the gift of appreciation for even the tiniest and most basic things we are given every day. In such a dirty place, with such horrible weather just outside the door, my eyes were truly opened to the beauty around me.
  2. Irish339

    Things That Go Boooop In The Night

    Ooooooooh! One of my recurring fantasies is to haul a Dinamapp out to the alley and take an axe to it. I'm relieved to hear I'm not the only one. As John Cleese said "bring in the machines that go BING!!!". Thanks for the smiles.
  3. Irish339

    The Last Bag of Pretzels

    I spent 17 years in the ER fighting death. Death was our enemy. We posted statistics on the board at night. ER 5, Death 7. We couldn't bear to lose a patient. Especially horrific is a patient that walks in, only to expire in our hands. How can this happen? We have the technology. We have the skill. How can this person slip through our very capable hands? We reviewed the tragedies. Surely, they have done something to tip the scales. We hide from our own mortality. We have to, or the carnage becomes too much to bear. A strange career change suddenly and inexplicably engulfed me after the death of my mother. I took a position as a Hospice Nurse. "You are now an Angel of Death". All the problems I tried to solve in the ER were suddenly not problems anymore. People who are dying stop eating. People who are dying stop healing. People who are dying have so much to offer us. If only we are brave enough to listen. Those of us who fear and fight death miss out on an amazing array of clues to what real life is about. Not one dying patient has told me that they wished they had made more money. No one lamented the loss of objects, status, or property. What was foremost in their minds was repairing damage to a relationship and loss of time. Phone calls were made to estranged children or siblings. Grievances whose details were long forgotten needed to be smoothed over. It wasn't that important anymore. I learned to hug. I learned to let go of that all important distance that keeps us from getting too involved. I have had an ocean of tears spilt upon my shoulders. I have heard, time and again, about the visitors most of the dying have. There are visitors that appear, almost predictably, 2 weeks before death. These are people dear to us that have already died. Our loved ones that come to help us transition to whatever the next adventure is. They are many helping hands amidst a sea of darkness. We are not alone. I spent 45 minutes recently, sitting next to a man with Stage IV lung cancer, a large pleural mass causing a great deal of pain. With my encouragement, and a change in medication to include Ritalin, we were able to control pain without the sedation he feared. This is the ultimate loss of control. He is a huge man, a breadwinner, a father, husband and son. This was a man that did not float through life. Now he was expected to float through death. I listened. I heard the small boy that lived within asking for reassurance. "Hell, this might be my last bag of pretzels". I told him we would control the pain. I told him it was alright to be scared. He told be about the cemetery he could see from his house. The cemetery where he would be buried is across the street from his home. All his friends were there, he told me. Therein are interred a lot of his childhood friends, their parents, his parents, one of his sisters' children. Very good company he assures me. Now this guy was getting to me. I let down my defenses, and I'm pondered my own mortality. Again, we assign blame sometimes to protect ourselves. He smoked, he drank too much, and he ate too much. No, none of us escape this. And here I am, attempting to coach someone through something I've never experienced. He needs to teach me. I ask him to tell me what he's most afraid of. Tell me. Tell me so I know what I should fear. What scares you exactly....top of the list. "I'm scared because I can't go home anymore." Home, the safe haven we all crave. Our home, where theoretically, we all go to hide from the world. The place where all the bad things can get shut out behind our front door. The place where people love and cherish us. Loss of protection, loss of loved ones. I agree. That's what I'll be most afraid of as well. My home has taken on new dimensions for me. I am more willing to stop what I'm doing to listen, really listen, to something one of my kids is telling me. I'll let someone win a stupid argument. My old couch is comfortable; I can live without a new one. Overtime can go to someone else. I have more important things to do. Important things like hugging my loved ones, and other peoples' loved ones. I can't keep them from dying, but I can hold their hands and hear them.
  4. Irish339

    Stupidest reason to go to ER

    Male patient: "There is something living in my stomach" "When I lay down, I can hear myself breathe" (that's a GOOD thing, yes?) " I've had this cold now for 3 years" Why is in now, so important, at 2 am? "Enough is enough"
  5. Irish339

    If I Murder A Co-worker, How To Hide The Body??

    Oh, pigs. Excellent idea. I was wondering what size jars your pathology lab has available?
  6. Irish339

    If nursing caps looked decent, would you wear one?

    Only if it was black with a pointy cone on top, and came with a broom. Mine actually was white with a pointy cone on top. I already had a broom.
  7. Irish339

    Things Patients Have Taught Me NOT To Do

    Never let a medical student cut a bloody down jacket while the industrial heat fan is blowing in the trauma room. Never try to train your pirana to eat meat from your hand. Never try to convince an ER nurse you 'fell' onto whatever object is stuck in your rectum. If you're cornering a squirrel on a power line...they bite.....*THEY BITE!!* Don't wipe your face with alcohol then open the gas oven to check the chicken. Don't use the vacuum cleaner for anything other than picking up debris off the floor. Don't call the ER to see if eating spoiled yogurt can hurt you....2 hours after you've eaten it. Don't call the ER to see if you can get AIDS from eating feces. Just don't call....don't ask make us think about things like that.
  8. Irish339

    What I Love About Nursing Is....

    I can talk to a person with an arrow sticking out of their head...and it seems normal. I have eaten salad during ER potlucks out of emesis basins...and that seems normal. I know which hospitals around me serve red jello. We get to go to work in our pajamas. I am thankful for even mediocre coffee. I get to take the pain away. I get to make a small difference in someones' life..... Probably a difference we aren't even aware of.
  9. Irish339

    New Nurse..GPN. Scared out of my mind.

    Interesting program you're in. And if you have fast food experience, you should be fine at nursing. Think of the pickles as pain medication. But really, even experienced nurses have anxiety attacks when we switch to a new job, or new specialty. Want to see someone really scared? Check out a medical student. I always feel like crying when I see them toddling down the hallway in their short little white coats and backpacks.....they are clueless. But somehow, we get them through it, and 5 years later, they treat us like dopes. Have some confidence . We all had to learn. Just remember this: "LOOK AT YOUR PATIENT"...not the monitor, not the labs. The patient. ...Holding your hand from the far north "Outside of a dog, a book is a mans' best friend. Inside of a dog is too dark to read." Groucho Marx
  10. Irish339

    Have any of you..

    Of course you can do it! I had two babies while I went through a 4 year BSN program. Obviously I didn't pay much attention during the human reproduction sections. ) On the up side, I went to a Catholic College, so I was very popular with the nuns. My first one got read to at 3 am from Pathophysiology and Microbiology books. Never had a problem with him washing his hands. Then I had 3 more while working 12 hour midnights in the ER of a level one Trauma Center. That was harder. Don't do that. I'm not masochistic or anything...I stopped walking around with ground glass in my shoes (just kidding). Bottom line....you can do it. And, when some 18 year old is whining about having to work too hard, you have a great story to throw up in her face. Plus, your classmates will love using you as a demo-model when you take OB. (personally, I'd charge for this). AND...an added bonus, the floor nurses in L&D will be REALLY nice to you....bring you coffee at 4 am....a PCA pump. I say....go for it!!!!!!! :cheers: "Outside of a dog, a book is a mans' best friend. Inside of a dog is too dark to read." Groucho Marx
  11. Irish339

    NO Pain medicines for my Mom!

    This is a dilemma that I have dealt with myself. I assume you have tried to reson with the son regarding exactly WHAT his objection to pain medication is. Doctors aren't always as knowledgable about drugs as we think they are. Secondly, is he REALLY a doctor? We had one that was dictating his mothers' care, only to find out he was a med school drop out. So, either he is a typical egomanical fiend, he holds some longstanding grudge against his mother, or he's just scared. I have to say, usually the only way to deal with this is to have your medical director talk to him. Hospice IS about pain control. If he won't allow the staff to follow your Doc's orders, then it can become a legal issue. What kind of POA interferes with comfort orders for a Hospice patient. Obviously if the patients' husband won't stand up to this guy...we have some real family dynamic problems. I think at this point, Doctor to Doctor might be your last resort. Good luck, and I'm sorry this woman has to suffer.
  12. Irish339

    Have You Had the "Sortavirus" Yet??

    It is no doubt the pre-flu. The little creeps send out scouts just before flu season to assertain exactly what we've been innoculated against, and who has received a flu shot. The only known cure is chocolate.
  13. Irish339

    Need Encouragment Please

    I think you might want to consider seeking a position in a large teaching hospital. Often there are interships available, and a preceptor that volunteers for that job, not someone who looks at it as just an added burden. Unfortunately, some people (not just nurses) are so bitter and miserable, they can't wait to pull the rest of us down into that too. If your supervisor can't/won't help, then you need to get out. Usually *hit runs downhill. So if the person at the top has a bad attitude.....run awayyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Nursing does tend to eat it's young, but we're not all carnivores! :w00t: