Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Status Update

Our electronic patient status board lists all patients in the department so we can tell at a glance  which ones are  waiting to be seen, who is in what room, which doctor or nurse is assigned, what tests are finished or pending.  Kind of like Facebook.    It is the nurses' responsibility to discharge the patients off the board when they leave the department for good.  For added fun, last week the word "dirty" popped up on the status board when the patient was discharged.  Just to add 20 more steps to an already cumbersome and non-user friendly system, this necessitated entering "clean" when, obviously, the room was ready for another patient. 

We complained, of course, since the nurses at this facility have to do the discharging, cleaning, and removal from the status board.  The Information Techies must have been having a slow week taking turns offering Kudos to themselves on the Bitch Board about  how awesome and effective their department is because they got right on it. 

Now, to enhance the happy, happy, joy, joy, how wonderful for us to use only positive language, our status board no longer pops up the "dirty" notation.

Now it says "Unclean". And we still have 20 oh-so- convenient steps to change it. 
Dislike.  Bastards.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just Thinking...

We had a discussion of how much is too much for Christmas when it comes to grown-up kids. I put a halt to Christmas stockings this year for both of my kids and Mr. Ednurseasauras. They are fun, but I invariably find the contents of the stocking stashed in a bag in March (or June, or September). I found several years of assorted stocking stuff for K in a box recently which didn't make me happy. At least J always takes his stuff with him.

Sherry has two married step-kids in their mid to late 30's, one of whom has a young child. She also has a daughter with her first husband who was recently married who is in her early 20's. Sherry's plan was to get some kind of bigger ticket household item for the one couple with the kid, and knit a Christmas stockings for the other. Since Sherry had just hosted her wedding, the recently married kid was getting nothing. Sherry thought this seemed equitable. Her rationale was that she was putting a lot of time and effort into the Christmas stocking

"Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wasn't the older kid just saying last week that she didn't feel like a close family because she felt like you and your husband excluded her and favored your daughter? And wasn't this after she had a lovely wedding of her own last year? Jeez, she's nearly 40! Of COURSE she's not going to think a Christmas stocking is equal. Sad but true"

Sherry: "You're probably right. (I have learned that this response is code for not necessarily agreeing with me). When she was growing up the older one's mother didn't allow to have Barbie dolls. When Ella got one, she went ballistic. She was 13 and Ella was 3. She's never forgiven us for it"

Ah, the Barbies. I wasn't allowed to have one either. They were too....grown up. I had a "Tammy" doll, which I never knew until recently was only made for a few years and is considered very collectible. Tammy had more innocent features and a body that looked like way less of a Ho than Barbie's. That also meant that Tammy could never wear the more glamorous Barbie outfits.

 I never really quite "got" playing dolls, dressing and undressing them for hours seemed like a pointless activity, and I quickly tired of playing "prom", "date" and "wedding". Me and my Tammy were perennial wedding guests, never even a bridesmaid let alone the bride.  I would rather have read a book.

If I had a choice of playing dolls or poking needles into my eyes I would play dolls, but not graciously.

In the 1960's, girls didn't have multiple Barbies. They had one. If they were really lucky, they might have a Ken. The thing I coveted most of all was the little sister Skipper doll because she had long, brushable golden hair.   I would have traded Tammy and both of her outfits, as well as the homemade poncho and scarf in a heartbeat to be able to play with Skipper.  There was some scandal about someone's brother's cutting off  dolls' hair to make hay for the horses when they were playing circus, but it wan't any of mine.  I didn't have that many dolls. 

My daughter K had lotsa Barbies, which have found a permanent home in an old gym bag in my basement.  J, or course, didn't play dolls.  But he inherited a big trash bag of Master's of the Universe figures from that Beckett kid who lived on the next street.  His whack job father simply decided he didn't want them in the house anymore.  Dad probably should have been paying more attention to the fact that Beckett was, at 6, regularly peeing in the bushes in my back yard.  They were....odd people. He would have played with Barbies I think, but would have been the one to pull the legs off and bury them in the garden.    

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Head-Shaking Lady News

Sherry got out her knitting, which is generally an invitation for the masses to come streaming in. Since we were working with Parvati, the simplest dispositions become an all-out attempt to keep the patient there as long as possible by racking up a high number of diagnostic testing points. Some people have just one more visit before they win a toaster.

But Sherry was determined. "I have to make 3 hats, finish a Christmas stocking, and I'm working on a pair of socks. I will never get it all done in time for the holiday", she said.

We discussed the Christmas Madness Project, in detail. She shamefacedly told me she had bought a few items for the Lady on Elm St. Slippers, a pair of sweatpants, a nightgown and a couple of other things.

Excuse me? WTF??

Sherry: "I know, I know. I just feel really bad for her".

Well, so do I. Yes, why not pass the hat. Again. But Sherry had forgotten one very important point.

Me: "Sherry, how are you going to get that stuff to her? She takes offense at everything we do to try and help her"

Sherry: "Jane thinks we should just leave the box on her doorstep with a note, From Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Care Providers. Either that, or send it through the mail. Or my husband can drop it off, she doesn't know him"

Me: "She can't know we sent it, she would consider it a giant 'Up Yours from your good friends, the Peeps at the Health Center'. We should just do it anonymously"

Sherry: "Maybe you're right. We will know if she got the package only because she will probably be wearing the stuff next time she comes in"


As if to illustrate my point, this gem was heard on the police scanner:
"75 year old female with suicidal thoughts, X Elm St. apt 12. Called in by a neighbor residing at apt 14 who went to check on her". That would be none-other than the Lady on Elm St. She sits and waits. And knows exactly what is going on in the neighborhood, which is why sneaking up on her with a big box of Christmas presents would not work well.

A recent meeting about the Lady on Elm St. revealed that she is more vigilant (and crazy) than we ever thought.  It is important to note that the meeting was not for planning how to best address Lady's needs or to provide better care.  It was conducted by Idiots in Charge of Stupid Sh*t so that we drooling morons who actually provide the care could "express our feelings". 

Isn't that what blogs are for?

Lady reported to have used 911 over 100 times in the last calendar year, including 7 times in one day for nonsensical complaints. She also has Patient Services on speed dial since she had logged 23 complaints in the last 18 months.The Patient Services rep. is the proud recipient of her very own Lady complaint since she had apparently also failed to take Lady's call right away one time. As Lady didn't feel her earth-shatteringly dire complaint wasn't accorded the instantaneous attention she felt it
deserved, she immediately called the CEO's office. Said rep was summoned to explain why Lady's call was being so rudely ignored.

I can just hear the complaint now. "You people did WHAT??! You sent a box of slippers, nightgowns and sweatpants?? How could you be so rude and insensitive!".

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Great WTF Moment

I was removing sutures on a patient's index finger.  Mac, who is famous for using running sutures (that I don't want to fu*k with) had fortunately only placed regular old interrupted sutures, but there were a lot of them.  The patient happened to be a pilot, and he marveled that my old and decrepit eyes could see them let alone remove them so expeditiously. 

Pilot: "I've been noticing that I have been having more difficulty with seeing things.  Sometimes on approach, things don't always seem that clear so I have to rely on instruments"
Me: "Captain, that is the kind of sh*t the public doesn't want to hear".  Seriously?

Which airline was that?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Secure. The. Manger

Gil was apparently doing some cleaning around the homestead and offered his Nativity set to the department to display this Christmas season.  Christmas.  I said Christmas.  CHRISTMAS!!!!  It's a religious hospital so we don't have to be politically correct.

Gil's Nativity set is a behemoth of a thing about 3 feet by 2 feet and stands about 18 inches high; it was hand made by his grandfather and has a nice, Christmas-in-the-backwoods-of-Maine kind of feel to it.  It's rustic and....stable-like.  And appopriately enclosed on three sides, with a slanted roof and filled with hay.  It is kind of a family heirloom I guess, so I was concerned about its contents if it was to be placed in our waiting area.

You may recall that last year our own pathetic Nativity set was the victim of light fingered douche baggery as both the Jesus and Mary (pretty much the whole reason for the season) were purloined from our waiting room.  Gil had already thought of that and had purchased a piece of Plexiglas to screw into the front of the manger to keep the pieces from being removed.  As Gil prepared his tools,  I examined this scheme for loopholes.  While I was at it, I placed the Wise Men in the hay loft with the animals, and the Baby Jesus on the roof.  As it should be.  The only problem I could see was that once the Plexiglas went on, the figurines would not be secured.  Nothing would prevent someone either shaking it like a Polaroid picture or knocking the whole thing off the table. 

We shall see what kind of fu*kery people get up to with that Nativity set.

On another note, I am feeling a little less humbuggy as we nurses have decided against giving the docs a bottle of wine, or monogrammed bottle stopper or some shit this year.  We will instead be giving a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project in the name of their physician's group. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top 10 Christmas Annoyances

10.  Finding a tree. 
I used to love to find the perfect tree when my kids were young.  The perfect height, just the right amount of bushiness, and with branches that really hold both lights and heavy ornaments.  As the kids got older and less interested in finding a tree let alone decorating it (and taking it down) it became more of a chore.  I was almost ready to get a table top model this year, but settled for a 5 footer.  It is more cute than magnificent, and I'm pleased as punch that it should take 30% fewer ornaments.
9.  The mall. 
After Black Friday I go no where near the mall on weekends as it is absolute insanity.  I prefer to shop local or cyber shop.   If I get bored with that, I can just stick sharp needles in my eyes to get the same experience.
8.  Charities.
I guess it is probably a wonderful thing to buy a llama, or a goat, or a small herd of chickens for villages in third world countries.  If that is your thing, that's fine.  But I would prefer to give my money to the locals. Until this year. See previous post on Christmas giving and don't get me started.
7.  Finding a really good partridge in a pear tree. 
You can always find a serviceable partridge, and a fine pear tree, but a nicely matched set...impossible. 
6.  My neighbors' excessive Christmas Beast lights and lawn menagerie. 
They have about 30 or 40 different things, it makes no sense and has no central theme.  There are deer, snowmen, a train, some flashy thing I can't quite tell what it is, and...
"What's that?", I asked Mr. Ednurseasauras.  "Second to the right of the blue snowman".
"Ummm...dunno.  Does it have a cane and a red scarf?"
"Can't tell.  Is it an....angel?"
"No.  I think it's a bear (Gets up and looks out the window)
"Is it a goose?"
"Nope, it's just what I said. A bear with a red scarf, and either a cane or a stick."
"Why would it have a cane or a stick?  That doesn't make any sense"
"Maybe it's doing a tap dance"
I don't know why I expect anything my neighbor does to make any sense.
5.  Christmas Cards.
I don't send 'em, yet people inexplicably continue to send them to me.  I'm not counting my family, not even one of my sisters-in-law whose goal is always that hers is the first card received.  She sends them earlier and earlier each year.  Now we get it the day before Thanksgiving. That's OK, I enjoy seeing the photos of my nieces and nephews and have them saved to embarrass them later.  My own kids refused to pose for the annual Christmas photo when they were about 8 or 9, but a couple of years ago I put some Christmas lights on Tina and printed a Christmas card out of the photo which I sent to the family.  My mother thought I had finally lost it.
4.  Having to work the holiday.
I get that nurses, along with police and fire and other public servants, have to work 24/7 and we all have to take a turn.  What chaps my ass is that Clip-board nurses and Suits get to take an extra day off when Christmas  falls on a weekend
3.  Catalogs.
Really annoying since I get hundreds of them beginning in October.  Because it is necessary to recycle, they must all go to the dump, to end up in appropriately coded bins.  I am placing my recycle bin under the mailbox.  No wonder the Postal service is going broke. 
2.  Christmas Muzak
It starts in October, right around the same time I start getting the catalogs.  For that matter, who wants to see Christmas decorations along side Halloween candy?
1.  Christmas wreaths and reindeer antlers/red noses on cars.
This, to me, says, "I have more than enough time on my hands and absolutely no imagination".  My friends think it is hysterical that this makes me so crazy.  Linda and Dede gave me one of those antler thingies last year as a joke, but I put it on Sue's car.  I hope she is presently enjoying it on her car as much as I enjoy not having it. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Giving

During the holiday season, our building "adopts" a needy family.  In past years we have shared this opportunity with the therapy department.  It always includes some modest requests such as pajamas or a specific toy or two for the kids, perhaps a jacket, winter hats and gloves, jeans and other necessary items.  Occasionally it will include such things as shampoo, soap, toilet paper.  We always donate either gift cards or foods to provide the makings for Christmas dinner.  The hospital provides the turkey to all the Christmas families. 

Last year, it was decided that we would also donate gits and food items to one of the community's elder citizens.  Slippers, nightwear, a sweater, gloves were some of the items.  We found out that the recipient also had a cherished elderly cat so we included cat food.

I don't know how it went horribly wrong this year.  We have not one, but THREE families, and no elder citizen.  Each of these families has three kids, most of whom are teens.  I would love to know how these families were screened or chosen. 

Our employees started asking about the needs list weeks ago.  It finally went up December 1 after it took 4 phone calls to one of the families to get sizes and specifics.  FOUR.  Sherry said that the husband talked about being suicidal during two of her calls.  The list of wants and needs included such things as:
Ugg Boots
Abercrombie T shirts
4x pants
Leather gloves
Movies, a laptop computer, and a snowboard.

Really??  This has gotten completely out of hand.  There is also the Christmas dinner to provide for with check-off sheets for each family; each of these lists is a full sheet of paper long.  There are about 27 employees in the building, and most of us have been forced to curtail our own Christmas madness. 

The Christmas project is a Big Deal to Ellen; she loves to provide as many needs as she can off the list, it gives her tremendous joy.  But this year poor Ellen is beside herself. She took me aside and tearfully said she was having a lot of difficulty with the enormity of the list because she just didn't have the money to give this year.  I know Ellen lives from paycheck to paycheck but she would never in a million years consider herself as a person in need of anything. She was proud that she managed to turn a jar of spare change into 23.98 when she found herself broke two days before payday and needed gas and a few groceries, and to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.  She gives and gives and gives, and then she'll check the couch cushions for spare change so she can give more, using her last buck to buy flour to make cookies for someone's birthday.  I stick a $20 in her purse every now when I think I can get away with it. 

How can you tell such a giving person that these are less needs than demands?  I don't care how needy you are, I would never ask for anything for myself if it meant that my kids would have to go without warm clothes, or a pair of boots, or have absolutely nothing under the tree.  I used to think that any parent would think that way.  What a chump I am.  I guess it is what we  have allowed as a society, to encourage people to grab for what they can with both hands.  When it comes to Christmas giving the magic is gone when people who are identified as those being in need of the basic necessities of life have no problem shooting for the stars and hoping to land on the moon.

I haven't had a problem with the Christmas project before now, so I hope you'll excuse the humbug attitude this year.  There is a BIG difference between "needs" and "gotta haves" when everyone else is tightening their belts.  I guess I'm just a terrible person. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Marketing  refused to  give up the ghost on their search for the elusive beige cart.  This  second appeal appeared on the company website:
"The Marketing Department has lost the Marketing cart somewhere within the hospital- have you seen it? I am totallyy lost without it.  It is tan in color and says marketing on the side of it.  If you can provide tips to the whereabouts of this cart, a warm fleece reward awaits you.  Call me at ext. XXXXXX and I will gladly come and get it.  Thanks!"

I believe "fleece" is also a name for counterfeit crack.  Just sayin'.  But it was nice that they were willing to heat it up. 

We had a field day with this.  Kate, Lee, Lynne, Kerry and I took pictures of various carts and emailed them to marketing over a couple of days.  It took awhile for them to realize we were being humorous, but hey, they still think they're getting their cart back.  "No, not our cart but thanks" was the response to images of the code cart (both adult and pedi), TV cart, suture cart, laundry cart and computer cart. I'm pretty sure it was the picture of the shopping cart that tipped them off, but it was surely the hot dog cart photo that pushed them over the edge.  No response to that one. 

Next week, we're going to start sending pictures of carts Photoshopped in places like the beach, bars, amusement parks, and the Statue of Liberty with interesting commentary on what an exciting time the cart is having instead of being cooped up in marketing.  I think he best way to end it will be to open a Beige Marketing Cart Facebook page and friend the head of marketing.  Too bad social media is blocked on hospital computers.