Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nurse Follies: Mixed Nuts

A little old lady is wandering around the produce section of HyVee when she is spotted by an employee. Because there is a helpful smile in every isle, the employee approaches and asks if he may be of some assistance.

"Yes, can you tell me where the broccoli is?"

The employee apologizes profusely and explains to the woman that they have run out of broccoli, but are expecting another shipment later that night.

"I see..." says the woman. "Well, then can you tell me which direction I go to find the broccoli?"

Thinking the old lady didn't hear him (as older folks tend to be hard of hearing), the employee apologizes again and explains that they are out of broccoli.

"Oh...ok...well, can you at least point me in the direction of where you keep the broccoli?"

The employee is starting to get a little annoyed, but he again repeats what he said about the store being out of broccoli.

"Hmmmm. Can you show where I can buy the broccoli?"

Reaching his breaking point, the employee says, "Ma'am, can you do me a favor?"

"What's that?" she asks brightly.

"Spell 'cat' as in catastrophe."


"Good. Spell 'dog' as in dogmatic."


"Good. Now spell 'fuck' as in broccoli."

"There ain't no 'fuck' in broccoli."


Sometimes, we have patients who's, shall I say, cheese has slid off their cracker? Nuttier than squirrel shit? A float short of a full parade?? It can be for various reasons. It can be drug-related. It can be part of a pathology. Or it's because they were born back when dirt was clean. Or it's because they used to work as nurses and their jobs haranged them within an inch of their sanity. (Seriously, I've seen too many retired nurses who have completely lost their shit.)

It really doesn't matter why their elevator doesn't go to the top floor, we have to take care of them when they are sick.

But that doesn't make it any easier.

In nursing school, we are taught all these nifty little tools for "therapeutic communication". It's not until you graduate and you begin working in the real world that you realize you pissed away an entire semester and a couple thousand dollars, learning something completely useless.

Patient: (screaming) Kill that snake coming out of the wall!!
Nurse: (calmly) I know you believe that there is a snake coming out of the wall, but I don't see any snakes.
Patient: Fuck you! Call an exterminator!! That snake is going to eat me!!!

If there is one thing that sends me over the edge, it's having to repeat the same thing, to the same person, multiple times. I should only have to say it once. If I have to say it twice, I'm going to think you just weren't listening the first time. I have to repeat it more than that, I'm going to assume you are retarded. The only exception to this rule are those who are almost deaf, and even then I find I can change the resonance of my voice so I can be heard without yelling.

That being said, I don't particularly care for the patients who may have mentally checked out because I have to say the same thing a hundred times in one shift. It's called reorientation...and it never works.

Patient: Where's my daughter?
Me: She went home for the evening. She'll be back in the morning.
Patient: I think she's in there (pointing to the bathroom door).
Me: No, she had to go home. She said she'll be here first thing in the morning. Are you warm enough?
Patient: My daughter has my coat. She's outside waiting for me.
Me: It's 1am. You're daughter is at home in bed.
Patient: Does my daughter know I'm here? I'd better go down to the kitchen and find her.
Me: You're in a hospital. You're daughter knows you are here. She called earlier tonight to check on you. She told me to tell you that she will be here bright and early and she's bringing breakfast. Patient: You're holding me captive!!! I'm going to call the police. HELP! HELP!!
Me: ~Sigh~

My personal favorite is the bathroom conversation. I have it at least once a weekend.

Patient: I have to get out of bed.
Me: Is there something I can help you with?
Patient: I have to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.
Me: The doctor wants you to stay in bed and rest for <insert reason here>
Patient: I have to pee!
Me: (Inspecting catheter to make sure it's working) You have a foley catheter that helps you do that so you don't have to get out of bed.
Patient: I don't care. I have to get out of bed. I have to pee.
Me: See this (holds up catheter tubing). This is your urine. (jiggles tubing so urine sloshes...this is for illustration). This tubing goes into your bladder and drains the urine out. See!
Patient: You're crazy. I have to get out of bed. I have to go downstairs and make dinner.
Me: ~sigh~

This is what I have to look forward to when I retire???

Where's the broccoli?


Faith said...

There was nothing more sad to me over the weekend than hearing the nurse explain to the very frail, looked-dead-but-was-holding-on-to-life-for-some-unknown-and-probably-fucked-up-reason lady that she didn't want to have to tie her hands down, so she needed to stop trying to yank at the tube in her throat. She had been pretty out of it for the first day dad was in ICU, but by Sunday evening, she was waking up and wanted the tube out. The nurse tried explaining that they would look into taking it out in the morning, but she needed to wait.

It was *awful*.

You guys are angels. Absolute ANGELS for having to deal with the patients and the families and the doctors. I don't know how you do it.

Also, dad's day nurse is moving to town in May, and I believe he'll be at the same hospital you're at. Remind me to chat with you about it at the next meet up. He was a peach...

SmedRock said...

Beats recieving your mental health care in a prison setting. I worked the mental health/Hi-Max wing for years. Most times, if a councelor and nurse are able to see you, it is for the few minutes you get your meds, or once a week for 10 minutes. Most times, it was officers like me, that were specially trained for this type of environment. What frustrated me, was that we did not know enough, and were not allowed to know how they were place here. So it was a new world every day.

Nurses don't get paid enough.

bobbie said...

I wish I had a nickel for everytime I've had those conversations!!!