Monday, December 19, 2011

Don't Mess with Tough Biker Dudes

I was sitting in a parking lot with Mother, waiting for Mr. Recommendation, when I spied (with my little eye) a lady sitting behind my car on a pink scooter. With a matching pink helmet.

"Way cute!" Mom and I both exclaimed.

We noticed the red scooter next to her was riderless, probably because it's rider was in the store. Not to be disappointed, he popped out and went to join is companion. We knew it was him because he was wearing a helmet. Black, with flaming skulls, and the straps had little spikes on them. This helmet was serious business.

Mr. Hard-Core Bike Helmet guy walked over to his bad-assed red steel horse, mounted, and with Pink Lady, roared off into the sunset. More like whirred, or whatever little sounds scooters make when you drive away. Maybe I could replicate the noise with a food processor or something.

We made sure to laugh after they were gone. Wouldn't want the hard-core biker man to come back. He would have tried to use the Vulcan death grip or The Force or something.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

You Know What Sucks About Being Single?


You meet a guy. Talk and talk and get to know him. Then, decide to go out on an official date. The date is good. The guy is great. You really like him. You really want to get to know him more. You wonder if the feeling was mutual.

Then the evil self-doubt monster rears his ugly head and tells you why he probably didn't like you. Why he will just go find someone else better suited to his tastes. So all day, you wrack yourself with worry. You try to relax and remind yourself that while this appears to be a great catch, there are other fish in the sea if this one doesn't work out. By the end of the day, you have a raging case of indigestion and your blood pressure is reaching Stroke Status.

I hate dating. I'd rather eat drywall, sit at home, and watch Top Chef. But then, how am I supposed to find someone who will be my champion, kill my spiders and take out the garbage on Mondays??

But I do miss having someone there. Miss the cuddling and kissing. Shared jokes. Putting yourself out there is hard. It's easier to just not do it. But at least no one can say I didn't try.


Nurse Follies: How to Make Your Nurse Your Best Friend

1. Call her waitress. She LOVES that! Because after 2-4 years of the hell that is nursing school, we really like being known for bringing you chocolate pudding.

2. Make sure your hand is hugging your penis whenever your nurse enters your room. If you happen to be jerking off at the time: bonus! Make sure you touch their bare skin with your bare, unwashed hand for maximum bonding moment. Their forearm works, so does the hand. Triple bonus if you manage to touch his/her face.

3. If you are fortunate enough to have a significant other, schedule a special visit from them to coincide with nurse rounds. Nurses really like to see their patients getting their freak on. We feel especially blessed when you send the girlfriend/wife out 10 minutes later for a towel.

4. If Matthew McConaughey doesn't use soap, neither should you! There's nothing better than the "I haven't bathed since Woodstock" smell. The crustier, the better!! Bonus points if you have an infestation of some sort. Nurses really like taking little guests home with them.

5. Make sure you tell your nurse all about your "gubment" checks and bennies. It will make them feel a lot better about having to work overtime to pay for them.

6. Got the flu or some other contagious respiratory thing? Caring is sharing! Be sure to cough in their face when he/she is bending over you, looking at your IV/warts/seeping wound. They could use a day off, and sickness is the best excuse to call in to work. Sure, they will be sick at home, but you have at least given them something to remember you by!

7. Nurses love to have visitors, so make sure every member of your family comes to visit at the exact same time...even the relatives you only see during reunions and funerals. Just so your family members can meet your nurse, have them go and find her, one at a time, to ask for a can of soda or a pudding cup. Pull them out of another patient's room if you have to.

8. Make sure you read up on the latest medical trends in Woman's Day and Readers Digest. You can discuss these subjects like an expert and your nurse will be wowed by your knowledge. You may even be awarded an honorary nursing degree.

9. Oprah Winfrey is a God, and therefor anything she says is gospel. Including the time she told you not to take a certain med because it was bad for you. So, when you go into the hospital as a direct result of not taking that particular med, make sure you explain to the nurse that Oprah directs your care, and not your doctor.

10. Don't touch those pimples/blackheads/boils. Save them for the nurses!! The bigger, the better. Nurses love to pop those suckers. It's like bubble wrap to them.

11. Call lights are for wieners. Send your family members out on a search party to find your nurse, even for the most trivial things...because there is no such thing as "trivial" to a nurse. It's all important!! They really want to know when you want your television dusted off and are eager to help.

12. Code Blue situations are really exciting. Like the television show!! Make sure you get a bird's eye view by standing right in the doorway, especially if it's not even your family member that's coded. Remember to ask questions. They really like that.

13. Don't designate one family member to call and check on your loved one, have them call all at once. Nurses are not busy at all and love to talk to all 20 of your family members in the course of their entire shift, including your ex-husband who lives in Ohio. Who needs a privacy code? You're love for said inpatient trumps any kind of federal privacy laws, and the nurse frequently needs to be reminded of thus.

14. Hospitals have the best free snacks! Make sure you ask your nurse for a round of Pepsi and pudding cups for all your visitors. Your guests will be impressed at your generosity and how much clout you have for such free service.

15. Hospitals are the perfect places for sleepovers. And when there isn't a sleeper chair available, have your significant other crawl in bed with you. Snarling at the nurse for waking your special little somebody with their menial lifesaving tasks is perfectly acceptable. Nurses frequently need to be reminded that your sweet wubbin-nubbins has been very stressed out about your hospital stay, and should be allowed to have uninterrupted sleep.

16. Your needs should take priority over everyone elses! Go find that nurse and remind her that your loved one's hamburger needs reheated. She can code that other patient after she's's not like they are going to get any deader. Go into other rooms if you have to find your nurse. Your family member's dinner is at stake!

This has been a public service announcement.

The Tale of the Gimpy Aunt

A month ago, my Aunt JoJo fell ill and had to go to the hospital. My cousin, Rosie the Militant Lesbian (whom you may remember from here, here, and here), calls my mother and announces that she had a heart attack and is in the ICU. Mom freaks and calls me from work. In my experience, "heart attack" and "ICU" conjure up an image of someone who is getting ready to transfer to the Eternal Care Center.

But Rosie has a penchant for the dramatic, and all JoJo had was an irregular heartbeat that can cause some big problems if left untreated. Mom and I race to Bob's Community Hospital and Hot Dog Stand, to find JoJo awake, alert, and watching General Hospital. She didn't look so great, but she apparently had been feeling crappy for a while.

JoJo was sent home not even a week later, leaving me to question her spotty care at Bob's. Two weeks later, she is readmitted for the same thing. This time, she gets a smarter doctor who does all the things that should have been done the first time. One thing I notice is that her lower body is sorely de-conditioned. Then I find out that while she was at home, she fell twice, and was stuck on her toilet for six hours because she was too weak to get up on her own. I called and told the nurse that her strength needed addressed and that she could not go home alone until she had rehab.

So naturally, Bob's Community Hospital and Hot Dog Stand send her home less than a week later. She fell twice the day she was discharged.

During the second admission, Mom had invited her to come stay with us for a couple weeks for some R&R. Meanwhile, JoJo swears up and down she is completely independent.


A friend of the family brings her, and we physically have to carry her up the short set of stairs to get into Mom's house. She has a walker, a stool riser for her toilet, and a gait belt. Mom has a crapped out shoulder and hip, and doesn't have the strength to get her from a sitting to a standing position. Nor does she even have the slightest inkling on how to move people without injuring yourself. But what has two thumbs and is trained to care for sick people? This nurse.

The first challenge presented was an ice cube tray, which made no sense because Mom's fridge has an ice cube maker. No, the ice cube tray is what JoJo used to sort out her medications. The home health nurses who used to visit were nice enough to write down on slips of paper when she should take certain meds in certain slots: morning, noon, night, bedtime. It was a huge overdose waiting to happen. The first thing I did was go buy a proper pill organizer, then I sat at the dining room table and sorted her pills for an entire week. One of those meds was Bumex.

Why this is important is that Bumex works like Lasix. It helps you get rid of excess fluid by making you pee like a racehorse. Now remember, no one but me can lift her from a sitting position to a standing position. Didn't matter, day or night. Every two hours, I would get a phone call from Mom..."she has to go again". So, I would put on my slippers, stagger over to Mom's house (usually in my pajamas), get JoJo off the couch, wait for her to walk to the bathroom and do her thing, help her off the toilet, and make sure she made it back to the couch without faceplanting on the carpet. Every. Two. Hours. (One time, a whole hour elapsed between phone calls.) We couldn't go anywhere unless someone was there to be with her.

You try waking up every two hours for this while working a three-day stretch of 12-hour shifts and see how you feel by the third day.

Mom felt bad. JoJo felt bad, but I couldn't help but harbor some resentment because I found out later that she lied to the doctor and said she was completely mobile when that clearly wasn't the case. She also thought that the two weeks at Mom's was going to be like a vacation. I have no idea what the hell she was thinking. It was a huge emotional strain on everyone.

So, four days pass and we bring in her son, who doesn't have a job and is kept under thumb by his sociopathic sister (i.e. Rosie). Because he has no real obligation, he can spend the week at Mom's house assisting his mother, save for the one day he has to go home. This is helpful because JoJo has to go get labwork done, and we have to physically carry her in and out of the house because she is still too weak to manage stairs. The next day, I could hardly get out of bed because I hurt so damn bad.

During that one day her son has gone home, I am assisting JoJo to the bathroom when her legs fold under her like a cheap suit. I had a hold of her gait belt, so she wasn't hurt as I lowered her to the floor. It was then that she realized a couple things: she was worse than she had previously admitted to herself and she couldn't rehab at home the way she thought she could.

At the hospital, we occasionally get what we call "Social Work Admits". Basically, the family brings in a loved one and says, "We can't take care of them." Said patient is admitted, and they hang out with us until a social worker works their mojo and gets the patient placed in a facility...whether it be nursing home, skilled nursing, or rehab. It's a huge waste of resources in a hospital setting, not to mention that it sounds mean of the family to seemingly "dump off" their loved one.

After a week helping with my aunt, I finally understand the bewildered desperation of the family members who bring their loved ones in for a Social Work Admit. The system is complex, and it is hard to know just where to begin, who to ask what questions to...not to mention the guilt you feel for "giving up" on your loved on. I've never dealt with this on a professional level...I've always just put in for a social work consult.

Thanksgiving comes and goes. The family is there, and Mom has outdone herself with the dinner. The following Saturday, "the fall" happens, and JoJo makes the decision that she really does need inpatient rehab if she expects to go home and live independently.

With that, calls are made, and the family friend (who is a former rehab nurse) makes some calls and JoJo gets a place at Bob's Rehab Center and Balloon Animal School. I suggested a place closer to us, but JoJo was firm that she wanted to be somewhere closer to home.

So, she left the following Monday. She was grateful for the time she got to spend with us. It gave her hope that there were family members who actually cared for her (Rosie sucks, and I will be blogging about her again). JoJo got the emotional recharge she needed, and entered into the rehab facility with hope and determination. Not to mention a threat from me that if she refused any of her rehab sessions, I would personally kick her ass from one end of the facility to the next.

She's been in for about a week now, and so far she is optimistic. She discovered that she has friends who are also there, in a similar boat...which is nice because they can work out together. She was also excited that they offered bingo. I think the social aspect of her stay will also benefit her just as much as the physical. Because up until now, she's just been a hermit and not leaving her house.

I have come out of this with a better understanding of just what families go through in situations similar. I can now relate to their feelings of frustration.

Who knows if this rehab stay will be the fix-all. Who knows if JoJo will be able to return home. I guess that is just a bridge we will have to cross when we get to it, but for now we remain hopeful.