February 23, 2007

Angel Nurse On the Run

The snow is melting and temps are rising here in the Ohio Valley. The only snow left untouched is the entrance to EnglishRose Photography where business is absolutely zero during the cold winter days!

I haven’t checked my main email box because I know there’s at least 300 messages there and that darn delete clicker takes 8-10 seconds to activate. Let’s see, 300 messages at 10 seconds each would take 8.3 hours to delete all my messages one at a time. (Who would believe I failed Algebra at Columbus State?)

Before I get into my story for today, I must tell you about the newest addition to the family. My old cell phone wasn’t charging properly so I went in to see Cingular about a new update. (Any excuse will do.) Wow did I update.

Let’s see. Not only did I get a new flip-phone in my favorite color of soft golden red, but it’s features include bluetooth, camera, instant messaging, e-mail, alarms, calculator (not used for the above calculation), world time (for when Billy and Katy take another trip), file viewer, name card, MMS, photo caller ID, speaker phone and web browser! (Now if I could just get that bluetooth thing to stay in my ear!)

Of course, what I like best is to be able to wake up in the morning and flip open my phone, press a button and see the current outside temperature! 10 degrees! Sheba will have to wait awhile! Remember when we used to look out the window to check the temperture outside?

While I was changing phones, I asked about combining home phone service, internet service and cell phone. Done! Saving of at least $75 a month! Did you know there’s a plan now for long distance on the home phone for $2 a month you can have LD for 10 cents a minute for those few times you don’t want to pick up the cell phone and use the unlimited long distance there. (Or, hubby doesn’t know how to make a long distance call on his cell phone and you don’t want to leave him devoid making any LD calls.) In the past, to get long distance at all on the home phone, one had to pay for the full service!

If you have some time to put your feet up on your desk or go get a favorite drink to sip (which most of us don’t – but do it anyway), I’ll tell you a story about work yesterday and weave you into my world for a few minutes.

As I entered the front door last night - thirteen hours after I had left for work - I was greeted not only by my dog doing flips in my favorite chair, but to an ever so slight odor of hot plastic. I knew in an instant that Jim had used one of the plastic plates to warm supper in the oven again.

Growling ever so slightly I said, “How am I ever going to teach you not to put that plastic plate in the oven?”

“It’s not hot, It’s only on warm,” he protested.

And right then I knew I had spoiled what he had spent hours preparing for my homecoming. He had gone to the grocery and picked out all my favorite foods – and more! The only task left was for me to decide if I wanted lima beans or asparagus?

But now I had kicked the surprise in the pants. He sat down heavily in his favorite chair with a deep sigh and distanced himself by staring at the TV. We ate supper in more silence than is usual, and Sheba didn’t know who to beg from because neither of us were giving her tid-bits.

“Did you hear from the maintenance job?”


“Guess you didn’t get the job?”


“I’m sorry. We’ll be okay. I’m working two jobs now and don’t have a day off for the next 6 weeks.”

That didn’t sound as encouraging as I had hoped it would.

“So, did you turn in your 2-week notice at work today?”


“I didn’t get my vacation pay like I expected. And for some reason, my supervisor is being real nice to me. I'm really confused about what to do. What if the second job can’t give me enough hours?”

Reflecting on the full day at my nursing job, I wondered if I’m going crazy to even doubt my decision to quit. The last four hours were awful to say the least.

That updated computer program I’ve been writing and complaining about? I was right! It IS the beta version, and they expected to have to ‘work out the bugs”. !!!!! (Another name for “cheap”?)

I was right again in that no one knows how to work it. No one knows how to fix it (except one IT man who has to bounce between two facilities) and no one knows when things will ever be normal again!

Back to the IT man (sorry I don’t know your name). I’ve seen him glued to the computer screens at work for the last couple weeks. Someone told me that he is also an RN. Can you believe that? A computer man who’s also a nurse? Almost sounds like hubby James. An accountant who has a degree in computer science!

So, yesterday at work he comes around with this message that if our medicine list suddenly turned red on the computer screen, we are to call him immediately. What he didn’t say was that our computer would be immediately removed, and we would revert without notice to the “paper method” of passing our meds and doing our charting.

Of course, it was my medicine cart computer that was the first to turn the letters RED! Suddenly the IT guy is taking out the screws that hold my computer to my med cart and he’s walking away with my world in his hands!

Scrambling to lift the 50-pound medicine book and figure out where I was on the med pass and who still needed pain meds and who needed insulin shots and who still needed accuchecks, I thought about that 2-week notice still in my nurses bag.

“*#!**!!* I’m going to kill myself. I’m just going to kill myself.”

That’s not me talking. I don’t talk that way at work anyway. It’s my supervisor. She’s running down the hall waving some paperwork.

“We’re getting two admissions. Why can’t they make up their mind? They said we weren’t getting one this late. Now we’re getting two!” *%*+*!!***.

I’m already in trouble with my aide because I’m not answering call lights fast enough. She sounds like she is sick with the flu, but the other aide went home stating that she was here to fill in for another aide and was not going to work more than 8 hours. She walked out the door at 3 p.m. and the scheduler said there was no one to replace her.

I’m sure glad I worked this hall yesterday because by now I have nothing organized on paper, computer or on the unit. It’s almost 5 p.m and an agency nurse is coming in at 6:30 p.m.

I sure do want to go home on time1 My back hurts so badly I can’t lean over to open the bottom drawer of the med cart where the breathing treatments are. I open it with my foot and grab everybody’s inhalers out and lay them on the top of the cart! I try not to complain about my chronic back at work. Occasionally someone notices during narcotic count because we have to lean over to the bottom drawer to count and the other nurse has to help me straighten back up! But that’s another story.

Admission number 1 is rolling down the hall on a medic’s cart groaning loudly.

“Why did I ever leave Montana? Where am I? Lord. Just take me home. I’m ready.”

“I know it’s not your job because she came in so late. But could you do the admission on paper and I’ll put it in the computer tomorrow? Since we have agency, do the second admission too. Thank-you so much.”

My supervisor who is paid by the hour and isn’t allowed overtime, has to leave now.

“Oh, and get that sputum specimen, will you?”

What my supervisor doesn’t know and I don’t have the nerve to tell her, is that I have no idea how that sputum collection container works. Many years ago, you sucked on the end of the tubing to get the mucus from the lungs into the sterile cup. She said this one hooked up to the suction machine.

I go into the new patient’s room and close the door to the noise of the hallway.

“Hi (her name). You have the same name as my mother. I’m your nurse and my name is Linda.”

She stops moaning and opens her eyes into a squint.

“You’re my nurse? Where am I? I wish I hadn’t left Montana. I had such a nice farm but I sold it when my husband died. I wish I hadn’t left Montana.”

“You fell and broke your hip. You had surgery. Do you remember falling?”

“Oh did I have surgery? I don’t remember falling? I wish I hadn’t left Montana.”

Suddenly the door opens and the aide sticks her head in.

“You have four patients wanting pain pills. I’m tired of answering lights for the third time asking for pain pills again!”

Also, the IT man needs me to sign back on the computer. Suddenly we have a few minutes to discuss what it’s like working here while we wait for the computers to reinstall and update. I spill my story about almost quitting today.

He says as a nurse he has, “Been there. Done that.” He encourages me not to give up. He says he’s noticed what a good job I do here, and he believes that I’m everything I say I am! He agrees that it might not be (might not be) productive to try and change some people’s opinion of me but to let it go and to believe in myself. (Sandy’s words echo again…).

To make this long story short, I did all the assessments and admissions. The patient’s mother showed me how to get the sputum specimen, and the agency nurse gave out all the pain pills while I got her shift report ready. I gave the IT man a card about my book, and said goodnight to each of my patients as I passed by their doorways.

"Will you be back tomorrow?" a few ask. "No. I'm off."

Jim says he has supper ready at home…

Take Care on the Journey,


Katy said...

Oh my, Linda! Again and again I wonder, how does she do it? You're amazing to work in the nursing home environment, year after year. Sorry you and Jim didn't get along so well last night. (At least I can relate to THAT!) Take care and I'm thinking of you.


Linda M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda M. said...

Thanks Katy. (I deleted because I can't spell today!)

I hope we've both made up by now. (I'm working on it...)

Life is such fun.

Love ya,
Mama Linda

Linda M. said...


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...we IT guys and Software Engineers get such a bad rap... "Cheap", no...in testing and development, YES!! Hopefully all your woes will subside shortly.

Linda M. said...

To clarify...My husband has been an IT guy and I love him dearly, so you guys get my best attention, but when it comes to unpredictable programs that could affect my nursing licence, I'm not happy at all.

It's difficult for the IT people to understand the nurses' point of view and their frustrations unless you're a nurse and been there done that. Hense my story posted.

The other day, I was able to delete a whole bunch of medication orders in one click "3 seconds", you said. (Not intentionally!) There was no question that popped up, "Are you sure you want to delete these medications?" And, we shouldn't even have the opportunity to delete more than one med at a time.

That is a problem I don't like. There are many more like that that we are dealing with at work right now!

It was my alertness that caught the meds deleted and I'm surprised with all the changes and confusion that I did notice it!

Actually, I made a point to memorize every medicine and the medication times that all 19 of my patients get in my 12 hour shift because I don't trust the computer system or the paper back-up.

A facility such as ours should not allow any programs that haven't been tested THAT well.

So, hats off to all the polite, helpful, long-suffering IT folks and the Software Engineers who work patiently through the maze of computer language and code to get us on the right track.

Right now I'm waiting for an IT person to unlock this blog so I can post again. (Blogger robots thought I was spam.)