Behind the doors of a nurses’ mind

Here was a post over at Scrubs Magazine taking a comical look at how my mind as a nurse works sometimes. Am I alone?

A nurse’s subconscious mind

There are just some things non-nursing folks will never understand. It’s not a ‘knock’ against those who are not a nurse, really it’s not. What I’m talking about is how your brain gets ‘re-wired’ once you become a nurse. I don’t know if it happened over night? Maybe it happened gradually over the past half a decade? What I do know is my mind thinks and processes things SO differently than it did prior to being a nurse. I wonder… am I brain-washed??

Here’s what being a nurse can do to the mind:

  • At the restaurant, we silently hope that the person choking at the table next to us doesn’t need assistance – yet if they do we’ll be the first to run to their side.
  • Walking through the fog of a public ‘smokers break area’ – we all want to reach out and smack you. Do you want to die breathing through a tube?
  • While phlegm doesn’t normally bother (most) us at work – the sight or sound of you hacking up a ‘lung’ in public really does bother us. Especially when you don’t cover your mouth!!!
  • Public restrooms. Yes – there is nothing sanitary about them most of the time. What we can’t stand is witnessing someone use these facilities and then walk out without washing their hands!!! (How am I supposed to pull the door open and exit the bathroom without contaminating my hand??)
  • For some strange reason – we can never look at another persons arms the same ever again. Every time we see a good vein – yep, you guessed it, we think to ourselves, “wow! I could start an #16 gauge needle there!” Sorry.
  • We continue to micro-analyze anything on TV or in the theater that has a shred of health care related activities. “Oh yeah, THAT would happen” has echoed through our minds one too many times.
  • To this very day, I think we all have been cursed with measurements. We subconsciously measure how much we have urinated, how many CC’s of fluid we have drank and of course how many carbs were in our meals.
  • While on vacation – no matter the geographic location. We somehow ‘notate’ and remember where the closest emergency room and hospital are located.
  • I’m not sure if it’s just a nursing thing, I think paramedics share this curse. We still to this day have a spare set of scrubs stored in our vehicles, along with old ‘not in use’ equipment like stethoscopes, pen lights and scissors.
  • We still shake our heads at those wonderful ‘blood pressure screening stations’ located throughout the supermarkets and discount stores. I think we are more troubled by the fact that the public believe these measurements to be accurate.
  • We still (often) forget that it’s not common practice to talk about blood, bodily functions, and bodily fluids as a discussion topic during a meal. Again, sorry.
  • Yes, we find humor in the most disgusting and disturbing things sometimes (OK, all the time). I’d like to think it’s our defense mechanism for making sure we don’t drive ourselves crazy and burn out.

This just scrapes the surface of what goes on behind the doors of our minds. I continue to convince myself that I’m not brain washed, but that I have been trained and educated to always ‘be prepared’, but sometimes you have to wonder.

(That was a joke folks)

A nurse’s subconscious mind | Scrubs – The Leading Lifestyle Nursing Magazine Featuring Inspirational and Informational Nursing Articles

The alphabet soup of nursing care

This post over at Scrubs pokes fun at what we nurses consider normal conversation.

Nurse jargon feels like alphabet soup

I rather like the ‘You know you’re a nurse’ blog posts. It definitely pokes humor at the unique nature of our profession. While Acronyms sure aren’t exclusive to the nursing profession, we sure do see our fair share of them! Heck, I’d dare say we see too much of them!

This is one of those situations where you really cannot understand or appreciate the humor unless you happen to be a nurse or a health care professional. The following paragraph is something that we might actually write, read or say nonchalantly during a typical day on the job. You know you’re a nurse when you can understand this jargon:

44 YR male. History COPD, CHF, HTN, CAD, AFIB. Previous surgeries of CABG X4, R TKR, L THR. Also history of MRSA, VRE. Pt c/o of CP, SOB. JVD also present. Admit from ED for possible PE vs MI. Have not R/O PE or DVT. Labs: Trop, CBC, BMP BNP pending. Scheduled for CT, MRI probable. Cardiology consulted for possible TTE after EKG with numerous PVCs, PACs. No VTACH, but widening QRS and questionable prolonged QT. No U wave noted.

Pt became confused in ED. SPO2 89%declined fast. No history of CVA. Desaturated. Pt intubated. ETT placed. Vent setting AC 12, TV 450, FIO2 50%, PEEP 5. SPO2 95%. EEG will be ordered per PCP’s CRNP. Covering MD also notified. On call PA-C present.

If CVA confirmed, possible EVD placement.

I &O recorded. No BM.

OK. OK. Now my lil paragraph there doesn’t make a great deal of sense for those of us who understand the jargon (take it with a grain of salt please), but you get the idea. I spit out that ‘mock’ scenario in 5 minutes using all those acronyms from memory. If I sat here long enough I could keep adding more. The list is really endless.

Just imagine how the layperson feels whenever we talk to colleagues or fellow health care professionals in our native tongue.

Alphabet soup | Scrubs Magazine

Classroom Concentration

Another post from over at Scrubs Magazine. Any tips on keeping focus in the classroom??

I need help with concentrating in my nursing school courses. More specifically, I need to tackle the sleepiness factor. I am of course referring to physical (and mental) alertness during a class. How does one stay ‘awake’ and focused when all your eyelids wanna do is close?

It’s not that the material isn’t riveting and key to my education *cough *cough*. Nooooooo. Not. At. All. My mind is not wandering due to boredom or due to attention challenges.

No.

Nope.

Ever happen to you? Never happens to me.

….

So here’s my question.

How does one stay focused on the material being provided in class when your eyelids don’t wanna cooperate? I know that we’ve discussed the NOC shift and tricks of the trade for staying awake, but this is a different sort of animal.

I find a heavy sense of irony when you put a nurse in a classroom. Here you have a professional ‘doer’ — someone who is constantly moving (running most often), never stays in one place or area for a very long time and always has an overabundance of stimuli coming at them from every direction.

So where is the one place you should not place this creature?

That’s right, in a quiet environment where there is only one source of stimuli (the presenter/professor/instructor). While you’re at it have them sit in this environment for very long and extended periods of time (I’ve had classes that are 4 hrs. long).

Most 2nd degree nursing programs and those RN-BSN programs are all structured the same way. They are trying to meet the needs of the busy full-time RN (not a bad thing at all). They understand that they are working full-time, usually have a family and many other responsibilities outside their work and home. So they try to minimize the amount of ‘time’ commitment by offering classes that meet only once a week for a large chunk of time, as opposed to the traditional college coursework that involves meeting 2-3 times per week for 40-50 minutes per class. Same amount of ‘total’ time to get your degree, just a lot less ‘relative’ time spent on campus.

Any-hoo..

Back to my original question at hand.

How does one keep the laser-sharp focus and mental alertness in the classroom when all you wanna do is take a nap?

I myself seem to be chewing a lot of gum right now and sipping frantically on bottled water, but as you can guess from me asking the question, my methods aren’t very effective?

Any suggestions??

I need tips for concentrating in class | Scrubs Magazine

Patients that are ‘outside their minds’!

My latest post over at Scrubs Magazine. Care to add to the list?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I truly love my job. I think I’m one of those nurses that actually enjoys what I do – the good and the bad. I don’t view our profession through a pair of rose colored glasses (at least I try not to). I keep it realistic. There are good and bad days, good and bad jobs, good and bad patients.

Sometimes you wonder what gets into our patients. I completely empathize and understand that we see them at some of the worst times of their life. I also can appreciate the level of fear and anxiety they must endure while they are recovering – but sometimes…. I mean… sometimes… our patients must be ‘outside their minds’!!! (sorry, yet another movie quote)

Here are some things (and some patients) that just blow me away:

  • The patient who thinks that the hospital is really a Howard Johnson hotel/motel. I’m a nurse not your personal assistant. This is a hospital not a bed and breakfast.
  • The patient who all of sudden loses their ability to pick up a glass of water that is within arms reach. There is tired, then there is just down-right laziness.
  • The patient who thinks I won’t figure out they have been smoking in the bathroom. What’s that I smell in the bathroom? No, someone isn’t burning leaves outside your window. Nice try.
  • Honesty truly is the best medicine. Lying will only make you feel better – not get better. When referring to your version of your alcohol use, and I can smell it on your breath – don’t tell me it was mouthwash. C’mon. Seriously?
  • The pain scale is not open for interpretation. Telling me your pain is a 15/10 will not get you your medication any faster. Especially when (according to you) the pain medication I bring you (and that was ordered by your physician) is not strong enough.
  • Oh, along the same lines of the pain scale example, referring to your pain medication as ‘Percs’ or ‘Vics’ or your ‘Oxy’ does not help the situation.
  • By the way, the nursing staff does talk amongst each other. When you tell me, “that other nurse said it was ok / that other nurse allowed me” do you really think I’m going to let you have something to eat when you’re NPO.

There truly is a method to our madness, I promise. We don’t have it ‘in’ for you. We nurses are here to help you get better, get healthier and get the heck out of the hospital. But we can’t help those, who can’t help themselves.

(Please be sure to notice the heavy sarcasm and humorous tone of my sensible nature)

Some patients…|Scrubs Magazine

A new male nurse recruiting tool?

My most recent post over at Scrubs Magazine… I decided to have a lil’ fun.

Often we talk about all the ‘challenges’ and ‘difference’ we nurses (who happen to be male) face in our career. I for one believe every cloud has a silver lining, and well if you want to know the best perk we male nurses have you might wanna listen up.

No, I still don’t think we get treated any differently than our female colleagues.  No, I still don’t think we get a higher (or different) pay scale than our female colleagues. But, lately I’m told I live in a bubble – so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The #1 perk to being a male nurse in my humble opinion….

No waiting in line for the bathroom (What were you expecting?!).

Just by sheer numbers and percentages, women outnumber their male colleagues 5 to 1 (at the very least).

Remember when you were in school? Class would break for one of those 10 min ‘breathers’,   and everyone would dart for the bathroom. Guess how long that line was to get in the bathroom for the women? And the men? This of course really only applies in the classroom setting (but can include seminars).Most health care facilities utilize a ‘unisex’ bathroom. So it’s just a matter of how long can you hold your water – heh heh.

Come on.. You know you found that entertaining.

Ok, maybe only the guys found this humorous. I just happened to notice the other day in class how the bathroom breaks are definitely not ‘balanced’ in any way.

I don’t know about you, but when you are crunched for time this is just a nice perk to have. Although I’m not sure I’d use this a selling point for recruiting?

THE #1 perk to being a male nurse | Scrubs Magazine

Some patients…

 Rebekah Child  over at Scrubs Magazine posted a great comical blog post about some patients we have all taken care of.

OK, you know you have had a patient or two like this:

1) The guy covered in tattoos who is whining about you starting an IV because it is going to hurt. I’ve had both, a tattoo and multiple IV starts. I will take the IV any day. Don’t tell me an IV hurts worse than your body ink.

5) The patient who starts freaking out on you because the cardiac monitor is reading a flat line. A lead fell off. You are not dead or you couldn’t be yelling at me.

We’ve all had a patient like this… | Scrubs Magazine

Head on over to the original post to check out the remainder of the list. Care to add any?

Good stuff.

Nurse geekery humor

From over at Scrubs Magazine. We nurses have quite the sense of humor.

Sometimes we really don’t need to reinvent the wheel, although every once in a while it’s nice to have some bells and whistles flashing.

Let me set the background:

I am an electronic gadget geek through and through. I love new toys, especially the flashy ones. I have unfortunately burned through every smart phone there is to offer out there. I’ve owned the really old Palm Treo up through and now currently possess the Verizon iPhone. I won’t go into horrid details about Blackberry vs. Android vs. iOS. All I can tell you is I love new-fangled apps to use and play with on my phone.

Enter the instant heart rate app.

As an Android user I downloaded this app and really was fascinated by it. It uses your camera and it’s flash to act like a pseudo- pulse oximeter. Now, I realize it’s just an app. It doesn’t hold a whole lot of merit or accuracy, but none the less pretty darn cool.

The app on my previous Android phone was suspect. It would only work sometimes, it was clunky and well just wasn’t all that believable. So I left it to the wayside and lost interest.

Enter the instant heart rate app for iPhone.

For some crazy reason I read a fellow Facebooker using this app. Out of sheer curiosity I download the app. And it’s light years better than the Android app, and just downright cooler (in my opinion). Of course it had more bells and whistles! (duh!).

So I’m tinkering with the app, and of course you can instantly share it to all your social media sources (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc). Annnnnnd of course I have to oblige.

As I’m ‘playing’ with my iPhone’s new app I of course share this ‘stunning’ information with my wife (who is, may I remind you, a fellow nurse).

“Isn’t this just cool?!”

“Instantly get your heart rate!”

“I’m a lil leery as to how accurate it really is though…”

My wife, who is the farthest thing from anything related to gadget geekery, looks at me and calmly (and quite sarcastically) replies:

“You know, I too can instantly get my heart rate,” She continues. “It’s really cool too and utterly amazing as well.”

I jump through the ‘I’m a sucker’ door and ask: “Oh?”

She politely replies, “Yes, you take your index and middle finger and you lay it ever so gently on the thumb side of your opposite wrist. You have to count the number of beats over a full minute now, but I hear it’s quite accurate!”

….

….

(As I wipe away the word ‘sucker’ tattooed on my forehead)

Only a nurse.

Only a nurse |Scrubs Magazine

The quick fix to losing weight

While this is rather comical (duh- it’s a comic strip) it also hits a nerve. This really is the attitude most have when it comes to losing weight/ fitness / health / etc.
For some crazy reason they think that they weight they are carrying around that took them decades to gain can miraculously be eliminated over a short ‘spurt’ of sweating or dieting.
Sorry folks, it ain’t happening. Not safely, not effectively, and surely not permanently.
Sure if you wanna drop 10bls in a week – it’s entirely feasible. But don’t think it will stay stay off permanently when you starve yourself or use some crazy crack-pot exercise scheme.
Slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady.