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Wednesday, November 25, 2009



Thankful 2008
Thankful 2007
Thankful 2006
Thankful 2005
Thankful 2004

It has been a very busy year, with lots of good things and lots of bad things too - and yet I have a great deal to be thankful for.

  • As always, I am beyond thankful for my smart, funny, creative, thoughtful, strong husband. We have held each other up this year in countless ways and I can't fathom life without him.
  • And equally important, I am thankful for my fun, loving, generous parents who provide unconditional love, handyperson advice and labor, and more laughs than anyone else's parents I know.
  • I am super-duper thankful for our new house! Moving, painting, and the millions of other projects we've taken on have been hard work and lots of money, but I think it's all been worth it - every day I look around and think that I can't believe I live in such a nice home.
  • I am thankful for the chances I've had to reconnect with old friends this year - between Facebook, Google, and some fortuitous travel plans, I've gotten in touch with quite a few people who were important to me in the past and that makes me happy. (Keith, I'm looking at you as one example! And Emilie, you & Derek are another!)
  • I am thankful for the friends I've stayed in touch with after nursing school, and for the new friends I've made at work, because both groups are available for nurse talk whenever I need them.
  • I'm thankful for all our excellent friends from various other backgrounds who are fun and loving and help us see the world from different angles.
  • I am thankful for my continued employment in this lousy economic time - and I am even more thankful that my coworkers are so excellent and fun and loving, and that I am proud of the work I do at Big County Hospital.
  • This may sound strange, but I am thankful that I have had the experience of helping several people pass from life into death this year - because it has strengthened my belief that hospice nursing is the right path for me.
  • Finally, I am very thankful for the good health that my family and I have. I care for people who are sick and broken in thousands of different ways and I am profoundly grateful that my loved ones are not fighting those battles.

    Now I have a request for you, my dear readers. In honor of our beloved friend who died this year, please do one small thing - think of a friend or relative or someone who you've been meaning to call but have been putting off for no good reason, and call them just to say you love them and are thinking of them. You'll both feel good afterwards.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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  • Friday, November 13, 2009


    book report: The House of Hope and Fear

    The House of Hope and Fear: Life in a Big City Hospital
    by Audrey Young

    I loved this book and read it in a few hours becuase I was so fascinated. I work at the hospital that Dr. Young describes with honesty and affection. In her stories about patients, doctors, families, and aspects of society, the reader gets a view inside a public hospital and the people who work and are treated there.

    There are two reasons why I would recommended you read this book: First, it would help you understand why I choose to work at the county hospital and why I am so proud of the work I do. The other reason is more political: reading about the patients who end up at the county hospital seeking primary care - the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the underinsured, the unemployed, the desparate - is the best argument I can think of for universal health care.

    Just one fact pulled from the book: the United States spends more than twice as much on health care than any other country, and yet our health outcome and life expectancy statistics are nowhere near the best in the world.

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    Wednesday, October 07, 2009



    I was just thinking that when I was a kid, I read several books about patients in hospitals, and always thought "Wow, what a foreign area medical care is, and how fascinating." While reading a review of a new book about the hospital where I work, I realized that now I work inside one of the books I used to read and marvel at. That's pretty neat.

    (I know I haven't been blogging much. It's been a busy summer. R* and I bought a new house and have been working on fixing it up. I've been working hard, and am being rewarded for my hard work by being asked to be one of the charge nurses on my shift. R* changed jobs and while that's a good thing, it's another source of stress. If you want to get more frequent updates from me, find me on Facebook or Twitter!)


    Tuesday, July 21, 2009


    really, don't

    Conditions I've witnessed and am glad I don't have:

  • Calciphylaxis in end-stage kidney disease.

  • A colostomy resulting from a rectal foreign body and subsequent intestinal perforation.

  • A collection of problems that were all making each other worse: congestive heart failure, acute renal failure, necrotizing pneumonia, and protein deficiency due to lack of interest in eating. Also, did you know that when part of your lung tissue dies, you pretty much have to cough out the dead stuff to clear your lungs?! Gross.

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  • Thursday, July 16, 2009



    Today was a difficult day.

    My patient was 20.
    He'd had a drug overdose.
    His family had made the difficult decision to put him on comfort care.
    Today was the first day I'd cared for him.
    Today was the day he died.

    Normally this kind of thing doesn't get to me that much.
    But he was so, so young, and the family was so, so heartbroken.
    It was tough to watch.
    I cried.
    More than once.

    But you know what?
    I did a f*cking outstanding job as their nurse.

    The patient died peacefully without signs of pain.
    The family was all gathered at the bedside singing and praying.
    I reassured the family that the patient's signs & symptoms were normal, that he was very near the end, that their feelings of guilt/anxiety/relief were all nomral, that they didn't need to worry about any logistics, that they were doing the right thing by holding the patient's hands and touching him.
    My excellent coworkers took over care for my other patients for a while so I could devote my time to this family.
    I got the chaplain, the palliative care doc, and the medicine attending doc to stop by before the patient died.
    I did postmortem care to get the body ready for friends and family to see.
    I paged a couple other doctors who had cared for the patient so they could visit the family.

    The nightshift nurse who had asked for me to be assigned to the patient came in at the end of my shift and we hugged and told each other what a terrific nurse the other was.

    I called another of my coworkers on my way home to give her some positive feedback the family had shared with me.

    Now I am drinking a large alcoholic beverage.
    And wishing there was some way to tell people not to use heroin and aprazolam together.


    Thursday, June 11, 2009



    One year ago I was a brand-new nurse scared out of my mind about starting work.

    Today I precepted a brand-new nurse (a graduate from the same school I attended) who was scared out of her mind about starting work.

    One year ago I could barely handle taking care of two patients.

    Today I had a total of six patients with admits and discharges.

    One year ago I had successfully drawn blood once.

    Today I helped my preceptee try to draw blood for the second time. She didn't succeed. I stuck the patient once and while I had to dig around a bit for the vein, I got the blood sample.

    One year ago I had no idea how to put a tele monitor on a patient, much less how to read an EKG.

    Today I admitted a tele patient, stuck on the monitor and assessed his rhythm, then called the doctor to report on the weirdness I was seeing without breaking a sweat.

    One year ago I was nervous every time I went into a patient's room because I felt awkward and incompetent.

    Today I breezed into a patient's room and was greeted by the patient's daughter, who informed me that I was her mom's favorite nurse.

    One year ago I was not sure how I would like working in a hospital with lots of people I didn't know.

    Today I got hugs and kisses from most of my coworkers, including a doctor.

    This job has worked out brilliantly.




    People I hugged today:

    -a patient
    -a patient's daughter
    -a jail guard
    -an MD
    -a nursing assistant
    -5 of my coworkers

    I kissed my husband but I didn't hug him because he was still lying in bed when I left for work, and lying down on the couch when I got home from work.


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