Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Choking on her own words

I was in a back room of the ward.  Nobody was in the vicinity except the clerk, who was ranting while eating some greasy fast food.  "These stupid nurses think they are something.  Well, they are not.  They are stupid.  I could do their job easy.  Running around, acting like they know stuff.  They don't . . ."

Suddenly she stopped.  She was choking.

When my mind recognizes that an emergency is actually happening, the body races:  heartbeat and breathing zoom.  But my body didn't jump into action.  Karma?

She choked up the food herself.  "Oh my God!  I almost choked to death!" she observed to herself, a bit shocked.

I ducked my head into the doorway.  "Be careful, sweetie, there's no one here to help you if you choke on your nasty words."

She grew a little smile and said, "Oh, I see how you did that.  Said it all quietly so nobody else would hear you.  I got your number.  You would let me choke."

I walked away.

Monday, October 28, 2013


One of the night nurses was very happy one morning.

"I was just reading in a chart, I am not sure why I was doing that, but I was.  I see something with your name signed on it.  It's like a story almost.  About a patient.  What they ate, what they were wearing, that they were quiet and then noisy.  Very good stuff," she complimented me.

"It's a nursing progress note," I answered, wondering how she could be a nurse for so many decades without ever reading or writing a note on a patient.  Then I remember where we are, and it does not seem so surprising anymore.

"Well, I was thinking, 'This girl is so good with the details.  I have an interesting life.  Maybe she could write my life story.  I should ask her.'  So what do you think?" she stood there, beaming.

Two thoughts flashed through my mind.
1-  Yes, I could write pages of nurse's notes for your stay in the psych ward as a patient.  You're crazier than most of the patients.
2-  Ironically, I do write about your life, or at least one aspect of it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Feelings over facts

Some friends were discussing their jobs and the people they manage.  One said that whenever someone goes over his head to his supervisor, the supervisor bounces them right back down and does not entertain the squabble.

At my place of work, my support staff frequently runs to the supervisor, who then drops everything and runs to me, expecting me to stop working.  She then chastises me for "hurting people's feelings" and "not being a team player."

By not being a team member, she means that I did not immediately capitulate to a subordinate's demands.

As observed earlier this year, this place is about people's feelings and not real events.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Telepathic influence

The attendant who plans to retire after putting in a year is "learning computer for my next job, in case they want it."  I must commend her for attempting to learn a skill and for being so forward-thinking.  The hospital is not computerized, but most wards have an outdated, slow, clunky desktop computer.  Someone (not the clerk) typed excel spreadsheets for assignments, rotated by day of the week.  To select a particular day, you need to select the sheet at the bottom of the window.

One morning, she was screaming that the printer broke, as evidenced by the printer printing sheets for Monday when she wanted it to print sheets for Wednesday.  I showed her the sheet selection at the bottom and told her that she needed to click on the desired sheet.  "I DID," was her nasty, self-righteous response, naturally followed by, "You did something to this computer again, didn't you?  You just can't stop messing with people."

A dialog box was open, requesting attention about sending a problem to Microsoft.  I pointed this out to her and told her that she can't do anything else on the computer until she gets rid of the box.  She looked quite unsure, but clicked on "okay" and got rid of the box.  Then she was able to click and select Wednesday and print those sheets.

"All I know," she remarked, "Is that you need to stop messing with this computer and making it hard for me to click on what I want."

"One more thing, dear," I added in a sweet voice, "Today is Thursday, not Wednesday."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Retired/Working Same Difference

One of the nurses is blissful.  Always floating around, beaming ear to ear.  "Blessed" is what she calls it.

Her chronic lateness, inertia at completing the simplest task, and inability to ever be located do not faze her in the least.  I am bothered because I pick up her slack.

On one trying day, she observed into the wind, "I love this job.  It's like I'm already retired.  Nobody cares if you are late, or if you just sit here sipping tea all day.  I love it."

"I care that you are late and do nothing but sip your tea."  I just had to say something.  She looked at me, blinking her eyes, absorbing none of it.

She went on lunch and returned two hours later.  "Now you can go," she told me.  "I'll cover the floor."

So I went on my lunch and returned in an hour an a half.  Her smile was gone.  "You have been missing for over an hour."

I smiled.  "You're right.  I didn't take the full two hours like you did.  Next time we work together I'll add half an hour more to my break."

She just doesn't get it.  The length of her lunch break has nothing to do with the length of my lunch break.  Her 45 minute lateness does not stop her from commenting on my whereabouts.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leave of Absence

One of the attendants has been on and off Leave of Absence in my time at the Psych Hospital.  I am very happy when I see "LOA" next to her name on the schedule.  She is nasty, suspicious, does no work, and then gets loudly upset over some perceived injustice committed against her.

Some say that the only difference between her and the patients is that she has keys to come and go.

She has been at the hospital so long that she qualifies for retirement under their old pension system, which is now defunct, but she is grandfathered in.  She ranted for weeks about how she put in for retirement and the people who handle the pension said she was short one year of service because of all of her Leaves of Absence.  She took another Leave, explaining, "I'll show them.  I'll finish out my remaining year on Leave."  After a three month absence, she is back, angrier and nastier than ever.  Someone clued her in that going back on Leave does not satisfy the deficient year of service.

It's more like a punishment to those who have to deal with her every day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Growing a trove of evidence

Based on the comments in an earlier post, I have been using my phone to snap pictures of errors of others.  (Such wonderful technology!)  I pass select information of medication errors on to the pharmacy consultant.  Administration doesn't seem emotionally vested in his observations.  I'm not sure if Administration is going to do anything with the information, but I am trying.  I feel a bit better with a trove of photographic evidence for possible use later.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your presence is felt in your absence, Part two

The clerk came to me and apologized for her prior performance when she pretended to be a victim of my computer sabotage.

Hell did not freeze over:  it was a fake apology.

"I have to apologize for my behavior the other day.  I didn't realize that you talked to other people and they told you what I said.  So I apologize."

Interpretation:  She is only "apologizing" because she was caught.

Next was the retraction:  the apology followed by "but."

"But messing with my computer is something that you would do.  And I know that one of these days, you are going to do it."

Why can't she just be fired?  She brings nothing but chaos and negativity to the environment.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Your presence is felt in your absence, Part one

Upon returning to work after a day off, I heard from numerous people that a clerk had thrown a temper tantrum on the ward in front of staff, visitors, people from other services, and patients.  The clerk's defense was that I made her do it:  I sabotaged her computer.

And for clarification, what she calls "her computer" is the only computer on the ward- an outdated, bulky desktop that she uses to type personal letters or create cards and banners for personal events in her life.

One of the nurses told me that the clerk was so angry and so upset and could not be redirected, that the nurse called the woman who handles the computers for the hospital and asked her for help in fixing the computer.  As it turns out, the computers are linked on a local hospital network that was down for a few hours for maintenance.  Not Sabotage by yours truly.

Later in the day, the clerk was able to use the computer and find whatever she claimed had been destroyed by me- still without me having been in the building.

This is what I have been writing about.  Nothing bad happened, yet a coworker gave an emotional performance in front of many people about the evil act I committed against her.  Whether true or not, people come away from the clerk with the impression that I am a horrible person to others and that I destroy hospital property because I have a personal issue with someone who is only trying to do her job.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Story prompts

Each of these events from hell will later make a great story.  Try it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

You can't make me

Woes of the 30 minute patient census persist.

An attendant, usually the first to arrive, takes the first census of each shift.  Others follow suit as assigned (or not).  One day, an attendant assigned to the 8 am census complained to me that he had to "fix" the census from 7 and 7:30.

I looked at the list.  Outdated.  The first attendant had assigned everyone as in bed, asleep.  At least ten patients marked as sleeping in beds at the hospital that morning had actually been discharged weeks ago.

So now I have attendant pissed off for "doing extra work."  Nevermind that I'm not too happy myself with this recurrent situation and the added work to my already overflowing assignments.

I gave "Nellie," the attendant who erred in the earlier census, a generalization of the problem.  Her remarks were swift and included:

  • "It's the night shift's job to fix that.  Why don't you tell them to do it instead of bothering me?"
  • "Your are not perfect either, nurse.  When you are perfect, then you can tell me about something that is wrong."
  • "Everyone makes mistakes, even you, so get over it."
  • "It's the clerk's job to update the census, not mine.  I just sign it like you tell me to.  Now you're all up in my face because I did exactly what you told me to do.  Make up your mind."

I left her when the first remark hit the air.  You can't reason with someone like her.  She sounds and acts like a spoiled brat.  These assertions were so ridiculous, coming out of a grown woman who was standing in the midst of a psychiatric facility where she is employed.  The patients got locked up in the hospital for less bizarre remarks.  She has gotten to the point where she sits on her phone all day, doing no work.  If challenged, she screams, "No, I don't have to do that.  It is optional.  I can CHOOSE to work if I want to, but I don't want to and nobody can make me."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Remembering the school days

I started this blog after I was finished with nursing school and already working as a nurse.  Had blogging been an option at that time in my life, I would have done it and shared so many funny, sad, and obnoxious stories.  As I previously wrote, nursing was not my first career or first degree.  Nursing school was different from prior schooling in one special way:  the other students were in the same situation that I was and I made good friends during school and carry those friendships with me today.

A lot of readers are currently in nursing school, trying to cope (and learn and sleep as well).  My message to you is something another student a year ahead of me said:  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wedge Politics?

"So what happens to us with this government shut down?" another nurse asked me.

I was taken aback.  Most people don't ask my opinion of anything, never mind a major, national issue.  I had to be over thinking it.  "What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, do we stop working?" the nurse asked.

My immediate thought was, There is no difference between your working and not working.  Instead I said, "Why would you stop working?"

"Because everything has shut down," she replied,  honestly confused, but still holding onto her fantasy that she would not have to work, but probably still get paid.

I understood.  She had not recognized me as a political genius.  She was trying to garner some kind of general consensus for stopping work.

"We are not the federal government and we provide essential services, so we will carry on as usual," I answered.  Pointless.

"Well, I don't think we're supposed to work anymore," she cautiously continued, as if I was the deciding vote.

"Okay then," I responded, "I guess I'll see you when you come back to work.  Have a good day!"  I walked away.  Quickly.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


One of my dreams is to win the lottery and quit working.  I have plenty to do.  I know lots of people who claim to work because they have nothing else to do.  One woman said to me, "Why would I take a day off?  To sit at home?  What is there to do there?  It's bad enough I have to sit there every evening.  Imagine adding another whole day to having nothing to do?"  I do not identify with her at all.

But on a more serious note, if I did win the lottery, I would not quit working- not right away.  I would continue to show up at the hospital and irk the hell out of my coworkers who deserve it.

I currently work for the money, health insurance, and the added bonus of learning about the human mind- greatly helps with my writing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Student loans: still paying

I owe, I owe, so it's off to work I go.

Nursing was not my first career.  I had student loans from prior education before acquiring more from nursing school.  It occurred to me recently that if I had stayed working and not gone back to school, I would be debt free now.  Instead I am looking at another twenty years of payments.

I shouldn't be too hard on myself.  One of the primary reasons for returning to school was because I could not find gainful employment.  I would be debt free today only if I had been able to pay the outlandish monthly loan payments- which I could not years ago.

Ironically, I am only able to (barely) pay all the loans today because of my nursing job, and I cannot wait to be free of the loans so that I can find other work that may pay less but be more suitable.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Foolish and Proud

The Dunning-Kruger Effect.  This explains everything.

The more incompetent someone is, the more competent they think they are.  They are incompetent at life, which includes incompetence in accurately assessing their own skills.

This is why the attendants at the hospital continuously maintain that they work hard and well, and have no issues about telling me what to do.