Monday, January 25, 2016

Hey guys, update is delayed until tomorrow-- we are emergently moving to a new apartment (ours is suffering the wrath of every backed-up storm drain in the neighborhood thanks to a failed drain valve) and my laptop is infected with this horrible virus that's disabled my wifi.

The virus is really bad and has taken a while to deal with, but a friend of mine took it to her bearded beloved and had the damage repaired, to my endless gratitude and debt.

Watch out for the virus, you guys. It's called Windows 10. Do NOT download this horrible piece of malware, or it will wreck all your hardware inside-out.*

(This is tongue-in-cheek. Technically, even if it destroys your computer, it's not EXACTLY a virus.)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Whitney the Muslim

I apologize for the brevity of this post. For those of you that follow my scrawlings on Something Awful, I’ve been doing an AMA for the last twenty-four hours on the BYOB forum, which has diverted just a little of my writing powers.

I did manage to rant with embarrassing fervor about fruit that I like.

Anyway.

Sometimes the ICU runs like you expect it to: occasional periods of panic, lots of gross chores, and a slump around 1600 when you can catch up on your charting. Sometimes it gets a little crazy, and if you have a really rowdy pt with a lot of things going wrong, you can easily spend a whole shift on your feet and do all your charting after you’ve passed your pt to the next shift. And sometimes, the whole ICU loses its goddamn mind at once, and all your pts are desperately high-acuity and breaks only happen if everyone works together, and staffing calls random people on their days off and begs them to come in—not to take pts, but to serve as an extra flex nurse, just to help people get all their chores done.

When this happens, you have to be a special kind of dumbass to actually answer your phone, let alone come in extra. Unfortunately for me, I am that exact kind of dumbass. That week, I worked a lot.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Post incoming tomorrow! Eventually I hope to be able to update every Saturday night, but right now my husband's schedule and mine are both in flux. Sunday nights might work better for me this spring.

I hope you guys are okay with a whole bunch of griping about terrible human beings, cause that's what I've got for you. Also, my religious alignment has apparently been reassigned. That's how bad my week was.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wishbone, Leah, and the Return of Crowbarrens

Every shift, we introduce ourselves to our pts, explain how long we’ll be there today, and talk about our goals for the day. Some people have very simple goals: don’t die is popular, as are things like control pain and get out of bed. Some people will have procedures during the day, endoscopies or central line placements or dialysis.

Occasionally, the most important goals aren’t things we can cheerfully schedule with our pts: come to peace with impending death, or manage not to shit directly on anyone’s scrubs. In those cases, we find simpler goals: order breakfast and lunch early so they don’t have to wait, take a walk and get some sunlight, that kind of thing.

Then we do our assessments, because nothing helps your day get moving like peering at some guy’s butt and hoping that pink spot on his tailbone isn’t turning into a pressure ulcer.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hugging, Mrs. Beaumont, and the Fat Cunt Guy

Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m weird about hugging. I’m not the type to have anxiety attacks when someone invades my space, although I know plenty of people who are. I just grew up in Texas. The sheer number of people who’ve armpitted me in Wal-Mart on the grounds that our grandparents used to go to the same hairdresser…

And while we’re admitting things, I’ll get this off my chest: I think pts are gross. Their families are gross. I, while I’m inside the hospital, am gross. Literally everything and everyone within a block of my job is disgusting and I generally assume that anything touching me while I’m at work is probably covered in a thick fondant of shit and dead roaches.

It might be a little dysfunctional, but this is just how my brain works. It helps me keep track of who’s touching me and how much shit I have on my body at any given time.

So you can imagine how delighted I was when I introduced myself to my pt and her daughter and was immediately greeted with a full-frontal hug.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lucy, Ed, and Carl Hamilton Park

First impressions, outside the hospital, are predictable. Height, weight, color of skin, expression; handshake, attention span, first and last name. Maybe you find out what their laugh sounds like, or you notice how everyone else in the room watches them with wary admiration, or you discover that they spit when they pronounce their sibilants.

Inside the hospital, first impressions are just as predictable, but in different ways. Every shift begins and ends with report, and every report follows the same structure, a whole unit reciting the history and status of each patient every eight to twelve hours, in unison.

This is an anxious fifty-year-old woman, the night nurse told me, patient of Dr. Ling, here for hyperkalemia and possible sepsis secondary to C.diff superinfection. Here is her entire medical history: bowel cancer, diarrhea, multiple intestinal fistulae to both internal and external abdomen, repeated surgical revisions, perineal remodeling with multiple additional fistulae, urinary tract infections, incontinence. Here, look at these reports: learn all about her rectum, her vagina, her most private processes.

Here is a picture of her chest, a scan of her abdomen. Look at her body, right down to the bones. Look inside her. Here are all the molecules we’ve found in her blood, in their rightful and wrongful proportions. Here is a transcription of her heartbeat from twelve separate axes.

Oh, her name is Lucita. She goes by Lucy. Want to go in and meet her now?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A young stroke pt, a bit of fetal physiology, and some pettiness on my part

I genuinely wasn’t prepared for the popularity of this blog, or for some of the sequelae that followed it. I thought a few people might read it, get a chuckle, and glide on by. So I wrote like the blog would be gone in a month, a forgotten vanity, an echo chamber for my rambling thoughts.

Instead, you liked it. Which is alien and bizarre to me, like discovering that other people really do like the smell of your farts. Are you guys… okay?

Anyway, a lot of things happened while I was on hiatus.

I launched my kid sister at the end of the summer. It was not easy and I spent virtually all my downtime helping her fill out paperwork, set up and attend interviews, and move into her own tiny room in a house where girls rent rooms to sleep in between classes. She has a job now, and passed her GED. I am so proud.

Also, I am so glad that I can flop on my sofa in my underwear when I get home from a shift.

Aside from all that, I also went to Yellowstone for five days because I was losing my mind and my first response to stress is to go camping, and I went to a cheese festival and got constipated and drunk, and I had a shitty run-in with a pt family who heard only what they wanted to hear and reported to my manager that I had lied to them. Fortunately, my manager knows that I am a thousand percent more likely to overshare than I am to conceal, and has been my facebook friend long enough to know that withholding information about medications is not something I am physically capable of doing.