Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Book...At Last!

I'm gonna write a book and I'm gonna title it, Life is Just a Bowel Full of Cherries. Right. Just like this blog. I've always known what the book was going to be called, just not exactly what it was going to be about. I knew it would be about nursing and patients but no particulars, until now. Today at work it dawned on me. Twenty years in nursing, ten in the ER and I've picked up on some things the general public needs in terms of education. So, I'm going to write a common sense-type of medical manual for the general public who are, I'm beginning to realize, completely insane.

The book will be a sort of filling-in of the average Joe on the street regarding little medical things that I thought pretty much everybody knew all their lives, like I did. For instance, there will be a chapter titled, "When To, and When Not to Call 911". Under When Not to will be a paragraph explaining that when you have a bowel movement that, how do I put it, let's say "stalls", you have a few options, none of which involve activating the emergency medical alert system. One option is to end the attempt by employment of the anal sphincter thereby "pinching off" the sluggish substance. Another option involves straining to expedite things. There is always the sit-and-wait option to see if anything changes. And until this week it never occurred to me to tell another human being that getting "stuck" halfway into a bowel movement was no reason to call 911 but I have since been enlightened.

In the same chapter I will explain that if you are in your 50's, in good enough shape to ride a motorcycle to the state park on the mountain and camp, there is no reason for you to call an ambulance because you haven't had a bowel movement for 3 days.. Moreover, if you do call an ambulance and you have a bowel movement just prior to the arrival of the ambulance, you certainly don't need to come on into the ER, anyway, despite the fact that you "don't want to get in that shape, again!". Eat some Raisen Bran, drink some coffee and take responsibility for you own GI tract.

The chapter on "Proper Medical Terminology for Novices" will include, You have blood clots. There is no such thing as blood "clods" or "clogs." And, you have fibroids in your uterus, not "fire balls in your euchrist".

Just because you have a boil on your filthy body doesn't mean you were bitten by a poisonous spider. You probably have an abscess and might want to think about bathing once in a while. In the event you were, indeed, bitten by a spider, it probably was a brown recluse, not a "brown glucose" spider.

When you came to the emergency room once in the past because you couldn't pass urine, you were catheterized, not castrated (at least, I don't think so. However, if it turns out that you were, I'd like the name of that hospital so I can go there and apply for a job).

Under miscellaneous, I'll explain that when you "feel hot one minute and freezing the next" and you're not menopausal, it's no big mystery. You have a fever. Who has not known this since age 5? They actually sell devices that enable you to make your own fever diagnosis at home. They're sold at Walmart and they're called "thermometers". What's more, you can actually take Tylenol or Motrin for a fever and determine the correct dosage yourself by reading the label. Again, having a fever for one hour is no reason to rush to the ER.

Same thing with throwing up. If you threw up an hour ago, you don't have an emergency and you can stay at home. If you do end up in the hospital, throwing up isn't going to kill you and you don't need to send a family member darting into the hall to summon a nurse to the room. A nurse is not going to keep you from throwing up, (which is, by the way pronounced "vomit", not "vomick"). Just throw up and wipe your mouth and lie back down on your stretcher. When the nurse or doctor do come into the room, turn your head when you breath or cough. Your breath smells like vomit. Nobody wants to smell it, not even public servants. And while on the subject, if you come to the ER vomiting, don't get mad when they won't give you a big glass of ice water to drink. I promise you, if you drink a glass of water, you're going to throw up again. It happens every time. Another point, it doesn't matter what you saw in your vomit. Just because you saw, say, carrots doesn't mean you got food poisoning from your mother-in-law's glazed carrots last Sunday. You threw up what was in your stomach. Your stomach does not isolate the one offending substance and throw up only that. It doesn't work that way. Furthermore, you needn't describe it to us as in, my personal favorite, "It was green and slimy". Of course it was. It came out of your stomach. It was vomit. There's bile in it. Bile is green. It's no mystery. And there are no scientists in the lab waiting to analyze your vomit so don't bring it to the hospital with you in a peanut butter jar.

Now for the chapter on Medical History. You may be allergic to sulfa, not "sulpher". It is called emphysema, not "the zee-mee". And it's a hiatal hernia, not a "high up hernie".

Leukemia is considered to be a health problem so if you have Leukemia and the triage nurse asks you if you have any health problems, you should probably mention it.
If you are missing a kidney, we need to know if it was surgically removed or you were born without it, or what. It's not helpful when you tell the nurse, "Honey, I don't have any idea what happened to it". We expect you to research this before you come to the hospital.

If you cut your hand opening a package of bologna with your pocket knife, don't expect general anesthesia during your suturing. You're going to get a local anesthetic and stay awake. Nobody's going to recover you for an hour while you come out from under. We need our lunch breaks, too, you know. You might want to explore why it is you want so badly to be put to sleep.

When you come to the ER, bring a list of your medicines with you. Despite what you think, the nurses don't have copies of your med list folded up in lockets around their necks. If you can't even keep up with your medications while taking them every day of your lives, how do you expect us to?

If a nurse or a lab tech has a needle in their hand getting ready to start an IV or draw blood, the chances of them being successful are much better if you don't first say to them, "You have one chance! If you blow that, I want somebody who knows what they're doing." The employees at the hospital have licenses. They went to school. Despite what you might think, they really do know more about medicine than you do. That's why you're there. If you don't believe that, why didn't you stay home? Next time, you might want to think about doing that. Just stay home and use your Waffle House waitress experience to figure out the correct way to treat your heart attack and I promise you, nobody from the hospital is going to come to your house and drag you out and poke needles in you. They'll leave that to the funeral director and it will be a lot easier on them to just read about you in the obituaries next Thursday.

Anyway, you get the idea. And there's more. God knows, there's so much more.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


A friend of mine who is a known, sort of conspiracy theorist, suggested I go to a site she found on the internet. She was told about it by a woman she met at the farm supply store buying big, plastic tubs for water storage. The internet site is for women who are, well, I'm not sure exactly. They're survivalists, to a degree. There's a lot of talk about the end of the world and preparedness (how does having a cellar full of canned goods keep you safe from the Apocalypse?) and God and war, etc. I knew better than to go to that site but I did it, anyway. I went to it because my friend told me to look at it and I knew she'd ask me later if I did. But also, because there is a lot of information about making soap and gardening and canning and a lot of things I'm particularly fond of.

My mistake tonight was in reading a thread on the website about "something bad coming in the Fall". Several of the posters shared similar "inner urgings" to prepare (how?) for some unidentified disaster that is suppose to occur this Fall, as in now. Well, economically I think there's some validity to that. And who am I to determine the validity of another's "inner urgings"? Nobody. I have to honor that because I have the same things. And maybe that's what bothers me so much, this similarity in their's and my own strong feelings this summer; their's regarding getting prepared by buying food and storing water, I guess and mine about getting back to basics, quitting my job and trying to get some semblance of sanity back (did I ever have it?) in my life. It was a little weird reading that other people experienced such a close premonition to mine. A feeling that wouldn't let them alone, a sense of urgency to make the changes in question, just a strong sense of being "led" to something (or away from something).

I considered, this in 2001, trying my hand at something of a political thriller-type of fiction writing in which some kind of disaster would happen and my whole family, sisters, brother, my grown kids and, now, grandchildren, my Mom would all come and live, with us, on our 20 acres and we'd have an intentional community, of sorts, out of necessity rather than a higher consciousness. We'd have to build houses for all of the various nuclear families (total of 5, if Freddy and I stayed in the cabin that's there, which we wouldn't because he would cause me to have to beat his head in with that tv blaring and no where to go to get away from it). But it's sort of a dream of mine, that I hope never comes true, to have all my chicks in one nest under my wing. That's why I wanted to write it. Because I'd love to be close to all of them, albeit not that close.

Back to the website for militant housewives. It occurred to me after I got scared like I always do when I read bilge like that, that those people on that website all think the same thing, in terms of disaster for what's the fun of preparing without a disaster? So they all think the same things and they all post on that forum and they all read all those posts and that's what they think about day and night. Dream about it. Disaster and being prepared. So, it follows that it's going to get bigger and bigger and realer and realer for all of them because of the time and energy they're giving it. And I've always known this. Or at least since we moved to the south in 1979 and began being bombarded by these Apolalyptic predictions. And maybe they're right. I have enough sense to know I may be wrong but what if I am? Oh, I'll starve to death sooner than the women on that forum because I only have a pantry and medium-sized freezer full of food but we're all gonna die anyway, aren't we? If it's the end of the world? Unless they're counting on the rapture and then they don't need all that damned food, anyway, do they? More for the rest of us, I say. And besides, these are the same people who were too smart to get caught with their pants down at midnight on January 1, 2000 when....whatever it was that was suppose to happen, happened. They were so superiorly obedient to their premonitions from God that they took their 401ks and bought 5 gallon buckets of wheat and big generators and guns because God knows, they couldn't let their neighbors eat any of their food, right?

Is it me or is everybody crazy? Let me get this right. The Republicans are Christians. Christians=Good Guys. These "Good Guys" are opposed to government policies that lend assistance to poor people. Republicans love guns. Republicans believe in capital punishment. Republicans believe the government should not regulate the people which allows the rich people to continue, more effectively to fuck the poor people. But, again, the Republicans are all about God.

The Democrats, conversely, are heathens because they don't want to persecute gay people and because they believe women should have a right to choose to have an abortion (which I'm not saying I do or don't subscribe to. I'm staying out of that shit.)

I honestly don't get it. I think the entire world has gone completely mad and I want to go hide, now. Yes, and suck my thumb.