Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What I've Learned in a Year

Or something close to that. Yeah dudes. It's been about a year since I started writing about people checking into the E.R. for ringworm or herpes or other such things. And over a year since I became a practicing nurse person. If I wasn't super lazy, I would probably post a graph detailing my comfort with being a nurse increasing slowly but steadily, and my compassion level plummeting. Well, sort of. I'm still compassionate, in the sense that families after CPRs still make me cry, but less in that my ability to detect bullshit is a skill I have developed quickly. Along that idea, I'd like to share a few important things that I have learned in my first year of nursing that will hopefully but probably not save some other folks some trouble:

  • If you're checking into the ER for suicidal ideation or an attempt made with meds, you are more than likely full of it. Now I won't completely generalize here. Because it makes me sound pretty awful and heartless. But literally every case I've had of someone checking in for "suicidal thoughts" is someone with no real plan or access, and a lot of manipulative requests for pain meds, anxiety meds, food, drink, cab vouchers, etc. and in my most recent case, female nurses. That's right. This dude had a chronic case of F.O.S. He actually came in after leaving a psych facility for the same thing because he said a gay guy there attacked him by trying to kiss him. He couldn't have a male nurse because he was still "traumatized". Bitch, please. This dude reeked of garbage and had the nastiest grill I had ever seen. And he spent his entire stay staring blatantly at my butt and making creepy remarks. As for the pill folks- I've seen one exception- a sweet little lady who look a bunch of benadryl to try and escape her abusive husband. I've never cried so much ever. But a lot of them are narcissistic pieces of garbage who intentionally take non-lethal meds and dosages to manipulate someone, like the jerk I had recently who tried to "overdose" on Ambien (suicide? You're doing it WRONG) because his cancer stricken wife had thrown him our for taking all her pain medicine recreationally.
  • Status dramaticus is easily curable if you treat it like you would if it were the real thing. Oh, I'm sorry, you can't walk? My goodness, I bet you need a catheter. Oh my. This "asthma attack" you're suddenly having now that your husband is in the room without any wheezes while you're satting 100% is pretty serious. I better hold this Dilaudid, it's only going to make your breathing worse. You've been vomiting blood, you say? Well I better bring you straight back and pop an NG tube in real quick. We don't want this to get any worse. Oh, your vomit might be bright red from the flaming Cheetos you're eating right now? In that case, why don't you go back out to the waiting room and leave those Cheetos in the trash here. They probably aren't helping your abdominal pain. Man, you just keep having these "seizures". The next time you have one, I think I'm gonna put a nasal trumpet in to protect your airway. You can't be too careful when it comes to seizures.
  • Sometimes the best nursing care is a little f%*!ing perspective. I can't tell you how many times I get the eye roll combined with the biggest sigh ever with the statement, "I seriously waited 8 hours for you to tell me my kid has a virus and to send me home and tell me to give my kid Tylenol and Motrin?" Instead of what I want to say, which is something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, is it my fault that you use the E.R. as a doctors office and thought your kid who is currently trying to jump over this stretcher was critically ill because he has a damn fever?", I find that it's more effective to say, "Look at it this way. I just had to transfer a kid out of here with (insert life threatening medical condition). Aren't you glad your child just has a virus?" Now go home, make your kid some Nyquil pops, and GTFO of my ER please, thank you.
  • If you're well enough to walk up to the nurses station and complain every 5 minutes, you're well enough to walk out. But seriously, attitude aside, watch the patients that don't complain or ask for anything, because they're probably the sickest.
  • The chance of someone, including yourself, getting "crunk" increases exponentially with the number of people in the room. Do yourself a favor and stand up for the 2 visitors at a time rule.
  • If you're triaging a girl in the 16-30 year range with abdominal pain, make sure to ask specifically about funky discharge or other STD symptoms, because it's a lot easier to come in and complain of lower abdominal pain without even mentioning your broken cat, and you may save your patient and coworkers from an unnecessary IV.
Just a little bit of the wisdom that I have acquired in my first year as an E.R. nurse. Tune in next time for more, when I might have more than 4 hours of sleep and no alcohol in my system.


  1. You seriously make me laugh. On the other end of the spectrum, people's ignorance makes me want to scream. What I am finding out, being a "phone triage nurse" is that a lot of parents think high fevers cause brain damage. What family friend started THAT story? I want to beat the crap out of them... btw I love your use of synonyms... :) "cat" ...I laughed out loud on that one... :)