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Category Archives: Humor

Not dead yet?

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I had a dying patient.  She had been on comfort care for several days and was nearing the end.  She was a sweet lady and was surrounded by her sweet family.  If you’ve been reading my blog long, you may know that, if a patient is dying, they will undoubtedly die on my shift.  I don’t know why.

I had tended to the patient and her family throughout the shift.  At some point in the afternoon, the adult daughter came to the nursing station to tell me that she believed her mother had passed.  I paged the doctor and headed into the room.  I felt no carotid pulse.  I auscultated her chest and airway and heard neither heart nor breath sounds.

I tell the family that I think she has passed but that the doctor has to come to declare the time of death. I head out and the doctor (who looks twelve) walks in.  As I ask a co-worker to help me with post-mortem care, the doctor walks up to me.

Doc: “She’s not dead.”

Me:  “What?”

Doc: “She has a carotid pulse.”

Me: “I didn’t feel a pulse and she doesn’t have a heartbeat.”

Doc: “She has a carotid pulse.”

Me: “Okay. Can you stay around for a little bit and go check again because I was pretty sure she’s passed.  I must not be checking right.”

The doc returns to the room and comes back out.

Doc: “I think I felt a fasciculation.”

Me: “I don’t know what that is.  Has she passed?”

Doc: “Yes, she’s passed.”

A medical school education is a terrible thing to waste.

Nursing Lingo Part 3: Frequent Flyers

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“Frequent Flyers” is a favorite nursing term of mine.  I suppose the definition is rather self-evident.  These are the patients that you take care of repeatedly.  Inpatient medicine floors are chock-full of frequent flyers. This could be a young person with Cystic Fibrosis or Sickle Cell or perhaps an elderly patient with COPD* or ESRD.**  On a surgical floor this could be a patient with non-healing wounds.

I like this term because it’s a pretty benign “label.”  The patients are not “the chronically ill” or “sick.”  They are just normal people that happen to frequent the hospital.

Personally, I like taking care of frequent flyers.  They know the ropes.  They also know that they will be seeing a lot of the nursing staff so it makes sense to treat us respectfully.  You just have to be careful that the familiarity doesn’t destroy the professionalism of the relationship.  I had one nursing friend who “fell in love” with a frequent flyer.  Four months later they broke up but he continued to receive his care on our floor.  Awkward all around.   However, caring, lasting relationships with pleasant frequent flyers can really bring joy to your day, and your career.

The down side to frequent flyers is also that they know the ropes.  While the vast majority of my patients are wonderful people, there are always a few bad eggs. The naughty frequent flyers know how to play the staff against one another so stay on your toes!   As soon as you hear, “But last time the nurse let me …” or “But the docs always give me more pain medicine than…”  you can be pretty sure you have a naughty frequent flyer!  As always, treat them respectfully but draw boundaries and stick to your guns!

I enjoy a challenge so if a particularly difficult frequent flyer shows up, I often offer to take the patient.  With the right mix of warmth and boundaries you can convert a naughty frequent flyer to a satisfied and pleasant frequent flyer.   And the icing on the cake? Now your co-workers owe you one!


*Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis)

** End Stage Renal Disease (kidney failure)

Nursing Lingo Part 2: DFO

Nursing Lingo Part 1: Circling the Drain


Run, LuLu, Run!!

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Nicole is a particularly southern NA.  She would honestly say things like “My boyfriend and I work re-po on the weekends,” in as twangy a drawl as you can possibly imagine.  One day she yells to me from the other end of the hall, “LuLu, come!!”  First of all, my name is not LuLu. My nickname is not LuLu.  LuLu is just what Nicole called me because that’s how country she is.

I start down the long hall.

“LuLu!!  Run!!”  I hate running in the hospital.  Nothing freaks out patients (or other staff) quite like seeing a nurse run down the hall.  “LuLu!”

I kick it up a notch and start to jog.

Pamela, in room 17, is no longer in room 17. She’s in Bob’s room across the hall.  Thankfully, Bob is off getting an X-ray.  I look around and put the pieces together.  Pamela had to poo. She got up, wandered into the hall, went in Bob’s room, used the bathroom, and then got in Bob’s bed.  Unfortunately she left a, um, “trail” everywhere she went.  The discovery of the trail was the only reason we discovered quickly that something was amiss.

Now mind you, two hours ago Pamela was a normal, middle-aged lady who knew how to find the toilet and use it.   To you nurses, what would you do next?  Yep, get a blood glucose.  Her “sugar” was really low.  Four juice boxes later, she was back to her old self and had no memory of her exploits.  Too bad I’ll never forget it!

How a Bedpan Works

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So, I love checking out my blog statistics to see how people find their way to Bedpans.  WordPress has a great feature where I can see which search terms led to my blog.  Today, someone googled, “How a bedpan works” and ended up here.  Really?    When I googled it.  “Yahoo Answers” was of course the first hit.  Ahhh, Yahoo, bringing together the world’s finest minds.  The winning answer was great!

Now, if enquiring minds want to know, I’m happy to put together a brief educational video.  I think a teddy bear would have to be the patient though, and perhaps a small fruit bowl for the bedpan!  Want a video?  Let me know in the comments!

The same google search also led me to a bedpan collector.  He has hundreds.  The weirdest thing is not that this guy collects them and keeps them in his basement but that the comments are full of people who also collect them. One guy plants flowers around them in his garden.  Hmmm… Built in fertilizer?

A Favor

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Yesterday I took care of this sweet little old lady, Mrs. M, with a gorgeous foreign accent.  She said, “I’d like to put a word in for my aide last night.”

“Sure, if you tell the manager she was good, the aide will be rewarded.”

“Well, I could do that, but what I would like to ask is if you will do me a favor.  Can she have the night off tonight?  She had such a stressful night last night.”

Um, no. Sarah will have to come in tonight and work her tail off all night, just like last night.

But what a sweet lady! Going in her room and helping her with even the simple stuff was such a joy. I wish she could teach the other patients that being kind to the staff has its benefits.  Mrs. M, no matter how busy I am, I will gladly bring you fresh coffee, fluff your pillow, and listen to your stories of your childhood!

All Three

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:::After a patient being a bit fussy with me all morning:::

Me: Are you fussing at me?

Patient: What do you mean?

Me: Well, either you’re teasing me, fussing at me, or being mean to me. Which is it?

Patient: I’m probably being all three.

Me: Um, okay. Please don’t be mean to me.

Defensive Medicine

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Here’s a cute exchange from my facebook wall on defensive medicine.

Me: If I ever get sick, please let the docs practice defensive medicine.

Lauren: What’s defensive medicine?

Me: Let’s say there is a .1% chance I have a very treatable brain cancer and a 99.9% chance I just have a headache. The doc doesn’t think it’s that big a risk that I have cancer so they send me home on advil. Then I die. Sucks to be me.

If the doc was practicing “defensive medicine” he would have given me an MRI. Even though he didn’t think I had the brain cancer, he would give me the scan because he was worried he’d get sued.

Health policy folks get all worked up about defensive medicine because it is supposedly adding too much cost and should be gotten rid of.

For what I pay for my health insurance, copay, etc—- give me the scan. I earned it.

Rick: LOL  at this. There is a difference between a simple headache and headache with other symptoms that point to a neurological pathology. Don’t oversimplify.

Me: It’s a Facebook wall. It was designed for oversimplification of all of life’s Truths.

Rick: Well-played;) Didn’t get that memo.