Velcome to My FrankenMess: When Art & Food Go Awry

Velcome to My FrankenMess. photo: jparadisi 2012

Welcome to my FrankenMess. For Halloween, I tried dipping pretzel sticks into melted icing to make them look like candy corn on a stick, à la Pinterest. This is what they turned out looking like before I gave up. I’m an artist, damn it! Curse You, Pinterest!!!

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

This Ghoul Will be Your Nurse Tonight: Should Nurses Wear Halloween Costumes to Work?

This IS My Costume. photo: jparadisi 2011

I dodged a bullet this week. My coworkers are wearing costumes to work on Halloween. I was scheduled to work that day, but on Friday a nurse asked to trade shifts, so I don’t have to decide whether or not to wear a costume. This year I won’t feel like the spoilsport among my coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, I like Halloween, costumes, jack o’lanterns, and all that. I just wonder if they are appropriate in patient care areas?

Nurses wearing costumes to work on Halloween aren’t limited to my unit. The entire hospital celebrates with costume contests (individual and department categories), decorations, and special treats. It’s intended to build enthusiasm and rapport among employees. There are written guidelines about what sort of costumes and decorations are not appropriate. Respect for gender, race, political, and religious beliefs is emphasized. Costumes and decorations cannot be gory or represent death. They cannot interfere with patient care either.

Earlier this month, Buckman elementary school principal Brian Anderson, in Portland, Oregon was included in an article in The Huffington Post because he banned costumes at the school. He took heat from parents, and sparked a national controversy on whether he was being fair.  The Portland Mercury quotes Anderson as saying:

For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion. There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect. The spirit of equity has led most PPS (Portland Public Schools) schools, including most elementary schools, to deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.

He has a point. Critics argue that banning Halloween costumes from schools is taking political correctness too far.

But what about hospitals and nurses?

Halloween costumes are allowed in every hospital I’ve worked for, however, I never wore one to work. In the PICU, there were so many painful situations that, for me, costumes felt out of place, yet I don’t recall a single patient or parent expressing disapproval of nurses dressed as witches or scarecrows. Now that I am an outpatient adult oncology nurse, I still don’t wear costumes to work. I have not heard complaints from our patients about the nurses who do.

What do other nurses and health care providers think about this? I also wonder what patients and people from other walks of life have to say.

Happy Halloween/Feliz Dias de las Muertas

Bones (Redivivus) 36" x 30" 2007 oil on canvas by JParadisi (SOLD)

Halloween Brain Cactus

Halloween Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

Halloween Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

 I bought my favorite 10 year-old a brain cactus as a Halloween gift. He like cars, motorcycles, skateboards, and some trading card game about fantasy characters with superpowers. He also likes houseplants.  The cactus is a hardy introduction to the care of houseplants. He’s remembered to feed the frogs I gave him last summer, and they thrive.  He’s a natural at nurturing, and perhaps I should give him an orchid instead.

       But, I bought him a brain cactus, and it’s cool. I remember my grandmother’s Christmas cactus and African violets, when I was a child. By the time I was in junior high school, I had my own collection of over 50 houseplants in the 8′ x 11′ bedroom I shared with my younger sister. To hear her tell the story, you’d think I was Seymour Krelborn  from the Little Shop of Horrors. It wasn’t that bad.  She exaggerates. She likes a good story as much as I do.

“Se non e  vero e ben trovato.”

(“Even if it is not true, it is a good story.”)

                                                        Italian Proverb

     At 1o, this boy is pretty interesting. What’s interesting about him, is his curiosity about the people and world around him, whether they relate directly to him and his life, or not.  He’s interested in things beyond his own desires and centric self, and that makes him interesting.

     I read somewhere it’s what we’re interested in that makes us interesting, and I think this is true. One of the many things I enjoy about nursing is the opportunity to hear other peoples’ stories about who they are, when they are not a patient. Frequently I am surprised by the accomplishments and talents of the people I meet. It’s the same curiosity that impels artists and writers to ask questions and observe the people and world around us, feeding our creativity.

     My father used tell me, in his Italian accent, “Sweetheart, never stop to devil-up (he meant develop, English was his second language) your mind. Stay cue-rious (curious).” It is good advice, and I hope I haven’t disappointed him as I’ve grown.  I don’t think I have.        

Happy Halloween!                                                                                                                       

Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

Brain Cactus photo JParadisi