It’s That Time of the Month Again: JParadisiRN’s Post for Off the Charts

Yes, it’s that time of the month again. Before you go thinking JParadisiRN is giving out Too Much Information, let me say that I’m referring to my latest monthly post Who Will Watch the Watchers? Consider Nurses for Off the Charts, the blog of the American Journal of Nursing.

In this latest post I contrast nurses’ accountability to protect the privacy of our patients while maintaining their privacy under the oversight of HIPAA, against the current debate over personal privacy versus national security, and who should have oversight of the NSA and the information they collect.

Read the post at Off the Charts and leave a comment. We’d love to know your opinion!

Nine Fictional Clinicians I’d Like to Meet (Yeah 9 Not 10. I’m Picky)

In nursing, where years of working long hours can leave us feeling at times as if the tumor always wins, finding meaning is essential to happiness. People find meaning in different ways — some through spiritual practices such as meditation, others at a church, temple, or faith center.

photo by jparadisi

photo by jparadisi

When I can’t make sense of life by other means, I find meaning within inspirational themes of literature and art. Sometimes that meaning surfaces by way of humor. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. Maybe, at its finest, humor becomes a place where science, humanity, and art converge.

With humor in mind, last year, Scrubs magazine posted a list of “Top fictional nurses and docs YOU want to get trapped in an elevator with.” Getting stuck in an elevator would cause me the same escape anxiety that makes a wolf chew off its paw to escape a metal trap. However, the article did make me think about my favorite fictional nurses and doctors, and what I would say to them if I ever met them.

Here’s my list of clinicians and what I would say to each:

  • Dr. Frankenstein: In light of your previous laboratory experiments, what is your position on stem cell research?
  • Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, RN ( M*A*S*H, TV version ): Thank you for evolving from a rule- and sex-obsessed stereotype into a nurse comfortable with being compassionate, smart, and sexy. TV audiences would have been satisfied with just sexy.
  • Alex Price, RN ( An American Werewolf in London ): Exercise caution if you’re going to date your patients.
  • Phil Parma, RN ( Magnolia )You are an unsung hero, the home health nurse. You take on the pathos of the dying and their families alone. Without judgment, and through unorthodox means, you found a way to fulfill your dying patient’s last wish.  And when no one is looking, you grieve.
  • Hana, RN ( The English Patient ): Make more time for self-care and fun, instead of dating guys who are as self-destructive as you.
  • Gaylord Focker, RN ( Meet The Fockers ): Dude, if you were my coworker, we’d be BFFs.
  • Dr. Hawkeye Pierce ( M*A*S*H ): What time is happy hour?
  • Catherine Barkley, RN ( A Farewell to Arms ): Have you ever felt, like I do, that your dialogue is written in a way that sounds as if Hemingway never spoke to an actual woman?
  • Jenny Fields ( The World According to Garp ): You are the fictional nurse I’d most like to meet, despite your shortcomings. Your fierce independence is both a blessing and a curse. Despite this, you are a true healer, demonstrating profound love of humanity in all its diversity, weaknesses, and beauty. You inspired me before I knew I would be a nurse. I pray to have a heart as open and generous as yours someday. I think of you often.

Which favorite fictional doctors or nurses would top your list?

Happy Happy Joy Joy

by jparadisi 2012

When my stress level rises at work, the first thing I notice is that I start accidentally dropping things: blood pressure cuffs slither out of my hands, and alcohol pledgets jump from the torn foil-lined packets to their deaths on the floor. On these shifts, I jokingly confide to coworkers, “The real reason I left pediatrics is because I kept dropping the babies.” As their jaws drop wide open I reassure them, “I’M KIDDING!”

The second thing I notice is I chew sugarless gum* like fiend. Although I rarely chew gum at home, at work I qualify as a chain-chewer. My weekly habit costs as much as a gallon of summer vacation-priced gasoline.

So imagine my happy happy joy joy (Ren & Stimpy reference: The Happy Helmet episode) while reading in a Time Healthland article that chewing gum has several benefits.

According to David Tao, author of the article linked above, chewing gum has six known benefits, which I paraphrase:

  1. It boosts brainpower
  2. Offers stress relief
  3. You can fix things by using chewed gum to plug leaks or as an adhesive. Disclaimer:  Using gum for either in a health care facility may get you fired, and is certainly not condoned by Infection Control, The Joint Commission, or the author of this blog.
  4. Curbs hunger
  5. A vehicle for caffeine. This might not be a good idea for me. The caffeine might make my hands shake, and as noted above, by this point I am already dropping things.
  6. Catch fish. I cannot think of a nursing application for this. Apparently, some people use chewing gum as bait for catfish.

As if all of this weren’t wonder enough, Medscape (password required) published an article Gum Chewing Quickens Bowel Recovery After Liver Resection suggesting chewing gum may benefit a certain patient population:

June 7, 2012 — Results of a Korean study support the use of a relatively inexpensive intervention to hasten bowel function recovery after liver resection for hepatocellular cancer: gum chewing. In the study of 42 patients published online June 2 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, patients who chewed gum 3 times per day showed faster recovery in postoperative bowel function than those in a control group.

What’s not to like about chewing gum? It’s good for me, good for some patients.* *

Happy happy joy joy!

*For the prevention of dental caries, I prefer sugar free gum.

Another Disclaimer: **This blog post should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you seek medical advice, consult you licensed medical practitioner.


Not All Nurses Are The Same

by jparadisi 2012

Not all nurses are the same. At work, I entered the staff lounge just in time to overhear one nurse say to another:

“I’m mean really, nurses don’t care about clothes. We have our work clothes, and jeans for home. Who cares about clothes?”

Grabbing my lunch sack, I headed outdoors to eat, inaudibly mumbling:

“I do. I care about clothes.” 

I recently bought a pair of platform wedges. I’ve written before that I envy my neighbor her 7-inch stiletto platforms, and the ability to walk in them as gracefully as a bamboo reed. Just once before I die, I want to own a pair of big girl shoes, and wear them like a grown up.

No one knows I bought them yet, but David, who accompanied me. In fact, he encouraged me to buy them. He thinks the shoes are sexy. I love him.

Even though my new peep toe wedges are only the equivalent of a 3 1/2-inch heel, walking gracefully as a bamboo reed is as difficult as it looks. I’ve been practicing walking in them around the house. Did I mention they’re beige, and make my legs look very long?

This day, the sun shone magnificently, without the slightest threat of rain. I decided to try a test spin outdoors in the new shoes, and walk a few blocks to the bank, though I have a way to go towards developing the skill to walk in them gracefully, like a bamboo reed.

Taking cautious steps, balancing 31/2 inches taller than usual, I pass a man on crutches navigating a sidewalk café table and chair. He intends to enjoy a latte in the brilliant sunlight. I’m unable to offer help, because I don’t have any better control of my legs in these platform wedges. He successfully maneuvers the table and chair, while I slink away with a gait reminiscent of Frankenstein, acknowledging the irony of the scene.

At the bank, the teller asks if I have plans for the rest of this beautiful afternoon. I tell her no, too embarrassed to admit that practicing walking gracefully in my platform wedges is my plan for the afternoon.

As I walk home, my gait becomes smoother. I gain a little confidence. I feel like a grown up. I can’t help it; I like fashion.

Not all nurses are the same.

What sets you apart from your nurse colleagues? Do you have a funny story about it?