Ode to a Pair of Nursing Clogs

This year I took a summer vacation, one of the joys of which was time painting in the studio.

I’ve migrated to three different studios over the years, but a single constant in each was my old pair of nursing clogs, converted to painting shoes.

My Nursing-Converted-to-Painting Clogs

My Nursing-Converted-to-Painting Clogs

In their earlier life, they spent ten years traipsing across a PICU, and even flew in a helicopter a time or two while transporting sick children in Oregon to Portland.

When I transitioned from PICU to adult oncology, they retired. In their new-found leisure, they started a second career as my painting shoes, where we continued to do good work together.

Anyway, over the weekend I returned to the studio and painted, changing out of my street shoes into the old, faithful clogs. They felt funny. In fact, one foot was suddenly closer to the floor than the other. I looked down, and entire sections of the right foot clog’s rubber sole had disintegrated and fallen off in chunks. As I moved about, the left foot clog did the same. I stared at them in disbelief.  I had not foreseen their imminent demise.

The Disintegrated Soles of My Nursing/Painting Clogs

The Disintegrated Soles of My Nursing/Painting Clogs

I did not have a second pair of studio shoes to change into, so I continued wearing them while painting, standing and walking, balancing on what remained of the core of their sole. We made one last painting together. I tried remembering the last patient I’d nursed while wearing these clogs, but could not.

When I finished painting for the day, I washed my brushes, and swept up the trail of black, crumbled rubber left behind on the studio floor. Removing the old, familiar clogs, I put on my street shoes, and placed the paint spattered, destroyed clogs into the garbage.

Move on. They’re just an old pair of clogs.

Besides, there’s another pair, retired when I left the infusion clinic for the oncology nurse navigator job, waiting in my closet at home to take their place in the studio.

 

 

 

Modern Nurses: Audio/Video Girl

Digital Microscope ink on paper 2016 by Julianna Paradisi

Digital Microscope ink on paper 2016 by Julianna Paradisi

Preparing materials for tumor conferences is part of my role as an oncology nurse navigator. It involves, among other responsibilities, reviewing the cases, printing copies of the agenda for the attendees, managing the sign-in rosters, and providing updated lists of available clinical trials. It also requires powering on the projector, the screen, and setting up the digital microscope necessary for the pathologist and radiologist to project slides of the tumor cells, and the MRI or Cat can images on the large screen for discussion.

Suddenly, and unexpectedly, I’ve become Audio/Video Girl. Other nurses of my generation will appreciate the humor in this.

Does any one remember watching film strips and movies in grade school classrooms? Did your hand shoot up when the teacher asked for volunteers to set up and run the projector? Mine did, but it was always a boy who was chosen. Eventually, I stopped raising my hand.

Years later when I became a pediatric intensive care nurse, I discovered an aptitude for tubes and wires, or rather I learned to get one fast. The ability to troubleshoot a ventilator until a respiratory therapist could fix it became handy too. I realized the level of skill I’d developed when as a single mom I set up my stereo system (you who grew up with bluetooth streaming have no idea how easy you have it), and a desk top computer with printer/fax using a dial-up modem. In case you are to young to know, we could not use our computers and phones at the time in those days.

I digress.

Learning to set up the electronic equipment for tumor conference was a lot like how I learned almost everything as a nurse: someone showed me how to do it once, and then I was on my own. However, as mentioned, I have developed an aptitude for technology: during the demonstration I snapped pictures of the wire connections with my phone, creating a visual reference guide to use later.

I was anxious the first time I set up by myself. While lifting the digital microscope which I imagine costs a hefty portion of my annual salary from its cart to the conference table, I distracted myself from my fear of dropping it by imagining twenty doctors staring at me because it didn’t work. Tumor conference would be a disaster if I failed..

The microscope and projector worked. Relieved, I glanced at the doctors, men and women, seated around the table. Some of the male faces resembled grown up versions of the boys in grade school my teachers chose to run the projectors. Some of them probably drive cars electronically more complex than the audio video equipment I had just set up.

To be clear, I am treated respectfully as part of the multidisciplinary team at tumor conference. I’m proud to be part of this valuable service offered to our patients. I am happy with my life choices. However, I wonder what might be different if girls were chosen equally with boys to run the projectors when I was young?

 

 

 

 

“The Kid Has the Nicest Parents” Chapter 7 of The Adventures of Nurse Niki is Posted!

The Adventures of Nurse Niki
The Adventures of Nurse Niki

The Adventures of Nurse Niki Chapter 7 is posted.

This week, Niki ponders physiological dependency on caffeine, expresses gratitude for having a healthy child, and receives an ominous report on her patient in the PICU.

I want to give a shout out to Off the Charts, the blog of the American Journal of Nursing, thanking them for including The Adventures of Nurse Niki in a Blog Round Up with some remarkable nurse bloggers. An excerpt from the post says some really nice things about Nurse Niki:

Episode six is now up at The Adventures of Nurse Niki, a newish blog written by Julianna Paradisi (her other blog is JParadisi RN). This blog is made up entirely of first-person episodes told by a fictional nurse named Niki. Each episode is short, detailed, and engaging, and it’s easy to keep up with it on a regular basis, or quickly catch up if you haven’t yet read any episodes.

Thanks JM!

You can interact with Nurse Niki on her Facebook page, and don’t forget to “Like” it. Show Niki some love!

Many thanks to the readers following The Adventures of Nurse Niki, the retweets of  @NurseNikiAdven, and those who not only Like Nurse Niki’s Facebook Fan Page, but post comments too. The support is very much appreciated!

Oopsy! 9,999 Units of Blood

photo: jparadisi 2011

I don’t remember what year of my pediatric intensive care career I discovered an aptitude for electronic devices, but I do remember I was caring for a patient with multiple monitoring lines: intracranial pressure (ICP), arterial pressure, central venous pressure (CVP), pulse ox, transcutaneous CO2 monitor (TCOM), as well as intravenous access lines and realizing that if I could maintain all of those wires and tubes safely, I could probably set up my stereo system at home without help. And I did. Next, I discovered setting up a computer and adding on a printer wasn’t difficult either. I plunged ahead fearlessly, learning to use ATMs and grocery self-checkouts before some of my male friends (sorry, that’s sexist). Today, I own a trove of personal electronic devices, including a smart phone, tablet, and a reader. I fully credit my initial interest and competence in electronic devices to my ICU nursing background.

That’s why it’s so funny that last week, I accidentally “released” 9,999 units of red blood  for a single patient on our hospital’s new electronic medical record system (EMR). Fortunately, in EMR lingo, “releasing” 9,999 units of blood is not the same thing as preparing 9,999 units in the blood bank, so only the two units ordered by the physician were prepared. No blood was wasted due to my error. The problem was accounting in nature: I couldn’t clear the remaining 9,997units from the EMR.  A very nice peer specialist came to our department and explained my error before he fixed it. Maybe it was inappropriate, but I couldn’t help but break into a quiet chorus of “9,999 units of blood on the wall, 9,999 units of blood… Take one down and pass it around, 9,998 units of blood on the wall.”