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My mandatory cab ride

Almost two years has passed since one of the most stressful events occurred in my life. It is only now that I can write about it.

I was at work and I had taken a Motrin out of the medication machine to give a patient for pain. The next time I went to the medication machine it popped up that I had a partial dose to waste. This reminder is for narcotics so that they are wasted with a witness. I clicked on it to see who it was for and it was for the patient I had given the Motrin to. There was only one problem, I had not given that patient any morphine that day. I immediately thought who am I working with that would have pulled something out from under my name. I went straight to the day supervisor and reported it to her. She made a mental note and said we’d look into it later. Every time I signed in, the warning would pop up causing me to be suspicious of my co-workers. A couple of hours later one of my most favorite nurse buddies came up to the nurses station and said “there are NINETEEN vials of morphine missing from the medication machine”. I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart stopped beating and then said I have a partial waste on morphine that I never gave. So our awesome pharmacist sprung into action and contacted the director of pharmacy. As the pharmacist left she told me not to worry. This was on a Thursday. No one contacted me on Friday so I figured all was fine.

My next shift was Monday which happened to be leap day, my most favorite day ever. I called at ten to see if I was needed and the charge nurse said no. Shortly thereafter my manager called and said I needed to come in. Alarms, bells, and whistles all went off in my head. I went straight to her office and she informed me we were going to HR. Pure CR panic then ensued. She told me to relax, I had nothing to worry about. I kind of believed her until I saw we were joined by not only HR (thank god it wasn’t CC from the spare me incident or I would have died right there on the spot), but the director of pharmacy, and the director of women’s services (who was my manager at one time). I remember thinking this is some serious stuff right here.

So I spent the next thirty minutes talking with these people. I learned that someone had badged into the medication room about a minute after I left. This was when the morphine was removed. At this time I was in my patients room scanning the Motrin to give to her and could not be in both places at the same time. So the pharmacist told me I forgot to log out which is against policy. Well no kidding but he did admit nurses are distracted with their work phones and constant interruptions. The medication machine is a touch screen so it’s easy to think you have logged out when you didn’t hit the exit button quite right.

Up next was the HR guy who informed me I would need to take a drug test. If I refused I would be terminated immediately. If I took it then I would be sent home until the results were back. If they came back negative I would be paid as if I worked, if positive I would have to use PTO and other things would happen. I swear I said “bring on the pee test”. So off to employee health we went.

Normally I can pee every five minutes, any time, anywhere but not this day. I was so freaked out that it just wasn’t happening. I drank two glasses of water and cursed Dr. V’s sling. But finally I was able to go and then told I either had to have someone pick me up or be sent home in a cab. Because I had completed a for cause drug screen, they could not let me drive home. If I was indeed under the influence and then had an accident they would be liable. I could think of no one because my brain was shut down so I picked a cab and said no Uber. I had just watched Criminal Minds where a fired Uber driver went around killing people. They assured me it would be a cab.

I made my manager and the HR guy sit outside and wait for the cab to show up. It was beautiful that day. I wasn’t in the cab five minutes before I called my mom to tell her the story. I then texted Meg to tell her I was sent home in a cab. She responded I was lying so I took a picture of the inside of the cab. I chatted with the cab driver and told him it was the first time I had ever been in a cab. I told him my oldest had been in plenty. He found the story interesting. I finally made it home and then the waiting game began.

It was late Thursday before I was finally given my negative results and the green light to return to work. I was ok at home for the first day or so and then my imagination went crazy. I thought maybe I had busted up a drug ring and the DEA was going to show up at my door to question me. Nothing like that happened so I returned to work not knowing who stole the morphine. I did know it was not a women’s health nurse because they all worked during this time.

Three months later I was told who it was because the Missouri State Board of Nursing needed to talk to me. I was so shocked and it took a good two weeks for it to process fully. I never saw that person on the floor that day. I couldn’t decide if I should kick the person in the gonads or pray for them. I chose to keep it to myself even after I spoke to the board. Then the wait began for the investigation to be over with and this nurse be charged.

I waited twenty months before the paperwork showed up on the state board website. I read it and was in shock and disbelief. This person was only charged with testing positive for marijuana in their urine and then terminated from Mercy. I couldn’t believe they had gotten by with stealing morphine and putting me through hell. At this point I was back to wanting to kill this person but I decided once the actual state board of nursing came out with the person’s name listed I would finally reveal it.

It was this past Friday when the paper came to my house. Almost two years have passed and seeing it in black and white made me even more mad. First of all this person got away with stealing. Second of all it looks like this person is a recreational pot smoker instead of the narcotic stealer they really are. Justice was not served at all. Today I started thinking I wonder how people feel whose family members are murdered and the murderer gets away with it. That has to be a million times worse.

Leap day will always be my favorite day but I will also remember this until the day I die. I tell all new nurses to be very diligent about logging out of the medication machine because you never know who may sneak in behind you. I am sure they all think I am insane but I wouldn’t want anyone to go through the stress I went through or being so mad at the injustice of it all. I have to constantly tell myself God will take care of it in His time and in His way. He really should just listen to me and do it MY way.

 

Mole Moral ~ Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. This makes life so much easier.

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The Mole Work Ethic

My mom use to worry that my girls would not have a good work ethic because they did not have a job in high school. Emily’s first job was after her second year of college. She worked in a pharmaceutical factory packing boxes in Fenton. The factory closed before the end of the summer. She worked with a lot of former Chrysler workers and they all encouraged her to finish her college education. The next two summers she worked as a nanny and really enjoyed it. That job was way too challenging in my opinion. My own kids are bad enough, no way would I want to deal with someone else’s. Kayla got a job towards the end of her senior year at Swing Around Fun Town. They love her there and promoted her to lead after her first year. She still works there on breaks and summer vacation. Allyson has been at her job for two weeks now.

Emily is working out in California now as a physical therapist. She was diagnosed almost a month ago with a kidney stone. She is in a small town with only one urologist within fifty miles. She needs surgery to remove this stone but that won’t happen for another week. However, she has gone to work every single day anyway. Some days she lays down between patients and texts me that she is dying. The doctor wants her to take the day off after she has surgery and she has told me there is no way she is dong that and plans to work. It will be interesting to see how that works out. Kayla pretty much goes in extra whenever she is asked. She trades hours with people, stays late, goes in early or leaves early as needed. She worked her last shift before starting Missouri State but then the next day she ended up going in for two hours to help out in the kitchen. So her last day was really her second last day. Allyson has already worked for someone who was sick since she had nothing else going on. So I think my mom was worried for nothing.

They say with kids they really do watch what do and not so much what you say. Brian in all the years he has worked has maybe missed five days because he was sick. He did take two months off after he gave his kidney to his father because I forced him too. With that major of a surgery he did not need to be back at work lifting all of that heavy stuff. I can’t remember exactly when I went to all of my shifts being eleven am to seven pm but its been at least five years. My hours really are anywhere from seven am until five pm just depending on how many surgeries, how many nurses are scheduled and what is going on. I pretty much trade with whoever needs to switch a day. My kids are modeling this behavior but yesterday took the cake and the purpose for this blog.

The charge nurse had called around 11:30 to say she needed me. So I was driving to work talking to my best friend Meg when my mom called. I didn’t answer but when she left a message I told Meg I better get off the phone. My mom had fallen and was pretty sure she had broken her arm. There was another nurse on call, so I called her and asked her if she would go in for me so I could go see what was going on with my mother. The charge nurse decided she didn’t need her right then but needed someone at three to cover the eight-hour shift nurse that was leaving. Amy agreed to go in for me and I would take on call. So my mom did indeed break her humerus right below where it meets the shoulder. They gave her a sling and said she could go home. It was now four pm and I was on call until five so I we went up to my floor to hang out. I did not want to get twenty minutes away from the hospital and get called back in. Well sure enough at four-thirty they paged three unexpected patient’s so I clocked in and my mom hung out in our waiting room until I got off at seven-thirty. She said she took the best nap ever on the couch in the waiting room. I got her home around eight last night and opened all kinds of food and things for her because you can’t do anything with one hand. She sees the orthopedic doctor on Monday.

 

Mole moral ~ The mole kids are either half crazy or have a great work ethic, since they seem to be doing what their parents do.

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Never Date a Patient

At some point in nursing school we were told not to ever date patients but I don’t remember the rational behind it. Now I usually follow all the rules but this one I broke. I cannot remember if I was still working as a student nurse assistant or a graduate nurse. I think the latter but I was taking care of a guy who was probably around eighteen that had attempted suicide. I have no idea why he was on my floor but he and I got along pretty well. His father asked if I wanted to go to the cardinals game with the two of them and I thought why not. So his dad gave me a ticket and I was meeting them at the game.

So I showed up at the game and guess who was sick? Certainly not the dad but the kid. I being the naive person I am didn’t really think anything about it until the old man starting putting the moves on me. He was my father’s age but back then that was super old to a young twenty something. The game ended up getting rained out in the fifth inning and this dude insisted on driving me to my car. When he dropped me off he kissed me and I about vomited. I also thought to myself no wonder you son tried to kill himself, you are a real piece of work. After I got home my mom said why didn’t you just say you were going to the bathroom and leave. That would be because I was too naive to even think of that. This was before cell phones and texting or I could have texted her (she would have been young enough at that time to get on the texting bandwagon) and she could have told me what to do.

Now that I am older this is so scary. That guy could have driven off with me, raped me, killed me or who knows what else. My first thought was this is why they tell you in nursing school not to date patients. The worst part about it was the jerk kept calling me at work wanting me to go to the make up game with him. My dad told me to get his phone number and he would take care of him. I don’t know what he said but I never heard from him again. It would be the last time I ever considered doing anything with a patient outside the hospital setting.

 

Mole Moral ~ Rules are made for a reason, FOLLOW THEM!

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My bestie from nursing school

This past week I went to Edwardsville IL to see my best friend from nursing school. I suppose I am getting older because as I was driving home and later when I was walking, I was thinking about how we met and what a good blog that might be.

So it was August 1985 when I started nursing school at Deaconess College of Nursing. It has since been bought out by Chamberlain College and it is a horrible nursing school. Back in the day Deaconess was one of the best and also one of the most expensive. I was originally going to attend Lutheran School of Nursing but they stopped accepting financial aid and since I qualified for financial aid, I changed schools at the last-minute.

I moved in on a Sunday afternoon and I met Gena in the bathroom. She looked like Mare Winningham (Wendy from St. Elmo’s Fire) and I told her that. She told me she heard that all of the time. She told me her name was Gena and was spelled G E N A and that her mom spelled it that way because Gina was too close to vagina and her mom didn’t want people calling her that. This is actually hilarious since I work on Women’s Health AKA the vagina floor. So that night we also met Leah Lerbs who was from Herman MO and we all went to Jim Buck’s party at the boys house. This was in 1985 so the five or six male students had their own house down the street and guys were checked in and out of the girls dorm and all boys had to be gone by ten pm. Anyhoo the party was absolutely stupid and Jim was a dork to put it nicely. He would eventually flunk out of nursing school our last year for leaving an uncapped needle in a baby’s bed. So we left the party early but became friends really quickly.

About two weeks later, I caught Gena and Leah outside on the commuter parking lot smoking  cigarettes. I asked them why they didn’t come and get me and they said because they thought I would be mad at them for smoking. Side note, when I was younger I most definitely had the I don’t smoke or drink holier than thou attitude. I said give me one of those suckers and that was the beginning of smoking during nursing school. I would eventually get busted because my friend Tim from high school had written me a letter saying he would quit drinking when I quit smoking and I left it on the living room floor like an idiot and my mom read it.

That May was our first nursing clinical’s. It was a four-week rotation and we were at Delmar Gardens North. I believe all three of us were together and we had the strictest instructor. She had actually gotten pregnant at the age of 40, five years after having a tubal ligation. I was just a hot mess convinced that I would fail. I hated it and I wanted to quit. During my clinical evaluation I was told I relied to heavily on my fellow students and I needed to be more independent. I took that to the extreme and have to be almost drowning before I will ask for help at work. Anyway, I passed clinical’s but I wanted to quit. My mother being the smartest person around refused and said I needed to go back one more semester for hospital nursing and then if I still hated I could quit. So that summer I worked at Hardees and drove my dad’s orange Nova and then back to nursing school I went.

I think I had Margaret Acre that semester and I loved it. I will never forget my first IM injection, I was so nervous and hesitant that she finally just grabbed my hand and jammed it towards the lady’s rear end. All worked out well. I will never forget she smoked during pre and post conference as well. During our first year we had microbiology and our lab teacher was awful. I will always remember the day Gena told him off because he was of no help on the unknown. She does not remember this but I do and I thought to myself I love how she is able to speak up and say what is on her mind with no bull shit. Eventually I would adopt this trait but I certainly didn’t have it back then. One of my all time favorite stories was our first nursing check outs which was on temperature, pulse and blood pressure. I had zero self-confidence and I just knew I was going to fail. Gena and I were partners and I had myself so worked up, I couldn’t even feel a pulse or read the glass thermometer. I start crying and she starts laughing because of my lip quivering. We both got sent to the bathroom until we could compose ourselves. Somehow I managed to pass that mess after we returned. I was always a stressed out mess for every check off after that.

After about the first week of the second year, Leah was so overwhelmed with all the stuff we had to do that semester, she decided nursing was not for her. She dropped the nursing classes but stayed in the others and finished the semester. She left and went on to become a teacher, starting with special needs and then history or she may have done history then special needs and then history again. I just know she has remained in Herman all of these years and has also coached basketball. I had a patient this week from Herman and she knew exactly who she was. It’s a small world.

Gena and I both worked as student nurse assistants. She worked on mother baby because she originally planned on being a pediatric nurse and was going to get her pediatric nurse practitioner degree and move to Colorado. I worked on the isolation floor and this was right at the time that AIDS was starting. I will never forget my first AIDS patient. Although I cannot remember his name, I still remember what he looked like. The day he finally died about three hours later his call light went on. We all felt like he was telling us good-bye. I thought I wanted to be a OR nurse. I spent two days in the OR and had enough of that. The patients couldn’t talk and it was BORING.

At the time Deaconess was a three-year diploma program with an additional year to receive a BSN. However the BSN program was not accredited by the NLN (National League of Nursing) so Gena and I decided to attend SIUE. Her dad had a bunch of rental property in Edwardsville so we moved in together at the property on M street. We lived together for a year until she and Eric got married and I then moved back to St. Louis and commuted to SIUE until March when I was finished. Deaconess was finally accredited but only back until the year after we would have graduated. I had planned to get my masters degree so I needed the accreditation. However after all the stupid busy work for a bachelors I said forget that. I would end up working at Deaconess for two years on a medical/surgical floor before I would then go to work at Mercy for good. Gena ended up at Anderson hospital and has worked on the medical floor for twenty-nine years. She never did pediatric nursing and I could blame that on the mean clinical instructors. They were tough as nails and told me I had no business being a nurse and I should consider a new career. I almost failed clinical’s but I called my mom for advice and then used my Gena voice and told them I had never been around kids, I don’t like kids, I was never gong to have kids, and I would never be a kid nurse. That word never, I ended up having kids and when I worked in the burn unit I actually took care of kids.

Gena has three boys who are all doing wonderful. Her oldest is 26, middle is 24 and youngest is 22. None of them are married or have kids, just like my girls. We both agreed the best part is we are not grandmas so we are still 25. I just realized that we have been friends for thirty-two years. I am not sure how that happened, but somehow it did.

We get together about three to five times a year. I always drive to her house because she does not like driving in St. Louis. I don’t mind as it is a nice forty-five minute drive. She always buys me lunch or cooks because I drive over. She did come to my house twice. The first time she and Eric came when her oldest was a baby to see my house and the second time was a total surprise. My nephew Andrew had been born and died six hours later and that night she showed up with a precious moment (we started collecting them in nursing school) that said safe in Jesus arms with a baby on a cloud. That meant the world to me. I don’t think I ever told her just how much that meant. She came all by herself just because she cared about me so much. Emily was learning how to rollerblade and I’m pretty sure we were smoking out on my front porch. I still have the precious moment in my cabinet given to me by a very special friend for a very special baby.

 

Mole Moral ~ A bathroom, a lame party, and cigarettes led to the very best friendship ever! So whoever said smoking is bad for you is cray cray!

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Suburban Junky:From Honor Roll to Heroin Addict

A few a weeks after my five week headache, my niece Sierra told me she was reading this book about a kid from Chesterfield that becomes a heroin addict. She said it was really good and since she never reads, I decided to buy it on kindle. I read it in three days which was really fast considering I was still recovering from the headache and my concentration had not fully returned. Here is what amazon says the book is about because I do not want to give too much away:

Jude Hassan came from an upper-middle class household in suburban St. Louis. For most of his life, he was an all-around normal kid. He excelled in sports and academics, and cherished his time at home with his family. It wasn’t until he turned fifteen that things went seriously wrong. While attending his first high school party, he was introduced to pot and alcohol. Needless to say, he gave in to the pressure. A month after that, he discovered heroin. The drug had just made its way into the suburban party scene, and Jude was sure that he could get away with doing it only once. He was sadly mistaken. Within a few short months, his entire life was in shambles. His fate appeared certain, but it was just the beginning.

​In a series of events that leaves you grasping for the next page, Jude spares no amount of detail in his account of his near-decade long struggle with drug addiction, and the horrors he witnessed along the way.

The book is well written and I felt like I was in the middle of the story the entire time. Maybe partly because when my headache was at its worst I would have shot up heroin if that would have gotten rid of it, partly because I have always heard one try and you are addicted, and this kid lived in Chesterfield which is a short drive from where I live.

This is a mole blog so you know this is just the beginning of the story. Last night I was scrolling through Facebook which I haven’t done much of with all the stuff going on lately.  I came across a post that said Suburban Junky made the top 500 books on Amazon, I am so proud of my husband. (Now in the book he had a friend named Rachel from high school, who after he got clean they spoke, he told her everything and they eventually married.) So I looked to see who posted this and I froze because I was so blown away. I work with this Rachel as she is a tech on women’s health who is going to nursing school. She is an amazing tech and I know she will be an amazing nurse. I will be real honest here when she was first hired I was jealous and upset. First of all, I have always been the only Rachel wherever I worked. Heck in high school of 2000 kids there was only one other Rachel so I considered myself special. Rachel also looks like a supermodel. So not only is she super nice, and smart, she’s beautiful. So after a month or so I decided yes I like her and yes I can share my name without being a green eyed idiot. I also feel like I now know a famous person as well. Who would have guessed that she was the Rachel in the book. God is always showing me his ways are better than mine.

Anyway I just want to encourage everyone to read the book and if you have middle school or high school kids, they should read it as well. One stupid decision can change your entire life and lead you down a road no one should ever have to travel.

 

Mole Moral~ Women’s Health now has a third Rachel who is an RN. (Can you believe it? We only have about 50 employees and there are three Rachel’s!) The newest Rachel received the Five Star Nurse award this quarter so she is cool to share my name as well! The other two work nights so it’s really fun when I hand my team off to nurse Rachel and then tech Rachel is the patients tech as well. Rachel’s rule the world!!

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The Last First Day of Clinicals

Yesterday was Emily’s last first day of clinical’s and she chose Mercy Burn Unit to finish out her physical therapy education. It was a proud mom moment since I worked in the burn unit from 1990 until 2000. She was born in 1992 so perhaps all that time I spent there while pregnant transferred into her. HAHAHA. She had a great first day and really enjoyed it. She was able to see debridement on a brand new burn and told me she wished she could help with the peeling off of the skin. I think the nurse told her the pain medicines she was giving and of course Emily was familiar with all of them because of me. Her clinical instructor is dynamite and she really likes her. She asked Emily what her plan would be for a patient and then told her she agreed with Emily. Perhaps Emily’s presentation on burns helped with this as well as all the questions she asked me. She also met Dr. Smock yesterday and liked him as well. He is the director of the burn unit but will be out-of-town for the rest of her clinical’s.

I was thinking back on to my first day there. I was working on my BSN and had a choice to do 80 hours with management or 140 hours in a clinical setting. (I was already a RN and that’s why I had a choice.) Even back then i had no interest in management so I chose the clinical and was placed in the burn unit. A nurse named Gere was my mentor and I will never forget my first day, walking in and saying I was with Gere. The person responded with “the nurse” and I wanted to say “no the housekeeper” but I actually had a filter back in the day so I kept my mouth shut. My very first day they flew in a 90% burn and I spent most of the day watching what all went into an admission on that big of a burn. I finished my degree in March of 2000 and then applied and started in the burn unit of August 2000. I was thinking about the people I started with and almost every single one of them stayed with mercy so I am not the only one with twenty-seven years experience! John and Rosina went to the OR. One Mary went to cardiac rehab the other to cardiac cath lab. Lisa went on to case management. Jessica did one day in the OR and eventually ended up over in the burn clinic with Diane who just recently retired. Sue went to the JFK clinic. Jeff went to Epic and Jay went to work in one of the doctor’s office. And my two besties Tricia went to NICU and then interventional radiology and Sue is in the PACU so I get to talk to her a lot. My other bestie Lisa left to take raise her kids and came back five years to the burn unit. She tried talking me into coming back but my time had been served. I must mention Tracy who was there when I started and still works there. It’s hard to believe it has been twenty-seven years since I first walked into the burn unit but it was a life changing experience and I learned so much from my co-workers and the patients. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

 

Mole Moral ~ All those years of talking about how people were burned and how to prevent it must have paved the way for Emily to think it would be a really great place to work as well.

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The Headache Clinic Visit

I didn’t write this yesterday because I was annoyed. I know me annoyed that’s super shocking. Anyway the nurse practitioner was super nice and I really liked her. However she didn’t really know what to do with me either. She was trying to ask me the questions about my headache but since I have never had a migraine they made no sense. For example, how many migraines do you have a week. I’ve never had one except this one for five weeks. Do you have an aura? No, it just started hurting at this work meeting and never went away. She was fine with not taking the preventives and took them all off of my chart. We were reviewing what medicines i was on and I found out my Vicodin dose was 10mg and not 5mg so it’s a good thing I only took a half of one at a time. I also had no clue how much Indocin I was taking. I told her I felt like an old person who would say I take a little white pill for my heart. She felt that because my headache has been slowly getting better that it was on its way out. However no real explanation of what caused it. So I am going back to work on Monday which I am looking forward too. She also gave me a different migraine medication to try if my headache comes back. Should I make a spread sheet of which weird side effect it will give me and take bets? Nothing could be worse than the chest pain Imitrex gave me. I seriously thought I was having a heart attack. I am headache free today and going to the eye doctor to get new glasses. I’ve been wearing my back up ones since the cruise because my mom accidentally knocked them out of the back of the airplane seat and the arm broke off. This was before we even landed for the cruise. She of course denies this and I didn’t care because I was planning on getting new frames this year anyway.

 

Mole Moral ~ I am sticking with my diagnosis of NURSE CURSE and no one can convince me any differently.