Since it has been over two years since I parted ways with Mercy, I can finally write this blog. Mercy has rules about not becoming friends with patients and not allowed to be friends on Facebook. I obviously broke that rule and it was a good one to break.
Nine years ago this November Women’s Health was moving from fifth floor to second floor. I came in that day to do what I always did, take new surgeries and admits. Others came in extra to help move the patients to their new rooms. At some point one of my coworkers said Dr. V is on the phone and wants to talk to you. I was like fuck what did I screw up. He never called people while he was in surgery and would get annoyed if nurses called him during a case as it would deflect his attention from operating and wouldn’t you want his full attention. So since I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t working I picked up the phone. He said to me “I want you to go talk to my patient in 2316.” He’s a man of few words so I said ok and that was it.
Everyone was like what did he want. I wasn’t kidding when I said he never calls from surgery. So I said he wants me to talk to 16 so let me at least see what her name is. I’m pretty sure I walked into Melynda’s room and said hi I’m Rachel a nurse here and Dr V just told me to come talk to you but didn’t say what about. I immediately liked her but I don’t remember how long we talked for. She was the first person moved down to the new floor.
Anytime I talk about mesh or mesh removal most of what I learned has come from Melynda. She is extremely smart and very knowledgeable about this subject and many others. I was horrified to learn that training to put this stuff in was a weekend conference using cadavers. Also that doctors that put it in would get a kickback commission for every single one they placed from the mesh manufacturers. So take poor training and combine with greed and disaster ensues. One of the other shocking things about the FDA is their 501k program in which a company can develop a similar device that is already on the market and be approved without clinical trails. Lastly, the hidden database to report complications that wasn’t available to the public until recently. I could go on and on about mesh as the Dr. V patients are about the only thing I miss about Mercy.
So I visited Melynda a few times before she was discharged and we became friends on Facebook before mercy made that rule. Once they did I was suppose to delete her but that wasn’t happening. She’s been back a couple times to see Dr. V and we’ve made sure to see each other. She lived in Florida for quite some time but I never had time during camp to get together. Within the year she moved back to Utah where her extended family is. So once Brian and I decided to visit Utah, I knew we must meet up. We had a wonderful but too short visit so we need to come back sooner rather than later.
If you know me, you will most likely think I am not shy but I am. It takes a lot to just walk up to someone and start a conversation but it was by far the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve thanked Dr. V. more than once for calling me that day and freaking me out.
Mole Moral ~ Amazing people are out there if one just opens their eyes and their heart!
This week is spirit week at work. This reminded me of when my girls were in grade school. Today was Disney day and the endo girls informed me I was to represent endo. Well Disney is one of my favorite places so I took the challenge and ran with it.
I wore my favorite Disney running shirt from the Disneyland half marathon. Of course it is orange and short sleeves and a favorite. I dug out my monsters inc scrub cap I made during the first few months of covid and my Mickey ears from when Emily and I went three years ago. I was proud of how I looked until Sarah told me I looked like a psycho. Well everyone knows I’m psycho but I try to not look the part so I skipped having my picture taken. I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to how insane I actually looked.
I ended up being assigned to washing all the scopes all day which meant no one would see my ears. They are pretty tight on my head so I avoided a headache. Amanda told me since it’s Disney day I should listen to Disney music so I dialed up Disney sing along songs and had a great time in the scope room. Not only was I singing but dancing as well so I’m sure I looked like a complete psycho but I had a wonderful day.
It dawned on me that when I was young my dad took my sister and I to quite a few Disney movies. Cinderella, The Apple Dumpling gang, Pete’s Dragon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all came to mind. This is most likely what led to my love of Disney movies.
I was 17 the first time I went to Disney World. My parents divorced when I was five but remained good friends. My mom called my dad to tell him of her plans and he said he always wanted to go to Disney so how about if he comes with us and pays for it. My favorite memory was conning my mother into riding space mountain. She nearly had a heart attack and never forgave us for talking her into it. The three of us loved it and rode it at least two more times. Epcot was the only other park back then and we were not that impressed. Not enough rides and walking around the world showcase was beyond boring. I know my mom liked that part but us three six flag lovers wanted the rides. I do remember after the trip was over I understood why my parents were friends but not married to each other.
Today was a good day, full of wonderful memories of my childhood and my kids childhoods as well. Before I started endo anytime I got up early to work at seven I would sing “Prince Ali, Ababwa strong as ten regular men check it and see.” I had no idea I even did this until Emily pointed it out. I can’t sing at all so it’s a good thing I stopped this since I’m up for work three to four times a week.
Mole Moral ~ If you don’t have fun at work, perhaps you are not in the right place.
It all started a week ago when I woke up with a raging headache. It wasn’t the headache that lasted five weeks and from my neck. It was actually on the opposite side of my head. It was a Saturday and I had to go in at seven for a case so I thought I will take Alleve and sinus medicine and I would be fine. Wrong answer. I’m really not even sure how I made it to work but I had no business driving. I had to call a co-worker and she agreed to cover my case and call. I could not drive home so I thought if I laid down for a bit I could. So I parked myself in one of our before surgery rooms and laid down. It gave me nice flashbacks to the headache on Women’s Health when the charge would have to watch my patients the last hour and I gave report in an empty room laying down. It’s no wonder I ended up in the hospital for a week. Anyway after about two hours I realized I wasn’t driving home anytime soon so I called Brian to pick me up.
I then proceeded to puke so I dug out my four year old zofran and after two doses at least I was no longer nauseated or vomiting but my head was still killing me. That evening Brian put his famous deer jerky on the dehydrator and I went to bed. When I woke up the next morning I realized I could not smell the jerky. Normally it wakes me up in the middle of the night because it is so strong. I seriously thought he forgot to turn it on and actually checked. If I got right on top of it and inhaled deeply I could barely smell it. I then drank the only coffee I had at home which is mocha which I hate and it really tasted ok. It was then I realized I needed to call the employee covid hotline for advice. After a virtual visit I received and email saying I needed to be tested. The girl on the phone said I could go to total access urgent care today or wait and go to one of our testing sites on Monday. I waited until Monday.
I was tested back in May when I threw one of my neck headaches at work and had to leave at 11am. It was only one of two times i have left in the middle of the shift. The other time was when my sister called me at 8am to say her husband had a massive stroke and my co-workers made me clock out and go to the hospital. Anyway that test was horrid. I thought I was going to come out of the chair and I stopped myself from grabbing the girls arm. It all made sense as to why most of the patients when I did that to them (same stick as a respiratory panel) they wanted to punch me. I was better prepared this time and sat on my hands. The gal that did it was super nice. It was a drive up tent and they have little building with some heat but they all wear coats so I knew they were freezing.
My test results were back the next day and negative but my symptoms still yelled covid so the hotline said reach out to your primary and call us back at 6:30 am and we will let you know if you can work at 7. So my primary does a tele visit and says you really should have been positive but you are weird and hard to diagnose. So he puts in for another test on Thursday and tells me to stay off of work. In the meantime the employee health nurse for my hospital is unavailable this week with limited voice mail access. So I will be dealing with the covid hotline for the rest of the week.
So back to the testing site and it’s the same girl. I asked her how she got stuck with this job. She says she applied for it. I told her I wouldn’t mind swabbing people all day but the weather is horrible. She agreed and said once the testing sites are done she will have a clinic job. I have decided that sometime in the next couple weeks I’m bringing them hot chocolate and maybe some donuts or something.
So my second test was negative as well and I call the covid hotline back. They are beyond wishy washy but tell me I can return to work Monday if I don’t have a fever. Advised me not to take anything for a headache on Sunday so I don’t mask a fever. Also told me to contact my primary about my headache. So I sent him a message through Mychart and told him what they said. I said over the counter medication is keeping this headache under control so I am not sure what you are supposed to do but good luck. I actually do not have a headache as I type this so maybe I’m at the end of this mole virus.
I am going to get the vaccine on Monday. They started giving it out this past Thursday. This may have indeed been covid and I am one of these weirdos that test negative. It may be something else. All I know is I never want to feel this bad again and if a shot can prevent that, sign me up. I also want to see my father and my in-laws again. This isolation has been horrible for them.
Mole Moral~ If I ever need an NG tube please use my left nostril because the covid test was way more tolerable in the left than the right.
A year ago today I walked out of mercy knowing I would never return as a co-worker. It was time to figure out what I would do when I grew up. The summer was approaching and Emily was doing a travel job in Rolla and Allyson would be going away in the fall so I decided to enjoy the summer.
I had been on women’s health for almost nineteen years and during that time we had done many fundraisers with T-shirt’s. I always knew at some point I would make a quilt but I never wanted to start in case I accumulated more. So my goal was to complete the quilt by this day. I almost always accomplish my goals and this one was no different. So here’s my quilt that I love dearly with a story about each block. I’ll describe in the order you read a book. This blog is for the day I no longer remember much and I can relive the most wonderful memories. Yes, I have always been a nerd and a dork and I will be until I die.
The first block was a fundraiser for the entire women service line. That shirt was the back and I thought it was clever how the word Family was incorporated.
The next block was my all time favorite and the last one. My buddy Tiffani was in charge of creating it. I put the front left pocket area on the back. I loved the stethoscope with the words women’s health.
The top of the next block was the front of the women service shirt and the bottom was the back of another shirt which I will discuss when I reach it.
Next up was one of three trivia nights we did for SLOCA (St. Louis ovarian cancer awareness).
The next is my second favorite shirt and was also our first shirt. It is also on display in the cafeteria as part of a big quilt. (At least the quilt was there a year ago). This was designed by Kim T (now Kim K) and Kristina P. I loved it and wore it to work quite a bit until Mercy went to black uniforms.
The next two shirts are from a Marathon relay that I did with Erin, Laura, and Kim. Both my husband Brian, and our good friend Lindsay were our coaches. They hung out with the three not running and jumped the metro link with us to get to the next exchange stop. That race was so much fun. The nurses running wild was on the back.
My third favorite shirt is up next. That was a SLOCA fundraiser but will always make me think of patient SH. She had ovarian cancer and I took care of her the night of her surgery. Her daughter told me I’d have to light a fire under her butt to get her moving. Several months later I was her nurse when she left this world to meet Jesus. That fall I would run the ovarian cancer run wearing that shirt with Laura and run into her daughters. Such amazing memories.
The next shirt and the one below were front and back from trivia night. I am always reminded of Vickie who was my boss when I left and Lindsay. Lindsay was the most fun tech I ever worked with and she left to become an athletic trainer. Brian always called her wangster Willy which cracked her up.
The top of the next square was from the night Women’s Health went to a cardinals game. I was at Big Stuf camp the night of the game. So although I didn’t go to the game, I still bought a shirt. I would wear it at camp on jersey day.
I think the last shirt was also a fundraiser but I am not sure. I never wore it much but it is a great reminder of my years on women’s health.
I cannot believe a year has passed. After I left, I really thought I would work at a surgery center. Then my friend Tiffani from my favorite shirt started in the butt hut and told me to apply she thought I would like it. I told her I can’t do IV’s and I’m not working full time. Well wouldn’t you know, they had a part time position and the patients come to the room with an IV. Then a pandemic occurred and I ended up back in ICU where I hadn’t been for almost twenty years. Who would have guessed!!
Mole moral ~ Follow your path no matter how scary or unknown, you may just end in a wonderful place.
When it became clear that almost every single Endoscopy case would be cancelled until the pandemic was over, I realized I had two choices. I could either stay where I was and screen employees or perhaps do one case a day or I could volunteer to help in the ICU. It’s very hard to explain but I knew my choice was the latter. I really felt God was calling me to go there. I’ve been up there for almost three weeks now. Those who volunteered were told they would not have to go to the covid side. Last night I again felt a calling to go to the covid side. Those patients are mostly medical ICU which is what I did all those years ago. I was going to discuss with charge nurse today. Today was my day to take team all by myself and they put me in covid unit, with a nurse I met in my RN orientation. As soon as I verified I could wear an N95 and not a respirator I was ok with it. I did fine with my two patients and actually got to call the spouse of the one and say their loved one was covid negative and would be moving over to the ICU side. Imagine my surprise when it was shared with me that not only is their wedding anniversary the same day as Brian’s parents but the same year as well. As we were hanging up it was said I hope we celebrate our anniversary and I said I hope so too and to stay safe.
Mole Moral ~ Everything happens for a reason and sometimes a super scary situation turns into a huge blessing. Stay safe!!
This year was certainly a year of change and transitions. I left my job of almost nineteen years, took a seven month sabbatical and then started a new job that is unlike anything I have ever done. It was not easy leaving women’s health and as Christmas rolled around I felt like I needed to make one last craft for my friends so that I could completely close that chapter in my life. I thought about it for a while before it finally dawned on me what the perfect ornament would be.
Five years ago I started decorating the patient room doors with Christmas stockings. You can read about it here. It was my favorite time of the year as every year patients would take them home with them and I would have to replace them. I knew when I left no one would keep up with them, so I took them all with me. I saved two for my scrapbook. So I decided to make two sided ones so that everyone would remember the best room ever (2319) and the craziest nurse ever. I also made on for myself.
At my new job everyone gave me little gifts and I thought I need to make something for them. As some of you may know they refer to endoscopy as the Butt Hut. Well Dr. Aymerich always says that is not formal enough and calls it the RIU. That stands for the rectal investigation unit. So I came up with the idea of using that and the picture of a colon scope. The day I told Allyson about finding a polyp that no one else saw and then telling her it could have turned to cancer, she came up with the tag line. Because she took digital media in high school, I told her what I envisioned and had her put it together for me. It was amazing, perfect and better than I could have ever done. Everyone loved it and probably realized that I have a great sense of humor and am creative.
On the back I put Lead Investigator’s and the three doctors names and Assistant Investigators and the rest of my team. I gave one to my team leader (what SSM calls the managers) and she loved it. She said it made her laugh out loud!
Mole Moral ~ I am blessed to have daughters who are also creative and funny!
I have finished six weeks of training in the butt hut and it has been quite the ride. I’ll be honest and say this has not been an easy transition for me. I left a job where I was the queen, I knew all the doctors, almost all of procedures and could do my job on auto pilot most of the time without even have to think very hard. I walked into a different planet. The only thing that was the same is patients are involved including men. I had only taken care of women for over eighteen years. Its been nice taking care of the Y chromosomes.
The first week I wanted to quit and the only reason I didn’t was applying and interviewing for a job is a nightmare compared to thirty years ago. I felt stupid, inadequate and a burden on everyone. Yes, I know this is ridiculous to think this way. No one expected me to come in and just do the job perfectly day one except for myself. I was so stressed and nervous for at least four weeks, that the people were probably thinking why did they hire her! However, I did verbalize how I was feeling and told everyone if I’m not doing something right just tell me and I’ll change it. Most of the time I am very open to constructive criticism.
This past week things have finally fallen into place so that I am not panic stricken all eight hours that I will mess something up. I also am not having to concentrate one hundred and ten percent of the time. So my fun side is finally starting to come out and the people I work with are probably realizing why one of my nicknames is CR (crazy Rachel). Friday was full on crazy mode. For starters I walked straight into the hanging monitor for the fourth time. Later on I went to bring a dirty scope into the scope cleaning room and Tiffani had changed the chemical buckets on the scope processor and left them right in the middle of the room. Yes I tripped right on over them but did manage not to fall down. However the funniest thing of the day involved Dr. Aymerich and helping him. I googled pictures of the colon scopes we use and pictures of the wires with forceps so that maybe the story will make better sense.
The red circle is the biopsy port where the instruments go through with the wires that I get to pull out and try to make into a nice circle. The green circle is the controls that the doctor uses to move the tip of the scope.
So after removing a polyp I’m pulling the wire out and somehow manage to not only wrap it around the control knobs but have to ask Dr. Aymerich to move his hand because his hand is tangled up in the wire as well. However I recovered later when everyone was looking at this AV malformation in the cecum and I asked what this other thing was. I said not the AV malformation and pointed to the screen. It was a polyp and he said give me the snare which then means not only do I have to deal with the wire but hooking up and unhooking from the electric machine when finished. I said “curse word, I should have kept my mouth shut. Followed by just kidding because this could be cancer and I saved her life.” My preceptor then said she’s keeping me! And it’s gotten to where when they ask for snare, hot biopsy or biopsy forceps I don’t fly into panic stricken mode. I am not fumbling around as much so I’m starting to believe I’ll be ready for part time in two weeks!
Mole Moral ~ The biggest personal growth occurs when you leave the comfort of the familiar grass and jump right on into grass taller than your head!
When I shadowed for my current job, I knew I would be responsible for picking the patients up from preop holding and bringing them back to the procedure room and then bringing them back to their room when finished. What I didn’t realize was how hard pushing a stretcher could be.
Last week was my first time trying it. The gal I was with had to help in the other room. Well I had no idea there are three settings, park, steer, and wheels locked in forward position. So I take off with the patient in steer and we are all over the hallway and crashing into stuff. She had the ride of her life. After that I flat out refused to go get anyone until I had a driving lesson. Taking the patient back is easy because anesthesia goes with you.
The next day was somewhat better as I didn’t crash into the walls. Tiffani was a huge help with when to have it in steer vs the free for all. This week she pointed the mirrors up in the ceiling at all the corners so you can see if people are coming. This is very important because today I avoided about three crashes. These hallways not only serve my department but OR, Cath lab, MRI, and PACU so there are a lot of stretchers coming and going. I warn the patients when I pick them up I’m still a permit driver. A couple said today that they had never had a ride quite like mine. And just when I was finally thinking I got it, I almost crashed into the anesthesia cart!
This job is nothing like I have ever done before but I’m enjoying it. And if you are reading this thinking colonoscopies are the same thing over and over, you are dead wrong. First of all no two are the same, second the schedule is constantly changing with people not coming and adding people on. It’s just my speed of craziness.
Mole moral ~ According to my husband and kids I can barely drive a car so it’s wishful thinking I can drive a stretcher. Bahahaha
Tomorrow will be my tenth day in my new unit. The first week was all class and computer stuff. I’m not going to lie, I seriously considered quitting after the first week. I cried in the middle of the day Thursday and the entire way home. I left floor nursing and am working in the endoscopy unit. So I left beaver town for the butt hut. I have never been so completely overwhelmed in my life. I had so much information given to me, I am surprised my head did not spin off my shoulders. On Thursday they had me scrub nurse and I was assisting the doctors who are both awesome. Anyway you hand them whichever wire they need and they insert into the scope. When they are done you pull it out into these nice loops. Until I tried it. I had the wires in figure 8’s, knots but no circles. I almost hit the doc once. Friday I started washing scopes. How hard could that be? It’s a million steps and takes my full concentration. (I realized on the way home I could do beaver town on auto pilot). So by the end of the day I kind of have it down but I do notice my left wrist looks a little red but it goes away.
Monday comes and it’s back to washing. The gal with me sees that I can pretty much do it so no longer stares at me but hangs in back for questions. It seems like I’ve had less water leaking into my super long gloves but my wrist looks red like I’m reacting to something. Tuesday I’m on my own and listening to music. I’m getting a little faster and not forgetting a step as much. I’m much more relaxed and not feeling like a bull in a china cabinet. Then Wednesday arrives.
Still cleaning scopes feeling invincible when we had a double. That’s an upper and lower on the same person. The upper goes in a red bucket and comes to me for pre-clean which is usually done in the procedure room but no time to do it when doing a double. I pre clean,do what I’m suppose to and clean the hard plastic container. I decided I’ve progressed far enough I can put it away myself. I pick up the other four that are stacked together, put fifth one in and then proceed to drop them on my foot. It makes a huge crashing noise so when I come out they ask if I’m ok. I tell them what I did and doc asks if there was a scope in it. I say no and he says then all is good and smiles and his eyes sparkle. I look at my foot at lunch and it looks ok. At the end of the day the girls had me take my shoe and sock off to evaluate. It was purple underneath so they made me report to team leader (manager). She called workman’s comp and I was sent to urgent care. I went to the X-ray room and then the computer locked up and the guy had to call tech support. He ended up having to reboot the entire system. He finally gets them done. I go back to my room. The doc wasn’t there five seconds before he comes barging in with big eyes and asks if she’s seen the images. She comes back and tells me it looks like a fracture in one view but she’s not positive so she will let radiology call it and let me know tomorrow. I’m sent home in a shoe and can only stand 10% of the time. No cleaning scopes for me and my wrist is now burning and hurting. I diagnose myself with chemical burn. I put neosporin on it and wrap it like I was taught in the burn unit. I’m convinced when I wake up it will be healed.
This morning I get up and it looks worse. I show my preceptor who says I have to show my team leader. She takes one look at it and sends me to employee health. The employee health nurse takes one look at it and calls the workman’s comp gal again. Yesterday I had attempted to put in an incident report for injury but I’m not in system so I cannot report it. So workman’s comp tells me I have to report it in the system first so I call tech support. Tech support has to skype into my computer and sure enough he sees I’m not in there. He cannot add me and has to escalate it up. So I call comp gal back and tell her this. My team leader then attempts to enter it for me and she is unable to as well. So once again I’m over at urgent care without an official report. In the middle of all of this chaos the doc from urgent care calls to tell me the radiologist is unsure if it’s a new fracture or an old one. I have never dropped anything on this toe so congratulations I have a broken toe. I then remember Saturday is ice skating with the kids from camp Kesem so it looks like I’ll just be watching.
I am officially diagnosed with a chemical burn and given Silvadene cream to put on it. Now I’m banned from washing scopes which I told her I couldn’t do anyway because I’m banned from standing. Do you know how hard it is for me to sit. Every single person I worked with reminded me at least once to sit down. I will do whatever they tell me because I want healed ASAP and back to my orientation.
I really love the job but I need God to protect me from anything else happening. I don’t want them to cut me loose because I’m a big bull in a china cabinet liability.
Mole moral~ Change is good even when it involves a break and a burn!!
Some random thoughts from my first week.
1. Schleprock is alive and well
A. I stepped on the water pedal not once but twice (same day) and squirted water all over the floor.
B. I didn’t connect the water tightly and therefore water squirted all over the doctor. He said hey I’m getting wet and was very nice.
C. I dropped a 45K piece of equipment on the floor on day three.
D. Almost hit same doctor in the head with a wire.
2. I realized I was on autopilot with my old job and didn’t even think about what I was doing. So being 100 percent focused for forty hours is exhausting.
3. The drive does not involve 270 which is fantastic.
4. Working full time is for the birds.
5. I’m way too hard on myself.
6. I love all the people I work with. They are happy and fun.
7. Everyone over the age of fifty who does not have a screening colonoscopy is playing with fire.
8. Learning something completely new is intimidating (see number 5) but also rewarding.
9. You can teach this old dog new tricks.
10. Looking forward to week two What disaster can Schleprock avert?
Mole Moral ~ Change is scary but better than misery!