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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.

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CR visits the ER

It’s been almost two weeks since I was at work and started getting a headache around four in the afternoon. I took motrin which did not help and took an excedrin as well an hour or two later. I had a meeting after work and by nine my headache was so bad I threw up and got sent out of the meeting. I went and laid down on the couch in an empty room because there was no way I could drive home. After sleeping for about an hour I was able to make it home. I had to work the next day and the headache was there when I woke up but I took medicine and knew it would be gone. Yeah, no that didn’t happen and by five I had to clock out and go lay down again. I also proceeded to vomit. I was off for the next four days and I thought to myself in the morning this headache will be gone. It never went away during this time but it was never so bad that I had to lay down or throw up. So Tuesday I went to work with the same headache but it was tolerable.However I wasn’t my normal get on everyone’s nerves usual self either.

This past thursday I am at work again and the headache is still out of there and out of control. I have now googled brain aneurysms, stroke, and other neurological conditions and am convinced I have a brain aneurysm. I really didn’t want to go to the ER because if it was that I would not be able to do my fifty mile run. (True story!) We had a bunch of unexpected discharges and they said I could leave at five so I agreed to go to the ER since everyone had been bugging me to go since Tuesday. The ER was crazy busy and has been since right before Christmas so I had a bit of a wait. They offered me a stretcher in the hall and I said sure because I just wanted to lay down. I was right by the nurses station but my head was bugging me so badly, I couldn’t even enjoy watching the nurses at the station.

My nurse wasn’t even born when I graduated from nursing school. Apparently the ER has a grant to draw HIV tests free of charge so I said sure draw one. You all will be happy to know I am negative. The doctor came by and he was nice looking but my head hurt so bad I couldn’t even enjoy the eye candy. He felt I had an intractable migraine but since I have never had a migraine in my life, it would best to get a CT scan as well. So the treatment for that was twenty-five milligrams of Benadryl and ten milligrams of Compazine. The Benadryl counteracts the twitching from the compazine. Ok every single nurse knows that drug seekers want dilaudid pushed followed by Benadryl pushed super fast. When that nurse pushed the Benadryl I felt as if all the air had been sucked out of my lungs and then started coughing uncontrollably. I informed my nurse I’m “allergic” to Benadryl because it caused coughing. She started laughing. I am at a total loss as to why anyone would want that feeling. So then they sent me to the scan in a total drug induced state. I barely remember the scan. But let me just say bu the time I returned my headache was half as bad.

The doctor comes by and sees I’m still twitching and orders cogenten. I look at him like he has two heads and he tells me its a safe drug. Because of my drug state I couldn’t respond with I’m not concerned about its safety, it’s old as dirt. But it worked. Then they show up with sixty milligrams of prednisone and ten milligrams of percocet. I tell my nurse no way am I taking ten of percocet. I will take five only. After all this picture was taken of me after taking a five of percocet so I can’t imagine what my kids would capture with ten milligrams on board.

They let me sleep for a bit and I am finally headache free so they give me a prescription for five days of steriods and some percocet. The doctor told me it’s very unusual to get your first migraine at the age of 49. I said yeah no kidding it’s called “nurse curse” and it’s alive and well for me. So now the headache is gone but I’m experiencing “roid rage”. I don’t know why anyone would want to take this stuff and buff up. I have not slept more than four hours for the past three nights. I haven’t been up to four in the morning in forever. I did manage to find The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Nick at Night. Someone was wanting to buy the house they lived in and that someone turned out to be none other than Donald Trump! I was dying. Tonight i am taking fifty milligrams of Benadryl and if that doesn’t work i am taking more. I have to sleep tonight, I am working tomorrow.

 

Mole Moral ~ Leave it to mama mole to have her first migraine that won’t go away with over the counter drugs but takes a cute doctor in the ER to make it go away.

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Harry Potter and the Nursing Students

It’s been quite a while since the last time I actually wrote a blog. Here is a list of my reasons/excuses.

  1. Post fifty kilometer run depression.
  2. Post cruise depression.
  3. Watching all eleven seasons of Bones on Netflix in seven weeks time.
  4. The election insanity on Facebook which I cannot tolerate.

I have certainly had plenty of material, I just have not been able to motivate myself to write anything until today. A while back I posted on Facebook I had the best day ever and got a hug from Harry Potter. What no one besides those that work on Women’s Health knew was that Harry Potter is actually a nursing student named Josh who resembles Harry. He told me one day he wears contacts instead of glasses for that reason.

We have had nursing students on our unit over the years but I rarely interacted with them. Here is my list of reasons.

  1. I usually don’t start until eleven in the morning and by then most clinical’s are close to over.
  2. Students make me nervous because in my lack of self-confidence paranoid self I am convinced they will see that I am a terrible nurse.
  3. I do not follow protocol or do things the “correct textbook way” and therefore feel I have zero business interacting with students or new nurses.
  4. I feel I do no teach well and tend to do things without really explaining them because I have been doing it forever.

One of our night shift nurses was their clinical instructor and since I knew her, it helped me come out of my paranoid shell. Also this group of kids (I am so old, I could have been any one of their mothers) were the most go-getter group I have ever met. By this I mean, say a patient needed an IV started-instead of running and hiding (like I do) they would all fight over who would get to try. I am pretty sure one of the two guy students we had even cathertized one of our patients. It always seems weird to us but in the rest of the hospital male nurses take care of women all of the time. After all when I was just 15 I had my appendix out and I had a male nurse. His name was Joe and he is the reason I ended up becoming a nurse. This was back in 1983 when male nurses were very rare.

We were fairly busy on the Wednesday’s they were on the unit and I worked at least two or three twelve-hour shifts and the poor kids got stuck with me as having the patient they were assigned to. They saved my skin two different shifts. If they had not been there I would have been drowning in a sea of medication and craziness. So since they helped me I shared a lot of my experience and crazy stories from days gone by. I thought they may have enjoyed it but being paranoid and terrible self-esteem I wasn’t exactly sure.

One day Josh asked me if a drank in nursing school. I said, “no I have never been an alcohol person. He looked over at the girls like ha ha, not every one has to drink. So then I say “Wait a minute, I did smoke during nursing school, does that make you feel better.” The girls said heck yes. I then proceeded to tell them about quitting for 13 years, starting up for another four and quitting ever since. I don’t think I was at school a week before I found out my soon to be best friends Gena and Leah were sneaking off to the parking lot smoking. They didn’t want me to know because they thought I would get mad. I was like heck no give me a cigarette and so it began.

So when there last day of clinical’s came our census was fairly high so I asked them to put me on a twelve again. I gave them all a card with CR’s words of wisdom and a QT card. That way the drinkers could purchase alcohol, the smokers could purchase cigs, and the rest soda, junk food or gas. So that is how I ended up getting a hug from Harry Potter. They ended up giving me a really nice Starbucks cup and then a card which was the best gift ever. Apparently my crazy stories and my non text-book techniques turned out to be quite helpful. Words cannot express how much I enjoyed each and every one of these kids. I am not sure there will ever be another clinical group as amazing as they were.

 

Mole Moral ~ Nursing school is just as ignorant and difficult today as it was thirty years ago. I am convinced the goal is to make one as miserable as possible with the goal to weed out the weak!

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My preceptor

I have no idea how anything works except for nursing and when you graduate and become a new nurse you are assigned to an experienced nurse to show you how things are done. Everyone has a first preceptor and I have remembered mine over the years. Her name was Lisa and I always wondered what happened to her.

It was the year 1988 and I graduated from Deaconess College of Nursing in May. I had been working on 4 north as a student nurse assistant for over a year. That was the isolation floor so I was well versed in wound care, infection and isolation. HIV and AIDS was brand new back then and people were convinced you could transmit it from kissing. I took care of my first AIDS patient on that floor, he was down the isolation hall. I remember after he passed away his call light came on after he was gone from the room and we all swore it was his way of saying goodbye. So my first nursing job was on 5 north. This floor was mainly ENT, GU and all the inpatient dialysis patients. It was a tough medical surgical floor but I was a new graduate nurse and free from isolation so I was excited about the change. My preceptor was Lisa and she lived closed to me. She was awesome. Our first day together could have left me running screaming from the building. We had a laryngectomy patient who coughed out his trach tube just as we walked in his room. I know my eyes bugged out of my head but Lisa just went over picked it up, rinsed it off, grabbed the obdurator off of the wall, put it in and stuck the thing back in the guys neck as if it happened all the time. She was great to work with. Actually I have fond memories of everyone I worked with during those two years. However after two years I found myself ready for a change. The dialysis patients tended to be admitted over and over again and they became like family members to me and then they started passing away. I couldn’t take it and decided to move on to the burn unit at Mercy. So I left Lisa and everyone behind and never saw them again. This was long before the internet, email, texting and Facebook. The only way we had to keep in touch was to call someone on the telephone or write a letter and send it through the mail (oh the horrors)!

I’ve looked for Lisa a couple of times on Facebook and today I finally found her. I heard back from her today and I was very excited. I had been thinking about her a lot recently because we have so many new girls on our floor and so many straight out of nursing school. I have found their newness  refreshing. However I have never been a preceptor. There are a few reasons for this. The hours that I work make it impossible. I have the eleven in the morning shift and sometimes come in as early as eight or not at all. New nurses have to have guaranteed work hours. I also take all new surgeries which is not what anyone in their right mind would sign up to do. I however love it. I also don’t teach well. I have been told by three different people that I don’t think like a normal person which makes it harder for me to teach anyone anything. It totally explained why I understood logic but couldn’t really help anyone with it.  I do tell all the new people they can ask me anything and I will answer and help them. It’s just best not to leave me to educate on my own because I have a crazy way of doing things.

 

Mole Moral ~ Techonology is awesome because I found Lisa who was so instrumental in my becoming the nurse that I am today!

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Physical Therapy VS Nursing

 

This past Friday was Emily’s white coat ceremony for Physical Therapy School.

“This is a ritual in physical therapy school that marks the student’s transition for the study of preclinical to clinical health sciences. this landmark ceremony involves a formal ‘robing’ or ‘cloaking’ of second year students in white coats, signifying their transition for the basic science and academic portion of their education to their clinical studies. Students receiving white coats in today’s ceremony have successfully completed foundational coursework, lab practical examinations and comprehensive examinations covering basic sciences, physical therapy management, research, and professionalism in anticipation of their upcoming clinical experiences in physical therapy practice settings across the nation. Every student in todays ceremony strives to embody the core values of Rockhurst University and the physical teary profession, including altruism, compassion and caring, integrity, excellence, professional duty, social responsibility, and active acceptance of responsibility for the diverse roles of a physical therapist (accountability).” Rockhurst University

I am not sure what I expected at the ceremony but it certainly wasn’t to be a blubbering mess. I found myself tearful on several occasions. Firstly, it reminded me of all those years ago (1986) when I received my cap from Debbie Dutton (a third year Deaconess student). I didn’t know any nurses who could have capped me but I picked her because I admired her so much and I could barely speak to her. I was very shy back then. This was a huge deal as well and after that we had to wear these crazy caps to clinical’s.

They had a speaker who had graduated from the physical therapy program twenty years ago. She was fantastic and when she spoke about how nervous she was when she first started clinical’s because she was going to be in charge of real patients and what if she missed something or killed someone. And it was at the moment i realized two things. Firstly, physical therapy is way more closely to nursing than I ever realized and secondly, new nurses also feel this way. Here lately at work we have had a fair amount of new nurses start on our floor. This caused me to remember my very first day of orientation which I have shared with some of the girls over the years. Anyway I was working at Deaconess on the renal, ENT, and GU floor. We walked into our patients room who had a laryngectomy and had a laryngectomy tube. This is similar to a trach but bigger. He happened to cough right as we walked in and out flew his tube and landed on the floor. I was thinking what the hell had I gotten myself into but my preceptor walked over and picked it up off the floor, rinsed it, stuck the obdurator back in and shoved it back in his neck as if it happened all the time. Later I would realize that was the only time that ever happened in the two years I worked there. Had my preceptor flipped out, I might have ended up a totally different nurse. So clinical instructors and preceptors are very important in shaping a future nurse or physical therapist. I do not precept new nurses because it makes me nervous and I do things my way which isn’t the best way to instruct new people. I am however a resource and will answer any question or show anyone how to do anything.

Next they did the blessing of the hands which I thought was wonderful and really wished nurses did this. Each student took oil and wrote the letters P on the palm of one hand and T on the other hand. It must have been super oily because the look on their faces was hysterical.

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And after it was over I began to reflect on physical therapy because as a nurse they have always been a pain in our neck. They always call “can I work with your patient in room x”. I want to say don’t call me just do it but I am sure they are taught this way. They always seem to get the biggest patients up all by themselves and then they leave. It always takes five nurses to get them back to bed. If you don’t believe me and need a good laugh please click to view this PT vs Nursing. Emily and I watched it together a year or so ago and were laughing so hard we could barely breath. I really never recognized that they  also have a healing touch. That they can seriously injure a patient just like a nurse. That they have to be mental therapists just like nurses because you just can’t teach a patient to walk again without learning a whole lot about his background and what kind of environment he comes from.

 

Mole moral ~ Perhaps those physical therapists with their gait belts permanently attached to them aren’t so bad after all. If they would only put the patients back to bed, life would be well PERFECT!