Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

Instant Weight Loss

So I leave the dentist, stop for gas, grab a Gatorade, and three minutes later I’ve discovered the secret for fast weight loss…


To be more specific, Lidocaine injected into either your right or left buccal sac ( cheek for you non-medical people).

I had twisted off the cap to  the bottle and was looking forward to the orangey taste of my potassium loaded drink. Lifting it slightly higher than chin level, but not too high that I couldn’t  see the road ahead of me, I puckered my lips. Or at  least I thought I had.

As I placed the plastic rim against my mouth and realized I couldn’t contract the muscles on the right side of my face, there was a split second debate going on in my head: Do I dare take a sip or not ? Am I going to dribble liquid down my shirt?  I pushed the lip of the bottle harder against my mouth. Nope. No feeling at all . Like a baby squirrel, I sucked a few drops from the left side of my mouth.

I put the drink down.

I looked mournfully over at the baked chips I picked up just before paying for the gas. They probably wouldn’t taste good being as the right side of my tongue was also numb. I couldn’t roll the sour cream powdered flavoring around in my mouth.

I whimpered a little. The 460 calories sat there while I drove on.

Damn cavity !

The scale better be half a pound lighter in the morning.


A Visit From Don Juan

Either he had slept little the night before, or he always had the seductively lowered lids  that drew you in. Then there was his slow drawl with the slight accent – a male version of the come hither tone you might hear on a T.V. show – but he was sincere – that’s what him so appealing – and made me smile at his response to my question.

“I need a phone number of the person who is going to take you home after your surgery.”

Fingers on the keyboard, I was ready to type in a name and number.

It will be one of my girlfriends.”

“Ah, um, okay. Pick one and give me her name and number.”

“Well…,” He dragged the word out. “I’m not sure which one is best. It depends on what time I am ready to go.”

I can do this. It’s none of my business. Just  take both names down and the window of time for pick-up appropriate for each.

I jotted the names and numbers. All was well until four hours later. The waiting area receptionist called.

“Hello. Just wanted to let you all know that Mr. ___________’s girlfriend called and said she was on her way.”

His comment about the fact that he had more than one  girlfriend came back to mind. I quickly asked, “Did she say what her name was?”

“Gosh no, Susan. Sorry, I didn’t ask.”

I advised the nurse recovering ‘Romeo’ that he had a visitor coming, that one of the girlfriend’s took a proactive approach and didn’t wait  for a phone call.  As she turned back toward his bay, I took note of the look on her face.  Priceless.

What would happen if the other girlfriend showed up would be even more special!



fireblogLast night I set my regrets on fire; a small flame, a single curl of smoke – that’s all it fostered. Like the wagging tongue of a child, it momentarily taunted me, but then I thought, No.

There were too many joyous experiences from 2016 to let a few misgivings piggyback into 2017.

What I learned most from this last  year is that letting go, for me, needs to  be a daily practice. No more holding things in ( or up). It’s not some kind of measure of my character.

Besides, no one’s ever asked me to hold anything in.



img_1805I’m guessing this is from the neighbors.


CPR and Praying – Both Done Better In the Kneeling Position

Instead of being on the road driving toward my parents for dinner at 4:50, I was on my knees in one of the rooms of my next door neighbor’s home.

“One and two and three and four. One and two and…”

I ignored the 911 operator on speaker phone (she was going too slowly). My sweet neighbor was yelling, “We’re fine. She’s a nurse. My neighbor’s a nurse.”

We weren’t fine.

I wanted to cry, not because of stress, but because despite his disheveled appearance, I knew I was doing compressions on someone younger than me, someone who my instincts told me, had given up. Hope is an integral part of my belief system, and sensing its absence blanketed me with grief for the stranger lying below me.  There was also the small pop felt under my hand on the fifth compression and I knew I had cracked rib. Guilt, major guilt. Irrational. But it was there anyway.

I also felt alone. You’re never alone in the hospital. You never go through this alone. There is a whole team. Sometimes so many, the extras that can’t find any way to help are sent back to their normal duties.

He took in a garbled breath, and in the background, the sounds of sirens could be heard entering the neighborhood. I stopped CPR, and with my fingers under his jawbone, lifted his chin. He took in two more rumbling gasps of air. His lips flapped when he exhaled.

Now at his head, I noticed with more care the deep gash across his left brow, the blood on the carpet, and a foot away, a syringe with a bent needle. It confirmed my suspicion that demons were winning the fight for this guy’s life.

Heavy footsteps signaled the arrival of help. I kept my guy’s chin thrust upward, watched his chest go up and down, and remained in a scrunched up position between the door frame. A long legged paramedic stepped over me and threaded an IV into his hand. After the mom explained her son’s history, they administered Narcan – reversing the sedative effect on his heart, oxygenated him, and assisted him to a stretcher for his visit to the nearby hospital.

His mom thanked me profusely and in the same sentence, told me she’d also had a bad day at work. His dad also thanked me and finished by saying “I’m so embarrassed.”

I told them everyone has struggles and hugged them both.

I got to Mom and Dad’s by 5:12.



Our Department Angel


We have something for you.”

He never changed his pace. He grabbed a chart, added the indexed papers, and the allergy sticker for the front.

We waited, quietly.

Thinking he’d look up and notice everyone standing around him, we all inhaled, anxious to show our appreciation. Our manager stood behind him and off to the left, holding the envelope with the gift card inside.

He then got up from his seat, turned clockwise, and sifted through the stack of dividers, his chin inches from where they sat propped on the high countertop. After finding the specific divider he needed, our much valued volunteer acknowledged our presence.  

“Just a minute. I need to finish this.”

Sure that he was aware that the small crowd gathering was for him, our boss gently intervened.

“We have a gift for you”

He sat again and placed the name labels inside the clear pocket.

I’m not sure about the others, but for me, the awkward humor of what appeared to be a snub quickly turned into an ‘ Aww ‘ moment.  A little shade of pink had colored his face.  Turning to the manager, but fluttering his eyes up and down, he simply said “O.K”

“This is for you. We all chipped in!” Noticing his shyness, our leader kept it short and sweet.

He murmured a “Thank you”, placed the envelope on the counter, and looked over to start on a new chart.

“Open it.”    “Open it.”           “Open it.”     We all chimed in.

 “Of course he complied. He is a gentleman. 

What’s more important is that I share this:   Our volunteer is over 75, having put in full tenure in the school system, has time to help at least twice a week. His wife is seeing an Oncologist. He only missed the days he had eye surgery and the days his wife was getting treatments. He doesn’t take breaks or chat the time away.

He’s not “Just a volunteer.” (Besides, there is no such thing as “Just a volunteer”.)

He’s a gift.

To our department angel I want to say “We love you and hope you never tire of us!”




Dashboard Junkie


I have an announcement to make:

I am no longer a Dashboard Junkie.

I have finally reached that personal Nirvana where I see posts from writing peers popping up in my email, a one paragraph teaser displayed on my tiny phone screen, and I get that feeling, you know, the one where you’ve gotten a voicemail from a friend — your cell phone battery is low or you’re in a tight spot at work — and you’re anxious to get home to call them back.

I want to read more, comment more (if I have something of value to say or share), or hit the ‘like’ button to simply acknowledge that ‘yes’, I hear you.

It’s about the people.

Those that express thoughts, ideas, or simply share the joy of their day, in written format, I miss them. I want to stay connected

Not to say that I won’t ever look at my Dashboard again, and some of you might be thinking Why should you? Your follower count is pretty low.

Losing the idea that the Dashboard is important, for me, is liberating.

(A well-respected blogger with thousands of follows once queried people as to why they post and I fessed up to one day hoping my social media presence would impact an industry person.)

I’ve had essays published in newspapers, nursing magazines, even a literary journal or two, and I was starting to see writing as a task with stair step goals leading to, who knows, something big in the future. But, in the process of my obsessive goal setting, (ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors – it’s true) I had lost the joy of having found a way of expressing myself. I had inadvertently transferred the writing energy into setting the bar higher and seeing if I could jump over it. I saw the Dashboard graph as my reward.

No more.

Opening up WordPress is a treasure chest. The people posting here are fearless in the way they lay out their emotions, diligent in their efforts to support others, to bring only their best crafted stories and essays.

If I’m going to set any new goal regarding my blog, it will be to read what I have typed and ask myself each time, Susan, are you leaving anything out? Are you sugarcoating it?


I’m in a good place.



“I” before “we”?


After another great service a couple of Sundays ago, I went home with good intentions to look up a study done at the University of California involving linguistics and the parallel between the use of ‘I’ or ‘me’ and an individual’s degree of self-focus.

I must have misspelled the professor’s name. I couldn’t find the exact study.

This is what I did find:

“In the 1990s, James Pennebaker helped develop a computer program that counted and categorized words in texts, differentiating content words, which convey meaning, from function words. After analyzing 400,000 texts—including essays by college students, instant messages between lovers, chat room discussions, and press conference transcripts—he concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do”

 For example, he learned that pronouns tell us where people focus their attention. The most simple is the use of “I”. Chronic use is an indicator of self-focus. Most people can figure this out without looking at it from the perspective of grammatics.

I was tickled with his reference of ‘function words’. I always thought all words had function – how wrong I was. Turning the topic on its head, I pondered…Is a lack of the use of the word ‘I’ mean that there is neglect of the self? A predisposition to being too focused on what’s going on around you and not taking care of yourself? In my opinion, nurses fall in the category of the latter. It’s a risk for all in the medical profession.

I’m going to do the New Year different. I’m going to make and share a list of my favorite things, no resolutions. Self-improvement is already an ingrained part of my character.

* Thank you for indulging me with a read of this post. I feel I meandered…and probably used the word “I” too much.


A letter to a patient

“I’m leaving! I don’t care. I have to go!”

I heard it and I didn’t see who said it, but I knew it wasn’t a nurse. We say that kind of stuff in our head, a fantasy played out when the week has been unbearably long, the add-on cases never ending, and patients continued to be sent down poorly prepped from the floor.

Then I heard the sotto voice of a peer who I’d describe as unflappable.

Okaaay. Well, your daughter is on the phone here and she has confirmed that although you did not make arrangements for her to pick you up and my call is the first she’s heard of this need, she can be here by 1:30.”

Then he got louder. I selfishly giggled — happy he wasn’t my patient. The nurse at the desk, her eyes grew wide.

“I don’t need her to come here. I’m a grown man. I live close. If you won’t let me take a taxi, I’ll walk! I gotta go!”

Anger emitted from his voice and I could hear sneakered feet hit the floor.

My buddy quickly explain the leaving AMA (against medical advice) form he needed to sign. She also humbly asks him to please let her take out his IV.

My manager steps over and reiterates why he needs to comply with our request.

“Oh. Now there’s two of you! I’m still going!”

And there he is. Now he’s in the galley area between the bays and the nursing station. Yes, he is alert, but he had general anesthesia. It’s still in his system.

We can’t physically restrain someone who is doing no harm to themselves or the staff caring for them. A call was made to the surgeon who’d treated the patient. The patient was again asked to stay and let his daughter come get him at 1:30.

He started walking. My boss followed him right to the hospital entrance and watched him weave in and out between cars. Two minutes later he drove past her, grinning and waving.


Dear patient that left AMA,

Maybe, just maybe, you think what you did was the proud thing, managing your “own business”.

Let me tell you what it was: It was stupid and selfish.

To think so little of the lives of others at risk while you are on the road “proudly” driving yourself home, how dare you.

To lie to our Prep central nurse, pre-op nurse, and probably to the office nurse that mentioned the need for someone to be with you after surgery means you wanted to make sure you could get on the road and sit behind two thousand pounds of steel going fifty miles an hour.

We’ve had others, but they understood — they waited. They were frustrated, but they waited.

Sir, you have no regard for life.

Have you never lost anyone? Felt the anguish of a family or friend you felt taken too soon?

Your anesthetic will wear off in forty-eight hours, but you will still need to wake up.

We aren’t going to forget you, but it will be for all the wrong reasons. You take for granted the one thing that all the money in the world can’t buy.

With cautious regards,

The ASU nurses.





Father may I…

I reflect on it now and I hope he didn’t find me to be impudent, but hey, when was I going to have this opportunity again?

What’s your favorite book?

What’s your favorite verse?

Emboldened with fast responses, I pushed further.

Who’s your favorite disciple?



“After he came to know the Lord, he had a sense of humility unparalleled to any other disciple.”

I shut up, finished getting him ready, and brought his family back to wait with him



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