Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nursing excitement

For those of you who think this post has to do with breastfeeding, sorry. I have worked as a registered nurse for almost (gulp) fifteen years. I guess that makes me experienced. Although some of this experience is more dealing with crazy people which is what this post is about. The interesting characters that I have come across. Like we used to say in the burn unit "Normal people don't get burned." There are exceptions to this rule, but generally true.
I worked as in home infusion for about five years after we first moved here which was fabulous because I had a flexible schedule, meaning I scheduled my patients, however, I usually had a tremendous patient load by choice so I was extremely busy and it was not unusual for me to see patients from six in the morning until five in the afternoon. This was when Kevin was finishing up his bachelor's degree so he was a SAHD going to school in the evenings, but again, I could schedule my visits around him. Going into peoples homes is an interesting experience. I learned where the clean public bathrooms were, because I didn't want to get stuck needing to use the facilities at just anybody's home. I also had a fantastic car to drive, for safety of course, but still, I miss it. In terms of the interesting people: The first one that somes to mind was a drug dealer/ gang banger who had been involved in an altercations with another individual and managed to get the other party's tooth stuck in his knuckle, which led to an infection, then a hospitalization, a few days later he was released and of had had some stuff taken from his apartment which of course meant that he had to knock their door in to get in back, and he was expecting some retaliation. That's where I came in. I called him to schedule an appointment to start an IV on him, teach him how give himself the IV antibiotic every eight hours for two weeks, and what he needed to do to maintain the IV in his arm for up to a week at a time. When I talked to him on the phone, he explained about him expecting some retaliation and what he did for a, um, living. I told him that we needed to meet so that he could get the IV antibiotics that he needed for his infection. After a great deal of discussion, he agreed to meet me at his friend's house for the appointment. I took precautions of not going alone by soliciting the help of one of the delivery drivers to go with me so I would not be alone with this individual. He learned quickly when we got there, no surprise, but he was shocked to learn that he would have to leave the IV in his arm for up to a week. He explained that due to the circumstances he was expecting to get in some fights that week. I told him that he better lay low for a couple of weeks because if he didn't take care of the infection, he wouldn't have a hand to fight with. He agreed that this was probably for the best and stated he would try to do his best to not get into any altercations. When we were leaving his home, the driver said to me "Man, did you see all those roaches in there?" To which I replied "Ew, gross, I didn't see any crawling around." And he said "No, the marijuana kind." Yeah, he got a big kick out of my naivete.
Another memorable home experience was when I was nine months pregnant with Chloe, it was the middle of July, and needless to say HOT. I had a patient to see in South Phoenix which is the roughest part of the valley. I went to her house and the delivery of medications and suppies had not been delivered yet, but I called the driver and he said he was on his way. So i took a seat with my patient, an elderly black woman, her husband and their daughter. We sat and chatted for at least thirty minutes while we were waiting for the driver and I could not believe they were not inviting me inside because, surely, it was cooler inside than out. When the driver finally arrived and we took the supplies in, I understood why we were waiting outside. There was nowhere to sit down. There was stuff piled all the way to the ceiling with a pathway through the stuff to the kitchen and bedrooms. There were TVs, boxes of who knows what piled high and I even saw a Mr. T head, just like the Barbie head that you could do her hair and makeup, but this was Mr. T. And there was no light. There was a lamp in the corner with a 40 watt bulb and nothing else. This woman had terrible veins, but I got her IV in lickety split (I didn't want to stick around for longer than I had to. Who knew what was living in that mess). The other interesting thing about her, and I am sure that this was due to her dismal economic state, was that she had a poorly fitting wig and dentures. I thought for sure that the dentures would come flying out at me at any time. She had very interesting accessories. One day I went to her house and saw what appeared to be large hoop earrings. They were really shower curtain rings that she had attached to her ear lobes. Another day, she had on a new ring. It was the inside pull tab off of an orange juice carton. What's a girl to do but compliment another lady on her fine accessories? I saw this woman on MANY separate occasions, mostly because no one else would see her and South Phoenix was my territory.
The last one that I will share in this post was another woman that I saw for almost two years every day for a little wound on the bottom of her big toe that she refused to take care of herself. In fact, the first night that I went to see her and explain what I was going to teach her and her husband to do, she rattled of such obscenities that would make the first patient in this post blush. I could never figure out how her insurance company let her get away with that, but somehow she did. She was a large woman, had a large husband, and therefore, had a large preteen son. Her son would answer the door without his shirt on and I had to avert my eyes because he looked like he should be wearing a bra. Her husband, as I said, was large, and he smoked and I believe they had fast food every day, so he was not in good health either. So it was no wonder when I showed up one day and the M.E.'s gurney is at the base of their stairs and the front door open. There's her husband, stone cold dead in the bed. He had died in the night. She didn;t seem too surprised by this and pretty much carried on as usual. I was a little more disturbed at this seeing him there, dead. I felt sorry for the M.E.'s office having to get the gurney down the stairs with him. Now the next part of my interaction with this woman and her family needs to have a grossness alert, particularly Kevin DO NOT READ ANYMORE of this. I have shared this story with friends and done all I could for him not to hear it because basically, he can't handle any of the blood, guts, goo, and other bodily fluids that I have had experience with. So this woman had a history of uterine fibroids, which meant that she had very heavy periods and passing of clots (Iwarned you it was gross). One day, I arrived for my appointment and she sauntered into the living room, but unfortunately was not wearing any underpants and left a huge blot clot on the floor in her trail. It was HUGE, like a little liver. It was at least the size of a softball. She sees that this has happened after she plops down on the couch. I stood in the corner and prayed that no one would ask me to touch it. She yelled for her seventy year old mother to come and get it (she was cleaning the bathroom for her dear daughter). Her mom comes out and sees the expulsion and yells at her daughter for not wearing anything to catch it and goes to get something (a shovel?) to clean it up. While this is happening, her son is enjoying a jelly donut. He needed to get past the obstruction and didn't see any reason not to just step over it while he is devouring something that looks strangely like the beast on the floor. There were no words to describe my horror at seeing all of this unfold, and now you understand why I can never share this with my dear husband. He's very delicate, you know.
Those are a few of the interesting characters that I have had the pleasure of helping in their quest to regain their health. I will post more interesting tales of nursing as I remember them and maybe even group them into a theme, like cockroach encounters and attacking patients.

No comments:

Post a Comment