The Other Side of the Call Bell

Posted under: family, health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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I work as a nursing unit secretary in both the intensive care and the step-down cardiology units at the hospital. I think I’m more cynical than I used to be. It’s easy to become complacent, and even judgmental toward patients. During one of my shifts an obese patient requested donuts, cookies and pie. Even if we did stock those items in the cardiology unit, I would not have given them to him. After receiving chest compressions and a defibrillator treatment in CICU, a patient sat up and asked for a cigarette. One night we had a patient suffering from alcohol withdrawals and undergoing detoxification. He kept yelling at everyone to get out of his house, and I had to call security when he jumped out of bed and threatened the nurses. Two rooms over another patient was constantly yelling…all night. She would scream “I want to go to sleep!” and “I want my meds!” After the nurse gave her some, she screamed “That ain’t enough!” Do these patients realize why they were admitted in the first place? I would like to say to them, “You brought this on yourself. I have no sympathy.” Nurse_BettyBoop

I answer the call bell when patients ring out. Patients push a button in their room which rings a box on my desk. I pick up the receiver and ask them what they need, then respond appropriately. It is often frustrating when the same few patients ring out constantly for seemingly trivial matters, monopolizing the time and attention of the RNs and CNAs. As often as I can, I try to help the patients myself rather than to call for the CNAs or nurses. I’ve noticed that the more I interact personally with the patients, the more compassionate and empathetic I feel toward them, and the more eager I am to help them. I understand how a nurse can develop a special bond with his/her patients. When the nurse takes on the responsibility of certain patients, he/she is accountable for them, takes ownership, and forms a connection with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2) May 21 2013


A Slow Decline

Posted under: health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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Brent has done a wonderful and thorough job recounting my health problems this past year through his blog. However, I wanted to share my experience from my own perspective, so here it is.

In early June of last year my endocrinologist diagnosed me with diabetes insipidus, in which the body doesn’t hold onto water as it should. Later that month I saw my primary care doctor for a gash on my shin that wasn’t healing.Zebra After taking my blood sugar, doing some lab tests, and consulting with my endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I went through the entire gamete of keeping close track of what I ate, counting my carbs, recognizing the symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia, checking by glucose levels, and giving myself insulin shots.

This was not the end of it. I was experiencing an onslaught of symptoms: problems with cognitive function (thought process/memory/concentration), lethargy, fatigue, muscle weakness and atrophy, abdominal fat accumulation, mood swings, anxiety, dizziness, loss of balance and coordination, easy bruising, slow healing wounds, weight loss, and increased blood pressure. Finally a state of severe confusion and disorientation in mid-August prompted my doctor to call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. Apparently my ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) levels were excessively high, causing high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This resulted in a diagnosis of severe cushing’s syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17) May 14 2013


A Good Run

Posted under: health, psychology.
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Running ShoesI decided to go running this morning. I haven’t been for about two and a half years, but I remember how good I felt when I used to run regularly. I especially enjoyed running after we moved to Maine, because the climate is perfect and the scenery beautiful. After I figured out the confusing winding and dead-end roads, and no longer had to ask fellow runners for directions, it was a breeze. Since I started going to school and working full time, I’ve been feeling too overwhelmed to fit exercise into my busy schedule. Plus I haven’t been eager to brave the cold temperatures in the winter. I know. How can I call myself a “Mainer?” Anyway, anyone who gets out of a routine or habit knows how difficult it can be to get back into it.

My first motivation to get back into running was the gorgeous spring weather. Another incentive is the three grueling flights of stairs I have to climb at school. As I clear the last flight, using the railing to help pull me along, I try to feign complacency for those who may be watching. I work in the cardiology unit at the hospital which is on the ninth floor. For obvious reasons I use the elevator. One night my co-worker convinced me to take the stairs with her from the cafeteria. Midway up I wanted to punch her, kind of. As if that weren’t enough, my best boyfriend mentioned that I appear to be “squishier” than I used to be. He wasn’t trying to make me feel bad, but it got me thinking. Although I’m not overweight by any means, I am less firm than I once was. :-{
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Comments (2) Apr 13 2010


Wine for the Novice

Posted under: food, health.
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I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but I don’t really know that much about it. If you want to be truly enlightened about wine, do yourself a favor and use this resource, Winegeeks. You will learn about the different types of grapes and wines; the wine making process; smelling and tasting wine; buying, ordering, and storing wine; and how to throw a glass of wine into the face of a cheeky scoundrel. (Just kidding about the last one.) Also Kenwood Vinyards has a very helpful glossary of terms pertaining to wine.
Tempranillo Wine
It took me a while to acquire a taste for wine. Now I am starting to appreciate both the potent and subtle aromas, flavors, and textures that make each wine unique. Terms like astringent and full-bodied are used to describe the texture. Some wine scientists came up with the “aroma wheel” to describe all the different possible smells present in various wines. My personal favorite: Microbiological: yeast, sauerkraut, sweaty, horsey, “mousey.” Brent likes to use the term jet fuel to describe the taste of wine. Now I wonder how he knows what jet fuel tastes like…

I learned some interesting facts from John Cleese in “Wine for the Confused”. Many growers try to prevent the grapes from growing; they’re kept very small so the flavor is concentrated. Yeasts, which are necessary to produce alcohol, exist naturally in the vineyard and collect on the grape skins. Once the grapes have been crushed, these yeasts (or artificial yeasts added by the winemaker) interact with the sugar in the grape juice to produce alcohol, a process known as fermentation. Wine can ferment for three days or three years, depending on the style of wine the winemaker is trying to produce. The winemaker must also decide which type of container to ferment the wine in. Oak and stainless steel barrels are today’s most popular choices. So what are the differences are between red and white wine?
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Comments (4) Jan 09 2009


Try Not to Get Sick

Posted under: politics.
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In the United States 700,000 people per year go bankrupt due to medical bills.  Pharmaceuticals put most of their money and research into drugs which will make them a profit.  We’re loaded with excessive paperwork, which is inefficient and prone to serious errors.  In order to see a specialist, one must get a referral from their primary care physician (PCP).  And there is often a wait to get in to see the doctor.  Insurance is tied to employment, so consumers are stuck with the insurance plans offered by their employers, and many are forced to stay with their employers so they won’t lose their insurance.  The many people who have no insurance simply don’t go to the doctor to seek treatment.  If their health issues become too severe, they’ll end up going to the emergency room.

You would think that I have fairly decent health insurance, being employed by a large hospital.  I suppose it could be worse.  Our former insurance with Bombardier (Learjet) required a $4000 deductible before we could receive any coverage whatsoever.  I have had a recent health concern as a result of my prolactinoma.  It seems my prolactin levels have increased again.  My endocrinologist suggested I get another MRI.  But even with insurance, the price tag is too steep for us.  So we decided to skip the MRI, hoping the tumor hasn’t grown and the medications will be effective in controlling it. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10) Nov 30 2008