Oh honestly, what the…

Posted on July 25th, 2012

Not impressed today…

Listening to the doctor tell his patient [who has just had colon cancer and had a mighty large portion of his intestine removed] that “no, there is no dietary restrictions at all for you, eat and do as you like” when the patient has a history of

1) drinking copious amounts of alcamahol

2) smoking (the first thing he requested after his operation)

3) no physical activity and

4) eating large amounts of red meat.

Oh yes, keep doing all those things and you will be just fine, cheers Doctor! One does not need to have a title before their name to realise that healthy lifestyles are much better after a cancer (or in fact, any time!). Ugh… fabulous advice there!

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Medications for Winnie the Pooh Characters [Humor]

Posted on July 24th, 2012

For all those working in mental health, this may make you giggle! The overdiagnosis of Winnie and his friends!

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A smell like I’ve never smelt…

Posted on July 22nd, 2012

Today I experienced a smell like no other. It was wafting down the corridor and I could smell it as I walked past the room. It was a smell that was unfamiliar but now one, that I will never forget.

As I was walking down the corridor, one of the nurses waved to me and asked if I wanted to see something. It was the room where the smell lingered. Sure, why not?! However, I did not expect what was awaiting me. A black highly necrotic wound. One that…. wait for it (hope you are not eating your breakfast right now lovely readers!)…. came with a whole bunch of friends… maggots. Because the patient was a paraplegic, a pressure sore on his bottom had turned into a black horrible mess without him even realising, due to the lack of sensation or feeling. God knows how nobody else noticed it but he lived alone.

Upon research, I found out that maggots were used intentionally between the 1920s and 1940s to firstly help debride wounds (rapidly), but also to reduce pathogenic organisms, reduce odor levels and increase time of healing! All thanks to Dr Baer who discovered in 1929 that all 21 of his patients with open lesions (who suffered from chronic osteomyelitis) were completely healed and they were released from the hospital after two months of maggot therapy. Due to the lack of conventional medicines and medical supplies, maggots were great use for medics and military staff treating those with war wounds.

But for me, the thought of having them in my skin makes my skin crawl… literally… with maggots. Ick!

Have you seen this before?

Tip from one of the nurses: keep a Vicks nose inhaler in your pocket, take a sniff of it before you enter the room, and bam, you’re good to go!

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Call the Midwife [Amazing Book!]

Posted on July 21st, 2012

Well, that was the best book I have read in awhile. I saw that this was a series on BBC but am more inclined towards the book versions of things, so I thought I would give it a whirl. It is extraordinary! It tells a true story of a young girl, who became a midwife/nurse with a bunch of nuns back in the 1950s in the East End. Stories of prostitutes, backstreet abortions, and the slums in which people lived, the unsanitary conditions and the hardworking ladies who rode their bikes every day to see their patients in their homes, rain, sun or snow. Such dedication, in which they gave up so much. It makes you think about modernity and the equipment and technology which has now medicalised childbirth. One particular story about a prem baby who was kept, wrapped in a piece of silk, between her mothers breasts, and fed and loved and feeling the heartbeat of her mother, who survived. Makes you think of all those babies who spend their time in those tiny plastic enclosements, all alone, with bright lights, barely held by their mothers touch. Of course, there is a need for much of the technology nowadays and many more babies survive, but she contemplates in the book… whether maybe we have gone too far (the other way). In any case, it’s a fabulous book. Usually, I take 6 months to read a book but this one I read in 2 weeks and kept thinking “okay, one more chapter then I’ll sleep… oh, one more for the road” until I got to the last page and was sad it had ended. Until Amazon kindly informed me that it is in fact a trilogy! Woohoo! Can’t wait to read the next two. I’m dying to know what happened to some of the characters, who are still entrenched vividly in my mind. The author Jennifer Worth sadly died in 2011 from oesophagal cancer but her memory lives on in her books and acts as souvenirs for her family I imagine of a merciless, fulfilling, hardworking life that she lived.

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highlight of the day [it's the small things!]

Posted on July 18th, 2012

Highlight of the day:

My patient whispering to me (after a doctors visit) “well, that doctor has obviously had a personality bypass… a major one at that”… and she was absolutely right too! Miserable sod.

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how to “detach”… in a job of life and death

Posted on July 12th, 2012

A question for all those nurses/doctors/everybody out there. How do you “detach” from forming a relationship with your patients (especially those long-term ones you grow fond of!)? The lines of professional boundaries can be a fine one and one that can become blurry.

In nursing school, we are taught that as part of the nurse-client relationship, you should always be thinking towards the termination phase. But what if you have become emotionally attached to that incredible person you are looking after who you have developed a special relationship with? By the way, you know I don’t mean that kind of special relationship. ;)

Or, how do you deal with deaths? I experienced my first death in my first year of a patient I adored and that I had looked after during a whole semester, and I dealt with that with a few tears and a glass of wine! I am guessing that all those to come will become easier.

When I see a family upset because a family member is sick, has had bad news, or is dying, or dies, I remind myself that it is their pain, not mine to take on. So I can be empathetic and understand their pain, without taking sadness and grief home with me.

I just want to hear your thoughts, how do you do it? You can be blunt with me, if need be. I can take it.

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Special patients you will never forget…

Posted on July 5th, 2012

They say there are some patients that will leave an impression on you. And already, I have had many. For example, I shall never forget the old Dutch man who hurled his walking stick at every person that passed or dared enter his room, then would ring the bell for the nurse to come hang his walking stick back in its place next to his bed (“IN THE RIGHT PLACE!!!” … “NO, not THERE!” “THERE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!”) for it be hurled again at the next person. He also enjoyed throwing yoghurts, spoons, whatever else at the walls. I took a deep breath and walked into his room one day to take obs and saw my life flash before me as a silver knife flew across the room right before my eyes, missing me only just… Phew!

Then.. there are people like Pearl* (name and details changed of course). A beautiful 92 year old lady who just brightened the room. She was with us for one week in hospital and not once did I see her without her red lippy, nor her mascara, nor did she complain… not once. Her hair seemed to magically puff up into a 50s hairdo. She smelt like rose petals. She wore an intricate white lacey nightie, complete with fluffy dressing gown and pink fluffy slippers. She was a lady who was still stunning at this magnificent age who I imagined to be a real ‘belle’ when she was young (to which her daughter later confirmed that she was a swimsuit model back in those days in black and white which didn’t surprise me at all!).

I asked if she would mind if I interview her (as part of my studies) to which she smiled with such warmth and said “of course, darling” to which I sat down and learnt about her incredible life. Many husbands later and after a life of fun, excitement and frivolity, she now found herself in hospital suffering from an exacerbation of COPD from years of smoking and as she put it, felt she was “aging ungracefully”. When asked if she would ever consider give up smoking to help with her COPD, she let out a giggle (with her gorgeous infectious giggle) and said “at my age sweetheart, the damage is already done… So, why would I give up now?…”. She said she enjoyed her long-lasting habitude of having the odd cigarette when talking on the phone to her adult children or while watching tv at night. She had a good argument, and who am I to judge? She wanted to enjoy her days that rested on earth.

And so, after a week on the ward, off she went, back home to what I imagined to be a palace, complete with fairy lights and chandeliers. I don’t know what it was about her but there was a sparkle in her that was really special and she just exuded warmth. She obviously had lived a somewhat privileged life but did not exude any trace of pretentiousness in any way, shape or form, and was in fact incredibly modest about her life. Her daughter told me that she never once judged any of the kids and supported them no matter what. What an amazing human being.

Have you had patients like that who you will never forget?

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If only…

Posted on July 1st, 2012

If only it was a little less like this… medications given out like lollipops.

And a little more like THIS…

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we are all little chickens

Posted on April 8th, 2012

Oh the things one looks forward to in first year in nursing school.

I remember, first week on practical, meeting up in the hallway:

Student Nurse 1: Guess what I get to do today… my patient needs a suppository! I GET TO GIVE MY FIRST. EVER. SUPPOSITORY!!!

Student Nurse 2: No way, you’re so lucky! *secret bitch stare*

Never thought I’d look forward to putting a lubed up finger up someone’s jacksy but hey, that’s what nursing school does to ya. Turns out the patient decided he would try a bit of liquid magic in oral form instead so no such luck.

Sorry for those non-nursing people – complete nurse’s humour. And we are a unique bunch.

It feels a bit like Grey’s Anatomy at the moment as we follow the RNs around like little chickens, itching to learn, hoping that we will get picked for any procedures, doctors rounds, or anything remotely interesting. The subtle but slightly passive aggressive competitiveness of nursing students is hi-larious to watch.

Now in 2nd year, we have more exciting things to look forward to! ;)

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it’s not for everyone, aged care.

Posted on May 26th, 2011

I never thought I would like aged care. Previous first-year nursing students told me all of the doom and gloom, and told me “not to let aged care put me off nursing”. But you know what, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I have enjoyed it. Yes, of course it has its sad moments of course. And it seems to skyrocket between super-pleasant-amazing-moments to omg-this-is-so-fucking-sad-moments. I had a teary moment as I watched one of my patients reach for his wife’s hand (as they often hold hands) and she pulled away, giving him a look of aggression and ‘who the hell are you’. She suffers from dementia and wasn’t having a good day. He left his hand lingering there for awhile, just in case. She never took his hand.

I almost feel quite honoured to be spending time and helping somebody’s father or special grandma. One of my favourite patients has pretty severe Alzheimer’s but is just the happiest, bubbliest lady you will ever meet. She laughs out of nowhere, and her face lights up every time you speak with her. In working with people with Alzheimers, I wanted to learn how to communicate with people who can’t speak or understand and tried out a few of the techniques. It works! It really does work. Simple strategies like

  • minimising environmental stimuli
  • sitting in front of the person
  • making eye contact
  • open body language
  • speaking slowly and breaking it down into simple terms or instructions
  • using exaggerated facial expressions and/or gestures
  • and exercising patience and being caring, friendly and relaxed towards the person… it all makes a difference.

I definitely want to experience a lot of the different fields of medicine but I think aged care is a really good basis for learning how to care for someone, especially those who are completely dependent on you for just about all of their care. It is a big wake up call, that’s for sure.

Upon complimenting her on her wonderful 88 year old husband (my patient), his wife smiled, turned to me and said “we have had a good life together, both of us and we have no regrets whatsoever”. That is what I want to be saying when I am that age. Content with how I’ve lived my life and what I have achieved. Without a feeling of not having lived their life to the full, being at peace with the end stages of life and accepting the inevitable. That is how I want to be. I cherish these moments and will remember them forever.

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