Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nursing Fashion

Whoever invented those hip-hugger pants and then expected people in nursing to wear them must like looking at butt cracks. I have to wear t-shirts under my scrub tops to tuck them into my pants so that everyone doesn't get mooned 45 times a night.

And is it sad that the most joy I got out of last night was pulling up a co-workers pants when she had an armful of books and was about to be seriously overexposed? I have to wonder what that says about me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


We're constantly losing skin cells. We shed them a little at a time and we generally don't notice it. Sometimes we speed it up by scratching or exfoliating, but even then it's not uncomfortable.

Sometimes we get an abrasion. A rug burn. It hurts for a day or two, we put some antibiotic ointment on it and maybe a bandage and we go on.

Every once in a long while we take a tumble that leaves a deeper wound. We sit, stunned, watching ourselves bleed and we might even cry. This time we need to stop the bleeding, clean the wound and use a more serious dressing on it. Maybe even gauze wrapping to keep it in place. Now it hurts for a long time, affecting everything we do until we are significantly along the road to healing.

Losing co-workers is like this too, You have that layer that comes and goes and that you don't notice much. You have some that make you pause when they leave but you get over it. And then there's a few that go away that really affect you and make you re-learn how to work without them. Those are the ones you really miss. You heal eventually, but there's always a scar left behind to remind you of your loss.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


...unless you work in a nursing center.

It doesn't take long before you realize that you have conversations in a nursing home that you wouldn't have in public. And certainly not as loudly.

"What can I do for you ladies?" I asked as I walked in to answer their call light.

"You need to call my daughter-in-law and tell her to bring me a bra. And not just any old one. I want the new black one without the cut straps," Mrs A told me.

"And she needs it. She has large, pendulous breasts. When I turned around yesterday and saw those things, I was shocked," Mrs. B said.


After I got my face arranged, I turned around and said, "Well, then she needs her bra then, doesn't she?" before I left the room.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Let Them Smoke

I live in Oklahoma. Rural Oklahoma. I don't have any official numbers, but smoking seems more prevalent here than northern Illinois where I spent most of my life. Often, when we get a new resident, they come to us with an order for nicotine patches. If they're able to protest at all, they have us remove the patch as soon as they arrive and refuse all future patches so they can go out on the back porch end enjoy their cigarettes.

The residents who are able to successfully kick the habit seem to lose their faculties faster than the ones who continue smoking. Before long the new non-smokers find themselves unable to get around without help when their still-smoking contemporaries are walking or wheeling out the back door.

I'm for letting them keep on smoking.

Having their cigarettes taken away seems to kill their motivation to get better or even stay at whatever stage they're at health-wise. Smoking isn't just smoking. It's independence. It's conversation and camaraderie. It's sharing. It's something to do that's not "old person" centered like some of the activities can be. (Bingo, anyone?)

You could make the argument that the resident is in decline anyway and smoking doesn't make any difference. Maybe. But of the people I've seen who have successfully quit smoking, more than half became bed-bound while their housemates who still smoke were managing to get up by themselves every day. Even if it was just to wheel themselves out for their next cigarette.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And then this happened...

I usually credit myself with being patient and thorough at work.

Last night at supper I took Mr. A's blood pressure and pulse and said, "OK, I'll be back in a couple minutes with your medicine."

I took off, got the meds, returned to him and he greeted me with, "Why are you in such a hurry?"

"I'm not. Why?"

And then I looked down and realized he was still wearing my blood pressure cuff.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sudden Influx of Residents

A side effect to this monstrous heat wave we've been surviving has been an increase in our residents. When it's hot like this, more folks are going to the hospital and their doctors and families realize that they "aren't what they used to be".

Unfortunately, we're in that space between having an increase in residents and not having quite enough staff. It takes longer to do background checks and drug tests and all that stuff to get new staff in than it does to admit someone to the nursing center.

From a monetary standpoint, this is a better position to be in than having it the other way around. From a care standpoint, it makes the residents upset and the staff resentful. I'm looking forward to the pendulum swinging back to center for a little bit.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I realize that you're busy and stressed. I understand that you have more on your plate than most people. I'm aware that each day ends with the same amount of things on your "To Do" list as you started with in the morning. And that's if you're lucky.

Still, when I tell you about an article that I've read and recommend it to you, it would be nice if you'd acknowledge it. If I make a suggestion, even if it's not feasible, I'd like to know you read it. You don't have to even explain why you're not implementing it. A simple, "I got your note," would work for me.

I believe that much of the complaining that we CNA's do is based on the feeling that we're just the "worker bees". We're expected to do the job without any questions or input. If we do say anything, it's just buzzing in your ears, easily shut out by closing your office door.

Just a little acknowledgement would go a long way with me. I'll bet at least a few of my co-workers feel the same.