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End Of Shift NEWS
My adventures teaching fifth grade Family Life class
I stand in front of the room, looking at the eager, nervous faces of my fifth graders. I have already broken up the class into what I call our Family Life groups, two small groups of girls and two small groups of boys. I start class with a game. "Please compile a list of 10 body parts that contain only three letters." The inevitable questions follow: "Can we use zit?" "How about butt?" Finally, one group hits upon...READ MORE »
Nurse's biggest lesson was 'learning when to hold on and when to let go'
More than a year ago, I came to the end of a nine-year shift - the most important one I had ever worked - and there was no cash reimbursement for it. About a decade ago I noticed a small swelling in the right side of my best friend's neck right below his jaw. Our ENT physician set up an appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where the diagnosis of stage four head and neck cancer was...READ MORE »
Keeping hope alive
It was my first nursing visit to Thad and Larissa. The three of us sat around their kitchen table discussing how to best manage an exacerbation of Thad's multiple sclerosis. Tears welled in the corners of Larissa's brown eyes as she twisted a strand of her strawberry blonde hair around her finger. "His MS seemed to get worse overnight," Larissa said. "He can't walk up the stairs anymore without hanging onto the...READ MORE »
A broader meaning of wound healing
Wound healing has taken on a broader meaning to me as an ICU nurse at the Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital Regional Burn Center. The healing our patients strive to achieve means not only the physiologic process of wound healing, but also integrates the holistic concept of the interconnectedness of the body, mind, environment and spirit. This concept also extends to our patients' families. Some patients' conditions are...READ MORE »
Helping hands - and paws - bring peace
I met N.C. and became her primary nurse a few days after she was placed in the ICU with bilateral pneumonia and a history of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Pulmonologists had been following her as she previously had required biPAP and had significant lung compromise in her history. The moment we met, we connected, and though she seemed very withdrawn and quiet, I sat down and we started to talk about her illness and how...READ MORE »
Pay it forward
Have you had an experience that helped you realize you were part of something bigger and your purpose became crystal clear? I don't mean moments that make you think about your existence or the vast universe. I mean experiences that help you understand the true essence of being a nurse. That moment came to me one afternoon when I was finishing my shift as a volunteer nurse at a low-cost vaccine clinic I had...READ MORE »
Eve's heart belongs to home
It is 8 a.m. on a Monday, and my patient Eve refuses her PICC line insertion procedure again for the third time. "No! I'm not having it. Tell them I changed my mind," Eve says to the seemingly timid brand new house officer who acts uncomfortable, but is also convinced he can persuade Eve eventually to have the procedure. "Just leave me alone," she says. The house officer's beeper goes off and he says, "Let me just...READ MORE »
A daughter who happens to be a nurse
A nurse is a nurse is a nurse, and once you become one, you can never not be a nurse. Generally speaking, I've considered it a rule to do my absolute best to treat my patients as if they're members of my own family. That way, despite annoyances and inconveniences, I can chalk it up to the situation at hand and not that the patient feels like a burden to me. But I discovered I haven't been treating my patients like...READ MORE »
Flowers for his wife
On the third anniversary of my 16-year-old daughter Laura's death, I reported to my 12-hour nightshift in the ICU where I had worked for 21 years. Laura tragically died at home on April 17, 2010, from a seizure caused by Rett syndrome. Although I miss her everyday, the anniversary is especially hard. That night, we received report and picked our assignments, as usual. I chose a new admission, Susan*, a 60-year-old...READ MORE »
My plan to beat the odds against Lou Gehrig's disease
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a dream come true for those of us with ALS. The amount of publicity and awareness generated by this social media phenomenon could not have been purchased at any price. The donations have been huge. Suddenly, ALS is pulled out of the shadows and into the sunlight. A whole new generation, who never heard of Lou Gehrig, now understand what ALS is. I am hopeful that with this increase...READ MORE »
Last call: RN looks back on finish of 34-year career
About two years ago I entered my final nurse's note into the electronic medical record system. It was the end of my 34 years as a professional nurse, the end of my daily patient appointments, the end of my last shift. I first wore a white uniform in 1977 as a nurse's aide in a large nursing home. As I put on the thick opaque white stockings and spotless white leather duty shoes for that 3-11 p.m. shift, I was...READ MORE »
Stay informed: Doing homework as a patient comes in handy for RN
As a nurse, there are times when you help others and times you need to help yourself. Just recently I experienced a situation in which I needed to help myself as a nurse. As I like to say, I had to keep it close to home. I don't always see my regular doctor, who practices in an office with several other physicians. After being examined by one of the other physicians, I was informed I had a streptococcal infection...READ MORE »
Making a difference
Amelia was a patient I will never forget. She was 23, the same age as my daughter. And, like my daughter, she had gone off to college. Even better, Amelia had studied in Paris. But while there, she developed a kidney infection, and acute renal failure followed. One kidney succumbed despite aggressive treatment; the other was compromised enough that she needed dialysis and blood transfusions to improve her anemic...READ MORE »
A pillar of strength
Over the years I have counseled and cared for many people with a diagnosis of cancer. Every once in a while, you meet a patient who will teach you and touch you forever. In this case I was educating, guiding and supporting a colleague I had known for more than 30 years. After experiencing severe headaches with auras of flashing lights, Mary was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. After her first craniotomy, she...READ MORE »
A part of my soul
Clambering across the sandy terrain in mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, we arrived at the prison around 1200 hours on Dec. 10, 2010. As I walked toward the gates surrounded by my security team, their weapons drawn at the ready, I couldn't believe this is where nursing had led me: to a prison in Afghanistan. Inside, we were escorted by male and female Afghan prison guards to a small, sparsely furnished...READ MORE »