Archive for category I Really Have a Life Outside of Nursing

A Blogger, Allegedly

So, it’s been awhile, eh?

It was Chuck Norris who found me.

To everyone who emailed and texted and Tweeted, thanks. Everything is hunky and dory. I’m not dead, ok? Let’s get that out of the way. Nor am I afflicted with a Chronic Debilitating Illness, unless you count members of my family. (That would be the topic of long separate blog post + extended psychotherapy.)

So what happened? Much to my surprise and amazement (and frank gratitude if truth be known) I got a new job about this time last year. A job with a very steep learning curve and a fairly cool boss with an alphabet soup of letters after her name and about as far away from Emergency nursing as you can imagine without leaving the hospital.

It is true, friends.

I have walked away from the front line.

I have drunk the mystical Kool-Aid.

I am Management.

But not real Management. I don’t actually manage anyone. I make up PowerPoints (ugh), give talks, and do research. I write policies. I have projects. I educate patients and staff.  I occasionally make recommendations to Important People many steps above my pay grade, When I do speak, the senior administration actually pays attention and sometimes will do this or that based on the words flowing out of my mouth. This is a bit of a revelation for a front-line nurse used to managers halfheartedly and reluctantly paying attention. OK, not really paying attention at all.

Nurse K once suggested to me that my ambitions for real management were probably misplaced. Having observed front-line managers from the other side up close for the past year, I have to agree. Being a front-line manager truly and deeply sucks. It’s far worse than being a charge nurse. (I say this as an embittered former old charge nurse, remember.) Awesome amounts of responsibility and no actual power. And navigating the snakepit which is hospital politics. And the risk of being walked off the property at will. Great job, right?

So first lesson: I think I dodged a bullet there. I really don’t want to be a manager.

Second lesson:  This is the first job where I use all of the skills I have acquired as a nurse in a meaningful and effective way.

I’m not just talking about clinical skills, or therapeutic communication skills which are surprisingly important in my current position; I’m also talking about evidence-based practice, critical thinking, leadership, understanding hospital processes, effecting change, teaching and developing clear presentations and a whole pile of other stuff — a whack of skills I acquired along the way in my ED practice.  The unfortunate fact is, the opportunities to develop and use all of these skill in front-line practice is limited. The fact I had to leave front-line practice to fully explore them is a telling, don’t you think?

Third lesson: Make the jump. I’m looking at all of you who think there must be more. Or better. Do something different. You won’t regret it.

Curiously enough a couple of days ago, someone named Darren Royds left this comment on one of my blog posts:

You need to get out and find a decent job. Have a life , live and reduce stress. I have quit nursing and was the best decision I ever made. You will end up as so many do.

Well exactly.  I haven’t quit nursing, though. But as much as I loved working in the ED, it was clearly time to move on. It was the best job decision I have ever made.

Have you guys ever made a career change to/from/within nursing? Was the outcome good/bad/indifferent?



P.S. So what about the blog?

That, dear friends, will be a topic for another blog post.

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Adventures in Depression

Adventures in Depression
I swear Allie Brosh has channelled everyone who has ever suffered depression in this brilliant webcomic. Including me. Check it out by clicking on the graphic or the link.

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Where I was Thursday. I’m not very good at writing art review-style critiques using high-flown language, but I can say that I enjoyed Buskerfest a lot. There’s a bit of an edge to the performers. They generally live on the margins. They swear freely, even with children present. (O the horrors!) They’re tattooed and pierced, they are sometimes scruffy, and few are, to be a honest, a little creepy. The festival is not in anyway sanitized, which is why I think it is so successful. Some highlights:

Kate Mior. (Website.) One of the best we saw.

(Kate has already run afoul of His Worship the Mayor. According to Now:

Kate Mior has performed her mime-based living statue act for thousands of people all over the world, but she’ll never forget her encounter with Rob Ford.

Last year in Toronto, then-candidate Ford pushed through a crowd she was entertaining and then joked to everyone that she doesn’t pay her taxes.

“There is a certain stigma against street performers,” she acknowledges, “but in Toronto that’s changing.”)

Comment seems superfluous. More Kate:


More acrobats.

This guy was quite good too. He had put some sort of shield or mask over his eyes to make them look mechanical. The effect was quite disconcerting.

But my favourite? HERE COME THE BUGS!!!

The bugs were great. We loved the bugs.

And no collection of bugs is complete without a Bug  master, who deserves special mention of his own

It’s a great festival, and if you’re downtown this weekend, check it out.

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When All Else Fails, Use a Cliché

Along with Ye Olde Mill By The Stream™ and Child Getting First Haircut™, Insect on Flower is one of the most beloved clichés in photography. But as Jethro, my photographical partner-in-crime says, who the hell cares?

Click to embiggeb

Swallowtail on a Preston Lilac


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Observations and Assessments

Notions too small for a blog post, all in one place.

Stormy weather. Some of you probably noticed a slight lack of presence here the last couple of days. The wind storm which swept over Ontario last Thursday left us without electricity, telephone and internet service, as well as blowing out an upstairs window and knocking over a fence. The power (or hydro as we say in Ontario) came back the same day; the telephone and internet returned only last night — there was some damage to the local wireless tower as well. The really bad news is that not only are Canadians voting in a federal election today, but that it’s also tax deadline day here in Canada. Because of the lack of internet access, filing was impossible* — and I have, as of writing thirteen hours and ten minutes to find my T4 slip and load up TurboTax.

The Good News. You were all spared — and I am pretty sure my American readers are especially grateful — a blog post about the various parties’ positions on health care. Believe it or not, I did wade through all the platforms, and they essentially ranged from generally sucky with bright spots  to really awful and/or nonexistent. (Hello, Conservatives?) Given the demographic wave which is about to wash over and possibly overwhelm the health care system, and the high priority Canadians place health care as an issue, some sort of debate around this issue might have been useful. Yet we heard nothing at all.

Oh, no, not again. Just so you know, for reasons previously stated, I am ignoring Nurses Week.

New meat. Some shout outs to some new (to me, anyway) nurse bloggers: RNnnnrGrl and Frazzled_razzleRN, The Adventures of a Nursing Student, and in particular Dreaming of Call Bells, who blogs from Moose Factory, Ontario.

Death over the airwaves. A new British television show will show will show footage a terminally ill man dying:

The death of a terminally ill 84-year-old man will be broadcast on British television in May, as part of a series documenting the life cycle of the human body.

A man suffering from cancer and identified only as Gerald will be shown taking his final breath — at home, surrounded by his family — on the second episode of the BBC One series Inside the Human Body.

Speaking to BBC listings magazine Radio Times, host Michael Mosley defended the footage, saying producers did not want to “shy away from talking about death, and when it’s warranted, showing it.”

He acknowledged that the decision to include the footage would inevitably draw criticism.

“I know that there are those who feel that showing a human death on television is wrong, whatever the circumstances. Although I respect this point of view, I think there is a case to be made for filming a peaceful, natural death — a view shared by many who work closely with the dying,” Mosley said.

Similarly, a new documentary shows a terminally ill cancer patient in Oregon taking a lethal (and legal) dose of euthanasia:

I’m not squeamish about death, and theoretically, anyway, I would support physician-assisted suicide. But when confronted with an actual person planning her death, I start having a hard time with it. It seems, well, too cold-blooded. Am I wrong?

Hospital food is awful and bad for you. This seems to be as true in Australia as it is in Canada. Inadequate nutrition is a serious issue in the deconditioning of elderly patients (see here, for example).

Doctors have called for a hospital food review, because patients are being discharged malnourished.

Australian Medical Association state president Andrew Lavender said the below-par quality of hospital food, set serving times for three meals a day, and a one-size-fits-all approach could lead to patients checking out malnourished.

“A lot of patients do become malnourished in hospitals,” he said. “They are trying to improve nutrition, but when you’re cooking for 700 or 800 people the quality is often not up to scratch.”

“Generally, the elderly and those who are sick don’t have an appetite and there isn’t much of a follow-up in terms of what someone doesn’t eat. People having major operations are in a state where their body requires extra nutrients to recover and they often they don’t get that. People do depart hospital down in weight.”

And yet, when looking for increased efficiencies in hospital budgets, the kitchen is often the first place to get the axe.


*I mean, who does paper returns anymore?

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Thrilled to Death

The ride of your life in the form of euthanasia roller coaster. A thought-experiment where art, pop culture and end-of-life issues meet. I know some people who would be totally down with its realization.

According to the prospectus:

“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetical euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death. Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in aeronautics/space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasing, elegant and meaningful. Celebrating the limits of the human body, this ‘kinetic sculpture’ is in fact the ultimate roller coaster: John Allen, former president of the famed Philadelphia Toboggan Company, once said that “the ultimate roller coaster is built when you send out twenty-four people and they all come back dead. This could be done, you know.”

[Via The Galloping Beaver.]

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My New Motto

I had a very pleasant dinner the other night with an old friend I went to school with, and whom I literally hadn’t seen for years. We didn’t have a falling off or anything like that. We just sort of — drifted. Life gets in the way. Children, family, work, and suddenly it’s ten years later and you’re wondering where all the freakin’ time went. She didn’t look much different, to me anyway. She was still married to the same guy and still had the cottage up in Haliburton where we once spent a summer weekend walking in the woods and minding the bears. Her kids were all grown up. She was, to my surprise, an ICU nurse. Surprised, because she was determined when we graduated to be the best med-surg nurse ever. But she’s a smart cookie, and predictably she wanted a challenge. She told me when she first started as a med-surg RN, she would avoid codes because “codes were only for critical care nurses.” Now, she jokes, she avoids codes because she’s old and seen it all. Let the young ‘uns do them. I agree, at least with the sentiment.

We compared notes. We kindly and gently mocked each other’s specialities. We traded war stories, told tales of egregious physician behaviour (a favourite nursing pastime), stories about ourselves, our patients, our profession, tragedy and comedy: the wealth of human experience we are privileged to share.

Another piece of wisdom: “Stupidity,” she says, “is what keeps us in business.”

My new motto.

My other new motto: look up an old friend once in a while.

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Merry Christmas

I’m done gone and won’t be back till the 27th, except for some music and some other things to keep the lights on, so to speak.

Have a happy and safe Christmas, everyone.

First up, my mother’s favourite carol. Enjoy!

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What I Did Yesterday

As you might have noticed, I wasn’t here yesterday. You’ll be glad to know I wasn’t merely frivelling my time away: I was downtown (Toronto, that is) at the swankish and hip world headquarters of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, which is mere blocks from ground zero of the Toronto International Film Festival and other cultural hubs like the Royal Alex, Roy Thompson Hall and the opera house; compare and contrast with that other institution for Ontario nurses, the College of Nurses of Ontario, located at the ugly and unfashionable end of Davenport. I was being all professional and nurse-empowering, helping out a friend with a project having to do with best practice guidelines. All very hush-hush and on the q-t, you know. Actually not. But still, it was all very interesting, and I could make a point of telling people I met there, “Yes, I’m a RNAO member!” and be actually telling the truth. For once.

Then off to a long lunch of sushi with said friend, after creating a small(ish) disturbance in an East Asian grocery on Spadina. I avoided re-enacting last year’s sad debacle. All in all, a satisfactory day. But did you miss me?

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Gastro x 3 days

‘Nuff said.

A timely reminder, though, for this:

Hey you, wash your hands!

Hey you, wash your hands!

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Also some housekeeping:

A couple of new links for newbie nurse blogs on the right. Check ’em out!

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A whole pile of great submissions for the First Annual

Those Emergency Blues Prize for Writing

have come in. Please keep sending them. I will post the first list of links to submissions tomorrow, and (hopefully) some of the actual posts as soon as I email the nominees for permission.


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