A Nurse With Attitude

Where Dark Cynical Humor, Nursing Issues, and Politics Seem to Merge

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

The Advantages of Unionized Labor (Chapter 1)

    Last year I transferred from the inpatient surgery department to work in the outpatient surgery center of our great hospital.  From the first day, I was asked to fill the position of  “relief charge” of the department.  (Please review my earlier chapters of “why I don’t do charge” to fully understand why this may be a problem).  About the second or third day, I noticed that the clocks were not accurate.  There was a clock at the charge desk, in front of the charge desk, at the end of the hallway, in the service lead office, and in each and every surgical suite.  None of the “functioning” clocks had accurate time. They were anywhere from ten minutes to several hours off from the actual time. I don’t want to obsess, but not having a single accurate clock in the department  irritated me to no end.  I know I should just let things alone, but my OCD just wouldn’t let me have peace. I called the maintenance department, my manager, and anyone else that I could think of to get the clocks working again.  After a week of frustration, I decided to fix them myself.  I counted up the clocks that were hopeless and bought (with my own money at Staples) black office clocks that looked exactly like the broken ones. I replaced the batteries to the clocks that had a dead battery, corrected the ones that were off by a few minutes and replaced the broken ones.  About another month went by and life was good.  All the clocks were reading the same time.  Then out of the blue, somewhat nervous  gentleman with an official looking clip board came into the department and asked for the “charge nurse” … me.  He asked, “do you know who messed with these clocks?”  I said, “well, yes I do… I did”  With a pained look on his face, he said, “oh, you shouldn’t have done that.  That was very bad.  These clocks were expensive and very delicate.”  I was predicting some sort of reaction from someone deep in the bureaucracy.  “I saved all of the clocks that were non-functional… they’re in a pile in the storage room.”  He went in and looked at the broken clocks, shook his head and stormed off.  The very next day, I was called to my managers office for a meeting with a representative from the HR department.  

    I was a GMAC mechanic and a machinist prior to going to nursing school and my rebel clock repair rampage consisted of only replacing dead batteries… it didn’t matter.  They said that I was subject to disciplinary action for “working out of my scope of practice”.  The court adjourned and the ruling party said that I was “no clock expert”  and “had no special training in clock service”.  The official “Union Certified Clock Tender” had filed a complaint with the union and I was somehow, on the hot seat for my “rouge behavior”.   Needless to say,  I haven’t seen this guy again and all but three of the clocks in my department are still on time… and I don’t care.  (I wear a watch now).


Police Shooting


    This morning there was a story on the news about a 14 year old with a gun attempting to shoot another youth. The city responded with the boasting of a “new gun task force”. Also there is yet another outside task force organized specifically to watch the new gun task force as well as the entire Portland police department. This outside organization was established for the sole purpose to assure that there is no unfair profiling being done in the course of the investigation as well as the overall job of “getting guns off the streets” of Portland. I am sure that this extra waste of tax dollars is a direct result of the accused profiling of Trevon Martin. “Illegal Profiling” is the only thing the liberals seem to be able to pin on George Zimmerman. Don’t worry, they’ll eventually get their pound of flesh out of that poor sap for defending his life.

Anyhow, I find several items in this story that strikes me as alarming, the least of which is the youth shooting. First off, I ask what’s the heck wrong with a policeman profiling while he walks his beat? Isn’t profiling a part of basic detective work as well as being vigilant while protecting the community. I know what you are thinking… and it is not about race. I would think that any policeman out there, worth his beans, who saw a white youth with a shaved head, t-shirt and an “SS” tattoo on his arm would look a little closer as he walked by. By the same token, I would expect the same policeman to be just as negligent if he didn’t look a bit closer walking by a black or Hispanic youth with low slung pants and a red or blue bandana on his head. If people are respectable, they tend to dress respectable. If people are indeed trouble makers, they tend to dress the part. It’s just human nature and political correctness is furiously trying to take this tool away from our policemen.

When I was a kid my mother profiled everyone. If my mother could make the world a better place with profiling, why is it so bad for our police to do the same? My mom would look out the window at some neighbor kid and say, “see those kids… they are bad. If I catch you hanging around with any of them, I’ll tan your backside!” I made extra efforts to avoid those kids. I grew up respecting the law, our policemen and the community. Now as an adult, I work hard, pay taxes, and still have the utmost respect for our policemen. I wish just once, the liberal politicians would be able follow a police officer for a day and actually see the scope of an officers job that they have created with political correctness. I guess life was a lot simpler back when I was a kid. But now because of the kinder, gentler liberal view, PC has infiltrated the community, the schools and the government. Discipline, respect, and the very idea of obeying the law is irrelevant. Today, our youth is as lost as ever. They have no respect for the law, the elderly, their teachers, parents, or their Country. They hold protests to tear down our morals, religion, laws, and society… all with an approving nod from our elected officials. I’ll bet if a stern mother of today were ever allowed to discipline her child, without the fear of a social services investigation, both of theses previously mentioned kids would forever steer clear of anyone even thought to be gang like. I’m not even going to discuss a mother’s wrath, and the ramifications of touching a real gun without permission. This entire special “task force” would be for naught. As a veteran inner city ER nurse, I’ve worked closely with a lot of policemen. I believe in my heart that all policemen are basically good people just trying to make their world a better place. They don’t go out of their way to oppress the Blacks, Latinos or any other minority for that matter. Really, they’re just like the rest of us. All they really want is to get to the end of their shift with the least amount of trouble and heartache. Without all of this political correctness, their job would not be that difficult, heck my mom did just fine.

Leon Panetta Visits the Troops

     Afghanistanis a dangerous place.  There has even been a number of soldiers,  high ranking officers included, killed even while on base.  Because this is a dangerous war zone, everyone carries his weapon everywhere, even while in the confines of the base.  Leon Panetta paid a (photo op) visit to the troops last week.  The troops were ordered to be disarmed prior to his visit.  I believe that the entire Obama administration has a US-troop-a-phobia.  For some strange reason, the Obama administration has an extreme distrust of our US military. 

   My oldest son is currently stationed in Afghanistan.  Fortunately, he wasn’t at the visited base at that time.  But, before Afghanistan,  he graduated with honors  fromWest Point.   While in school, he said that then President George Bush came to the Point to visit.  They went out to see him land in the presidential helicopter. When he debarked, they were able to shake his hand and briefly talk with him.  My son came back with good feelings about his commander and even said that President Bush was “a very likeable guy”.  By the end of the visit, the students had a new respect for George Bush…  not only as a charismatic leader, but as an honorable man.  When he departed, they marched to the field and gave the President a departure with West Point honor. 

  When President Obama came to the Point, things were very different.  An hour before the plane landed, the students were ordered to the auditorium.  Once there, the doors were locked.  They were only allowed to watch the speech via close circuit television.  They were eventually allowed to exit the auditorium an hour after President Obama’s departure.  The most trustworthy group of students in this entire nation was under armed guard by Obama’s secret service the whole time they were locked in the auditorium. This was a travesty and no way to treat any military man, much less an entire class at West Point.  

  I am also quite confident from that day forward, every West Point student that was locked in that room will continue to honor the office of the President and the “Commander in Chief” as long as he or she is an active duty soldier,  as they are required to do.  But these soldiers,  they will never, ever respect Barack Obama as an honorable person.

Stand Your Ground George!


   I’ve seen the Trevon vs. Zimmerman controversy play out in the news. I didn’t want to get involved one way or the other because the whole issue is nothing more than cheap media sensationalism in pursuit of higher ratings. There are hundreds if not thousands of people killed each and every day with no media swarms at all. I’m not even going to comment on the black on black killings that don’t even make the local paper (of the city that they were slaughtered in). In my younger days, I worked in the ER at Charity Hospital of New Orleans. Even on a slow night, it wasn’t uncommon to see 8 to 10 gunshot wound victims … like on a week night!  None of them, unless they were the son of a prominent politician, were even mentioned  in the “Times Picayune”.

    As humans, are naturally violent. It’s in the genes. Our history is riddled with violence all the way back to Cain killing Abel. As a nurse I try not to be judgmental, good guys and bad guys alike, I just fix them the best I can. The thing that really irritate me about this whole circus … which in turn has prodded me to write this post, is not the hint of racism or the senseless killing of a black youth or even the abrupt actions of a neighborhood security guard. It all boils down to (1.) the actions of the media, (2.) the reactions of the politicians. The politicians are clamoring to pass a plethora of very restrictive gun control laws… like it would change anything, or do any good. The media is ranting, not about the killing, but about racism and who was right. I think the whole thing was a terrible incident and they were both wrong.

    I’m not racist, but, if I had to take sides, I’d tend to believe the alibi of George Zimmerman. Believe it or not, I have actually been in that very same situation. True story… I have a CCL and I carry almost daily. I carry a Kimber .45 ultra-carry in a concealed waistband holster. One night, I was going to a work related dinner in downtown Portland. I went to parallel park on the street. I was backing in to my space and, out of the blue, a bicyclist started yelling and banging on my finder. He came around to my window cursing and saying that I had “pulled through his bike lane”. He was obviously a highly enraged nut job. I sat tight with the door locked. After a minute or two, he drove on.  As I got out of my truck, he quickly returned and grabbed me with the intention of doing serious physical harm. I fought him and bloodied my knuckles, but he was a young twenty-something year old jock, and very strong. I was a fifty year old nurse and not so strong. The odds were clearly not in my favor. The only weapon that I had in my possession was my sidearm. As he was assaulting me, things seemed to be going in slow motion… and a whole bunch of feelings went through my head. I really didn’t want to shoot the guy because he didn’t have a gun. On the other hand, I was certain that he would seriously hurt or kill me in no short order. I thought, if I killed this idiot in this extremely liberal city ofPortland, I would go directly to jail. I was totally under powered to deal with this young crazy hoodlum. No amount of yelling for help would gain the attention of any brave bystanders in this part of town. I’m not exactly sure what happened next, but my assailant was rudely interrupted. It seems that my lovely wife had found my “tire tool” and started wailing on this guy. Needless to say, after she had bashed in a few ribs, he let go of my neck and fled. I was a little bruised and my pride had sustained some serious damage, but I was mostly unharmed physically. If my wife hadn’t been there to intervene with the tire tool, I am absolutely certain that my only alternative to being killed, was to draw my weapon and fatally shoot this guy. The only difference between me and Mr. Zimmerman of Florida, is that I would have been serving a life term in an Oregon prison right now.

     Everyone can play “Monday morning quarterback” with this, and everyone can shout “racism”, but until you’ve actually been there, I’d just try to take a step back and attempt not to be so judgmental. On a personal note, I have been seriously rethinking my self protection and how and when I carry a pistol. Now, I don’t carry my pistol quite as much as I use to. As an alternative to my pistol, sometimes I carry mace and a concealed, holstered taser.  Maybe if George Zimmerman had thought this through, (or if he had had a feisty wife with a tire tool) he might not be in such hot water right now.

Will the Real Fascist Please Stand Up


Warning: foul language used in this post

Never in my life, not a single time, have I ever campaigned for or even supported the silencing of an opinion with which I did not agree. There are many reasons for this but they can all be summed up with the fact that I am not a fascist.

For the record,  I don’t like Rush Limbaugh and I don’t listen to Rush.  If I’m ever in the mood for talk radio, I’ll occasionally listen to Glenn Beck, Mark Levin,  or even Clark Howard.  That’s about it.    However, I will defend Rush on the first amendment.  Rush Limbaugh’s opponents are starting a radio campaign against him Thursday, seizing upon the radio star’s attack of aGeorgetownlaw student as a “slut” to make a long-term effort aimed at weakening his business.

Media Matters is spending at least $100,000 for two advertisements that will run in eight cities.   In one of the anti-Limbaugh ads, listeners are urged to call the local station that carries Limbaugh to say “we don’t talk to women like that” in our city.

Ad time was purchased inBoston;Chicago;Detroit;Seattle;Milwaukee;St. Louis;Macon,Ga.; andCedar Rapids,Iowa. The cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Limbaugh or because of perceptions Limbaugh may be vulnerable in that market, said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.

Issues on the double standard just drive me over the edge.  Rush shouldn’t have called this wench a “slut”.  This is bad manners and below him.  On the other hand, why hasn’t anyone said a single peep for Bill Maher’s frequent attacks on Sarah Palin.  He has on several occasions called her a “dumb twat” and even a “cunt” on national television.    (my profuse apologies for using such vulgarities on this family oriented site).   I’m not even going to go into what language that is used almost daily by Howard Stern.  He is too vulgar for even my sensibilities.  None the less, those guys get away with vulgar language almost daily and with not even a raised eyebrow simply  because they are Democrats and they tend to  grease the right palms and play along with the correct “liberal” agenda.  Although I profusely disagree with Bill Maher and Howard Stern on practically everything they say, I will defend their first amendment rights to say what they want.  So with the rants and maneuvering of the left to ban Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves is political censorship.  So it seems real fascists are of the Left leaning Democrat groups after all.

It’s Spring Break!

 Twenty five Secret Service agents inMexico. Twenty five agents who know that they will have to take a bullet, if needed, to protect their charge. Twenty five agents with families and loved ones who want to see them again.

Their job is to protect the president and his family. If the president must go to war torn Afghanistan or drug lord managed Mexico on the business of the American people, they will be there protecting him and America’s interests. It is a noble calling.

It is very different this time. The twenty five agents have been dispatched to protect a 13 year old girl on vacation; spring break. They are not protecting the president as he goes abroad to do the business of theUnited States. They are watching over a child who, in the last year, has had weeks of vacations inMartha’s Vineyard,Hawaii, the ski slopes ofColoradoand now scenicMexico.

Key Westwasn’t good enough for the little girl. She needed to go to a place the State Department warns is dangerous for Americans. She had to make herself a target in a foreign land. Not for any purpose of the American people, but for her own selfish recreation.

So 25 Secret Service Agents are inMexico, risking their lives, to provide yet another exotic and luxurious vacation for the ultra elite daughter of an ultra elite president.

Scrubs and Everyone Else

     I work in a hospital. Hospitals are there to fix hurt people and make sickness and disease go away. There are two types of people that work in a hospital, those that wear scrubs, and those that don’t. The people that wear scrubs are the ones on the front lines. They’re the ones taking care of the patients, doing the real work of the hospital. The people that don’t wear scrubs are the people that are working in offices sitting at desks, and going to pointless meetings all day. To break it down to it’s simplest state, the people that wear scrubs save lives and the ones that don’t are either trying to get money from those lives we’ve saved, or are making up stupid rules which make it more difficult to save those lives. I know that’s a pretty cynical view, but sometimes it’s spot on. Now, a lot of the people that don’t wear scrubs did wear them at some point in their career. They’ve somehow escaped the working world. I also feel that at one time or another, most everyone that wears scrubs wished they could join the ranks of the non-scrub wearers. I’ll admit it, I even once wanted to join their ranks…to cross over. Oh, to show up to work around 9 or 10 and walk around in a street clothes, going to meetings where nothing gets done, make up silly rules, more pointless meetings, kiss my bosses butt, all the while looking down my nose at those doing real work. And really, it doesn’t matter that I would only get two hours of work done in a day, because there are three other people that are doing about the same thing. Between the four of us we could still get about eight hours of work done in a day. I am fully aware that’s the career path they chose, and I’m on the career path that I’ve chosen. I’m OK with that. What I don’t like is when somebody in a suit tries to tell me that they are having a horrible stressful day. When somebody wearing a suit tries to tell me they are having a stressful day, I tend not to listen. It starts sounding amazingly like Charlie Brown’s school teacher. I think “Oh what’s wrong? Do you have a presentation to give and if it doesn’t go well, they will make you go over your numbers again and try your presentation again on another day?”. If somebody wearing scrubs tells me they are having a stressful day, I’m all ears. If they are doing their job and they make a mistake, or even if they don’t make a mistake, they don’t get a 2nd chance, and neither does their patient. All I’m saying is, if someone in accounting screws up a number, they can go back the next day and fix it. If someone wearing scrubs screws up a number, somebody can (and usually does) die… and you just can’t fix that. If you wear a suit, your job isn’t that stressful and don’t try to tell me it is. If it’s just too bad to tolerate, then quit your bitchin’, polish off that nursing license and get back into the trenches and do some real work. I know that there are some administrative types out there reading this and knashing their teeth saying, “if he just knew, he wouldn’t say those horrible things.” Well, I do know. I’ve been there. I was the Director of Nursing in Libby Montana for six years. I had 110 unionized employees under my wing. I was also in the trenches along with them and I did direct patient care almost every day . I gave it an honest try and decided to go back into direct patient care full time.

True story…I just clocked out and was getting on the elevator to head out the door. I had a horrible night involving an unnecessary death. It was a six year old head injury that came in two hours prior to shift change and died within those two hours. On the elevator, some lady in a suit was talking on her BlackBerry, saying “Oh crap, I forgot to get the cake for the party, I’m going to the bakery to get it now. What time is the party and where is it again?”. Then she hung up the phone, looked at me and said “It is so stressful keeping up with all of these parties we’re having, this time of the year is especially stressful… it’s just horrible…”. I wanted to shove that BlackBerry where the sun didn’t shine. The only thing holding me back was that I was totally exhausted and I knew that, being on call, I would have been called back to remove it… and trust me, the OR already has enough patients with things shoved into places where they don’t belong. (See my section on signs the end is near).

Atlas Shrugs on My Home Turf


I was born and raised in lowerAlabamaand whenever there’s a wacky leftist story down there, it really perks me.  In Birmingham Alabama there was a hearing to get public input on some environmental issues. There were protestors and environmentalists there in force.  “We don’t want no damned coal mines” they shouted and waved their signs. The mine operator was a quiet and patient man. He had had enough. He stood up to speak to the protesters.

He patiently waited until all the jeers and boo’s died down.  Then he said, “my name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator. I’ve been issued a permit to open a coal mine.  I have gone through all of the red tape and paid all the fees, and now, after a long struggle, I have finally been granted the permit.  After standing in this room today listening to the comments, complaints, and nasty things being said by the people here…. nearly every day without fail… well, now I have a different perspective… I see men streaming in to my mining operation looking for work. Good work here inWalker County. I was prepared to give them work. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today,  I just … you know … hell, what’s the use? I got a permit to open an underground coal mine that would employ probably 150 people in good union jobs with benefits, retirement and health coverage. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And now my only thought today is to give up and go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys…  I see them with tears in their eyes… looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys simply making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stand against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting… thank you”. Then he quietly walked back through the protestors, and left.

This strange phenomena is happening all over America. The business world is being covered with a web of complicated rules, incomprehensible regulations, draconian restrictions, burdensome taxes and leftist protests. Fewer and fewer businesses are able to tread the murky regulatory soup in which they are forced to swim. More and more are saying “screw it, I can retire and live off what I have in savings.  Why should I bother with trying to create more capital, more jobs, more for my community when I could just retire with a little less money and a lot less stress?  In today’s market, most new business that are created, are usually done so off shore.  It is falsely claimed that jobs are going to China because of greedy companies looking for cheap, non-union, foreign labor. In reality, it is to get away from the government bureaucracy, over-regulation, and endless lawsuits from liberal fringe special interest groups. The unbearable overregulation of all commercial companies here in Americais at a tipping point.  As if it is not enough to wade through the briar patch of OSHA, EPA, or the Labor Board regulations, there are the environmentalists, PETA, ELF, and a slew of well funded, yet government protected, domestic terrorist groups to deal with too.


Meanwhile, our elected officials and the designers of these regulations scratch their heads and wonder why there are no new jobs in the private sector.

Unemployment in America

As I listened to the news today, Obama was making a petition to Congress to extend the unemployment benefits.  On the surface this sounds really great. These are hard economic times and who doesn’t want to help the poor unemployed? But really… think about it!  These “unemployed”  already have 99 weeks! That’s utterly ridiculous.  He went on with this same ridiculousness by saying,  he was working to make a law to prevent “unemployment discrimination”.  It is an assumption by the lawmakers,  that if someone has been unemployed for an extended amount of time, they could be potentially discriminated against… they’re joking, right?  When presented with a person that has been out of work for two years, some employers may question the applicant’s work ethic and dependability.  I know, if I were an employer looking through resume’s for an employee, and I found a person (although highly qualified) with a gap in his employment for more than three months, (and he hasn’t been in school getting his advanced degree) you’d better bet that I’d discriminate.  This guy’s lazy and unfit to work for me.  There are plenty of jobs out there.  Yes,  some of them are a long ways from glamorous… but they’re jobs!  I’ve got news…  McDonalds was never meant to be a career.  It is a “stepping stone” job.  This is a job used for a bridge, until something better comes along.   My life is littered with crappy stepping stone jobs.  Some jobs were so crappy, they made McDonalds look like an executive administration job.  I’ve worked everything from the Waffle Hut to heading shrimp at the Fisheries to cover my bills.    The point is, there are indeed real jobs out there… and you don’t ever just let your rent, utilities, child support, and such, just  go unpaid.

   My mother rents several apartments.  She also has an unusually big heart. One renter hasn’t paid his rent in many months.  She gives him “odd jobs” around the apartments to do in order to supplement his lack of rent.  Even discounting the “odd job” payments, he still owes her over $3000 in past rent payment.  The last time I was inAlabama,  she asked me for advice.  I say surely he can work… I saw a “help wanted” poster at McDonalds just the other day.  Mom said, “I mentioned that to him, and he said rather adamantly,  I can’t do that… I have a college degree!”   Well, the attitude alone infuriated me!  I advised mom to call the sheriff and get him evicted right away.  He’s not unemployed, he’s just lazy!

  Advanced unemployment payments,  as well as a special advocacy support for the chronically lazy, is no good, and it’s doing these people no favors either.  This attitude is only adding yet another level to the continually growing number of “totally dependent on the government for everything” population in this country.


Ever notice that people who spend money on beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, are always complaining about being broke and not feeling well?

Surgical Word of the Day


Laparoscopy:  This basically means basically to view what’s inside  your chest and abdomen with a camera. A small incision is made and we use a device called a trocar, which is a small tube, to insert the camera into the abdomen and voila, literally, we can see your guts and stuff. Major surgeries that had once required large painful incisions, pretty much up and down your whole trunk, can be performed laparoscopically with a couple of incisions no bigger than a button.

Performing laparoscopic surgery takes some getting used to because you are looking up on a TV screen while moving long instruments with your hands that make all the action happen inside the abdomen. Controlling the instruments takes a basic grasp of geometry and having sweet video gaming skills doesn’t hurt.  This is one reason I curse myself for not playing more “Donkey Kong” when I was younger.  As the scrub, my job is usually controlling the camera. The surgeon can get irritated rather quickly if he has to do his work through a shaky picture,  or the picture is only viewing a portion of his work area.  So the whole team needs to be up to par on the whole hand-eye , video game type,  coordination thing.  And to think my mom said that video games were worthless.

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