When it's Christmas time in Texas,
It's a very special time for me,
In Texas we'll be swingin'
around the Christmas tree,
Dancin' to a Christmas melody,
When it's Christmas time in Texas,
It might look just like a summer day,
There may not be snow in San Antonio,
But it's a Texas Christmas to me...
("All I Want For Christmas is You",
Vince Vance & Valiants)
It started out as (and continued to be) a terrible week. But I have to admit that everything ended up pretty well in the end. The problem was that I had to go through the bad to get to the good....
And because it was such a crummy week, I was extremely grouchy. I had to repeatedly ask my co-workers to forgive my crabbiness. But I thought I had good reasons to be crabby. First of all we're very short-staffed because one of our nurses quit, dammit. (Another one bites the dust---turnover is high in the Road Nursing world....) What's worse is that we were already shorthanded BEFORE that nurse quit because one of our LVN's is on maternity leave till January 8.
Secondly, many of our patients are sick with the crud. There is a nasty upper respiratory virus going around and it popped up to strike many of our patients at the same time, giving them all a bad cold--- which worries us Road Nurses because many of these people have pretty ineffective immune systems, and a simple cold for them could very well develop into worse things like bronchitis and pneumonia. And the fact that so many of our patients caught this virus meant that our company had to add a whole lot of extra patient visits onto our already-packed visit schedule in order to keep a close eye on those who are ill. *
And then poor Lu-Lu caught the same crud that's going around. On Monday she started sniffling, coughing, and dragging around like the walking dead. At 4:00 pm I told her to go home and take Nyquil or something, but she continued to get worse. By that night she was so deathly ill that the doctor actually left his ranch to meet her at his office at around 8pm to give her a shot. And he told her to stay in bed for a few days. The added loss of Lu-Lu being down REALLY hurt our staffing numbers. And so those of us still left standing had to run our butts off all week long to hold the fort down. And it was exhausting. By the end of the week I'll bet that I had driven a total of 8 zillion miles to see about 3 zillion patients.
I washed my hands so many times that both they and the Jeep began to reek of my anti-bacterial hand cleanser---because I placed myself on a diligent crusade to avoid catching that nasty virus myself.
In fact, as the week wore on, I developed an extreme anxiety that me or Jane-Anne would catch the same virus everybody else had and get sick ourselves, causing the need for us to be forced to take a day off to recuperate--- creating further disaster in our available staff numbers. I even telephoned Lu-Lu to mention this anxiety to her. *
"Don't be a worry-wart," she told me, blowing her nose loudly into my ear. "I've got the whole thing worked out with Doc Jenkins. I told him that we're so short-staffed that we simply can't afford for anybody else to get sick. So he said that if you or any of the other nurses start feeling bad, that he'll give you a shot or something to fix you up good enough to be 'road-worthy'."*
"What did he put in that shot he gave you?" I asked. *
"I have no idea," she replied. "But it hurt like hell. Anyway, if you start feeling bad, then get your butt over there. He said that you don't even have to check in at the front desk or pay for the visit--- just go in through the back door and he'll give you the shot and as many free samples of cough drops, antihistamines, decongestants, or antibiotics that you need."*
Although I appreciate our good ole doctor's kindness, I hate going over there. He's a wonderful doctor and all, but he always finds a reason to give me a damn shot ever single time I go over there. And I hate needles. And also, I am patholigically modest---and I hate fighting with his sassy nurse over the fact that I don't want to put on that damn gown. And for that matter, I also hate having to set my urine sample cup down on the same counter top as the rest of the patients.... because letting all those people see my pee is embarassing---since they're the same people I go see as my own patients every day!*
This is a small town---and so everybody goes to the same doctors. And so whenever I go to Doc Jenkins I have to trek up and down the halls of his clinic, half nekkid in that dang gown, right next to the same exact people that I see as a nurse every dang day of my life---and sometimes their dogs! Because Doc Jenkins doesn't mind it if some of his patients absolutely insist on bringing their stupid dogs with them when they come for an office visit. One time I had to wait for my chest X-ray in the same waiting room as a little asshole weenie-dog who had bitten me once when I'd gone on a nurse visit to see his owner.*
And Doc Jenkins can lecture something awful when he thinks you're not following his orders. The last time I was there, he burst into my examining room and hollered out: "Bohemian, didn't I put both you and Lu-Lu on Toprol XL? I want you to come down to my office right now and talk to me about your blood pressure!", and as he dragged me down the hall with my gown's tails flapping behind me I heard a satisfied voice coming from a nearby examining room saying: "I hope he tells her the same scary thing that she always tells me---that if she lets her stupid blood pressure get sky high it will blow her brain or heart to smithereens!"*
So to tell you the truth, I'd really rather have had a "doctor's note" excusing me from working altogether this week, rather than antibiotics, if you know what I mean. Because I'm telling you, this past week was absolute murder. T*
The thing about me is that whenever I get that stressed out, I can sometimes get a little crabby. And I can assure you that I was extremely crabby this week. And it didn't help that I kept getting into frustrating predicaments with demanding patients and snippy medical personnel. There must have been a dark star over the medical community of Podunk this week---because almost every other medical person I talked to was just as crabby and overworked as I was, and they freely vented their frustrations on me, despite the fact that I was equally frustrated and overworked. I*
In fact, by the end of this week, I was so aggravated at some people that I wanted to snatch them bald.(*
(Hickese translation: The expression "to snatch somebody bald" is a Texan expression for what you want to do to somebody who really pisses you off. And it's just as simple as it sounds---it means that you want to reach out and grab a handful of the offending person's hair and just YANK the hell out of it, just for the pure satisfaction of doing it...)B*
But besides entertaining satisfying fantasies of snatching people bald, I also have an additional coping skill for crabbiness. Since I don't want to get arrested for assaulting somebody's hair, and also the fact that it may not be healthy for my career to speak my mind openly about my exasperation with irritating people , I sometimes find it necessary to employ the "Eddie Haskell maneuver". (People who know me well can spot it instantly---and it frightens them to death.)
The "Eddie Haskell maneuver" is where I say one thing while I'm thinking another, a la Eddie Haskell's dual-natured behavior in that ancient TV show, "Leave it to Beaver". Have you ever seen that show and watched Eddie Haskell in action? He was a total creep but would pretend to be a perfect angel around Wally and The Beaver's parents, smiling sweetly and behaving like a perfect gentleman, usually saying something completely ass-kissing to Mrs. Cleaver like "That's a lovely dress you're wearing, Mrs. Cleaver". But as soon as the parents weren't around, he'd revert back to his obnoxious and rude self. "G*
"Good morning, Mrs. Cleaver, that's a lovely dress you're wearing!" he'd say--- when what he was really thinking was that he'd like to give Wally and The Beaver a swirly or else look up Mrs. Cleaver's dress or something.I was *
I was first tagged with the nickname "Eddie Haskell" in nursing school, where my buddies frequently told me that they wanted to puke whenever they witnessed my well-mannered behavior around any of the nun-instructors or other authority figures of our convent nursing school. *"Th*
"That's a lovely nun-habit you're wearing, Sister Kathleen. Why, no ma'am--- of course it wasn't me who started the food-fight in the hospital cafeteria by throwing a cherry tomato at one of the freshmen. I'm SURE it was one of the Seniors..."*An*
Anyway, it was a rough week---and I had to employ my anti-crabbiness coping skills fairly often. I f*
I felt like I was scheduled to see every single patient in Podunk. But to tell you the truth, I really didn't mind seeing the extra volume of patients so much as I hated having to take over Lu-Lu's job of supervising the rookies. Because I'm a sorry supervisor. (Hi*
(Hickese translation: The word "sorry" is a Texan adjective for describing certain negative personality traits or objects. It means "bad" or "terrible".)An*
Anyway, I'm the sorriest excuse for a supervisor that you'll ever see. I'm just not the supervisory type, and it's not because I can't instruct the rookies on the correct ways for doing things---it's mainly because the nutty stuff they do cracks me up too much. I'm just as likely to burst out laughing at their goofy antics as much as sternly instruct them on proper procedure---which really isn't a very effective way to train rookies. Fo*
For example, on Tuesday a rookie named Lori was going out to see one of our new patients and she asked me which topics were listed on that patient's Teaching List. She was supposed to pick one of the assigned topics and instruct the patient on that issue while she was performing her visit. Since the patient has a history of falls and uses a walker to get around, I instructed her to teach the patient about "Home and Kitchen Safety".I w*
I wanted her to teach the patient about eliminating home fall hazards---like throw-rugs and other obstacles which can become entangled in walkers or otherwise trip someone. I also wanted her to inspect the patient's home and suggest better placements for things like loose electrical cords or other clutter which would block the main pathways. I wanted her to instruct the patient about keeping frequently-needed objects on low shelves to eliminate the need for trying to reach while balancing on chairs or dangerous step-ladders--- or else useful tips like making sure to take the cell phone with her when she goes out into the barn in case she should fall while she's out there fiddling around with the donkeys or the goats. There is a plethora of good information that a nurse can teach about safety in the home, kitchen, or barn....*
Later, I looked at Lori's notes to see how she had documented her teachings. They read as follows: *"Ho*
"Home and Kitchen Safety Teachings as follows: * Instructed the patient to always use pot-holders when taking her pans out of the oven so that things like hot biscuit pans don't burn her. * Instructed the patient to put the cat-food dish under the microwave stand so that she wouldn't trip over the cat while the cat was eating. Instructed the patient....."But*
But I never got to the rest of the paragraph because I almost fell out of my chair from laughing about the stupid pot-holders. But then I suddenly stopped laughing when I realized that Lu-Lu would have a conniption fit when she saw those notes--- and so I wanted to snatch Lori bald. But*
But that isn't the first time that I've wanted to snatch Lori bald. In her youthful zeal to get things right (bless her heart) she frequently takes the things I've said completely LITERALLY, which has sometimes led to disaster. And so because of that habit of hers, we ended up having to institute a rule whereby she has to show all of her communication faxes to me or Lu-Lu first, before she sends them to a doctor. And that is because of one of the first faxes that she ever sent... Whe*
When she was first hired, I had figured that it was simply sufficient to give her my "How Not to Drive Doctors Crazy by Fax" lecture before allowing her to start communicating with the doctors, where I instructed her to avoid writing long dissertations and to just concentrate on providing information in a "simple, polite, concise and to-the-point" fashion---and to always include a copy of the patient's current medications. I told her that if there's anything that will drive a doctor bat-shit crazy, it's a long-winded fax full of non-pertinent prattling and no concrete information with which to help him make a decision on whatever problem is presented.Lor*
Lori took me very literally on my instructions. Her next fax to a doctor read as follows: "De*
"Dear Doctor So-and-So: Mrs. Dibner reported that she had chest pain today. Her medicine list is attached. Thank you, Lori"Am*
Amazingly, the doctor faxed her back the following sarcastic note:
"Dear Lori: Tell Mrs. Dibner to go to the Emergency Room.Thank you,Doctor So-and-So"Whe*
When I wasn't trying to supervise rookies this week, I was trying to deal with my own patients. Some of them think that I work more in the capacity of the Room Service Attendantat theRamada Inn rather than as a medical professional. They can be very demanding and even rude sometimes. I truly want to make them all happy but sometimes it's impossible to make everybody happy all of the time. In fact, I think everybody in Podunk must have thought that I was the Room Service Attendant at the Ramada Inn this week.....
And that was when I had to grit my teeth and pray for patience---and that was also when Eddie Haskell started making his appearances....
Patient says to Me:"I wish you wouldn't come when "All My Children" is on the TV. I watch "All My Children" every day and I don't like to miss any of it. And also don't come between 3:30 and 4:00 pm, either, because that is when I'm cooking fruit cobbler or coffee-cake. We like to have fruit cobbler or coffee-cake after supper and my husband prefers me to make them from scratch rather than buying them."Wh*
What I reply to the Patient, while smiling like Eddie Haskell:"That's a lovely dress you're wearing, Mrs. Schaeffer. Why, of course I'll re-arrange my busy schedule in order not to interrupt "All My Children" or your cobbler/coffee-cake baking schedule."Wh*
What Eddie Haskell was really thinking:Look lady, it ain't like I'm frigging omnipotent like Santa Claus or The Lord---where I can magically appear, simultaneously, in 52 patients' houses at once, according to everybody's TV programs and cobbler-baking schedules. And what in the hell is this about you making fruit cobbler and coffee-cake every day, anyway? Didn't the dang doctor tell you that your damn blood sugar has been through the roof lately?And about your time schedule---I'll bet that if I drove over to your house right now and snatched you bald you'd find time to see me during "All My Children" or your fruit cobbler/coffee-cake baking time!* *Bus*
Busy Hospital Floor Nurse Says to Me:"Your patient is being discharged from the hospital today and you need to go over to his house and change his surgical bandage. But I'm too busy to fax you the wound care instructions right now. I wrote them onto the patient's discharge papers--- so just ask the patient for them when you get to his house."Wh*
What I reply to the Hospital Nurse, while smiling like Eddie Haskell:"That's a lovely scrub uniform you have on today, nurse. Um...many of our elderly patients are forgetful and frequently misplace their hospital discharge papers."Wh(
What Eddie Haskell was really thinking:You're busy? Listen, Florence Nightingale, do I look like a Lady of Leisure who has plenty of free time to sit on my dainty little butt while eating pralines all day? If I screw up and change that surgical dressing incorrectly, that surgeon will have my ASS for dinner! So now, because you won't fax me those damn instructions, I'll have to call the dang Medical Records Department and beg them to do it!And about you "not having the time" to fax that stuff to me--- I'll bet that if I came up to your floor at the hospital and snatched you bald you'd be able to find the time to fax that stuff to me!* *Gru*
Grumpy Emergency Room Doctor to Me:"Why in the hell did you send this guy to my Emergency Room? Why can't his OWN dang doctor take care of the guy's abscess by either draining it at his own office or else scheduling another surgeon to do it?*Wh*
What I Replied to the Grumpy Emergency Room Doctor, while smiling like Eddie Haskell:"That's a lovely white lab coat you're wearing, doctor. Um..I really don't have any earthly idea of why the patient's own doctor didn't take care of the problem in just the way that you're suggesting, sir."*Wh*
What Eddie Haskell was really thinking:"Look, doc. The guy's own doctor is as old as Methuselah---in fact, he's so old that his idea of 'anesthesia' is a shot of whiskey and a bullet to bite on. Hell, he hasn't done any of his own surgery since 1978. And furthermore, do I look like I have any kind of authority whatsoever in whatever the Sam Hill you doctors do???? And about you talking ugly to me---I'll bet that if I marched myself over to that Emergency Room right now and snatched you bald you'd talk to me with a little nicer tone in your voice!* *By*
By the end of this week, if I'd been able to snatch as many people bald as I'd fantasized about, there probably wouldn't have been anybody left in Podunk with any hair at all. *
I was running myself ragged trying to keep up with all my patients and the rookie nurses--and I was in such a hurry that I let my photography skills slip a little. I didn't stop to politely ask any of the animals to pose for me---I just snapped their pictures as quickly as I could while driving by in the Jeep. In fact, some of the animals protested that I was taking their pictures on their "bad sides". Who knew animals could be so vain...
But I wasn't the only one having troubles this week. Jane-Anne came to work crestfallen on Monday---because she had gotten in trouble with her grandmother.
"My husband and I went to church with mee-maw and pee-paw," she stated. (H*
(Hickese translation: In Texas, it is traditional, no matter how old you get, to always refer to your grandparents by the very same childhood nicknames you called them when you were 2 years old--- which is usually "mee-maw" and "pee-paw" for your paternal grandparents, and "ma-moe" and "pa-poe" for your maternal grandparents.)(E*
(Even Governor Rick Perry calls his grandparents "mee-maw" and "pee-paw"....)W*
Where was I?Oh *
Oh yes, I was listening to Jane-Anne tellling me about when she and her husband went to church with her grandparents. "M*
"Mee-maw made us go to church with her to hear their church's Christmas Cantata," she said. "And...well....I couldn't help it, but...well.. um......I accidentally laughed out loud during the Cantata."W*
When Jane-Anne said that, a sudden hush fell over the office. We were aghast. You could have heard a pin drop as all of our eyes widened in horror and disbelief.
"No..you...did...not!" I said, stricken to the very core of my soul. For*
For those of you not raised in Texas, I will tell you that here in Podunk, the single-most HORRIBLE and HIDEOUS sin that you could EVER commit in your whole entire SORRY life, which would instantly brand you a complete and SINFUL heathen, would be if ... you ever.......*
...were to laugh outloud in church.Wh*
And it would be even worse if you did it front of your mee-maw.Whe*
When Jane-Anne told us what she had done, all of us in the room stood stock-still in silent mortification and despair, the wind knocked completely out of us at her shameful confession. And poor Jane-Anne just stood there, as sad and mournful as if a big scarlet "H" for Heathen was already tattooed on her forehead. Finally, I mustered the strength to speak. "H*
"How did this happen?" I asked, struggling to comprehend. "Didn't you try the usual things that help prevent laughing outloud in church, like daydreaming about something else, drawing cartoons on the Church Bulletin, or else reading a John Grisham novel behind your Bible?"I *
"I couldn't help it," she stated miserably. "It just popped out." "A *
" Hmmm....a novel behind your Bible...I never thought of that," Lu-Lu wondered in an admiring tone. Jan*
Jane-Anne detailed the whole sad saga. "Th*
"The choir was singing "Night of Miracles," she told us. "And ole Miss Cracktower was going to do a solo. But when she started singing, her false teeth started slippin' or something---and so she curled her lips together real hard to keep her teeth in place while she sang. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen, watching her grimacing like that. But that really wasn't the part that made me laugh out loud... ""W*
"*Well then, what DID make you lose control?" Lu-Lu asked impatiently. "W*
"Well... it was her voice," Jane-Anne stated, grinning at the memory. "Suddenly she hit a high note in her solo and...well...she warbled that note for the longest time! Lord it almost broke the glass in the church windows---it sounded like she was doing the Tarzan Yell. You know how old people do that warbling thing when when they sing?..."By *
By now Lu-Lu and I were laughing hysterically, imagining the scene, and the hapless Jane-Anne plunged onwards in her harrowing tale.An*
And then....my ass-hole husband knew that I was trying not to laugh---and so he started poking me in my ribs, where I'm ticklish--and so I just couldn't help it.... and suddenly a little laugh just popped right up out of me. Mee-maw heard it and I thought she was going to strangle me right there in the church pew.""Yo*
"You idgit!" Lu-Lu exclaimed, wiping laughter-tears from her eyes. "I'll bet that mee-maw wanted to spank your sorry butt.""You *
"You can say that again," Jane-Anne replied ruefully. "The first thing she did when we got home was quote the Bible at me, something out of Ecclesiastes about how "the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” ---and then she made me wash AND dry all the dishes after Sunday Dinner. What's worse is that whenever mee-maw wasn't listening, my stupid husband would start doing the Tarzan Yell at me just like Miss Cracktower's singin', and I wanted to slap him silly."But*
But I had to sympathize with Jane-Anne. And that is because I, too, have a history of running afoul of my own mother and grandmother over my own church behaviors. (ButI won't go into details here because my own mother reads this blog and I don't even want to get her started...)And *
And then, the week actually ended a heck of a lot better than it had started out. And so I really shouldn't complain at all. To *
To all our great relief, Friday finally arrived, our sick patients seemed to be getting better, and Lu-Lu lived through her own illness. And all of us were excited because not only was Friday payday, but it was also the day that our company's owners were throwing their annual Merry Christmas, Podunk! Christmas Party.
AAnd it was rumored to be the day that the company owners were going to hand out Christmas bonuses with our paychecks.I f*
I followed Jane-Anne over to our owners' house for the Christmas Party. They live on a huge ranch about 20 miles out of town and I was completely awestruck by that place. To get there you have to drive down a special road, passing by two ominous signs that say "No Trespassing" and "This Property Is Digitally Monitored".*
(Lu-Lu told me that there's cameras in the trees watching everything that happens on the ranch, which must mean that there's umpteen cameras to cover all 124 acres.)Th*
The owners did indeed throw a rowdy, Texan shindig. They had invited all of the employees from their various businesses and the Texan hospitality was flowing, along with tons of food and drink. The first thing each guest heard when they arrived was a big "Hidy!" from the whole crowd, and then each person would be ushered around to help themselves to a plate-load of brisket dinner. I even met Jane-Anne's mee-maw, who was helping out in the kitchen, and her pee-paw, who was helping cook the briskets out on the patio. Sin*
Since I don't drink, Jane-Anne begged and pleaded with me to switch with her as the "on-call nurse" for that night, taking her place as the "on-call" so that she could stay up late and whoop it up. I took pity on her and agreed to it, especially since I could see that her unruly husband was already three sheets to the wind from drinking too much whiskey himself. At a*
At about 10:00 pm Jane-Anne's husband sidled up to where we girls were chatting in the dining room and whispered: "Hey, guess what? I think mee-maw's getting drunk! She doesn't realize it but she accidentally picked up Uncle Dean's cranberry juice--- and it's loaded with vodka!"Jan*
Jane-Anne and Lu-Lu looked horrified, knowing that their Bible-thumping, tee-totalling mee-maw had never touched a drop of alcohol in her entire, saintly life. But all I said was: "Now there's two words that I never thought I'd hear used in the same sentence --- 'mee-maw' and 'drunk'."Iwe*
I went home early that night since I was the "on-call" nurse, but that was okay because I'd had a wonderful time. It was the perfect ending to a horrendous week. On the way home I opened up the envelope that Lu-Lu-'s and Jane-Anne's Uncle Dean had handed me (along with a hug) as I was leaving the party. Inside there was my paycheck... and another check, written on a personal account. The second check was my Christmas bonus.... *It *
It was a check for $500.00,accompanied by a note thanking me for my hard work and wishing me a Merry Christmas. And I started bawling---I was very touched, because I've never gotten a $500.00 bonus from an employer in my entire life. *(A*
(And for the whole rest of the evening I couldn't help wondering if poor mee-maw had really ended up getting drunk....)* *