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Talkin' Shop...Volume 5...Dissecting Reader's Digest.

So much to blog about, so little time. Seriously, some days, doesn't it seem like you have 87 posts waiting to burst forth from your fingers, and other days...*crickets crickets*...nothing.

Well, it'll be a "Talkin' Shop"...Reader's Digest edition post.

If you'll remember, several weeks ago, I decided to "dissect" a RD article titled "50 Secrets Nurses Won't Tell You" (Michelle, Crouch. "50 Secrets Your Nurse Won't Tell You." Reader's Digest. November 2011: 132-42. Print), mostly because they overlooked me. I mean, how DARE they? ;)

This week's quote from the Reader's Digest "50 Secrets Nurses Won't Tell You" is this:

"I know you asked for mashed potatoes, but that sound you hear is my other patient's VENTILATOR GOING OFF." -A nurse in New York City

First things first: I don't work ICU. I don't know if you actually CAN have two patients if one is on a ventilator...but that's beside the point.

The point is...this cracked me up! I'm guessing that nurse could've used a "sarcasm" font if one existed, but since it doesn't, we're all left to decide if she's serious or not. I'm thinking the latter...

As a nurse, things like that do, indeed, happen. When a patient is in the hospital, their world is turned upside down, so things like mashed potatoes not arriving with a lunch tray could, potentially, be a catastrophe for someone. What that patient doesn't realize (or heck, maybe they just don't care!) is that we do have other patients under our care.

Other patients who actually might have a "real" catastrophe going on (hemorrhage, transfusion reaction, seizure, baby coming without a doctor present, etc etc and so on and so forth ad nauseam) and at that point in time, to be frank, those damn potatoes (ice chips, jello, fresh linens, etc.) rank pretty low.

As important as they may seem to you, they just really aren't at the time, and unfortunately, we can't really say "Sir, your next door neighbor just seized and coded and I'm sorry that your potatoes didn't arrive, but I WAS A LITTLE BIT TIED UP."

We nurses really don't try to make people wait or inconvenience them, but sometimes things get busy. And sometimes things get busy and then we forget what you had asked for and believe you me, we feel like cads when we forget.

Remind us...I know I appreciate it! Also, if you need something and it isn't urgent, write it down, so that when your nurse comes in the next time you can say, "Oh, these are some things I need." and then your nurse will have a handy little list to reference when collecting you your needed items!

Many nurses were waitresses (oops, sorry...not PC..."servers") prior to nursing, so some of us have fabulous memories and tricks from waitressing that help us remember what it was you asked for/needed. Other of us (that'd be the group I'm in) never got the chance to hone those skills and I'll walk out of a room saying:

"Four things, she need for things...meds, pads, water and...and...and...UGH!"

A list would be fab.

Oh, if you're missing your taters? Certainly ask.

I'd get bucky too, if my mashed potatoes went missing.


  1. I read that article as well and felt much the same as you did. I've often wished I could say something like, "I know you wanted your water with no ice and someone goofed and brought you ice water, but the patient next door just drew her last breath and I hadn't known it was that close so her family wasn't with her and now I have to call her husband and tell him the love of his life is no longer in this world and apologize that he didn't get to hold her hand as she went. When I am done with that and I've mopped up my face I will try to bring you iceless water." Later, I realize that the icewater patient is also facing his last days and asking for iceless water is a pretty small request from his point of view.

  2. I guess I have to get that article.
    You're craking me up too.
    I am a CCU RN and yep we can get not but 2 patients on a vent(each! not sharing) (In WA and CA as far as I know and worked at).
    Have to read more of your blog.
    comment more later.


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