Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Archive for December, 2010

Nurse Marge in Charge

Dear Nurse Marge,

How much do people remember, really, when they’re coming out of anesthesia?

Working in recovery, I’ve heard some incredible things. Most of it’s actually pretty funny. All of the filters come off and people say exactly what’s on their mind: people think our docs are really good looking and they want to run away with them, for example. (That’s when we know they’ve gotten the REALLY GOOD drugs!)

Other times, people come ‘out of it’ talking about their biggest fears: they’re really scared, and of course we do our best to calm them down and comfort them.

But I don’t know what to do about one particular instance where a patient really spilled the beans after her operation.  She was telling me all kinds of things, in great and graphic detail.  Really personal stuff. That’s not the problem: the problem is that she’s a cashier at the grocery store where I shop.

Every time I cash out, she looks at me and I can tell she’s uncomfortable.  I’m thinking it’s because she’s worried about what she  might have said while she was out.  I try to pick another row to check out always — but this makes it look like I’m avoiding her.  I don’t want to have to change grocery stores — but I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, either!  I know they say Versed makes you forget, but I’m pretty sure she remembers.



What Should I Do?

Dear What Should I Do,

Relax.  There’s any number of reasons this woman could be unsettled by your appearance that have nothing to do with what she did or didn’t say while coming out of anesthesia.  It could be as simple as her knowing you knew she had surgery.  We might be used to seeing people in various stages of undress — but that doesn’t mean that our patients are used to being seen that way!

It might not have anything to do with you at all.  She might stare at everybody — or you might look exactly like the girl she used to know two jobs ago, and she’s trying desperately to remember your name.

The best advice is to act like nothing ever happened. If she brings it up in conversation (which is going to be tricky while she’s scanning your coupons!) try my method.  Here’s what I say: “Absolutely I remember you! What a singing voice!  I have to tell you, every time I hear “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” I think of you, singing your heart out and smiling from ear to ear!”

If that doesn’t match what SHE remembers….well, there are worse things.

Good Luck!

Nurse Marge

Posted in: Jokes

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The In ‘N Outpatient by Kris Harty

“Bah humbug!”

No one wants to spend Christmas in the hospital. Not staff, patients or visitors. No one wishes to so much as stir there at Christmas, not even a mouse.

My first hospital adventure was 39 years ago, and fortunately, it was the only one involving Christmas.

I was seven years old, and no one knew what was suddenly wrong with me. Admitted on Nov. 1, I wasn’t released until early February. My medical case was followed throughout the hospital. The staff became my temporary family.

In 1971, children weren’t allowed to visit hospitals. Three months was a long time to be away from my three siblings. I was the pesky youngest child so, at first, it had the potential to be a nice mini-break for my older siblings. By the time Christmas arrived, for me, it was simply a miserable, lonely holiday season.

When nurses asked what I wanted for Christmas, I could only mumble my answer. Forget presents, forget front teeth: all I wanted for Christmas was to go home.

I begged my mom and Dr. Hunter, my family doctor, to let me go home, if only for a few hours. That wasn’t going to happen, but Dr. Hunter did what he could. As chief of staff, he pulled some strings and reserved a room for us in a far corner of the hospital. There, in a little room with a Christmas tree, we had our family celebration.

It was the first time my siblings and I had seen each other since I was admitted. I didn’t look like I used to look. My face was swollen from cortisone and my joints were swollen from what we learned was arthritis. I couldn’t move well or leave my wheelchair. It was an awkward re-acquaintance with my siblings and my hospital-phobic dad. Nonetheless, for a couple hours, it quenched the need to be with family, to belong.

As our time came to a close, we said our goodbyes. I was wheeled back to my hospital room.

Christmas dinner was served on my bedside tray. All the usual fixings were there. All that was missing was someone to join me.

That’s when my makeshift family came to the rescue. Each nurse spent time by my bedside, during dinner and throughout the evening. They did what they could to cheer me, to be my family.

A volunteer group created a decoration for each tray. To my seven-year-old eyes, it was the most beautiful little angel I’d ever seen. She kept me company that Christmas season. She has traveled with me through these decades, tucked amongst my Christmas decorations.

That angel is a reminder of how hospital staff become makeshift family to their patients during holidays. She is a reminder of the selflessness your profession demands. You’d rather be home, too, but you’re not. Know that your family at the hospital – coworkers, patients and visitors alike – wouldn’t get through the day without you.

Merry Christmas, and thank you, makeshift family.


This heartfelt message is an excerpt and adaptation from Kris Harty’s upcoming book. Watch for it in early 2011: “StickPeople:  How to Beat Burnout, Stop Stressing, and Combat Compassion Fatigue; Health Professionals Stick to It – No Matter What!” Kris’ unique perspective and gratitude for healthcare providers inspires them to keep going.  Kris helps healthcare teams, particularly nurses, combat Compassion Fatigue, while helping their managers reduce turnover. Her message is content-rich, relevant, engaging – and sporadically funny. She is a keynote speaker, author and small group facilitator. Kris Harty is the Stickabilities Specialist at Strong Spirit Unlimited. Clients say her message is life changing. If increasing employee engagement is on your agenda for 2011, take a look at your calendar and book Kris now. Call 877.711.STIC(K), e-mail, or visit And remember in these next two weeks, Stick Together with those who make the season bright, and it will be brighter.

Posted in: The In 'N Out Patient

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Jingle Bells — Nurse’s Style

Jingle BellsDashing down the hall, a stretcher’s in my way,
I just heard someone call, for a nurse in room 4-A,
The lab is on the phone, the charts are stacked galore,
I go into my patient’s room and he is on the floor OOOH

Jingle bells, jingle bells, much to my dismay,
I am stuck at work again 12 hours on Christmas Day!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas go away,
This is not my idea of a happy holiday!

A day or two ago, I thought I’d call in sick,
Just spend my Christmas Day at home,
Now wouldn’t that be a trick?
But as the time drew near, the guilt set in so fast,
I came to work and should have known
Nice guys finish last! OOOH

Jingle bells, jingle bells, O’, my aching back,
This could drive me crazy, give me heart attack,
Jingle bells, jingle bells, I don’t hear them ring,
Christmas is no fun this year, I wish that it were spring.

Another patient said, as I answered her light,
“Would you please check my bed? It doesn’t seem just right.”
I take a closer look, I don’t like this one bit,
She’s had a dose of Milk of Mag, her bed is full of !#?@ OOOH

Jingle bells, jingle bells, I don’t mean to bitch,
I would not be here today if I had married rich.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, blast the mistletoe!
This will be the death of me, an awful way to go.

“O, honey, you’re so sweet, to take such care of me,
These nurses can’t be beat, you’re all so good, you see.”
If what she says is true, before my song is sung,
One consolation that I have — the good, they say, die young! OOOH

Jingle bells, jingle bells — Santa, I’m so sad.
Guess I must have misbehaved, done something really bad.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Santa, do you hear?
What a punishment! I promise I’ll be good next year!

Contributed by Susan Elaine Arnold, RN, BSN, CCRN

Posted in: Columns

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I’ve Never Felt Better in My Life!

It’s late on a snowy evening here in farm country. We’ve gotten the head’s up that there’s been a pretty serious MVA, with a pickup truck colliding with a farmer and his wagon. We’re expecting a disaster, of course, but when the rig pulls in, the patient says he feels fine.

“That’s all he’s been saying since we got there,” said the State Trooper who accompanied the ambulance carrying the pickup truck driver – the guy who caused the accident my patient was involved in.

“Is that true, Mr. X?” I asked him. “You were in a terrible accident. Your wagon is destroyed, from what I understand. And you say you feel fine?”

He looked at me, and then he looked at the cop. “That fella there, he saw that my horse had a broken leg from the accident. So he shot him. And then he saw my dog was pretty torn up, so he shot him, too. When he gets over to me and asks, “How are you doing?” what do you think I’m going to say?”

Posted in: Uncategorized

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Overheard in the Hallway

One of our docs has a reputation for being a world traveler. He’s a big game hunter and whenever he gets some free time flies off on these expeditions. He hunts caribou in the frozen North, wild boar in Texas — he recently got back from a African safari.

Another one of our doctors asked him how the trip went.

“It was terrible,” the doc said. “Very disappointing. I didn’t kill a thing. I might as well stayed here and worked!”

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