Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Journal of Nursing Jocularity

Archive for April, 2011

I’m Not Going!

296716afvfcsnegOne of our older patients really couldn’t safely live alone anymore, yet she was really resistant to her daughter’s plan to have her move into the local senior living center. I asked her why she didn’t want to move, expecting all the usual answers about loss of independence or not wanting to give up her home. You could have floored me when she said, “I’m not going over there because that place is full of AIDS! I don’t want to get AIDS!”

“What do you mean, AIDS?” I asked her.

“Hearing aids, band aids, walking aids…they’ve got all of that over there and I don’t want no part of it!”

Posted in: Columns

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Understanding Why Patients Use Humor When They Talk To Nurses

Funny NurseI work in a neurologist’s office. We try to get really complete histories from every new patient but the patient I was working with, Mr. K, hadn’t checked anything on his intake paperwork. No history of heart disease, no high blood pressure, no cancer scares – not a thing. That’s so rare among our patients (Average Age 78!) that I had to ask him about it.

“Medical history?” He shrugged. “Can’t say there’s much. Of course, I’ve had amnesia as long as I can remember.”

This little grin pushed up the corners of Mr. K’s mouth, and his eyes suddenly started twinkling.  I burst out laughing, and so did he. It turns out he did have a little bit of medical history, and he shared that with me after our laugh.

I was dropping off the file when one of the other nurses stopped me.  (more…)

Posted in: Interviews

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Inside Jokes: Using Humor To Reverse Engineer The Mind

E.B. White famously said, “Analyzing humor is a bit like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.”

We’ll just have to disagree! The study of why we laugh is among the most fascinating of endeavors.  Why in the world does the sight of someone getting a pie in the face make people laugh? How come some people love puns and others loathe them? What’s the deal with the Three Stooges?

Some people believe that there are complex evolutionary forces at work shaping our sense of humor. Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind is one of the newest books on the topic of why we laugh.

Posted in: Bubbly-ography

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The In ‘N Outpatient by Kris Harty

“A what scan?”

A scanner connoisseur, this week’s appointment added a new one to my list.

The oral surgeon’s office has a newfangled scanner called a CBCT: Cone Beam Computed Tomography. I’ve had MRIs, CTs, tomography (um, regular??) and now CBCT.

It rocks.

The CBCT scanner is quick, easy and tunnel-free. It provides standing room only. The best part, it only outputs about 1/100th of the radiation of a traditional CT scan.

“Put your chin up against this small cupped rail, stand still, and the two scanner parts will circle around your head. It’ll take about two minutes.”

The images pulled up immediately afterward. How weird to see what looked like a hologram of my lil’ ol’ skeletal head. Freaky, but cool.

My dentist recommended I see the oral surgeon and have him take x-rays of my jaw joint. You might recall a few columns ago when my left jaw bone seemed to crack, crumble and then – OUCH – get stuck, on and off, for a week or two.

Taking no chances, my dentist wanted to make sure all was mechanically ok and I wouldn’t be unexpectedly experiencing a frozen jaw anytime soon.

And for once, I heard really great news at a surgeon’s office. In fact, he went so far as to say that my jaw bones, both sides, looked really, really good. Well, ok, really, really good for someone who has had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis for four decades.

I’ll take it.

“Wow, now that’s something I seldom hear: ‘Kris, you have really good bones.’ Woo hoo!” The surgeon chuckled.

“I’m happy to say there’s no need for surgery and you should be just fine. And keep up the singing lessons. They probably are helping.”

Whaddaya know. Another payoff for my newfound fun.

I started taking singing lessons a year ago. I’ve never sung in my life, not even in a choir. But it’s been tugging at me the last few years, so I decided to give in and see if there is anything there that wouldn’t scare human or animal.

Apparently, there is – I mean, there is some ability there. Anyway, my instructor keeps after me to relax my jaw.

Four decades of arthritis taught my body to remain tense to protect it from pain. While constant pain is long gone, my body didn’t get that part of the message. So tense it remains.

Forcing my jaw muscles to relax is challenging. It’s what caused the cracking and crumbling recently. Then it went into spasm (locking and unlocking my jaw) for a few weeks while it figured out what to do with its newfound state of relaxation.

My dentist noted that I could open my jaw wider than in the last decade he’s seen me. I notice it, too. And my singing instructor happily notices more movement for singing.

I’ve found singing is good for the soul. Who knew it was good for jaw muscles, too?

Oh yea, and for opening doors to new scanners, as well. Woo hoo.


Another Woo Hoo! Want a unique and meaningful way to celebrate National Nurses Day in May? I created a thank you book for you and your staff. As a forty-year patient, I see the need to give back to professional health care givers who give so much, while receiving little in return. Those you generously give to aren’t especially up to showing gratitude. My book speaks for silently grateful patients everywhere. Hot off the press for Nurses Day, “A Shot in the Arm and A Strong Spirit: How Professional Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere” is part memoir, part application. It’s a perfect read on breaks or for discussion points in staff meetings. Other options are additionally available: video conferencing in for group book discussions or speaking at your event. Pre-order or purchase in bulk for greater savings. Contact me, Kris Harty, by calling 877.711.STIC(K), email, or visit

Posted in: The In 'N Out Patient

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Nurse Marge in Charge

Dear Nurse Marge,

Most of the nurses I work with can’t wait to get out of work when the day is done – if you’re standing in their way once they’re finished giving report, look out because you’re going to get run over! But there’s one nurse, we’ll call here Chatty Cathy, who just does not want to go home.

And I get it, because she’s got a loser husband at home who doesn’t do anything besides complain, a teenage son who dropped out of school and won’t get a job, and two twin daughters who are the terror of the high school – when they can be bothered to go.

How do I know all of this? Because Chatty Cathy tells me all of it, in long and excruciating detail. The best part is that she does this DURING report, woven in between details about new admissions and medication changes and the thirty seven things management wants done differently today. By the time she’s done, I’m already late getting started, and I feel like I spend the entire shift ‘catching up’ – even though I’m getting to work on time. Even early.

What do I do about Chatty Cathy? I can’t blame her for not wanting to go home. I wouldn’t want to go either! But she’s messing up my day and it’s making me nuts.


Not My Problem!

Dear Not My Problem,

Chatty Cathy might not want to go home, but she doesn’t need to screw up your day, either. The trick is to give her a third option: something that she wants to do, that’s fun, that encourages her to give you report quickly and get her out of your hair and onto happiness.

Maybe you could suggest some of these things to her. Mention there’s a great sale at a local store. Maybe you could slip her a gift card for the local coffee shop. Tell her about the fabulous parade scheduled for later that afternoon. A few gentle suggestions might be enough to get her headed in the right direction. Sometimes people need to hear that they have other options besides work and home – even a walk around the park has got to be more fun than spending extra hours on the unit!

Good Luck!

Nurse Marge

Posted in: Jokes

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