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Taking care of addicts made me angry. Then my step-daughter died from an overdose.

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By an anonymous nurse from Show Me Your Stethoscope

A member posted recently about being burned out from dealing with overdose patients, lacking empathy and compassion to care for them. I’d like to share with you that I felt that way too. It used to make me angry to have to take care of yet another overdose. Well, my focus and attitude has shifted since then. My stepdaughter died at the age of 26 on January 2, 2018 from an overdose. It was the call we knew was coming but yet still could not prepare for. We’d seen the exaggerated weightloss, scars on her once gorgeous face, track marks or her arms. We had prayed, counseled, begged, cried, pleaded, threatened, paid for counseling, paid for suboxone, paid for her food and living expenses while she sold her food stamp allotment, sold her body, and became more and more alienated from her 6 year old daughter and us. I’m angry and heartbroken. My family is broken. However, she didn’t choose this life. She was once a curly headed newborn angel, a silly toddler, a precocious little girl who loved to dance and perform. She was quite the artist and had an eye for trends and fashion. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. She wanted to be and do more in life…and then it all fell apart. I don’t know why she made the initial decision to try drugs, except the loss of her grandfather changed her. It altered who she was. It’s not an excuse but the fact that surrounded her first use. I realize she made a choice to try drugs. However, she wasn’t able to control it. The addiction controlled her. Her addiction made her into someone we no longer knew or recognized and no matter how much we loved her, wanted her, begged her, prayed for her….we were helpless to make it stop and unable to shelter and protect her. She left this world with a needle in her arm in a house full of addicts who didn’t even know her name. Our family will never recover from her absence. She wasn’t raised this way. She wasn’t exposed to a life of drugs. She was loved, wanted, encouraged, supported. So to answer on the empathy/compassion piece….I do understand your frustration because I feel it too. It’s senseless, it’s reckless, it’s dangerous and it’s a gamble on their parts. But if you cannot find compassion for the addict, I’m not judging you. It is impossibly difficult and exhausting. I would encourage you though to try to find it for us…the family who has exhausted all measures and spent countless thousands of dollars to save our addict, to rehab them, and who mourn the person we once knew before drugs.

 

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Treehugger By Kilgore, RN

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Every nurse encounters poop. Like, lots of poop. And this, friends, is a poop story.

Pt. was admitted to the Medical ICU for a series of TIA’s; he had already suffered multiple strokes before this admission, and resided in an assisted living home. He was not as well tended as he should have been there, and that trend followed him here. I normally work in the CVU, but because our unit was short on patients (“low census,” for the uninitiated), I “floated” to MICU and took care of Patient. I took him from Odessa, another CVU nurse, who had received him from Jimmy, my partner in crime. In his entire admission, he had not once been cared for by any of the native nurses. My guess is that the charge nurse, Heidi, didn’t think we were up to the usual medical disasters present on the MICU (her words to me: “Well, we don’t want to give you anything too hard.” Wow, you’re right, I’m probably stupid. Fuck you too, lady.) Hence, Patient was being handed to the floats because he wasn’t challenging or sexy enough. Whatever. For once, I knew I would get a lunch.

We had a good day, and yes, it was easy to care for him; I felt badly for the regular staff on the unit because they were working unbelievably hard compared to what I was doing. Toward the end of the shift, I received news that Patient was being returned to his facility. I went in to share the news with him that everyone thought he was stable enough to go home. Before I got a single word out, he stared at me dolefully and moaned, “You know, my stomach is just killing me.” I immediately stopped and gave his belly a listen, then pushed on it a bit…damn. It was kind of firm, more so than when I had assessed him previously. I asked him if he felt like he needed to poop, and if he had been passing gas lately. He was bed-bound, so I wasn’t too surprised that no one knew the last time the poor bastard had gotten the pleasure of unloading.

I took a deep breath. Of course, it was 1800, and I was supposed to be preparing his transfer paperwork. But damn it, a man’s gotta move the mail sometimes. Apparently, 1800 with transport en route was that time.

I explained disimpaction to him. He didn’t care, he just said “please, just help me.”

Gloves. A heavy duty chuck (which is a really absorbent pad…sort of a “pee pee pad” for people). Wipes. Surgilube. A garbage can. It was on.

I asked him to try one more time to push on his own. I may be the Brown Queen, but that doesn’t mean I want to wedge my fingers in anyone’s ass. He was unsuccessful, grunting and sweating and groaning all the way.

GO TIME!

I started working on the dry matter. Some poop made its way. Then…he started pushing again.

We had busted the dam.

I had never seen anything like it, and I haven’t since. It was HUGE. The size of a small baby. I am not exaggerating. I was immediately angry that no one at his home had even noticed that he hadn’t notably crapped recently, but relieved I caught it…so to speak. Technically, it had actually landed on the chuck. At least there was no cord to cut.

Another nurse had noticed at this point that I hadn’t been out of the room for a while and came to check on me. Her head popped around the privacy curtain. “Are you okay in here?”, she asked. “Yeah, I’m fine, but I could use a hand getting my friend here cleaned up.” My voice was calm, but I was jerking my head back to urge her to LOOKIT THIS GIANT DOOKER, OMG. She came around the bed to where I was, frowning…and then she saw. Her eyes got big, but in her best nursing voice: “Sure, I’d love to help you. Are you doing all right, sir?”

Honestly, we sound like airline stewardesses in turbulence.
More coffee? SkyMall magazine? A bit of the Finger?
It’s just a little turbulence. We only dropped a few dozen feet.
You only shit a cinder block. It’s fine now.

God. Patient was so happy. I’d swear his grips even improved on his weaker, affected side. He said “thank you so much” at least four times in the time it took me to clean up and wash my hands.

After we got Patient situated, did I do my paperwork? Did I call report to his home? Nope. I texted Jimmy.

“didn’t you have the guy in room X yest?”
“yep, why? is he ok?”
“i just disimpacted him”, then
“omfg, it was like a sequoia log”

Patient went home a new man.

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The SMYS Classic is back!

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Back by popular demand, the SMYS Classic T-shirt is back on sale for the next 17 days. All funds raised go toward missions, scholarships, and operational costs. We appreciate your support! Don’t miss out–get your shirt today! They’re only periodically on sale. Get them here.

It's back! The SMYS Classic is available again until 7/12/16. Unisex and ladies' cut on comfy, stretchy cotton blend.

It’s back! The SMYS Classic is available again until 7/12/16. Unisex and ladies’ cut on comfy, stretchy cotton blend.

Things you might be curious about:

  • It’s on sale through July 12, 2016.
  • It takes about two weeks for it to be delivered from the end of the sale period—Bonfire treats the fundraiser like one big order. You could expect the delivery to be around July 26th, 2016.
  • The shirts are sourced from well-known producers; they normally are of a cotton-poly blend. The specific shirt is chosen by Bonfire based on what they can bid out for a reasonable production price.
  • Available in unisex, women’s cuts—sorry, no v-necks at this time.
  • The women’s shirts do run small—order up at least one size!

 

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Happy Birthday Janie!!

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Happy Birthday to our Amazing Founder Janie!!!

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Janie is such a pillar of strength, dedication and love. She has spent countless hours creating and building Show Me Your Stethoscope. This amazing group, this powerful, strong, funny, supportive environment would not exist if not for Janie, our fearless leader.

As you know, Janie lost her son Alex in a tragic accident a few years ago. Alex was a fantastic kid- kind, generous, and a friend to everyone (sounds like his mom). Janie’s huge heart is undeniable, and we have seen her passion to help others, especially Nurses in Need in countless ways (Adopting Families for Christmas, Baby Jude, Baby Shower for Baby Patrick, Pajamas for Little Ryan, Katrina’s Baby Shower and so many more).

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We (The admins, moderators, and everyone else behind the scenes in SMYS) want to give back to Janie. We can think of no better gift for Janie than to announce the creation of the  Alexander Garner Springsteen Sunshine Fund. This fund will be used to support nurses and families in need, and to supplement SMYS charitable campaigns.

Her Birthday is a tough day for Janie (as is every day after losing Alex). Lets make this day a little cheerier for her. Please leave Birthday Wishes and Birthday Memes here- let’s create the “Worlds Biggest Birthday Card” for Janie.

If you would like to contribute to the Alexander Garner Springsteen Sunshine Fund go here.

 

Love,

The Admins, Mods, Directors and EVERYONE at SMYS (including too many members to list here!)

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Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio and common sense – or September 11 every other day.

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When one speaks of great leaders, they talk about Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln.  When one wants to talk about great nurse leaders, They talk about Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio, PhD, RN

I am a Laura Fangirl.laurag

Laura is such a tremendous advocate for nurses and a vicious opponent of iatrogenic injury (healthcare related injuries). Twenty one years ago, she organized a March for safe staffing in Washington DC with 35,000 nurses in attendance. She testifies in front of House committees to support bills. She teaches CCRN, and is a Critical Care expert in her own right.  She is a real live nurse, with real live experience, and a really ALIVE New York attitude.

I recognize it because I am also in possession of that attitude. (Long Island! Shoutout!) Laura has been putting herself out there for nurses for literally decades. Someday I hope I will do one percent of Laura’s work for nursing.  Unlikely, but I have my hopes.

I digress…

Laura was teaching a critical care class and during the hemodynamics lecture, she gave an inspiring and daunting talk about healthcare errors.  Essentially, she said that if you crashed three jumbo jets – full of three hundred people each, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday all year long, it would equal the number of healthcare related deaths per year.  She said this to Congress.  All of her friends were scared to testify.  Naturally, Laura put herself out there for nursing and was the voice of those too afraid to speak.  She testified.  A Congressman had the unmitigated gall to ask her exactly why he would need a licensed nurse at his bedside.

She discussed the possibility of replacing licensed aircraft mechanics with unlicensed mechanics, and asking the guy who cleans the plane to fly it instead.

I will let you watch the video, but Laura makes her point in a powerful way.

The latest study estimates 250,000 deaths each year as a result of medical errors.  Using Laura’s example: if we crashed THREE JUMBO JETS EVERY WEEKDAY, we would almost get to that number of iatrogenic deaths per year. The entire country would go insane if such a thing were to happen in the airline industry, but we allow these deaths to happen in healthcare every single day, all year long.   Deaths caused by the very hospital that was supposed to heal you.

51b0e99297fa3.preview-620Deaths that your family and your healthcare provider will never get over.

Deaths caused by lack of knowledge, egregious practices, honest mistakes, and FAILURE TO RESCUE.

Many of these deaths are for the sake of saving a moderate amount of money for an extra nurse or two per unit.  What cost do we place on a life?

I would like to remind you that three thousand people killed by plane crashes (and terrorism) in the United States on September 11, 2001 completely changed our lives, and our entire airline industry.  Why doesn’t two hundred fifty thousand senseless deaths per year do the same thing for healthcare? And how many iatrogenic deaths go unreported?

What is the real number?

Safe Staffing Saves Lives.

#SavePatCiYuD7mWEAE14Pg

Love,

Janie

 

 

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