Monday, June 26, 2006

The Dog & Pony (and cockroach) Show........

Oh, this daggone LVN I've been training!! At first she drove me nuts. But then....after I trained her for the required three days....I started to feel a little sorry for the hapless thing. I think I even have a couple of new white hairs over the whole adventure..... T* The first day was bad enough when she irritated me by laughing at me for "the cows laying down" thing. But then she further irritated me on the second day. Because on the second day she started arguing with me over every little stupid thing-- like the way the driving directions in the car charts are written. S* She decided that she doesn't like the "haphazard" way (as she calls it) that the locational directions are written in the patients' car-charts. Car-charts are the portable folders that nurses take with them on the road--and not only do they contain pertinent medical information a nurse will need for the patient's care, but they also contain written directions for actually navigating to the patient's home-- so that every nurse can find their way out to wherever that patient lives. These directions are essential because this isn't like Los Angeles out here. In this part of Texas, STREET MAPS are useless. Because it ain't like that---it's farms and ranches and fields and lakes--some terrain of which changes with the weather or crop successes! T* These directions are written for the way that the surrounding countryside actually IS around here--I mean, these are "country" patients out in the Wild Wild West that we're seeing here--and also you have to remember that it's "country nurses" who are writing down the directions for the car-charts. For example, it is not uncommon at all for the directions in a car chart to read: "* "You start in town and you take the highway past the Dairy Queen-- and then you turn right on that street that doesn't look like a real street--and then you go about two miles, and when you start going into a big curve you take the first black-top road to the right--- and then you go another 2 or 3 miles till you see a big hill made out of red clay. And then it's the next trailer to the left--and you go in the back door." T* This LVN kept ridiculing the car chart directions. She argued with me all day till I wanted to push her out the passenger door and keep on driving..... F* Finally, and thankfully, my third AND LAST day of her training came. And I was GLAD. Lord, I was tired of training her argumentative self. I fortified myself with the knowledge that I simply had to get through this one more day with her and then I could go back to my regular work, my regular peace and quiet.... b* But she started that day right off by ruining my mood for the morning. O* Okay, I will tell you here that I like to start my day off with a positive remark to my co-workers when I arrive. For example, at my new branch office we nurses don't have private offices. Instead, we all sit together in a huge "Battle Room". It's a gigantic room with these huge desks lined up back-to-back and side-to-side, whereby each nurse "has her space" ---and in this huge room there's a constant hum and flurry of secretaries running hither and yon answering phones, fielding calls from doctors and patients, calling particular nurses on the intercom to answer phone calls on "Line 6" or something, chasing nurses down to sign or correct certain paperwork......and EVERYBODY's faxing or phoning to try to contact certain people like patients, physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors (or even GOD sometimes..... ) A* Anyway, each nurse's desk tells the story of her job and her personality. Each desk is the same in that it is a huge wooden contraption that holds file drawers, shelves & cubbyholes to sort various clipboards, notebooks, and documentation in various stages of completion--in addition to a bulletin board on which to pin on-call schedules, fax number lists, and all kinds of other information that you need at your fingertips all day long due to the vast amount of paperwork each nurse generates..... B* But, also, each desk is different in the way that each nurse decorates her "space" with her own personal touches. My own desk sports about a zillion Post-It pad sizes and shapes, a cute little "basket" to hold my calculator and personal bills, and my anal-retentive collection of clipboards with carefully made labels called "Faxes That Need Answers To", "Calls I'm Supposed To Make", "Pre-recertifications I'm Supposed To Do" and the ignored "Chart Audit Corrections To Be Made". On the top of my desk, under a pretty red cloth with hand embroidery on it, is perched an 8" x 10" picture of me on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, my Harley HOG Bear, my mother's picture, and a beautiful red china jar. A* Anyway, so on this third and last morning of my job of training the dratted LVN (who I suspect hates me), I wanted to start things off in a positive mood. I wanted to do like I usually do in the mornings--which is to come into the "Battle Room" and say my greetings with a profound, resounding statement intended to get us all "motivated" for the day. Okay, so sometimes I am a little dramatic about this. It's just my habit, no harm done, right? I admit that I have er....copied some famous movies or books at times.... L* Like the time right after I'd seen a re-run of the movie "Apocolypse Now" and walked into the Battle Room and announced: "Behold! I LOVE the smell of BETADINE in the morning!" O* One of the secretaries replied simply: "The physical therapist always says that." Hmmph. Bully for him. A* Another day I was feeling Shakespearish and I walked in after coming back from a bunch of patient visits and announced theatrically: "It was the best of farms, but it was the worst of farms...." M* My Director replied: "That reminds me--you're late turning in your paperwork on our patient at Rigby's farm." B* But, never to be daunted, on this third & last day that I was going to have to take out that dadblasted and annoying LVN to train her once again-- I was determined that I would prevail. Nothing would ruin my mood. And I WOULD make a statement that would just FLOOR everybody. S* So I strutted into the Battle Room at 7:30 am, holding a gleaming silver car-cup of coffee in one hand and a freshly-restocked nurse bag in the other-- wearing my new, crisp "summer uniform"---and I took a dramatic "stance" to announce loudly, in my best Captain Kirk imitation: “* "Texas.... the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Nurse-Ship Enterprise. Her five-year mission? To explore strange new ranches, to seek out new life and new chicken farms.... to boldly go where no Nurse has gone before!.....” T* There was a brief silence in the room where I thought I'd made an impact. I started to prepare my "humble look", to get ready for the adoration and applause from all the admiring staff...... a* and then that dang new LVN piped up all perky---to mock me with a song: "* "Ya do the hokey pokey and ya turn yourself around, THAT's what it's all about! Tah-Dah!"


(Moment of silence here where the Message Goat cringes, thinking that he may just have to go out and announce that Nurse Bohemian Knitter has fainted and had to be carried out on a stretcher....) (But no....wait....she rallies!!) (And so the Message Goat gives a sigh of relief and returns to his straw-munching and frolicking with the nanny-goats....) (*

(But back to Nurse Bohemian......) O*

Oh the disgrace of it all.......she had RUINED my moment. Ah, but I wasn't to be bested. As I slithered over to my desk and gathered my things for the day, I thought to myself: "You may have won this one, sis', but the day ain't over yet.....we'll find out if you're Road Nurse material afterall, oh yes we will!" I*

I checked out our schedule. And I cringed because I saw that we had several ranches to go to this day where there were huge ranch dogs. And this particular LVN has done nothing since Day One but complain about dogs. God, she drives me crazy with her moaning, groaning, and constant complaining about dogs. She hates dogs, any dog. Big ones, little ones, medium-sized ones---dogs. She's convinced that they're out to get her. Like she's the most choice morsel of dog-bait in the world. And thus, at every dang place we go where there's a dog, she will sit petulantly in the vehicle and fret-- until I am forced to coaxe her stupid ass out of the vehicle-- just because she's afraid of the patient's stupid dogs. A*

And so, with her dog-fear and my impatience to get this durn day over with---and armed with our assignments--- we took off.....into the Wild Wild West.... O*

On this day we were to go in her vehicle because on the third day of training, a trainee is supposed to act as if they are the one "in control"--pretending that she is doing the job on her own-- with the trainer along just for the ride and to provide some final supervision. A*

And now, I'll just admit here that there's nothing that I can criticize about her choice of vehicles. I will GRANT her that she came adequately prepared for work in Texas with a good choice of vehicle for a Road Nurse--the most beloved vehicle of Texans--a big pick-up truck. We all know that pick-up trucks BELONG in Texas. In fact, I would rather have a good pick-up truck than my own Jeep, but I can't afford one right now. So I was happy to pile in and let her drive me around in that nice truck. B*

But......her pickup is one of those fancy-schmancy new pickup trucks.....I mean, she's got the one of those huge V8's that's completely huge & beautiful, gorgeously covered with shiny metallic paint, complete with a luxurious and roomy back seat, a total luxury interior with "extras" such as a digital stereo and satellite radio, a sunroof, etc. And she treats this pick-up truck like it's Elijah's Chariot to Heaven-- and that it would be sacriligious to drink a Pepsi in it, much less get dirt on the fender. S*

So boy did she fret every time I told her where we were going and that it was usually down a horribly rough, non-paved country road, littered with obstacles & foot-deep holes gouged into the terrain. One time we went through some road construction and had to cross over actual TREE BRANCHES in the road-- and it really pissed her off. She muttered under her breath about how the "road crews should be complained about". (This puzzled me because I know her truck has 4-wheel drive, so I really didn't see what the big deal was, you know?--because in Texas, that's WHY we have 4-wheel drive--so you can GO OVER obstacles...) Nerd, I thought. She's a complete Nerd...... Onward we pushed-- into the Wild Wild West.... A*

And then...... she actually "guffawed" at me while I was reading some driving directions from a car-chart because I had said: "Yeah, okay, so in about 2 miles we gotta find County Road 3207--I know where it is-- it's a rock-dirt road that branches off to the left." W*

When she "guffawed" at me I answered "What?" And she chuckled sanctimoniously and said: "Hah!...rock dirt road!" A*

And then I realized .....that she was laughing at me! She was actually laughing at me for what I said because she thought the term "rock dirt road" is stupid and "hick-ish". This annoyed me because I thought this IDGIT is getting a total kick out of me saying "rock dirt road"---like I'm some hick or something!!! But miserably, praying to the Lord for patience, I kept silent-- resigned to my fate of having to deal with her until the end of the day.... A*

Anyway, when we got to the rock-dirt road--- suddenly her sarcastic smile vanished. And after we rattled & bounced down it for about 25 feet--- she slowed waaaay down until we were practically crawling. I looked over at her in puzzlement and she said defensively: "I don't want to have to pay $50 for a damn front-end alignment, okay?" I*

I simply remarked darkly and ominously: "Oh, but you will. Over and over....." A*

At each ranch we went to, she threw her hissy fit about the dogs and wouldn't get out of the damn truck till she knew the ranch's dogs weren't around. This began to drive me nuts. Because she would go on a tirade at each place saying things like: "I hate these stupid country dogs. They look like disgusting mongrels and they stink. Why don't country people ever have decent-looking dogs like spaniels or poodles or something? These ugly hound dogs all look like they came out of the movie "Deliverance" or something. They're totally gross and I can't stand them." *


I knew it was useless to tell her that most country folk keep dogs as their only protection against criminals or wild animals who would eat their chickens and goats. I knew she'd have no earthly idea how much a farmer or rancher needed a good herding dog to help him herd his cattle. And I knew for certain that there was no way on God's Green Earth that she would understand the simple, eternal relationship between a loyal family dog and its family who lived off Texan land. I *

I finally became so annoyed by her tantrums that, finally, I knew I had to do it. I had to do it and so I did. I gave her the "Ranch Dog Lesson": I *

I told her: "Look, here, sis. We're in Texas, okay? EVERY frigging ranch has ranch dogs. These ranch dogs will come inspect every intruder who comes onto their owner's property. You will simply have to learn how to behave around them. They usually won't harm you if you talk to them and act like you're not going to do anything to harm their owner. Simply talk gently to them and walk slowly, VERY slowly, up to the back door. Don't worry, the ranch owners are watching and will "call them off" should the dogs get unruly. But remember the most important rule--and this is important--should a ranch dog come at you in hostility, simply STOP and STAND PERFECTLY STILL until the dog owner comes to control the dog. Don't make any sudden moves. Now, if you'll follow these simple rules, you'll be just fine! So let's go, because I'm hungry and want to get out of here." S*

She seemed to listen, and I thought perhaps that I'd been able to at least impart SOME knowledge to this twirp. We went on with our day and I saw that she truly tried to overcome her fear of the Ranch Dogs. I relaxed and started to get a little more comfortable with her because she gradually stopped arguing with the car-chart directions, stopped acting like a prima-donna, and started to look like she just might relax and enjoy the life of a Road Nurse. O*

Our last stop of the day was the Crestfield Ranch, a ranch with the most beautiful paint-ponies you have ever seen. Lord, I'd give my eye teeth to ride one of their butterscotch & white colored paint ponies. They are some of the most beautiful, sweet, and ethereal beings I've ever seen-- and I often imagine that only beautiful fairies can ride them..... They are even too beautiful to put ugly saddles on--no, these gorgeous creatures should only be ridden bareback, into the mist, their riders calling out in triumph over a war won with the Leprechauns.... S*

Sorry, I was daydreaming. M*

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...... Y*

Yes, so there we were at the Crestfield Ranch. We drove into the ranch, past its large pond, and past the goat pastures where there were beautiful spotted goats frolicking and playing. There were ducks on the pond. I sat back and enjoyed the beauty of this moment. The only thing that nagged the back of my mind is that I knew that that this ranch has a huge, white ranch dog the size of a Saint Bernard--his name is Buster--and I was worried that he'd frighten the LVN. But as luck would have it the dog wasn't around. Perhaps he was out in the back pastures, I figured. So I didn't say anything about him. She and I arrived at the main house, got out of the truck, and went into the house to tend the patient. T*

The visit went well except for one little thing. And this is my fault, I admit completely. We were all sitting at the dining room table where the LVN was in the process of taking the blood pressure of the elderly woman patient. The patient's daughter was talking to me about her mother's progress on her diabetic diet while I fiddled with my weekly task concerning the patient's insulin--whereby I was pre-filling a bunch of insulin syringes for the patient to use during the next week since she has poor vision and can't fill the syringes herself. A*

Anyway, while I was preparing the insulin syringes, all of a sudden, this BIG cockroach suddenly appears on the dining room table from behind a loaf of "Sunbeam" bread. Now....folks....I absolutely ABHOR and HATE cockroaches. I hate them so much that I will have an anxiety attack when I see one. And this stupid cockroach was ON THE TABLE-- and he was walking towards me, advancing deliberately as if in some sort of attack mode! I tried not to panic in front of everybody, realizing that farm folk don't really get very excited about stupid little cockroaches like I tend to get-- but I couldn't help pulling myself back a little, hoping against hope that this damn cockroach would change in his direction and go in a direction that was DIFFERENT than his current direction-- which was towards me. But he kept coming towards me, which panicked me further! Finally I simply HAD to stand up from my chair, stepping backwards as I did, saying breathlessly (yet trying to sound calmer than I was): "Uh...that cockroach is...well it's there by the insulin..." T*

The patient's daughter realized what was happening and mercifully offered: "I'll get him, honey" and flapped a big checkered dishcloth at him to flick him away. B*

But the roach wasn't to be moved--because he then decided to jump DOWN off of the table and onto the chair I was standing next to-- and then he kept on moving towards me! "Oh dear...." I mumbled in a wavering voice. I desperately wondered what in the tarnation kind of asshole aggressive cockroach is THIS??? Don't they usually avoid and hide from humans as vermin should?? But no.....this stupid gladiator cockroach kept coming at me!.....and I knew that I had to do something in order to prevent myself from losing total dignity and go running, screaming wildly, from the house with my hair standing on end in total crazed insanity...... So finally I summoned what bravery I had and flapped my own hand towards him, hoping to "shoo" him away. A*

And then that damn roach jumped off the chair right AT ME! "*

"AAAAIIGHHHEE!" I screamed, dropping my handful of insulin syringes all over the floor as I back-stepped away wildly to get away from this damnable roach! It seemed like the cussed thing was on a mission! And then... S*


Thankfully, and blessedly, the patient's daughter had stomped that cockroach so flat that he'd make paper look thick. Hugely relieved, I relaxed and tried to venture a peek at this horrible bug. Hah, I thought to myself. She fixed his little red wagon for sure! But the gladiator cockroach was still spread-eagled on the shoe-bottom of the patient's daughter. So she simply took her shoe off of her foot and banged it against the side of the kitchen trash can a couple of times till the flattened cockroach carcass fell into the garbage. "*

"Fixed his little red wagon," she remarked. A*

And I was greatly relieved. And that cockroach never bothered me again.... B*

But then... out of the clear blue my utter mortification.......


The LVN snorted in merciless disgust and said sarcastically to me: "Are you having a bad day, Nurse?" She chuckled to herself a little and I could see that she thought I was the biggest idiot she'd ever seen in her life. And she continued her cruelty. "Ya know, Nurse, up in Detroit we call those silly little bugs "waterbugs"--they're completely harmless. They're more frightened of YOU than you are of them, heh heh." I *

I took this little insulting tirade in stride because there wasn't a dang thing I could do. What was I going to do? I certainly didn't want to lose control and let my poor patient and her daughter be a witness to me throttling a fellow nurse. Not to mention that I didn't feel like committing murder during the first month of my new assignment--it simply wouldn't look professional. So I let it slide and we finished up the visit. Then we left the house and loaded up into her fabulous pick-up truck. A*

As we drove down the ranch's access road back towards civilization, I tried to calm down and relax, enjoying again the beautiful view of the ducks in the pond, the paint ponies in the pasture, and........ a*

and suddenly here came Buster.... the Ranch Dog. T*

The LVN had her window rolled down. And here came Buster, trotting up to her side of the pickup where she had one arm crooked casually out the driver's side window--and Buster continued to trot along along the vehicle with us, keeping pace. "O*

"Oh, look!" she crowed delightedly. "This must be the Ranch Dog! And what a beautiful dog he is! And you know what? I've decided NOT to be afraid of them anymore!" T*

Then she leaned her head out of the truck window and spoke to the dog: "So how are YOU, Mr. Ranch Doggie? Mr. Ranch Doggie wanna talk to the Nice Nursies?" "*

"GRROWffWRfff!!!!!" B*

Buster had suddenly, and for no reason at all, began a total dog attack on the LVN peering at him out of her truck window! He started barking wildly, snarling, and choking on his own slobber-- as if he were going to have a complete conniption fit!!--and then that dang dog began jumping up towards the LVN's window, actually trying to leap into the vehicle and attack her!!!!


As I gazed, horrified, dumbfounded & stupified upon the horrifying sight of Buster's big white doggy face in the driver's side window--with all of his razor-sharp teeth bared for view in his huge, foaming mouth--which was aimed right at the poor LVN.......I vaguely wondered what in the HELL had gotten into this dog!????



Buster kept snarling, barking, jumping and snapping-- continuing to try to make his mad jumps to get into the open truck window-- each time coming closer and closer to almost succeeding in leaping right through the opening and into the LVN's lap. And the, Good God, but he snapped at the LVN's arm and actually ripped a good size chunk out of her uniform sleeve! I couldn't BELIEVE that Buster was doing this because I'd never seen a Ranch Dog do such a thing!!!!! I thought miserably of how on earth I was going to explain to my boss that the LVN in my charge had been eaten by the Crestfield Ranch's dog, Buster, while we were out pre-filling insulin syringes...... "*

"OH MY GOD!" the LVN screamed, rearing back from the window as far as she could--and also taking her hands off the steering wheel of the pick-up truck WHILE we were still rolling down the road. "OH MY GOD HE'S GOING TO KILL ME!!!!!!" she hollered--and then all lI could think to do was to grab ahold of the steering wheel with one hand, to keep us from veering completely off the road-- yet at the same time while I was trying to use the other hand to try and stab the truck's control buttons--trying to find the right button that would raise the godforsaken windows and keep Buster out of the truck... "*

"WHICH BUTTON IN HERE RAISES THE DAMN WINDOWS?" I yelled at the LVN, stabbing at every button I could find while she screamed pitiously. I frantically stabbed all the various buttons that were located on the truck's console and the arms of each seat---but all that happened was that the windsheild wipers came on and cleaned the windshield, the windshield cleaner-fluid sprayed the windshield, the antenna for the satellite radio went up, a country music CD began playing "I've Got Friends In Low Places", the sunroof opened, and the truck's fog lights came on..... F*

Finally, I hit the right button just as the singer on the radio sang: "where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away......." F*

Finally the truck's windows rolled up to save the LVN, almost squashing stupid ole Buster's face in the process as they closed on him while he was still trying to climb his way through her window.....


And to her credit, the stricken LVN recovered enough where-with-all to grab the steering wheel and steer us back on course from our zig-zagging course through the left pasture, back onto the dirt road (while I silently thanked our lucky stars that we had not hit a tree or a bob-wire fence)--and so we got back onto the road and were able to drive away, leaving a foaming-at-the-mouth Buster in the dust. W*

We drove a bit, finally exiting the ranch...both of us breathing heavily in relief, thanking the heavens that we were in one piece and not "dogmeat" (pardon the pun). W*

We drove for awhile in silence. The poor LVN kept breathing rather heavily-- and I worried that she was going to flip out or something--the poor thing did seem pretty shocked by the whole ordeal. I felt sorry for her, really I did.... because even I know the dangers of an angry Ranch Dog--and also I knew that our company's uniform top is expensive, and so hers would definitely have to be replaced since her left sleeve now had a hole in it that was the shape of Buster's mouth.... O*

Okay, folks. I tried. I really TRIED, alright? I TRIED NOT TO SAY IT. A*

As God is my witness, I tried not to say it.....


but I said it anyway...... A*

After we'd gone a few miles down the road and we knew we were safe, and after we'd recovered a little from our ordeal, I innocently started up the conversation again. "Are you having a bad day, Nurse?" I asked, as sympathetically and sincerely as I could. "As I've told you before, down here in Texas we call those silly little dogs 'Ranch Dogs'. They're completely harmless. They're more frightened of YOU than you are of THEM...." U*

Um....she did make a comment with the F-word in it but I let that slide, thinking that the poor dear had just had a very rough day as a Road Nurse and certainly deserved to let off a little steam. When we got back to the office she trudged into the office, slinging her nurse bag through the back door with a definant flounce, and let the door close behind her in my face--as if she was letting me know that she was definitely "finished with me" and my nonsense. I opened the door and slunk in behind her, passing through the breakroom where my buddy Brandi and the Director were sitting sipping Pepsi's on their lunch hour. Both me and the LVN paused---both of us rather at a loss of words. I noticed my Director's questioning glance and I knew she was wondering how everything had gone. And so I gave my final report on the LVN. I*

I turned to the LVN and said, in my SOMEBODY imitation and I pronounced: "Behold! Thou has passed the difficult test that only the purest-in-heart can survive. Ye have survived great difficulties with honor, and you have triumphed in glory upon the battlefield--and therefore, ye deserveth the reward of the wearing o' the victor's laurel. And so, the powers vested in me by the Grand State of Texas and the less-grand County of Podunk--- I now pronounce thee a BONAFIDE 'Road Nurse'. Go forth, NURSE, and tend to THY PATIENTS!!!!" M*

My Director chortled, almost choking on her Pepsi, and said sardonically: "You're late handing in your paperwork...."


and I joyously ran to my beloved desk and my beloved late paperwork--dreaming of riding butterscotch and white-colored paint ponies....... *

* * * * *

"Blame it all on my roots I showed up in boots And ruined your black tie affair T*

The last one to know The last one to show I was the last one You thought you'd see there A*

And I saw the surprise And the fear in his eyes When I took his glass of champagne A*

And I toasted you Said, honey, we may be through But you'll never hear me complain 'C*

'Cause I've got friends in low places Where the whiskey drowns And the beer chases my blues away A*

And I'll be okay I*

I'm not big on social graces Think I'll slip on down to the oasis Oh, I've got friends in low places W*

Well, I guess I was wrong I just don't belong But then, I've been there before E*

Everything's all right I'll just say goodnight And I'll show myself to the door H*

Hey, I didn't mean To cause a big scene Just give me an hour and then W*

Well, I'll be as high As that ivory tower That you're livin' in 'C*

'Cause I've got friends in low places Where the whiskey drowns And the beer chases my blues away And I'll be okay I*

I'm not big on social graces Think I'll slip on down to the oasis Oh, I've got friends in low places............. I*

I guess I was wrong I just don't belong But then, I've been there before A*

And everything is alright I'll just say goodnight And I'll show myself to the door I*

I didn't mean to cause a big scene Just wait 'til I finish this glass Then sweet little lady I'll head back to the bar A*

And you can kiss my ass..............

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nurse, Heal Thyself ! (And Knitting & Beefcake Pics Really do Help....)

Whew....what a past couple of weeks it's been. I'm finally getting used to my new town, its patients, the other girls at the office, and the surrounding country. And, thank the LORD, I'm thrilled that the driving distance is so much less. That in itself leaves me an extra hour to sleep in the mornings....such luxury! I was pretty pitiful there for awhile, stressing about leaving behind my former co-workers and my best friend Amber. And I was fretting about learning the ropes in my new town and my job of training the new LVN. But my Director at this new assignment is really nice and and so are all the other nurses. Although I still just can't believe how small this town is. I mean, this town is SMALL. But I lied to y'all the other day--there atually IS a Dairy Queen here! It was hidden behind a hardware store and a gas station after the second traffic light in the town. (As I mentioned before, the town only has 2 traffic lights and they're both within a block of each other.) So with a Dairy Queen, that means there actually IS a place where I can pull through a drive-thru window for lunch. There is only one more "chain" fast-food place in town, a Sonic, but I hate going there because I can't tip the car-hops and it makes me feel guilty. And do you know why I can't tip those poor car-hops? Technology. Nowadays the Sonics have a deal now where you can slide your debit card through a little gizmo right there at the speaker where you order your food. But it only lets you do just that--pay for your food. You can't get cash back like you can at other places that let you use your debit card--so therefore you can't tip the poor little car-hop. And I am the type of person who never carries cash. In this day and age of the debit card--I use it for virtually all my monetary transactions. Yes, I use my debit card for every single transaction I make. I have actually used my debit card to buy a cup of coffee in the morning on the way to work. One day I went into a truck stop to get a big mug of coffee and when the cashier realized I was going to pay for it with a debit card she got irritated and said: "Oh for heaven's sakes, just take the coffee for free!" Although that was nice of her, I seriously don't see what the problem is. However, my bank's debit card department DOES see a problem with it. Yesterday they called me on the phone and said: "Nurse, we think somebody stole your debit card and we are hereby calling to notify you." When I asked why they thought somebody had stolen my debit card they replied: "Because we have been seeing suspicious activity on your card transactions lately. It seems that there have been many small transactions in gas stations on your card. As a matter of fact, there were four transactions on your card yesterday for under $3.00 each-- in 4 different gas stations! Do you even know where your debit card is?" I replied: "Was it the coffee & Twinkie I got at the gas station over by the Chicken Plant? And was it the corn-dog, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Travel Size Tampon Pack I got at the gas station by Old Man Harvey's wrecker company? And was it the Moon Pie, the Pepsi...." He interrupted me before I could finish proving that nobody had stolen my debit card, saying in amazement: "You mean that was YOU making all those transactions? Hell, we thought your card had been stolen and that somebody was going quickly from gas station to gas station to hurry and use your debit card before you found out it was stolen and had it cancelled." I took a deep breathe before speaking, trying not to giggle. I didn't want to offend this guy but I was thinking GET REAL!!!! What did he he think? That some robber had stolen my card and gone on a criminal spending spree at GAS STATIONS, for God's sakes? For TWINKIES? For TAMPONS? Hell, if I was a criminal and I'd stolen somebody's debit card-- I'd be headed for Walmart so fast that it would make your head spin! And man, I could drop a fortune in there in less than 20 minutes flat and it wouldn't be for no dang Twinkies or Tampons you can bet on that! Anyway, he was reassured when I told him that I am a Road Nurse and that I do many small transactions per day while on the road. Because I practically live on the road for the first half of the day. The second half of the day I am sitting at my desk under a mountain of paperwork, fielding calls from doctors and patients while reporting to my bosses and signing papers that secretaries are chasing me down for. Yesterday I was not in a good mood as I sat in my desk because I was behind in my work from having to train the new LVN and also I had a toothache. And I was somewhat irked about the behavior of the new LVN. It all started because I knew that it was going to rain. Earlier in the day, while driving out to a big ranch, the new LVN beside me, I had noticed the tell-tale sign of a weather change--all the cows were laying down near or under trees in the pastures. "Uh oh," I said to the new LVN. "The cows are laying down. It's going to rain. Let's hurry up and get these visits over with before we're bogged down in the mud of these pastures when the rain starts. And Indian Creek will rise up and cover County Road 7314 for sure." The trainee dropped her jaw open in shock. She rolled her eyes in disbelief, making it obvious that she believed that I was completely nuts by the statement I had just made. "What in the heck are you talking about--cows laying down and rain and stuff?" she asked. Patiently, I pointed out the nearby cow herds. "Look over there--see those cows and that asshole donkey? See what they're doing? They're laying down, some of them under those trees. That means a weather change and most likely it'll rain." The trainee continued to stare at me like I had gone off my rocker and snorted: "I think you country folks just believe silly old wives tales. It's 98 degrees out here in the bright sun, we're hotter than hell, and there's not a cloud in the sky. Cows laying down, indeed....." Whatever, I thought. She's new to Texas. She'll learn. "And why did you call that donkey an asshole?" she added. I told her I hate donkeys because they are rude and they know they are rude. She rolled her eyes at me again! But I'm not worried. She'll find out for herself soon enough. I tried not to get annoyed with her. I thought I needed to give her a break here because I figure she just has a lot to learn, being from Detroit and all. I don't think they have many ranches, cows, or asshole donkeys up there. The poor thing's husband has gotten transferred to Texas and she's been pretty vocal about how she isn't happy about the transfer out to the boondocks of Texas ranch country. Especially to a town that doesn't even have a McDonalds. But she's definitely a feisty newbie. When we got back to the office she actually made fun of me in front of the other nurses--which I thought was rather rude for a newbie to do. She laughingly and sarcastically crowed to the others in the office all about how I had said that it was going to rain "just because the cows had layed down". I corrected her by adding: "And a donkey, too." The LVN rolled her eyes again and argued: "Old wives tales!" Just then the Director looked up and said: "Yep, my Paw-Paw was going to go fishing at Schyler's Pond this afternoon but the minute he saw the cows laying down he turned right around and went home." The newbie LVN looked even more incredulous. Doggedly, she continued her argument: "Do you mean to tell me that people around here think that cows laying down means it's going to rain--and also that cows laying down means that you can't go fishing? That is the craziest thing I've ever heard of!" I felt sorry for the newbie at this point. She was definitely not scoring points for popularity. I worried that somebody might get irritated with her and say something rude. But the Director just sighed and said kindly: "Uh....look. Everybody knows that when the cows lay down it means two things--the fish won't bite and it's gonna rain." Just then a huge crack of thunder rocked the building and a total downpour started. I looked over at the newbie. "Don't worry," I told her. "You'll learn." The other nurses were looking at her with some disdain. I made a mental note to myself to train her a little better before she alienates everybody. I caught up with some of them in the supply room later and told them to please give her a break--after all, she got transferred from her home state and she comes from Detroit. It's probably a perfectly natural thing for somebody from Detroit to not know about the cows laying down thing. We need to go easy on her because she has a lot more learning to do--and I mean a there have been other incidents.... The other day somebody was going out to the local candy factory and asked around to find out what everybody wanted her to bring back for them. We all gave our various orders for pralines, bite-sized chess pies, and peanut brittle and whatnot. And then the new LVN asked for truffles.... ...and you could have heard a pin drop.... I quickly shot a warning frown at the mortified nurses--and to their credit they managed to keep their mouths shut and not say anything. And later I gently explained to the hapless LVN that most Texans out in these here parts have no idea what a truffle is, whether the candy kind or the mushroom kind. I could see the misery in her eyes. Poor thing is in an alien land that she never wanted to come to. Yes, I'll try to guide her gently and teach her about Texas. Sure hope she can adjust.....but I was uneasily thinking...... God knows what our patients are going to think of her..... Anyway, I did get out of work on time for once and was glad-- because I was desperate to take care of another big problem that has been plaguing me for the last two weeks. One of the other reasons I have been stressing out lately is that I'm dentist-phobic--and it has caught up with me big time!! I have been languishing with an abscessed tooth for weeks, too afraid to go into the dentist. I've always been afflicted with this phobia--I'm so dentist-phobic that I avoid going to the dentist like the plague. You practically have to drag me into the dentist kicking and screaming. One time a dentist had to inject me with Valium just to get that horrible BIB on me..... Anyway, what usually happens is that by the time I'm desperate enough to actually call a dentist for an appointment, I've let the situation go on for so long that it's become a total disaster. And on this day, finally, the massive amounts of Motrin, Tylenol and Oragel that I'd been using for the last two weeks had finally stopped working-- and my pain level had been building up all day until I was in complete AGONY. And what was worse, when I broke down and called my dentist for an appointment he didn't have any available appointments until next week, AAAAYIIIEEEE!!!!!! So here's another benefit of living in a tiny Texan town, THANK GOD. After I finished my work, writhing in dental pain agony, I ran out to the Jeep, drove straight over to my medical doctor's office, threw open their doors, and threw myself onto the counter in front of the receptionist, bawling my eyes out in front of her and the startled patients in the waiting room. "I'm hurtin'!!!!!" I cried. "My tooth is KILLING me and I can't get into the dentist and I think I'm DYING--and so PLEASE, PLEASE can Doctor see me and fix me???" I bawled and squawled my sad story out to the receptionist, begging for my doctor to have mercy and see me without an appointment. As I blubbered, I tearfully explained that if they couldn't let me in that I'd have to drive 48 miles away to the nearest ER--and I squawled even harder while fearfully complaining that I'd be frightened to death to have to drive all that way to a strange town to have to have a strange doctor that I don't know from Adam look at me and my toothache. Hell, I wanted my own doctor. He never makes me wear those stupid gowns. Half the patients in the waiting room were my own patients and they listened to my sad tale with growing concern. "Bless your little heart," one of them said. "You can have my space--all I'm in here for is to get my bronical inhaler." "Or you can have me and Sammy Bill's place" a patient sitting with her husband offered, "We're just here to get our Vitamin B12 shots and that can wait." As I stood there blubbering like an idiot, three patients gave me Kleenexes, one lady hugged me, and the receptionist soothed me by saying: "There now, Nurse, don't fret--I'll go get your file and you can come on back with me. Doctor will see you. It'll be alright." So they let me in. I was led back to the examining room, and I calmed down a little, drying my eyes with the Kleenexes. But when my doctor came into the room I tuned up to start crying all over again. "I'm DYING!" I told him dramatically, "and the Dentist can't see me till next week!" "Now don't worry, sugar, I'm going to fix you right up" he replied, opening a cabinet. "And hell, everybody knows that Dr. Mitchell never see's anybody on Fridays--and anyway today he's gone down to the bull sale in Pumpkin Center. But when you do see him next week, tell him that I need him to send his boy over to work on my new tractor--that dadblasted thing is acting up again---I swear I'll never know why I ever let that Dallas salesman talk me into buying it. Shoulda known you cain't never trust a blue tractor." So my doctor opened the cabinet and started drawing up two shots. I hate shots but I was desperate. And my doctor is shot-happy. He gives everybody a shot every time you go in there, no matter what you go in there for. I have no idea what he puts in those shots. And he actually draws the shots up himself. He drew up some concoctions into the two syringes and then layed them down on the counter. "Jodie-Sue" he called out to one of the nurses. "Give her these shots and then call in these prescriptions I'm going to write down." So Jodie-Sue came and gave me the shots. I know one of those shots had Vitamin B12 in it because it was colored red. Although I don't really think Vitamin B12 has anything to do with tooth emergencies, I figured it couldn't hurt anything. Jodie-Sue gave me those shots right in my butt and they stung like bees. She told me that one of them had an antibiotic in it. Then she called in my prescriptions and sent me to the drug store, limping, to get them. But when I arrived at the drug store and saw what my doctor had prescribed, I thought GOOD LORD! There was a whole stack of things. I figured MAN ALIVE, but I must have REALLY left this abscess go too far. Here is a picture of all those medicines:

Can you believe all those pills? . There were two antibiotics, a steroidal anti-inflammatory, and some kick-ass pain pills. Sheesh, I must be in REALLY bad shape. That'll teach me not to go to the dentist, for sure. When my mother heard about this, she said that if I don't make that dentist appointment next week she is going to "spank my butt" with a flyswatter.

I think I'll make that appointment. Anyway, I went home and took a pain pill, two antibiotic pills, one of the steroidal anti-inflammatory pills, and laid down. Sure enough, I felt much better in a little while, thank goodness. I'm embarassed about bawling and blubbering in front of everybody but it really did HURT.

But as I layed down and the pain pill started to work, I reflected back on the stress of the past couple of weeks and made a vow as to what I would do this weekend to get back to normal--I decided to use the bestest medicine that I know of--and that is exactly what I've been doing:

I picked up my knitting. It always calms me down. I decided to pick up some close-to-being-finished UFO's and finished them. And after I finished them it gave me a huge feeling of satisfaction!

Two of the things I was finished were Biker Baby Sweaters. I have always knitted my Biker Baby Sweaters but I had recently done an experiment to see whether or not I could make a satisfactory crocheted version of them. (A little aside: my last husband was a biker man and we lived on a Biker Compound with several other biker couples and a motorcycle repair shop. I used to knit biker baby stuff all the time and sell it at local Harley shops at Christmas. They always sold like hotcakes. Nowadays, there's a biker shop near where I live so I still knit biker baby stuff to sell.

Here's a pic of the knitted version of my biker baby sweater. I put some vinyl trim with studs on it, a zipper closure and a biker patch. I usually make this one in several baby sizes and sell it for about $25.

But here's a pic of the crocheted version and I think you can see that my experiment didn't go that well. The crocheted version is just "not right". Although I like the more complicated trims I put on this one, like the chains, the fake leather epaulets, the studs, and the bomber-jacket-style pockets, I just don't think the crocheted fabric lends itself well to the biker look.

Then I finally finished some Opal socks that have been UFO's for a zillion years--and I rebelliously fiddled with them, too. When I'm knitting I will get a wild thought in my silly head sometimes and I'll just put something strange in a garment just for laughs. I just can't ever be "normal"--noooooo....I've always got to do nutty little things to amuse myself. Sometimes these ventures work out and sometimes they don't. For example, on this Opal sock I just decided it needed a red stripe in a couple of places. And so I put a red stripe in a couple of places. It looks funny, but I don't care. Sometimes I will put a godawful-looking yellow heel on a sock, too, whether the sock will match with a yellow heel or not.

And lastly, I finished a pair of Noro Kureyon socks. They're so thick that I will most likely use them as house socks or winter boot socks. Or I could use them to wear with a pair of those clear boots I bought a couple of years ago that they used to sell to show off your colorful Regia socks. (But the boots makes my feet sweat, even though they're vented.)

And then, the final thing that got me out of my funk was something sweet one of my co-worker buddies from my old assignment office did for me. She knows that I have a special longing for Galveston. And she had gone to Galveston for a vacation.

I love Galveston from the bottom of my heart and I long to go there--but I just never seem to be able to get enough time off from work to make the trip. But I love Galveston and everything about it. I am pretty certain that when I die and go to Heaven that it will be a lot like Galveston. Anyway, my friend was in Galveston last week while I was sitting back here in the wastelands of Texas, at my desk fretting my head off with toothache pain, wondering how in the Sam Punchinelly I was going to get all my paperwork done and this quirky new LVN trained, waiting for the weekend. One day my cell phone rang and it was my friend--and she told me that she was in Galveston right then-- sitting on Galveston Beach right that minute-- and then she did something that put the biggest grin on my face and made tears of gratitude form in my eyes and roll down my cheecks.......

She held the phone up to the waves so that I could hear them crashing onto the beach of Galveston!! Is that not the best buddy in the whole wide world? It cheered me up so much that I started bawling. Because there.... for just a minute.... I was in Galveston!.....

(I sure have been doing a lot of bawling this week. I need to stop bawling. Somebody needs to slap me if I start bawling again. Or swat me with a flyswatter.) And to top that--when my friend returned home a few days later, she brought me some Galveston souvenirs! Here's a pic of the loot she brought me--I had specifically asked her to bring me that bottle of Galveston sand, but she had thrown in some other things for me, too--a shirt, some shells, and....Galveston Beach BEEFCAKE PICTURES!!! It was like Christmas in June!!!!! Or Christmas in Galveston!!!!!!

Hey, do you think my boss will allow me to put those beefcake pictures up on my bulletin board? I mean, they show a lot of skin but it's not like they're TOTALLY nekkid.......

I'll have to ask her on Monday...after I sing my song....

"Galveston, oh Galveston,

I still hear your sea winds blowin'....."

Sigh....I think everything's gonna be alright now......yes, I think I'm going to be okay world is right again. I have friends that I love, a job with a company I love, patients who I love, co-workers I love, animals I love........ and I'm going to get to put Galveston sand on my desk Monday morning...

What more could anybody ask for?

......because Galveston is with me always.....

(and yes, I'm going to sing my Galveston song in the office Monday and probably drive everybody crazy by singing it in my horribly off-key crappy voice--- but I don't care!! And I am going to thank God for my little piece of Heaven on earth----and I shall be grateful.

(And don't worry--I'll get that LVN trained right--stay tuned.....bless her heart....)

(And I welcome anybody who wants to sing along with me the Galveston song......)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just a morning when courage was needed....

When I came home tonight, I finished the "Mamaw bag". It's called the "Mamaw bag" because a friend of mine said it looks just like the bag her mamaw carries for shopping. (Translation in hickese: Mamaw means grandmother.) It is simply a canvas bag bought at a hobby store, covered with swatches and scraps of knitting. You can even use Rit Dye to dye the canvas bag to match. I didn't with this one. But I did put a flag on there for the 4th of July. It's just a tote bag that can be used for any purpose--I happen to love tote bags. I've got a million of them, both bought and hand-made. As I finished the bag, I thought of the events that happened at work on a particular day when most of us were tired, exhausted and looking for hope.... I hesitate to tell you guys this story. I don't want any of my readers thinking that I am trying to push my religious views on them. I don't want anybody thinking I am "preaching" or anything. Hell, it's just the story of a bad morning at my company. As you know, I have been extremely tired, fatigued, and emotional over this transfer to a new town. I hate that I'm so melancholy-- and blogging "un-cheerful" postings. Please forgive me. But I must be honest---I am having a hard time! Please let me get out these feelings of despair and discouragement. (And poor spelling, sometimes....) I usually work 12-hour days--and I live a rather isolated life. Although I see patients and co-workers all day long, I come home to an empty abode, and I ponder the "meaning of life" just like the next person. Sometimes I think I have "the answer"....and sometimes I think I haven't got a dadburn clue..... Who knows, eh? Who knows..... As I told you in my last post, here at my new branch office we're extremely short-staffed and desperate. Some of the younger baby rookies are hurting and disillusioned from the workload. I am so worried that they will resign out of desperation, without having experienced the joy that this particular job can bring. And already, one of them has. And to my eternal sadness, it is a friend of mine. And I sorely miss her already..... It's a terrible blow to my heart because taking this assignment had already meant leaving behind my best buddy Amber. Lord, I miss Amber terribly. I had no idea ahead of time that losing such a friend would hurt so much. Although Amber and I still talk on our cell phones frequently, it simply isn't the same. We can no longer sneak away to have lunch and gossip together. We can no longer have secret "giggling and laughs" at the goings-on of the office we worked at. How I miss my friend. Anyway, my friend here at this office has now suddenly decided that she can no longer handle the horrendous work-load. I do not blame her. It IS a hard life for a young nurse. But I wish she would stay. Oh, how I wish she would stay. I have cried two nights in a row over her leaving. It ended like this: She came into work two days ago, looking extremely exhausted and discouraged. No matter how many jokes I tried on her, she just couldn't laugh. "Come on, Brandi," I pushed. "Please!! Cherk up, for God's sakes! We'll make it, truly we will!" But to no avail. Brandi was exhausted and her husband kept calling on the cell phone to nag her repeatedly that he wanted her to quit this job. And although my heart was hurting at the thought of Brandi leaving, I am going to admit here that my selfish side was also pretty active--I knew that if she quit, the rest of us would suffer at the extra work her absence would cause for the rest of the employees. Lord, I was in a quandary. I didn't know what to do. I kept asking the heavens, what should I do? What should I do? She is a good nurse--a smart and clever nurse for her age. I have always admired her for her abilities at such a young age. And she's such a fun gal to be with--I would miss her so much. I had been SO HOPING that she could fill the void that my friendship with Amber had left in my soul.... Anyway, that day, as all us Road Nurses trooped into the office and began our preparations for the day, we congregated in the conference room to gather our patients' car-charts and the necessary paperwork & supplies that we'd need for the day. And then.... a song popped into my mind. Now, understand me here--I cannot sing for beans. My own sister cringes and moans whenever I start even the simplest of songs. In fact, my sister can be downright BLUNT about telling me to SHUSH when I try to sing. She makes remarks like: "Hey, can you sing solo? So LOW, that I can't hear you?" Or else she'll say something like: "Hey, can you sing 'far far away'---like in Alaska?" Hah hah, I always reply. Veeeery funny........ But I can't help it--I was born with a bad singing voice. But I cannot help myself--sometimes I just gotta sing!!!! (But I really try not to sing, should truth be known-- because I love my sister and I hate to hurt her ears..... ) But on this particular morning, in the conference room where 4 tired nurses were gathering their work papers for the day.....a song popped into my mind, and I couldnt' resist trying to sing it. But I was off key, and out of tune..... but then....just as I was starting to feel humiliation at trying to even attempt the song.... one of my co-workers chimed in..... ...and she sang in a pure and beautiful tone, knowing all the lyrics perfectly......and once the song was begun, we all, one by one, joined in with her..... And oh, how we sang. My co-worker led the song, her voice soaring above our tentative warbled attempts.....and her gusto prodded us on until we had all joined in more loudly....with even more and more arriving employees adding their voices to the tune until we had a fairly beautiful chorus going of this particular song!... Our singing reverberated through the office, our hearts gladdened with the joy of this simple song, refreshing our vigor for the day ahead...... "Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away; To a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away..... I'll fly away, Oh Glory I'll fly away; (in the morning) When I die, Hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away.... When the shadows of this life have gone, I'll fly away; Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I'll fly away ..... I'll fly away, Oh Glory I'll fly away; (in the morning) When I die, Hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away..... Just a few more weary days and then, I'll fly away; To a land where joy shall never end, I'll fly away.... I'll fly away, Oh Glory I'll fly away; (in the morning) When I die, Hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away..... " As our song faded away, we all wiped tears from our eyes. It was a simple song--but it filled our hearts with hope and gladness. And it made us all feel more love for each other. We had all shared our sorrows and joys in this simple little song... this simple song of a promise..... No matter what, we thought, we'd prevail against the illness and disease that plagued our patients---and we also hoped that we'd also prevail against the despair and fatigue that plagued our own bodies.... And.....well....we just plain felt better. Singing together on a discouraging morning made us all feel closer and more loving of our fellow workers. I recommend it highly. I have never felt so happy as that morning when we all sang a common song for hope against the day..... Because in singing the song, we knew we could survive the toil of this world and its troubles.... together. Together, we could survive. Please forgive me for my sentimentality these last couple of days. I am so very tired--and when I get tired, I get emotional. I am not pushing my religious views on you--I am simply telling you that I found a moment of joy and hope for the future one morning in the office--a moment in which my bond with my fellow workers triumphed---we were strengthened by a simple song so that we could go forth that day and do our jobs together, in hopes that we could bring a positive force to others! And now, I am going to go to bed--and I'm going to try to get up tomorrow with a renewed vigor to go forth in this new town, in this new area, with new patients, and new hope..... Goodnight, my friends......oh Glory!

Monday, June 19, 2006

My New Assignment

First of all, I must warn you that I am so extremely fatigued that I may not be my usual self......I am so tired right now that my "get up and go" definitely "got up and left". I arrived at my new assignment Wednesday, but I am only just now getting the strength to post. And I'm really sorry!!! Because I didn't mean to neglect my readers. You have no idea how much I appreciate those of you who read my blog and send me messages! I LOVE getting your messages!!!!! And I truly apologize for my absence this week. But I am totally exhausted--and I literally slept all weekend. And I am melancholy, most likely because I am tired. Please forgive me if I get maudlin. Some thoughts I just have to get out, whether positive or negative. I mean, there are some things about my job that are joyous and funny....and yet there are some things about the job that are sad and haunting. Anyway, I will try and tell you about my new assignment. This assignment means a lot to me and I really want to do a good job for my friend who promoted me. It's hard work, though....hard work.... Okay, here goes. When I told you before that I was going to a town that was even smaller than the town I used to work in, I wasn't kidding! It's a tiny, tiny town---but the surrounding vast farmlands and ranchlands are heavily populated with plenty of patients that I must see. When I first drove into the area, my first sight was these cows:

And what first struck me was this thought: WHY are they all standing around separated, ignoring each other? Is it because there's just so much wide open spaces that they can spread out? Or is there snobbishness going on among the breeds of cattle? If that's the case, we must nip this in the bud as soon as possible. I intend to have a talk with them about "getting along with others". We can't have Herefords, Brahmin's or whatever having "cow attitudes". Oh yes, I think I have my work cut out for me in this new area.

I did try a conversation with the below cows, but as you can see, they turned their backs on me rudely as if to say: "What kind of interloper are you? We've done things the same way for 150 years and we're not about to change now just for you!"

(Well now, we'll just see about that, won't we?.....)

And the ranches in this area are far more rustic than what I was used to in my former town. Many of the farm houses and barns here were built by the owners or their grandparents, and many of them are built out of logs or home-made bricks. Here's the house of one of the richest ranches in the county, built by the owner's grandfather, made entirely out of logs:

And as for the town itself, if you drive down the main drag of the "downtown" area, it's a trip that takes about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. The first time I drove it I couldn't believe my eyes. There are only TWO traffic lights in the entire town!!! Yes, I am telling the truth! Only TWO! There is no such thing as a traffic jam around here. Because there isn't any traffic. In fact, there's no Walmart. There's no Dairy Queen! And for God's sakes, there's not even a Taco Bell!

And....shudder.....I hate to tell you this.....but they also don't have a McDonalds!!!! AAAIIIEEEEE!!!!!! I was panic-stricken when I realized there was no McDonalds. I mean, where am I supposed to eat lunch? Always before, in my old town, I simply drove through the drive-thru lane at McDonalds where Ronald McDonald himself waved me in with a happy smile!

And so, sadly, I will put a picture of him here for sentimentality's sake. I will remember him fondly. (See him there, waving at me in the window? Oh Ronald, my Ronald......wherefor art thou....OH NEVERMIND you stupid clown.....)

Anyway, I know I sound like I'm whining here, but I think it's probably because I'm so exhausted. This particular branch office is short on staff, and most of the field nurses are baby rookies. I've been going to work an hour early and working an hour late, aaarghh.... My Directors expect me to pick up a lot of the slack and train the younger nurses until they can handle a full load. We have no choice because there is a severe nursing shortage in the rural areas of Texas-- and it's particularly serious here. It seems that not many nurses want to be Road Nurses these days.

I will admit a Road Nurse leads a rough life. There's nothing glamorous about it. You are on your own in drastic weather and conditions. The heat was so hot this week that it disabled my glucometer and I couldn't test a diabetic patient's blood sugar until I cooled the glucometer down by holding it in front of my Jeep's air-conditioner vent for 15 minutes. (And vice-a-versa in the winter if it gets freezing cold outside--there have been times where I've had to hold a glucometer or Coagu-Check machine over a stove in the winter, in order to warm it up so that it would work again--the trick is not to cook it so hot that it won't work AT ALL.......)

And you need an expensive 4-wheel drive vehicle to even GET TO many of the places you visit--some of the roads are rockdirt roads with holes 1 to 2 feet deep, and you're sure you've thrown your clutch out completely after bouncing through a couple of them.....which would be a disaster if your cell phone wasn't charged. One of the first and most important things you learn as a Road Nurse is to ALWAYS have your cellphone completely charged every morning--because you definitely don't want to be caught stranded without the use of your cellphone....

Some of you have asked if I get paid mileage for my vehicle. The answer is yes, that we do get a certain amount of money per mile. And let us just say saying anything negative about my company.....that the mileage they pay us doesn't even pay for half of the actual gas we use-- or the vehicle maintenance for blown-out tires, maintenance, or other costs. This job is definitely a labor of love.....

And there's nobody out there in the country to help you should you encounter a problem. You've simply got to be competent at drawing blood, starting IV's, examining wounds, assessing symptoms--and then communicating with the doctors via telephone. These people are mostly poverty-stricken or otherwise cash-poor people who can't even afford an $8 prescription for medicines. Nor can they get themselves to a drug store to pick the prescriptions up if they had the money. Many days I go and pay for the prescriptions myself and then take them out to the patients.

Some of these patients live in homes so dilapidated that you have to hold on to the walls and furniture to keep from tipping over while you're traversing through the home--the homes are literally tilted from settling into the dirt-- and also the floors may be slowly caving in out from under their residents' very feet and furniture.

Few of them can afford air-conditioning, so we bake. Lord, it gets hot. Sometimes I'm so hot that my sweat is literally dripping off of me while I'm taking care of the patients. And the flies will eat you alive, as my patients must keep the doors and windows open to catch the cooling breezes.

One elderly lady I went to see was armed with her trusty flyswatter. She's an expert with that flyswatter. I'd pit her against a ninja warrior anyday. In fact, she can whup out that flyswatter faster than Billy the Kid could with his six-shooters. "Is that a fly?" she'll ask in outrage. Whoosh--whoosh-- SWAT. And that fly is flatter than a fly pancake and deadern' a doornail.

"Fixed his little red wagon," she will say, blowing the smoke off the flyswatter as one would after shooting with a pistol. Don't get near her with a flyswatter--she's at least a black belt....or... er...whatever level expert flyswatters call themselves.

One day I told her: "Ya know what? When I was a little girl, my grandmother would smack me with her flyswatter sometimes when I was bad."

The old lady laughed and said: "Mine did, too! And remember how when she did that you'd have the pattern of a fly-swatter on your leg for 3 days?" That cracked me up and we cackled in laughter over the memory. (Only in Texas can you have a good laugh over the memory of a flyswatter imprint on your thigh.....)

Sometimes a Road Nurse has to deliver bad news to a patient....and it hurts like hell. It haunts you in your sleep. I will never forget the time I went to see a diabetic/renal failure patient after she got out of the hospital where she'd had her second leg amputated because of diabetic/circulation problems. She was my age and I had always liked her. She was getting weaker and her daughters had to hold her cigarrettes up to her lips so she could smoke.

The day I went to see her, I was doing her amputation (leg stumps) wound care when she hesitantly--fearfully-- showed me her hands, asking: "Uh...nurse....what do you think these black spots are?" I took her hands in mine and examined them closely. I was traumatized and shocked when I realized that she had dry gangrene on fingers of both hands. It had happened during the process of the hospital nurses sticking her fingers to check her blood sugar every day---and her circulation simply wasn't adequate enough to heal the stuck places--and the nurses hadn't noticed that gangrene had set in. My anger at that oversight was overshadowed by my shock and pity. I knew that gangrene is life-threatening--and the treatment was further amputation.

I tried so hard not to change the expression on my face....I really tried hard. But she asked me: "Nurse...are they gonna cut more off of me?"

All I could manage to say was: "Uh....I don't know, but I won't lie to you--there is a possibility. And my dear--you need to get in to see your surgeon today. And I mean today. " She went. And he told her. She had dry gangrene on both hands' fingers. She lived for another 3 weeks.

I am haunted by that experience.

Sometimes when times are bad a Road Nurse must make a decision in a split second. You're alone in the country and there's nobody to ask for advice like if you worked in a hospital. The other day a patient's wife called me in a pure panic and said her husband was sick. The symptoms she described to me were dangerous--and I was a half hour away, too far for him to have to wait for me to get there to decide what was going on. I decided he needed to go to the emergency room even though it, too, was a half hour away. But I knew that EMT's could provide oxygen and other emergency measures as soon as they could arrive. So I told her: "Don't wait for me--he needs help as soon as possible--I'm going to call for help."

I quickly pulled over on the lonely country road. I grabbed my "master" patient book where I keep all my patients' information-- and since there is no "911" in this area, I had to call the Sheriff. He then radio'd the nearest EMT service in the next county over. He patched my call through to their radio and I began to tell them what was going on and where my patient was located--and before I even finished saying the patient's name they responded: "Oh yeah, Mr. Hickory-- don't worry, we know where he is. We're on our way."

And they broke every speed limit there is getting there, saving the patient.

Anyway, I am tired--I am more tired than I've ever been before. But I shall work. Because although there may be a shortage of experienced nurses, there is never a shortage of ill patients needing nursing care. And I do love my job.

And my company provides very good training for the nurses they have. Today we had a lecture by an eye doctor on the type of eye diseases that elderly people tend to get. He was very informative, even if he did wear cowboy boots and a silver-studded belt buckle. He looked like a cowboy eye doctor. And the funny thing was, I recognized him as the guy who examined me for my last eyeglasses prescription 35 miles away in a larger town. But apparently, now he is driving "the eyeball van", a traveling eye-exam vehicle loaded with eye-examining gear, visiting the rural areas to help there.

Today, as we nurses were finishing up and getting ready to leave, there were a couple of tears falling from the eyes of a couple of the younger little rookies at how much of a workload we have. Because once we're done with the visits, we have a mountain of paperwork to complete. It is rather daunting sometimes, with no "light at the end of the tunnel". Everybody works overtime for no extra pay--and sometimes people get overwhelmed to a breaking point. More than one person has quit their job because of it.

Today, one young nurse, a friend of mine, called out to the Director: "I'm so far behind in my paperwork that I have ANXIETY!" The Director didn't know what to say. What can you say? So I just said: "Come on, girls, we can make it...."

Because we have to.....we have to take care of the patients.....

So if any of my readers could throw a few prayers our way, it would be greatly appreciated.

(And I promise you I will find out what the scoop is with those snobby cows and straighten that whole situation out....)