Sunday, December 31, 2006


Some caught a freight, some caught a plane
Find the sunshine, leave the rain
They said this town's a waste of time
I guess they're right, it's wastin' mine
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Good time Charlie's got the blues.... *
(Danny O'Keefe, "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues") *
I have the blues. In fact, I am so blue that I can't even think of a single joke--and that means it's really bad. Because I can usually make light of any desperate situation---I've always been able to do that.
No matter what calamity has ever befallen me, I was always like The Unsinkable Molly Brown singing "I Ain't Down Yet". Hell, I could always whistle in a storm, sing during an earthquake, dance a jig during a disaster.... *
But not this time. *
Lord, God, I haven't been this depressed in a very long time. And I
don't quite know what to do about it. I really don't. My coping skills have failed me. *
And so what I've been doing for most of this weekend is driving around in a stupor, methodically seeing my patients since I'm the "on-call" nurse this weekend, and staring numbly at the scenery that goes by as I drive. I'm hoping that staring at beautiful scenery will give me some comfort. I need something to dull the ache. I need to eye something which will put pleasant thoughts into my mind---in order to avoid the invevitable thoughts of WHY, WHY, WHY this terrible thing came to be.... *
Because my world has been shattered. Shattered terribly. The rug has been literally pulled out from under me, and I can't believe it. I never saw it coming. And I don't know what to do about the whole thing. And so I guess I might as well get it out and tell you what it is, but a short sentence seems so inadequate to describe the whole situation....but here it is: *
My boss, Lu-Lu, was fired by her family. They said they fired her for what they term "a host of unacceptable behaviors". *
And I am in shock.
And so, I drive. And I see my patients. I have two "daily" patients to see this holiday weekend. One is a woman who needs an IV antibiotic every day through a triple-lumen IV catheter in her jugular vein, as well as complicated wound care to infected wounds all over her body. The other patient is also a wound care patient, a diabetic woman who is facing amputation of part of her foot if the infected wound on a toe-amputation site does not heal. I also had to go see a man who just got out of the hospital after being treated for chest pain and a blood clot in his leg. I am trying to keep up a cheerful mood for these patients' sakes---but it's difficult.


With Lu-Lu gone, I am the only RN left in our office. And I am an RN in shock, since Lu-Lu was not only my boss, but a friend of mine. The rest of our staff consists of several LVN's, two home-health aides, and a secretary---and they are all in shock, too. For right now I am temporarily in charge of the office until Lu-Lu's aunt and uncle, the owners of our company, come back from their holiday in Las Vegas and decide how to organize the office. I don't know what they're going to do or who they're going to put in charge. I'm not sure what I'd do if they asked me to take over as manager, because to tell you the truth, I feel that my strengths are better used in the field rather than in an administrative capacity. *

I haven't been sleeping well. For two days I didn't sleep at all---in fact, I thought I was going to go crazy from lack of sleep. Finally, last night, I was able to sleep---but it was lousy sleep. *

This is what happened:

Lu-Lu's always been a "wild-card", but then, most of us Road Nurses are somewhat wild. She was typical of most Road Nurses in that she was a spirited, unconventional, passionate individual, with a great love for her patients and a quick wit which served her well in the unpredictable,haphazard life of a Road Nurse. *

She was also a quirky, funny individual, with a great sense of humor. And she had a keen intelligence, mixed with moxie and organizational skills, which enabled her to quickly climb the hierarchy ladder of whichever nursing company she worked for. Her management and administrative abilities earned her the admiration of her entrepreneurial aunt and uncle, who gave her the job as Manager in one of the branch offices of their Road Nurse company--- with eventual plans to include her as a full partner in the business.

The future looked very bright for Lu-Lu. She had EVERYTHING a girl could want---looks, brains, intelligence, and a secure place in the family business. I*

I knew Lu-Lu from a previous Road Nurse company, where she had also been my boss. Shortly after setting up her office in this current Road Nurse company, she had recruited me away from our former company. We had always worked together well. I felt as if I knew her as well as I know anybody in Podunk.

Lu-Lu was a tough boss to work for as she expected her nurses to be on top of their game at all times. Lu-Lu was an extremely competent nurse, and she accepted no excuses for poor performance---she would quickly call you on any laziness or sloppy workmanship. But she also had a "soft spot" for her employees, and was always understanding about road fatigue, sickness, or those twists in life which might cause a person to need a "mental health day" here or there. Lu-Lu also paid well. Lu-Lu was notorious for paying her nurses generously, paying them more than they could get anywhere else in town, and she was never stingy about raises. I*

In short, Lu-Lu was an "okay gal" to work for. Don't get me wrong, she had her faults just like everybody else, faults which could sometimes drive me crazy. But even with those faults, she certainly wasn't a bad boss---actually, she was a lot nicer, more fair, and much more pleasant, than most bosses I've had. She was actually a decent enough boss that I considered myself lucky to work for her. A*

And then.... H*

Her aunt and uncle reported that they had discovered.... some things. Apparently, according to them, Lu-Lu had done some things which were totally unacceptable to them within the framework of the business agreement she had made with them--- as to the way she ran the office, the way she conducted the finances, her behaviors on and off the job, and the way she conducted her personal life in relation to the company's image. And they considered it of such a serious nature that they fired her.

Without notice.

Effective Immediately.


And believe me, it has turned into a great scandal here in Podunk. The gossip is so rampant and virulent that Lu-Lu has gone into hiding. As for myself, I have avoided Walmart because I don't want to be in a position for anybody to ask me about the whole thing. I really don't know what to say. I don't want to say anything because I believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty--and I don't know whether the accusations are true or not. I*

I won't go into detail here about why they accused her of such things, but I will simply say that I did not know or even suspect about most of their concerns. I was completely surprised when the whole thing happened. In fact, you could have knocked me over with a feather. And furthermore, ever since it happened, I am left feeling a complete flood of emotions--confusion, anger, betrayal, bewilderment, disbelief, sadness, and shock. T*

They accused her of lying about finances, lying about her work hours and the office budget, "drug use" on and off the job, "moral misconduct" with two married doctors in town, and gross misuse of the office secretary's work time (using the secretary's time for her own personal errands instead of company duties). E*

Everything (or rather, the final incident) happened Thursday while I was out seeing patients. There had actually been some previous unpleasant incidents which had built up to the final climax---things which had simply looked to us to be family arguments that we really didn't want to get involved with--- but the long and the short of it is that it all ended Thursday in some sort of a telephone call "show-down" between Lu-Lu and the owners. *

And after that phone call, Lu-Lu had apparently lost her temper and trashed our office (to the bewilderment of the hapless secretary)--- and then she had loaded her personal effects into her vehicle and left. I haven't seen her since, nor has she answered any calls to her cell phone. W*

When I arrived back at the office, I found the forlorn secretary somberly cleaning up the mess Lu-Lu had made, sighing greatly with each effort. I asked her what had happened and she explained the sequence of events. "And then she trashed the office," the secretary stated as she swept up a broken flower vase. "We're probably lucky she didn't have her pistol with her. And then after she finished throwing everything around the room, she made me type up her resignation letter. And I typed it just like she told me, F-words and all. Do you think I should leave in all those F-words?"

Later, the owners each called me on my cell phone and briefly stated the situation. They also explained that they "valued me" and wanted me to stay with the company. I told them I would. And then they promised that they would fix everything "back to normal" when they returned from their vacation in Las Vegas. A*

After that, some men arrived to change the locks on our offices. I was given my new set of keys. And then our Public Relations Director arrived to sit guard duty for the rest of the day, in case Lu-Lu returned to cause more mischief. But I knew she wouldn't come back--she'd already made her point. A*

And now I am on-call for the weekend, doing my duties, wondering what in the hell happened. Wondering why I never saw it coming. And wondering how in the hell I'm going to get out of this horrible mood. Even Belinda has not been able to console me. I have talked with her daily, wailing about my depressed mood, and she has been a good friend, letting me vent while she listens patiently.

Belinda even admitted to me that she knew of some of the story, gleaned from town gossip, but that she hadn't wanted to mention any of it because she didn't want to upset me, knowing that I was a loyal employee to Lu-Lu.

Actually, this isn't all that unusual. Belinda has accused me of being "naive" before, and states that I'm like an "ostrich with my head in the sand". I don't know. I really don't know. Like I said---I didn't realize all this stuff was being talked about around me.

Ah well, I guess I must post this blog entry now--- and get back to my on-call duties. In fact, while I was writing this post, one of my patients called me in distress. She had just returned from a holiday vacation in Austin, where she'd fallen ill. She stated that she hadn't wanted to see a doctor in Austin because she didn't want to be "sick in a strange town" ---and so she'd made her husband drive her back home to South Podunk just as fast as he could. She told me that she "felt terrible", her legs were "swelling up", she was short of breath, she couldn't breathe well "layin' down", and she was "coughing and spitting stuff up".

This list of symptoms caused a cold wave of panic to wash over me---as they could be signs of congestive heart failure or pneumonia--- or both. I told her that she needed IMMEDIATE evaluation by a doctor, and I urged her to let me call the paramedics. She wouldn't allow this but did agree to ask her husband to drive her to a nearby country hospital, where there is an emergency room. I spoke with her husband, asking him to be sure and take her medications with them to the ER so that the doctor there would know what she is on, and then I called the ER myself, to give them a verbal "report" on the patient. She is on her way to the ER at this moment....

I will call the ER later, to check on her progress and see if there is anything else I can do to help.

Maybe working and keeping busy will keep my mind occupied so that I don't dwell too much on the sorrow and pain I'm feeling. It also helps me to knit. Knitting soothes and relaxes me. I'm currently knitting a square, pschedelic baby blanket for Belinda's future baby, using various colors of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran that I picked up while in Dallas (at The Woolie Ewe--love that place...)


Update, 10:00 pm: The patient who was taken to the Emergency Room did get admitted to the hospital. Thankfully, she is stable and doing well.



Janet said...

Sorry you are having such a hard time. The blanket looks beautiful. Loose yourself in your knitting, take bubble baths, eat lots of chocolate. Be good to yourself.

Janet said...

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time. Be good to yourself. Take bubble baths, eat chocolate, lose yourself in your knitting. The blanket is beautiful.

Low Flying Angel said...

Very nice blanket I like the colours :)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I've been there, hon, and all I can say is go ahead and do what you have to do, but give yourself LOTS of time for healing after the shock; it'll take longer than you think ... somehow I have a feeling Lu-Lu will land on her feet when it's all done, but man, family stuff can get messy sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Our dear bohemian...when you suffer, we suffer with you. Good people make bad decisions. People generally do just about the best they can given their circumstances. Lulu will likely need your friendship again soon.

It's difficult to do a job you don't feel particularily suited for. Let the "family" know that your skills are in the nurturing area, not in management - but you are willing to try. Gee, you thought you were headed to Canada and you ended up in Hawaii! Happens. But your cheering squad is here and we will stand by to see how you manage this hurdle. Take a deep breath. In spite of the confusion, patients need you, donkeys will be stupid, fast-food joints will mix up the orders, and you can do this.

Susan Palwick said...

This is one of those awful, no-win situations: either it turns out the accusations are true, in which case you're in "did I ever really know her" territory, or they aren't true and the owners were on some kind of vendetta, in which case you're in "did I ever really know them" territory. This kind of mess can damage your trust in everybody for quite a while.

We had a clergy misconduct scandal in my parish a few years back: the dynamics were very similar. I agree with Beth: give yourself lots of time!

And yes, the blanket's gorgeous. And thank you for being there for the patients, who need you even more now that LuLu's gone.

All of you will be in my prayers.

Deacon Barry said...

This is a pretty grim situation - and over the festive period too. Take care of yourself. You can't do two jobs at the same time. The owners need to give you help, either in the office, or on the road. Also, think carefully if you're offered the managerial post. If you enjoy the road, you might be miserable stuck in the office doing administration. You'd have to change your name to Bohemian Office Nurse, which doesn't sound so good.
I do hope things get sorted out quickly. Remember, you'll be going through the umpteen stages of grief. I know LuLu isn't dead, but her sudden departure could feel that way. I hope the new year gets better for you.

Warrior Knitter said...

WoW! I tried to read your blog a couple of times but blogger was doing strange things to it but it seems OK now.

Anyway, WoW! In the past I've worked for a small family-owned business & they would try to suck me into their quarrels, business-related & personal. Yuck! That sucks when you're put into that situation.

Thanks goodness you have your knitting. Love the colors in the blanket.

Zenknitter LesleyD said...

Happy New Year!!! I hate that it was such a scandal! Lu-lu will come back out in a bit. I don't blame her for hiding out. All you can do hun is don't worry about it, think about what you have to do and that it. Focus on that, don't worry and everything will fall into place. She'll come back around and won't let this get her down either and if she does, you will be there for her. Big hugs and I'm sorry you are having to go through all this! I swear if I didn't have my knitting I'd be in a mental hospital! The blanket it beautiful!! I love the colors!

poody said...

Man I hat it when the office gets all changed around. I am the same way though I have no idea what the hell is going on unless it involves me. I call that minding my own business but I have been told it is not being involved in the business in the office and this is a bad thing? As far as the pt getting sick in Austin and coing back home I hope the pt is not carrying back to you what everyone here has because you will not have time to be depressed you will be too busy being sick

Unknown said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I have had several friends "go postal" over issues that they, themselves caused. But be aware you may not be able to "fix" this they way you would like and you may have to step back and let the old Higher Power deal with it.

It's good you are knitting. That will help occupy mind and hands.