Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Nurses Have Said in Pre- and Post-Roosevelt Eras


"You have to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps," and then they would add "Here's some boots. Now get out of here."

In my almost three decades of hospital work I have never heard this spoken by a nurse. It's too raw and essential. So please just consider it as maybe an extract of something that underlies what we find ourselves saying over the course of a typical 13-hour shift. Perhaps one of the many in-the-know technicians we interact with may have overheard something we let slip out.

Some good-natured snark let out at one of the doctors:

"You know what was in that Phoenix Magazine yearly write-up about the best physicians in the valley? Well, Dr. BigSmileySquareHead was listed as one of the best hospitalists."

And the nurse speaking would go on to say "I approached him here about this and asked him how that happened? Like, what universe were the results derived from? Seriously!"

But they would not prevail. Dr. BigSmileySquareHead always has the last word. He isn't just too clever by half. He's two powers many times over of that. (See what I mean?)

OMG I have such a migraine as I write this. The loud-wringing half-a-helmet kind. But I'm almost to the end of Maggie Cole's Goldberg's. Then maybe I can listen to something a little gentler. I generally really like her recordings but the harpsichord sound she derives, however beautifully rhythmically sculptured, on this one is less sweet than is my preference. Maybe it's just the instrument itself, a 1988 Andrew Garlick built in the manner of J.C. Goujon. Two of Goujon's instruments are at the Musee Instrumental Paris, including a double-manual harpsichord.

On the companion disc she puts on display a 1612 Jan Ruckers. I wish I could listen to it immediately but until this headache subsides I just don't have the ears for it.

Oh heck. The Ruckers (perhaps one like this) she plays is a little less jangly. Not treacly though.

Maybe it's the recording itself. It seems to lack some bottom end weight, maybe allowing for the sake of good clarity overall. Then again maybe it's just my head today.

Is there something going on with cigarettes, or rather the control of cigarette advertising? Like pictures on packs? Do you really think that it is worldly possible to contemplate anything that could make smoking seem even more disgusting than it already appears now?


I didn't think so.

Though as a hospital nurse I must declare that I often work with patients with lung disease. So smoke up, people. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

I wish Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, and Bono, to say nothing of Mick Jagger, would all just give it up. Buy homes somewhere where the weather is nice. Urban, but a quiet corner. Maybe in the same Texas subdivision at the end of their own turnaround.

They'd see one another out there with a hose watering their front lawns.

"Hey mate," Bono would say to Bruce,"I'm dashing out in a bit to pick up something for the grill. Can I make it a run for you too?"

"What are you having?" Bruce would ask in reply.

"Danny's cousin's grandmother slaughtered a lamb. He's got it in his store."

"You've had it before?" asks Bruce.

"Yes. You remember, a few months back?" replies Bono.

"Right. That was great stuff. Put me in. I'll get you a few bottles of the stash."

Then they'd each finish watering down the daisies. Except maybe Mick. He'd be snoozing among the blossoms, face down in Keith Richards' vomit.

Am I at the crux of some complex but controlling Wall Street interest upon which swings the balance of profitability and loss? Probably not. I cannot fancy that being so. Yet there seems to be developing some political movement to muffle the voice of many workers. Teachers have been condemned. Firefighters, police, and social workers have also been excoriated. As if any of them as a group or individually had anything at all to do with the recent mortgage-meltdown fandango. In a way, nurses have always been party to this; maybe just because of sexism.

It was a different thing, nursing, back in New York. We were unionized, if only because the New York State Nurses Association itself gave us access to legal representation if we required. That tended to be just a formal process because generally the management genuinely cooperated with the Union.

They even presented this to us during one of the three-year contract renegotiations: Some of our nurses had worked there so long that their yearly pay increases had maxed out. The hospital was in a bit of a budget crunch as usual but they offered us this compromise: The top-tier nurses would begin to receive commensurate yearly pay and benefit increases, but for this year and this year only, by contract, the rest of us would limit our own yearly increases to just two percent.

At that time this may have been considered to be a concession made by the staff nurses. We could have said no.

Our Nursing Administrator told us that she herself was completely foregoing any yearly increase this time around. That was the deal right there. Good move.

I really liked her. I knew her from working at a different hospital. She was a department manager then and I was still working as a hospital nurse aide while finishing up nursing school. It was interesting that we both ended up at the same hospital again, though a different one and in a quite rural setting. There was an X-Ray nurse who also worked with us back then at the same previous hospital, and then an ICU nurse that I worked with there and again.

I honor those people in my own ongoing work.

Funny, the people who move from a college-town styled small city to remote villages north in the mountains. Some just liked outdoor sports. Hikers, rock-climbers, people who hunted and fished, nature photographers, and others whose personal businesses ran upon the influx of tourist money; tourists who came from other regions.

Steven Reich's Different Trains from 1988. I am rather of the highway generation and I have rarely been on trains. At least I do not have any fond or profound memories of being on them. Maybe very long ago.

Every once in a while, no matter the season, we spend a weekend or a long weekend at Juniper Well Ranch. The cabins are within earshot if not all within direct sight of a freight railroad. It's the best Doppler effect; with an almost rainbow-like tonal range, especially at night.

Yet for me (and I suspect many of my generation) trains aren't much more than images and sounds from old movies. Now they're not even that.

My god we got the coolest plants. Six-feet tall; palms. Just two, one on each side of the sliding-glass back door. I love it here. They've always helped us out. I like being around plants. It's as if they make the air appreciably better (which of course they do.)

"I'm not stupid," you'd hear someone say. But it doesn't pick up steam (old metaphor) with enough interest to be introduced into mainstream common workspeak. Maybe just an in-family thing. Or maybe it received an honorable mention on some old sit-com. Steam-stream. Shrimplate! Or stream of steam.



Nursing is often a way of seeing.

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