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Ruby Vee

Ruby Vee

Critical Care

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  1. Ruby Vee

    The Funeral Suit

    thanks to all of you guys. i know some might think it's an inappropriate story, but sometimes you either laugh or you cry, and laughing is much more fun.
  2. Ruby Vee

    Can a fat nurse be a good nurse?

    what a nasty, judgemental post! i sincerely hope you never gain weight yourself.
  3. Ruby Vee

    Can a fat nurse be a good nurse?

    i think it's "i may be fat, but you're stupid. i can lose weight. you'll still be stupid."
  4. Ruby Vee

    Telephone Etiquette

    It's a reflex. The phone rings when it's dark and you're sleeping it's either a crisis of some sort or (and hope springs eternal) it was work calling to cancel me. "Who's THIS?" demanded a female voice on the other end of the phone line. "Who were you trying to reach?" I mumbled, trying to be polite. "I'm trying to reach the skanky whore who's messin' with my MAN," was the reply. "I found this number in his pants yesterday, and he's not home yet. I know he's with you, and I'm gonna come over there and rip your head off." "I don't know either you or your man," I managed. "But I can assure you that the only man I'm messing with is my husband." "Put him on the phone, B(expletive meaning female dog.)" I couldn't put him on the phone. He was at work. Clearly, the charming woman who called me at 4:30 in the morning to threaten bodily harm didn't believe me. By then it was obvious I wasn't going to get any more sleep, so I got out of bed to look at the caller ID. Uh-oh -- given the last name, she could have been the wife of one of the CNAs DH works with. Or maybe not. It's a common last name. I told her I was sorry, I didn't know her man, was positive he wasn't in my house anywhere and I was going back to sleep. And I hung up. Seconds later, my cell phone rang. Oh, wait. It's dear Hubby's cell phone . . . he must have mine. Lovely lady with the great telephone manners is calling on this phone, too. So DH MUST know him. Yup. Caller ID on DH's cellphone reads "Randy Johnson", the name of the CNA. "Just a thought, Mrs. Johnson," I said. "Do you think he's at work?" "Oh," she said, deflated. Then she hung up. I suppose it was nuts to expect an apology anyway. Just on the off chance, I called MY cellphone, and DH answered. Yup, Randy Johnson was at work, and why did I want to know that? I told him all about it. Oh, am I glad I don't have to be Randy Johnson when he gets home to see the missus. People used to call you at reasonable hours (between the hours of 9AM and 9PM), apologize if they got a wrong number and introduce themselves before launching into the reason for their call. Not so much anymore. As I was driving in to work, I got a call on hubby's cell. (Hope still springing eternal, I answered it. ) No, it wasn't work calling to cancel me. It was Willie from "the call center", calling to offer me a wonderful opportunity to subscribe to 10 years of Ladies Home Housekeeping (or some such) for a very low price and by the way, it would help to provide tampons for needy girls in Africa. "No thanks," I replied. And then, just because I'm easily excitable, I asked "Do you have any idea what TIME it is?" "What's your point?" "It's six thirty in the freaking AM," I hissed at him. "The SUN isn't even up. And you want to talk to me about MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS?" I really didn't catch his answer because the traffic up ahead was stopped and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid that sudden stop with the high insurance premiums at the end of it. (I should know better than to answer the phone while driving. I DO know better than to answer the phone while driving. But it might have been work calling to cancel me!) When I picked up the phone again (it's OK, I'm stopped in the middle of a gigantic traffic snarl caused when some idiot who was texting while driving sideswiped a dump truck. At least I'm not stupid enough to text while driving!) Willie was ranting about some people who couldn't be bothered to help others. I hung up. The phone rings again -- hey it could really be work calling to cancel me this time -- and it's Willie again. "I just wanted to let you know how rude it is to hang up on someone because you obviously have no manners," he shouted. "You are nothing but a pus filled whore who should not defile a man such as myself by daring to speak to me." And he went on and on, educating me, I'll admit, on some truly creative insults. "Call back in an hour," I told him, knowing that by then I'd have met up with DH and switched phones. When I got to work, I found out that they'd been trying to cancel me, but the calls kept going to MY cell phone, which was residing at the time in DH's pocket with the ringer turned off because he's in a room with a patient. They couldn't get ahold of me, so they cancelled someone else instead. Oh, this is going to be a GREAT day. Half hour or so into my shift, DH calls. I've turned the ringer back on (thinking I was switching it off) and the phone is trying to vibrate it's way out of my shirt pocket while blaring Brad Paisley's latest. The patient is not impressed. I answer it anyway because it's DH and he wouldn't be calling me at work if it wasn't important. "So what did you do to **** off the call center?" he wanted to know. "They keep calling to curse at me." "Tell them you're my lawyer," I said. Not too much of a stretch because DH would have been a lawyer if he hadn't given up law school to follow the Grateful Dead and ended up in nursing school instead. (I'm still not sure how that works, but I suspect there were illegal substances involved.) This time I DO turn off the phone. It's too late. My day is already started on a downhill slide -- it can only get worse from here. Great -- the attending physician today is Dr. ImAFlamingDonkeyButt. He's always so much FUN to work with. My patient's wife calls to curse me out because some idiot doctor called her at 7:30 in the morning and it wasn't an emergency and what kind of ill-mannered incompetents did we hire anyway? She was still ranting when I leaned over to Dr. ImAFlamingDonkeyButt who had already plopped himself in MY chair and taken over MY computer because the screen on the portable computer the unit had purchased just for him (so he wouldn't monopolize the nurse's computers anymore) was too smeared with unknown substances for him to read. "Excuse me, Doctor" I said as sweetly as possible, handing off the nurse's phone to him. "It's for you." And then I hustled myself off around the corner to the linen closet where I could laugh myself silly in peace.
  5. Ruby Vee

    Can a fat nurse be a good nurse?

    sigh. here we go again. it's still politically correct to pick on the overweight, even though you couldn't target race, genders, religions or sexual preferences. overweight nurses can be good nurses. or bad nurses. or indifferent nurses. judgemental people usually aren't good nurses.
  6. Ruby Vee

    The Funeral Suit

    I don't know why I'm thinking of this now -- I'll never take my mother shopping again. Sometimes I think that's a good thing. Mom has Alzheimer's and Dad took care of her for the last few years of his life. Toward the end of his life, he was exhausted and failing. He didn't feel like doing anything -- including cooking -- so he didn't. Mom had not only forgotten how to cook, but she had forgotten about the need to cook . . . or eat. She lost about fifty pounds in the last several months Dad was alive. The day after my father died, my sister and I went through my parents' closets looking for something to take to the funeral home for Dad, and for something appropriate for Mom to wear to the funeral. There wasn't anything. Everything that Mom owned was either shabby to the point of being threadbare, about three sizes too big for her, or both. She pulled out a navy blue skirt that she thought she'd wear, but when she put it on, it immediately slipped off her and fell to the ground. Even her underwear didn't fit. There was nothing for it but a trip to the big city to find something for my mother to wear to my father's funeral. I don't know if anyone reading this has ever taken an Alzheimer's patient to a shopping mall. If you haven't had the experience, you don't want to. Take one mother who is always right, one sister who is never wrong and one who can never seem to be good enough and shove them all together in a car for a 90 minute drive to the city on about two hours of sleep each and you'll begin to have an inkling. Then imagine that one sister is completely lacking in sense of humor and that the other finds humor in everything, especially when sleep deprived . . . . it's a recipe for disaster. Throw in a mother who is confused and overwhelmed and shake them all together. We walked into the toney dress shop -- the kind of place that my mother would never dreamed of setting foot into, that I could never afford and that my sister regularly mines for power suits -- and the saleslady (who apparently discerned who had the money in the space of about two heartbeats) materialized at my sister's elbow. "How may I help you?", she inquired in cultured tones. I'm neither stupid nor attention-seeking. I kept my mouth closed but mother (who is always right) announced that we were looking for a suit to wear to a funeral. "I don't need it", she confided, hitching up her too-large polyester pants, "but my daughter is making me get one." She pointed at me -- still dressed in the clothing I was wearing when I boarded the red-eye 36 hours previously. The outfit wasn't thoughtfully put together to begin with -- Dad was dying and I was rushing home to be with him -- and a night trying to sleep on the plane followed by a day of driving through a snowstorm and another night spent on a straight backed chair in my father's hospital room hadn't improved upon it any. The saleslady sniffed audibly and asked if 'Madame' also needed some help with proper funeral attire. Since I doubted that the shop carried anything larger than a size eight, and since I'm firmly in the double digits, I allowed as how I didn't need anything at this time. The saleslady sniffed. My sister (who is never wrong) made haste to put as much distance between herself and my mother as possible leaving me with my demented mother and a saleslady who clearly thought we were both beneath her. I knew I couldn't afford anything in that shop even before I looked at a price tag. My mother, though, was undaunted. She picked up a black cashmere sweater from the display in front of her, and carefully picked out the price tag. "Seven hundred dollars!", my mother shrieked, dropping the sweater as if it had bitten her. Muriel, the saleslady, managed not to lose her composure. Instead, she asked my mother what size she required, no doubt thrown off by the layers of ill-fitting clothing my mother was wearing. "I'm a 16", Mother proclaimed as her size 16 polyester pants slipped again. "Or maybe an 18." And she laughed. She'd already forgotten about her bout of sticker shock. "Whose funeral are we going to again?" To me, she said, "Don't let them fool you. If they tell you something looks good on YOU, it's just because they want you to buy something. You never could wear clothes the way your sister can." Two well-dressed women picking over designer hair accessories near the back dropped what they were doing to size me up. Clearly, they agreed. They gave my sister a look of supreme sympathy and sidled out. "Let's go to Sears", my mother said. "I always do my shopping at Sears. Or Penney's". And she headed for the exit with me following close behind, relieved to be out from under Muriel's ill regard. My sister wouldn't dream of setting foot inside Sears unless she were buying power tools, so we settled on Macys. Even before a saleslady spotted us, my sister was pulling suits off the rack and holding them up to my mother. "We'll try a 14 and a 12", she said, shoving a pair of suits into my arms and going for more. "You take Mom into the dressing room to try them on". Mother and I arrived in the dressing room, and Mother said "You try them on, honey. I'm sure we can make something do". It was difficult, but I finally convinced her that we were here to buy HER something. "Oh I can't wear this", she said looking at the size 14 skirt. It's way too small. I need an 18 at least". When she tried it on, it was so big it could have held her and my sister both. Foolishly, I left Mother alone to go find a smaller size. My sister had disappeared with a stack of sweaters from the sale table. When I got back into the dressing room, Mother was wearing her own clothes again, looking at herself from all angels in the three panel mirror and said, "I like this one. Let's get this one". I talked her into trying on the smaller size, but the pants were hip huggers -- not the best look for an octagenerian. This time, I took my mother with me when I went looking for a different size. She was still wearing the suit, and had her own clothing bundled up under her arm. The salesladies (both of them) were following my sister around, making suggestions while I hunted the racks for something appropriately subdued for my mother to wear to a funeral. I found a couple of candidates, and belatedly realized I'd forgotten to watch Mom for a minute or two. I found her neatly folding her polyester pants and adding them to a display of designer jeans. The large dressing room was in use this time, and the remaining one was too small to hold both my mother and me, so with some trepidation I handed her a black suit and asked her to try it on. The pants fit well but the jacket was too tight. Fortunately, there was another suit in a larger size. The jacket fit well but the pants fell down and Mom didn't like the fabric. I handed her something else to try, and she emerged from the dressing room wearing the same suit she went in wearing, having removed it, hung it up neatly and then tried it on again. Back into the dressing room and she came out wearing the wool suit jacket with her polyester pants. Now she went in and came back wearing her ratty old sweater with the suit jacket over it and no pants. Other women were coming and going, and not even Mom was oblivious to the funny looks we were getting. My sister brought a stack of suits and told me to have Mom try them. One fit well but was "too bright for your uncle's funeral." Another was appropriately dark, but summer weight. This one was too big, that one was too tight in the hips and the jacket on that one over there fit well but we couldn't find the pants. (Mom was wearing them UNDER the other pants -- no wonder they were tight.) Finally, Mom stepped out of the dressing room wearing a jacket and pants that fit reasonably well, and both pieces were black. By then, I was well over the shopping experience. We bought them. It wasn't until we got back to my mother's house that I noticed the jacket was a size 14 and the pants a size 10. I didn't care. My sister brought home a whole stack of sweaters that were on sale, a marvelous deal. I had aching feet and a migraine. At the funeral, Mom looked great. She always wore clothes well, even at Dad's funeral. As we lined up next to the casket to accept condolences, my aunt complimented my mother on the stylish new suit. "Thank you", my sister answered before either Mother or I could. "I took her to the city and bought it for her yesterday." I am neither attention-seeking nor stupid. I kept my mouth shut.
  7. Ruby Vee

    Patient Dilemma after Discharge

    you already have your answer. your fiance is not comfortable with this in the slightest. that's what you tell your patient, and you find a situation that makes you both comfortable.
  8. Ruby Vee

    have you found Jesus?

    not so ironic. we're nurses -- most of the patients we encounter are there for some physical problem. for spiritual issues, it would be more appropriate to seek out other venues.
  9. Ruby Vee

    have you found Jesus?

    i've been asked. i offer to call the chaplain, offer to share a moment of silent prayer (they don't have to know whether i'm praying for them or for the strength to put up with them or even if i'm praying) or, in the case of one truly persistent person, claimed to be a buddhist and left to check on my other patient.
  10. Ruby Vee

    Work dating...bad? good?

    i met my husband at work . . . sixteen years, two states and three hospitals later we're still in love and still working together. dating a colleague is great when it works . . . but it can be miserable when it doesn't. enjoy the romance, but have a back-up plan if it doesn't work out. can you work next to a former lover day after day? or can you transfer to a different unit? think about that before you start.
  11. Ruby Vee

    On a downward spiral

    grief is normal after the loss of a relationship. wallow in it for awhile -- you deserve it. but whatever you do, don't try to avoid the pain. in order to be healthy, you need to work through it, not deaden it with drugs, alcohol or meaningless sex. a break-up is a learning experience. what did you learn from this relationship? what was valuable, what can you jettison? losing a relationship that wasn't working leaves you free and available when the right one comes along.
  12. Ruby Vee

    "Nice" vs. "Social"

    me too!
  13. Ruby Vee

    The Mother Who Didn't Like Her Child

    i'm guessing i touched a sore spot with a lot of people -- i know it did with many of my rl friends. although i hate that each and one of you went through that, at the same time, i don't feel so alone anymore. so thanks.
  14. Ruby Vee

    The Mother Who Didn't Like Her Child

    i doubt that mother is lucid enough to remember how she wronged me. she remembers that i'm her daughter, but she doesn't remember anything from my childhood that i can elicit. like your mother-in-law, she swears up and down that she loves both her daughters and treated us both the same. i think the way she's treating me now is so she can think of herself as a good mother.
  15. Ruby Vee

    The Mother Who Didn't Like Her Child

    this month's redbook magazine features an article written by "jennifer rabiner" about a mother who admits she's always disliked her daughter. i'm certain that the author's name is not jennifer rabiner, and i can understand why she'd use a pen name -- to admit that you don't like your own child is to be reviled. it's always been a family's dirty little secret. i was probably four when i began to suspect that my mother didn't like me. we were living with my grandparents while my parents tried to set up a business and find a place to live . . . it was one of my earliest memories. the contrast between how my mother spoke to and about me and how she spoke to and about my sister, who was probably two then, was unmistakable. i don't remember a time when i ever believed that my mother liked me or was on my side or that i could go to her to fix anything. nor do i remember a time when i questioned my mother's love of my sister. mother was someone to be avoided, and i tried to fly below her radar as much as possible. having mother notice me was to get hit. often, i didn't know what i had done that was "naughty" and mother didn't bother to tell me. other times, i was getting hit for something my sister had done. if i tried to explain to mother that "i didn't drag the laundry through the mud; rose did", mother would counter with "she wouldn't have done that if you hadn't put her up to it." if rose had a problem at school, it was clearly the teacher's fault (or the other child or the brownie leader or anyone except rose) and mother would march into the school to defend her child and set someone straight. if i had a problem at school -- which was rare, because i worked so hard not to be a problem -- it was assumed to be my fault and mother would call the school to apologize for my behavior without even knowing the details. i heard her on the phone one time -- one of the bullies at school had beaten me up and stolen my lunch money and the teacher called to talk to my parents about it. "i'm so sorry about ruby," mom said. "i don't know what gets into her! clearly, she's no child of mine! she's not like her sister at all." my teacher, who had called my mother in my defense, took me aside the next day and tried to talk to me about my problems at home. i couldn't admit there were problems at home. if my mother had gotten wind of that, she would have beaten me until she could no longer lift her arm. (she did anyway, to punish me for getting into a fight). one day the sunday school teacher asked all of the children in the class what nicknames their parents had given them. my sister's was "rosebud" or "sunshine". as we went around the room, kids sharing nicknames such as "precious" or "little man", i tried desparately to think of a nickname my parents had for me other than "sh!tpot." the only one i could come up with was "you little sh!tpot." or maybe "stupid sh!tpot." of course there was a beating waiting for me when i got home that night as well. the worst thing my parents did to me, though, was convince me that i was crazy for suspecting they didn't like me. not only did i know they didn't like me, but now i had to wonder if they knew something i didn't, and i really was crazy. mom told me one time that "if your friends at school knew what you were really like, they wouldn't like you." i kept so busy trying to keep anyone from knowing what i was really like so they wouldn't dislike me that the friends i did have drifted away. to this day, i expect people not to like me and i'm always surprised when someone does. the day after i graduated from high school, i moved out of my parents' house and it was five years before i went back for an overnight visit. i put myself through college working two or three jobs at a time after my father told me he wasn't going to spend any money on college tuition for me because i was too stupid to make it through. i was up to my eyeballs in debt when i finished, but i did it, and i did it on my own. (they paid my sister's way through four years of a very expensive private college.) when i was about to be married the first time, i invited my parents to meet my fiance's parents, two people who had made me feel smart and pretty and funny and loved. when i introduced them, my mother-in-law commented to my mother that "rose is such a pretty girl." whereupon my mother answered, "yes, and she smart and popular too. not at all like ruby." my mother-in-law quite literally changed my life when she drew herself up to her full height and informed my mother that "my husband and i think ruby is beautiful and intelligent, too, and we love her very much." no one had ever stood up for me before. years have passed, and i'm in my fifties now. mother is in her 80s and suffering from dementia. she knows my name when i call her (although not always, to my sister's chagrin, hers) and she knows i'm her daughter. but i don't think she really remembers who i am. she can't remember anything about my childhood -- all the familiar familiy stories are gone from her memory. she cannot say enough nice things to me and about me, though. "i love you very much," she says. "i've loved you since before you were born." i waited a long, long time to hear that. but i cannot decide how it makes me feel.

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