Don’t jerk(off) my chain.

Dog Tags by Jean James

Dog Tags by Jean James

Ok, so this is a story I picked up back in my research days, when I used to travel a lot and meet other cool nurses from around the country.  Me and my partner in crime met these two really funny guys from California who told us this story one night over drinks; I laughed my ass off and I only hope I can do it justice.

Working in a veterans hospital you meet all sorts of people categorized and defined by the wars they fought.  You expect to see things like P.T.S.D. (post traumatic stress disorder), Gulf War syndrome, and a myriad of other problems brought on by years of service to this country.

Working in urology in a veterans hospital, one would expect to see the usual suspects such as: an enlarged prostate here, a little prostate cancer there, and of course a few cases of the clap.

But nothing quite prepares you for the unexpected.  While working in the urology clinic a young vet. comes in and complains to the Urologist on call, “Doc, I’m having this problem pissing.  It feels like there’s something in my dick.”  To which the doctor replies, “Are you having burning or difficulty urinating.  What does it feel like?”  Shifting from side to side, with his eyes cast down, and looking very uncomfortable, the young guy replies, “…well it kinda feels like there’s a chain in my dick.”

Holding a steady poker face, the doctor asks him what a chain in the dick feels like, then proceeds to ask him if there might be something inside his penis that he should know about.  Our young friend adamantly denies having anything actually in his dick but the sensation of a chain.

So being a thorough practitioner the doctor orders a test, and low and behold, right there in X-Ray black and white there was indeed a chain in this man’s dick.  Not just any chain, mind you , but the chain to his dog tags.

Now that this man had been confronted with radiologic evidence of a confirmed chain in his dick, he was forced to confess on how it got there.

You just can’t make this shit up.

As I’m sure you have surmised, there is only one reason men stick anything inside their orifices, and that’s to make jerking off a more pleasurable experience.

The embarrassed soldier explained that he put the chain inside his dick to jerk off with, and his plan was to yank it out during ejaculation; however, that plan backfired when the chain got sucked up and stuck inside of him.

It gives a whole new meaning to jerking your chain.

After a minor chainectomy procedure, the dog tag chain was recovered, and returned intact.  Whether or not he continued to wear it…I don’t know?

The moral of the story?  Pretty obvious.  Don’t stick anything up your dick…period!

(Or your ass for that matter.)

This Really Burns Me Up!

Courtesy of Jesse Michener at

Courtesy of Jesse Michener at

Two sisters from a Washington state school suffered severe sun burn during their field day festivities due to a ridiculous policy that states sunscreen cannot be applied to children at school; it is considered a “medication”.  Only California allows children to bring sunscreen to school.  The school district forbids teachers from applying sunscreen to children for obvious reasons, but refuses to allow the children to block themselves because sunscreen use requires a physician’s prescription.  What??!!

My two kids recently had field day and I got a notice home saying the exact same thing.  I could apply sunscreen to my children before leaving for school, but any reapplication would not be available for them should their initial block wear off.  So rather than protect the children from obvious dangerous exposure to the sun (one liability), they would rather cover their own assess by doing nothing (an even worse liability).

So tell me, why do we have school nurses?  I understand not wanting teachers to reapply the sunscreen and I absolutely agree with that, but if a child is burning and is in need of medical care, isn’t it the responsibility of the school nurse to intervene at that moment.  Where was this Tacoma WA. school nurse at anyway?  And even if the nurse can’t reapply sunscreen, shouldn’t her judgement come into play here and remove the children from the unsafe environment.

I can’t tell you how many notes I get home during the school year to give my permission for the most ridiculous things, you would think perhaps that on field day schools might make it a policy to have parents sign a permission slip allowing the school nurse to reapply sunscreen in the event that their child was starting to bubble up like a hot tar blister?  Call me crazy but this country is so obsessed with liability that we feel more comfortable with apathy.

Why is it that one state out of fifty has managed to find a solution to this problem, but 49 states still have their thumb up their ass?  I understand children have a lot of allergies, got it, but if the parents are sending in a labeled bottle of sunscreen that they always use on their child, then I’m not sure I see what the big deal is.

Again, doing nothing to protect children in a dangerous situation is more of a crime to me than acting in their best interest.  Field day should be a day for tears of joy and fun and laughter, not a day for tears of pain and trips to the Emergency room.  Thankfully these girls are healing from their burns, but what will their future hold?  According to it only takes one blistering sunburn to more than double their risk of melanoma later in life.

I wonder how many cumulative years of graduate degrees were on that field, yet no one was smart enough to take the children out of the sun?

Follow Your Nose

Paradise Lost by William Blake circa 1807 PD-art

Paradise Lost by William Blake circa 1807 PD-ART

I’m a Libra, and if there’s one thing I’m always sure of, it’s my sense of smell.  I have been both blessed and cursed with a heightened olfactory nerve.  I don’t buy anything I don’t smell first.  And when it comes to men, well they have to pass the sniff test too.  I once, (okay twice), stood up a man because I didn’t like his smell.  I just couldn’t bring myself to go out with him, and couldn’t quite bring myself to tell him it was him, not me.  I always attributed this to my quirky Libra traits, until awhile back when I watched a documentary explaining that our genetic match is influenced by our sense of olfaction.  Finally a legitimate excuse for breaking up with someone.

Recently, a woman from California, (of course), had decided to stick her nose into other people’s dating lives, by setting up what she calls pheromone parties. Judith Prays, who came up with the idea, did so after several failed attempts at online dating.  She arranged these pheromone parties in L.A. and recently in New York.  Singles attending were instructed to sleep in a tee-shirt for three days, then stuff it into a ziplock bag and place it in the freezer, only to be reopened at the party.  Bags would be labeled blue or pink and be given a number to help match scent to sniffer.  Each party goer would have a chance to sniff their choice of colored bags and decide which scent suited them most.  I guess it was more polite than going around sniffing each others asses right?

So was this just an eclectic bunch of fellow Librans like myself riding the latest wave in match making, or are there cold, hard facts to support this new dating sensation.  According to olfactory research, there are facts to back this up.  We have these genes called MHC genes that are important for the immune system.   Female humans, (fish and mice), are able to get a whiff of these genes when looking for a potential mate, and it’s those MHC genes, different from our own, that we prefer.

Women seem to dominate when it comes to their sense of olfaction, and this is especially true during ovulation.  Women are like transformers at this time of the month.  Our faces become prettier, our bodies become hornier, and our noses are just waiting to suck in the odor of our ideal genetic match.  It’s like the perfect baby making storm, and men don’t realize it’s their fruit we’re looking to pluck.  I can guarantee you this was the formula for how my first child was conceived.: New Years eve + ovulation+ alcohol+ fine smell’in man+ alcohol+ ovulation= holy crap, I’m having a baby!!

Once we’ve conquered our genetic match, and spawn our superior progeny, we women are also able to clearly identify our biological offspring by their body odor.  We are olfactory superhero’s.

But, even though I’m a smellers biggest fan, I’m not sure if I were single, that I would want to spend my night sniffing t-shirts in a bag.  Call me old-fashioned, but I still like the idea of meeting the man before meeting his shirt.  I like sitting together at the bar, having a drink while leaning in real close to talk into his ear over the loud music and discover for myself the chemistry that either has me sniffing around for more, or has me and my nose, running like a bad cold.

Jiffy Lube Day Spa

Day At The SpaPhoto by Jean James

Day At The Spa
Photo by Jean James

As a critical care nurse I’m always on the move; but that’s nothing compared to being a mother.  On the run and always short on time, we moms are a very impatient breed (as I’m sure any of you with children can attest to.)  We like fast service, fast food, and fast cash.  Having to wait for anything makes us irritable.  If we could conduct all of our business through dive thru windows, we would.

When it comes to car maintenance we are no different.  In New York we have this place called Jiffy Lube where you can bring your car in for an oil change (or other service issues) and be out in fifteen minutes. This got me thinking about quick service day spas for moms on the run who don’t have the time or the cash to spend whittling the day away in a bathrobe and slippers, sipping on cucumber water.

At Jiffy Lube Day Spa (JLDS), no appointment would be necessary.  You just show up, pick your service selection off the menu board, plug-in your time allotment, and get ready for the best fifteen minutes of your life.

I see the JLDS menu board looking something like this:

  1.   High Gloss Polish

Manicure/Pedicure in need of repair
Don’t fall into a deep despair
With our quick drying polish, and pressurized air
You’ll be out in a jiffy
With money to spare.

2.     Jiffy Pube

If your hair down below
looks like miracle grow
Try our lube and a wax
From your head to your toe
A fresh trimmed up bush will make you feel flirty
And we’ll have you out in just under thirty.

3.     Brow Inspection

Eyebrows a bit like old Ebenezer:
Come in for a five-minute Jiffy Lube Tweezer.

4.     Fix a flat Lip Repair

Labium looking a little deflated?
Our quick acting Botox will have you elated.
A couple of sticks with our numbing enzyme,
And your lips will be plumped and looking divine.

5.     Body Shop Special

Total body in disrepair?
Experiencing dimpling on your derriere?
A body scrub is what you need.
Our techs will do the job with speed.
With skin so soft and fresh to touch
Your satisfaction guaranteed!

6.     Face Wash

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
we can make those large pores small.
Oily skin or flaky mess?
Try our facials,
They’re the best.

7.     Realignment

Back out of whack?
Try our chiropractic crack.
Guaranteed to get straight
Any stray vertebrate.

When you walk in the door with children in tow,
fear not the receptionists sarcastic glow.
At Jiffy Lube Day Spa, some think we’re deluded,
but care for your children is always included.

Well…one can dream…

The Patriarch

Before I even knew what the word feminist was, I was pretty sure I met all the criteria.  I grew up in a patriarchal house, that was immersed in testosterone, having five brothers.  I watched my mom do everything for my dad, and somewhere along the way I found that role uncomfortable.  My mom would never consider doing anything without my dad, and I felt women should be way more independent.  So you can imagine my shock when the one piece of advice I clearly remember getting from my dad was ‘to make sure I went to school and got a career before I got married.’

So what career choice do I go and make with his savvy piece of advice?  Nursing!  A seemingly subservient profession.  I substituted one patriarchal life for another.

This was so apparent to me when I was in nurses training for my L.P.N.  I had two old school nurse instructors who were strict and smart, supportive and tough.  The first time they took us to the hospital for our clinical rotation, I remember the gentler of the two teachers looking panic-stricken in my direction, as she charged towards me, shoved me out of the chair I was sitting in, ripped the chart out of my hand that I was perusing, and practically curtsied to the doctor who was looking for it while offering him my chair!!

Why was it more important for him to have that chair than me?  Whatever happened to ladies first?  I made a mental promise to myself that would be the last chair I would ever give up (as long as my teachers weren’t looking.)

Over the past twenty-three years I’ve managed to keep that promise for the most part.  I have met some amazing doctors over the years (mostly young) who don’t expect me to get up, but there are still those old dinosaurs who walk into the nurses station, give that authoritative look, and expect us all to jump up and say, “Yes doctor, what do you need doctor, can I suck your dick doctor?”  When they realize none of the above are ever going to happen, a dark shadow passes over their face as they long for the days gone by.

As a nurse I’ve come to a place where I’m comfortable in my own skin, never afraid to speak my mind and still never willing to give up my chair, but as a married woman with three children I find my mothers reflection hauntingly looking back at me in the mirror.  My list of domestic chores is enough to give my inner Gloria Steinem a twitch.

I continue to have my estrogen to testosterone ratio outnumbered in my current family, but unlike my mom I do get out without my husband once in a while.  I often think of the advice my dad gave me so long ago, and appreciate the career choice I made because it’s given me the flexibility to be with my children and be in the workplace at the same time.  I plan on passing this advice to my one and only daughter and hope her future battles with testosterone are played out on a more even playing field than mine were.


Vintage Nurse Uniform

By the time my parents could afford to send me to private school, I was entering high school.  I had no understanding of the benefits a private school had to offer, nor did I care.  I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about switching schools, and not being with my friends.  My one greatest concern with enrollment into a Catholic high school was the mandatory plaid skirt, white shirt, and black shoes, otherwise known as a uniform.

I balked at my parents, “There is no way I’m going to any school where I have to wear a uniform!”  Oddly enough, both my parents who were Catholic schooled from K-12, didn’t put up much of a fight, and I continued on my way to public high school (worrying everyday, of course, about what I was going to wear).

After school I worked my first job at McDonald’s and was forced to wear their uniform; a melanic mix of polyester, unflattering to the best of figures, and as breathable as a world trade center dust cloud.

By day I wore my school nursing uniform: a blue stripped dress, white tights and white old lady shoes.  Its crowning feature was the starched white nurse’s cap.  I looked and felt ridiculous.  That cap was a scalp hazard. If I dropped something on the floor, inevitably I would slam my head into the over bed table on the way up.  I was starting to develop nurse pattern baldness.

Over the years my nursing uniform has evolved for the better, and now I wear comfortable scrubs, black clogs, and thank God, no cap.  But as my nursing uniform has improved over time, my personal style has digressed.  Not quite twenty something anymore, yet still too young for support hose I have donned what some call the mommy uniform, others call it the over forty fatigues; I call it my transition wear: conservative, heelless, loose around the jiggly parts, and child resistant.  It camouflages everything from back fat to sticky little finger stains.

For a girl who didn’t want anything to do with a uniform all those years ago, ironically, I have spent the last twenty years of my life wearing one.

Letters From Home

The Angels of the Battlefield by William Ludwell Sheppard

The Angels of the Battlefield by William Ludwell Sheppard

“Dear Ganfanther,

You are so poor.  Why are you so poor?  Wade it on the peepers.  Lys to the dodders.


Your Granddaughter”

This was the letter hanging on the wall of one of my patients I cared for ten years ago.  It took me and another nurse a good hour to decipher this child’s prose. (Granted, there was a bit more to this letter then I can remember.)  I’m not sure why, but we laughed so hard at this heartfelt attempt of one granddaughters letter to her sick grandfather.

In most of our critically ill patient rooms, family would feel the need to post letters and pictures and transform what once was a sterile sick-bed, into a familiar family album.  Those bedside images have stuck with me throughout my career as memories of people I have cared for and most who didn’t make it.

These letters and pictures were nothing more than a simple gesture of hope to remind the person lying dormant in that bed that they had something to wake up for, get better for, and come home to.

A personal touch in such an impersonal place can go a long way; not just for the patient, but for everyone who enters the room and is boldly reminded that Mr. Jones is not just the guy in room 203, but he’s a grandfather with a granddaughter at home who’s worried about him.  It’s our job to keep that alive, even if we can’t keep him alive.

Translation to letter above:

Dear Grandfather,

You are so sick.  Why are you so sick?  Write it on the paper.  Listen to the doctors.

Medicine vs. Surgery

Has anybody else ever noticed the difference between medical doctors and surgeons, or is it just me?  If I had to put them in a boxing ring it would be like watching Woody Allen vs. The Rock.  Why is it that most surgeons keep themselves fit, stand tall, and exude confidence, while their medical counterparts appear a littler rounder, stand a little shorter, and secrete a schmear of smarminess?

I wonder what kind of split happens in medical school that leads one to the operating room and the other to the patient room.  Is it like high school all over again?  The jocks vs the nerds?  Or perhaps it’s more sophisticated than that, a secret initiation that we’re not privy to?

All the years I’ve been nursing I can’t help but see this glaring difference.  I know, I know, not all surgeons are hot and not all medicine men are tools.  But on the average…

When I’m in a code there’s nothing sexier than a hot surgeon in form-fitting scrubs coming to the rescue with his adept hands, slipping that central line right where it needs to be; unlike the medical doc’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd repeated failed attempts to penetrate the right vessel.

Nobody likes sloppy attempts at penetration, NOBODY!

So, though I may be biased and a little sexist, if I had to bet on Woody Allen M.D. vs. The Rock M.D., my money clearly rests on The Rock!

Expiration Date; The Souring Aspects of Growing Old

courtesy of Asli Kutluay

Florence Nightingale courtesy of Asli Kutluay

Did you ever think you’d get to a point in your life when what you have to say doesn’t matter to anyone, anymore?   Maybe you’re already there, or know someone who is.  It’s the sad side to aging when your opinion expires, and the person on the other end of your flapping gums finds you about as relevant as spoiled milk.

I used to think that old people held such great wisdom and knowledge from all the years spent prior on this planet.  I believed in looking up to your elders, anxiously awaiting some bone of advice to nibble on and regurgitate into my own life.

But as I get older, I’m realizing that this just isn’t true.  Not all old people impart wisdom.  But for the many that do, are we listening?

As a nurse of twenty plus years, the one piece of elderly advice I have heard time and again is, “Don’t get old!”  I used to laugh at this comment and brush it aside, but at forty-one, I’m kind of starting to fear this bit of Methuselahian advice.  The physical aspects of aging are scary enough without the thought of gradually being reduced to nothing more than an amorphous cluster of denture cream, depends, and dementia.

We need to respect our youthfully challenged population, for one day we will step into their orthopedics, and it will be our coke rimmed spectacle reflection staring back at us in the mirror.

There’s usually a lesson in a story, even if you’ve heard it a thousand times.  So instead of rolling your eyes and planning your escape route, sit down, pour a cup of coffee, and listen to that old codger, because that might just be the lesson we’re all missing.

I don’t want to expire before my time.  I want to age like fine wine and have that cork popped open, instead of jammed into my doddering old pie hole.  We’re all gonna get there someday…

Just ‘Don’t get old” along the way!

Dead Bodies

Night Nurse Warner Brothers

Night Nurse Warner Brothers

I don’t think you can ever prepare someone for the sight of a real dead body.  I say real because the kind of dead body you see at a funeral home, with all the makeup, hair, jewelry, and fancy clothing looks nothing like a freshly dead corpse.

So, when I encountered my first dead body, I realized that not even nursing school had prepared me.  All that C.P.R. (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) training on a healthy looking dummy became a foggy memory when I was called to the bedside of my first dead patient.

She was a lovely  woman who had undergone hip surgery earlier that day. Other than a little indigestion, she had no complaints.  I set her up for dinner thinking that would help soothe her stomach, then went to the nurses station to chart.  Sometime later, her grandchildren came to the desk to tell me their grandmother ‘didn’t look right’, and could I come down and check on her.

Obviously they too had never seen a real dead body.

I walked down the hall to the last room on the right, entered, and to my horror I realized indeed, she was dead!  I panicked.  I ran out of the room, and back up the hall to find the R.N. I was working with (I was an L.P.N. at the time and less senior.  I was also seventeen years old, and just out of school.)  When I finally found her, the R.N. refused to leave her patient to come and help me.

“What the fuck?!!”

I ran to the next hallway, saw another R.N. I was friends with, grabbed her by the hand and said, “Run!” Hand in hand we ran back to the room, confirmed the patient was dead and called a code blue.  Unfortunately my patient died, and I went home and cried myself to sleep that night.

Many years have passed, and I’ve since become an old hand with dead bodies; I’m more shocked looking at dolled up cadavers in caskets, than bodies of the terminally ill.  But at some point in life we will all have to come face to face with a dead body and nothing can really prepare us for that moment.

We just have to experience that for ourselves.