Rude: A Four Letter Word

I have three children and I’m painfully aware of their behavior at all times: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I have a face for every moment: a look, a sigh, an exasperation and a few exclamations.  Lately I feel like a soldier alone on the battlefield.  While I’m running for cover, intercepting my children’s barrage of ills, I see other moms and dads detached and disinterested; no beads of sweat, just a cool look of apathy.

What are these parents thinking?  Are they too tired to care, or are they just as rude as their children?  After careful observation, I think the latter.  Most parents these days feel entitled, and then pass that on to their children.  Why should little Janie conform to the rules, if mom and dad don’t?  Little Janie can run around the bookstore like an animal, because her mom lets her, showing total disregard for the people around them.

Mr. Rude by Adam Hargreaves

Mr. Rude by Adam Hargreaves

As if the public display of naughtiness is not enough, have you noticed the way these children are speaking to adults? Call me old fashioned but fresh talk, and back talk, irk the crap out of me.

When an eight year old feels free to question my authority with the tone of a ruler swinging nun, I’m speechless.  I once said to a guest, “Susie, please don’t run on the stairs”, her reply, with attitude, “Why? My mom let’s me run on the stairs at my house!”  There’s something to be said for not talking back to your elders.  It’s at that moment I’d like to respond, “I don’t give a F- what your mom lets you do, this is my house, my rules (you little shit)“, but that’s a bit harsh, so I smile, and in my best ‘Leave It To Beaver’ tone of voice, say “Well Susie, in this house we don’t run on the stairs.”  Five minutes later Susie’s running on my stairs, and I’m ready to stick my foot out, trip her and end the play date early.

Instead I take a deep breath, pray for an early parent pickup and continue to wonder:  Is it me, or are children getting ruder?

Reposted by Jean James courtesy of:

Will the Real Mrs. James Please Stand Up?



Have you ever noticed that there are women out there who were born to be grown ups.  They always seem to know what they’re doing; they know everything that’s going on in the neighborhood, or at school.  They usually volunteer for everything, like class mom, cafeteria monitor, or field trip volunteer.  Everyone knows them as Mrs. So and So.  They seem to have it all together.  Well I’m embarrassed to admit that I am not one of those women.  I’m not sure if I ever will be. But I find the older I get, the more I covet the skills required to fill those shoes.

When I was younger, my mother, and all the mothers I knew seemed to possess those skills.  It was what they did.  They got married, had kids, became moms, stayed at home, and became Mrs. So and So’s.  Their roles were so clearly defined; they didn’t think outside the box.  But then came the next generation of mom’s; the working mom, and roles changed, identities changed, and women didn’t want to wear aprons over their carefully pressed dresses, while pouring their husbands an evening cocktail.  Women wanted to be independent, liberal, divorced (if need be).  They didn’t want to Mrs. Anybody, they wanted to be Ms. Somebody, or better yet, just call me by my first name.

Somehow the formality of being a mom shifted into an unknown gear, and expectations were as out of fashion as that evening cocktail with the hubby.  When I was growing up, I didn’t think much about calling my friends moms by their last name, but when I entered my twenties, it seemed a little too formal.  What was the big deal calling someone by their first name?  And as I partied my way through my twenties and into my thirties I grew into a much more relaxed person (maybe a little too relaxed).

As my friends started to have children, I insisted they call me by my first name.  I knew when I had children I wanted to be the ‘cool mom’.  I thought I would be the kind of mom that would have lots of boys, and have all the children at my house.  I wanted to pull my kids out of school, and travel the globe with them.  I used to roll my eyes when my sister wanted her kids in bed by a certain time.  And why can’t you have ice cream for dinner?

Then I had kids…I could probably stop here, but I won’t.  I ended up having two boys, and a girl.  Let’s just say, if they could bottle the energy of boys, we would have no need for fossil fuels.  As for all those extra children in my house,  No Way!  And bedtime, well that’s just the nectar of the gods, and ice cream is for dessert, on special occasions, not including a school night.  I would still like to take my children around the globe, but only if I can be properly medicated.

As I’m learning the do’s and don’ts of motherhood, I still don’t feel like one of ‘those’ mom’s.  I hear my kids calling their friends parents by their first name, and I cringe.  I’m not the class mom, the cafeteria mom, or even the field trip mom.  I have, however, mastered: the disorganized mom, the late mom, and the non-showered look mom.  And when I forget to wear that apron, I then become the food stained mom.  When my husband gets home from work, I’m asking him to pour me that cocktail, and I’m guzzling it down while throwing together some kind of meat paste disguised as dinner.

I have these fantasies of the future where I’m in my sons school helping out and everybody knows my name, and I’m always the first to arrive.  My hair is neat, my clothes are clean, and I’m carrying freshly baked goods, that I made myself.  My children are well behaved, and their manners are impeccable.  And by 7pm, all three wee ones are soundly tucked in their beds, while I’m pouring my husband that long overdue evening cocktail, and we sit together in our his and hers chairs and discuss our day like two real adults would…

Anne Taintor

Anne Taintor

Then, off in the distance, I’m pulled from my reverie, back into reality and I  hear this loud question ringing in my head, “Will the real Mrs. James please stand up?”  I look left, I look right, then I look straight ahead.  Where is the real Mrs. James?

She’s still stuck somewhere between being almost on time, and just about out of cocktail mix.

by Jean James Reposted courtesy of

How Do I Love Thee (Google)? Let Me Card Catalog The Ways…

photo by Jean James

photo by Jean James

I love thee laptop to the length and width and height
My wireless can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the connections of wires and informative Grace.
I love thee to the level of modern day’s pace.
Most whimsical need, by fun and electric-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, your knowledge I Praise.
I love thee with a passion your speed doth amaze.
In my old library griefs, with card catalogs to hate.
I love thee with a love
Like Microsoft 8
With my lost pong, — I love thee with the breadth,
3G, 4G, the speed of all my life! — and, 5G if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Revised from the original version “How Do I Love Thee?  Let Me Count The Ways…” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

February is American heart month; it is a time when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and the people we love.  It is a time of awareness and caring for that special organ that beats to its own drum. More than anything my heart is encapsulated by my family, but alas, I harbor a second love; a love of the internet.  I think anyone from my generation who had to go to a public library and struggle through an antiquated, cumbersome filing system probably loves the internet as much as me.

When I was a child in school, I was brought to the library.  It was in this institution that I was introduced to a code more complicated that Morse, more difficult to learn than Navajo, a code dating back to the Parisian revolution of 1789.  Leave it to the French to burden us with yet another complication of their sophisticated palette. What code was so burdensome to my youth as to inspire a love poem to the internet?  Why the card catalog of course.  If you are reading this and have no clue what a card catalog is then you are quite lucky for two reasons, one because you have never had to use a card catalog, and two, because you can click on the link above to learn what a card catalog is; a luxury unavailable to me as a kid.


Card Catalog

The first major orientation to any library was the location of the card catalog.  Mine was no different.  Without that giant wooden filing system, no book could be found.  The catalog cabinet was a series of mini filing drawers, each filled with standardized catalog cards measuring 7.5×12.5cm.  Each card was meant to display information regarding: title, author, and subject.  Further systematization by Melville Dewey allowed a person to locate a book to a particular shelf within the library via a series of itemizations consisting of ten classes, divided into ten divisions, each having ten sections.  This was known as the Dewey Decimal System.  Confused yet?  Me too.

Example of a card catalog card

It would take me almost all of my library period to try and locate the book I was assigned to find.  When I finally made it to the shelf that matched a number that looked something like this: 962.05 I would find 962.04, 962.03, but never would I be able to find 962.05…never.  And so this was the case no matter which library I frequented.  This meant I stopped frequenting the library.  In fact, I came to loathe the library.  I hated everything about it:  the quiet atmosphere, the nasty librarians, the Dewey decimal system, and most of all the imposing card catalog that held nothing but empty promises of books never to be found.

I tried soliciting help from the librarians, but I’ve learned over time that librarians must be a victim of some kind of social disorder that prevents them from enjoying contact with other human beings.  Why else work in a place where silence is the rule and the only words spoken are those enforcing that rule?

So yes, I love Google, I love the internet, I love anything that keeps me out of a library, out of reach from organized index cards with odd numbers on them, and away from shushing, socially inept, bookworms.

Just once I tried bringing my children to the public library.  I thought, ‘maybe times have changed.’  Maybe finding books with an online card catalog system would prove easy.  Maybe they’ve hired some people with a personality.  Maybe I was wrong.  Despite the fact that my library has a “children’s section”, quiet is still mandatory.  Despite the online card catalog, the book I wanted was still unavailable, and despite the fact that my son signed up for his very first library card and received a new pencil with the name and logo of our local library, the librarian scoffed at my daughter’s polite request for a pencil as well.  “When you are eligible for your library card my dear, then you will be eligible for a pencil.”

I fear the library will always be an archaic place that houses quiet and dark corners and people with index fingers permanently attached to their lips.  As for me I will sit at my laptop, with the sounds of laughter in the background, the light streaming through my windows, the books I downloaded onto my kindle, and my daughter happily drawing on her pencil sketch app from Google play.


Have a Happy and Healthy Heart Month!!

Mom’s Taking a Sick Day (goddammit!)

The other day I was feeling pretty sick, but as usual was on the schedule to work.  When I announced to my boss’ I was calling out sick; there was a moment of silence, followed by a cackling, belly full of laughter.  “Mom’s can’t call out sick!” responded my three little managers, rolling around on the floor still laughing.  Oh yeah, I thought.  I’d show them.  I was going to have a sick day goddammit!  Even if it killed me.

Lucky for me I got sick over Christmas break.  My husband was off from work all week which meant I had reinforcements.  So I made my announcement to my husband that I was sick, and needed the day off.  I got the same incredulous look from him that I got from the children, followed by the comment, “Really, you don’t look sick.”  I get this comment a lot.  I have the uncanny ability to look really well when I’m sick.  I’m naturally pale, and when I’m ill and running a low grade temperature, my cheeks take on this pinkish, rosy hue, that makes me look as if I’ve just come from a day at the beach.  The mucous packed sinus’ gives me just that bit of swelling that people pay their plastic surgeon thousands to recreate.  Instead of looking miserable, I look refreshed, so no one takes me seriously.

But I wasn’t going down without a fight, and sternly reinforced my position to my husband that I was indeed sick, and that I was taking the day off to recuperate.  He acquiesced, still suspicious that I was faking it, but smart enough to keep his mouth shut, avoiding unnecessary conflict.  Feeling somewhat vindicated, I dressed in my coziest pajamas, and snuggled myself under my warmest blanket on the couch, in front of the TV, just like my mom used do for me when I was a kid, (the same way I now do for my own children).

As I lay there in full command of the remote control, my three children stared at me in amazement, then fired a barrage of questions:  “Mom, why are you still in your p.j.’s?, Mom, are you sick? Mom, what are you watching?, Mom, can I watch cartoons? Mom, are you going to stay there all day? Mom, are you going to get up to go to the bathroom?  Whose going to feed us? Can we lay there with you?”  I soon realized that as long as I was in sight, I was in mind.  I got up, handed over the remote control, and made my way upstairs to my bed, shutting the door behind me.

Ah, peace and quite until…

‘Knock, knock’,

“Whose there?” I responded.


“Lettuce who?”

“Let us in Mom!”

Oh no, they were back; I hadn’t locked the door.  In they came like moths to a flame.  Armed with more questions about what I was doing in bed.  I asked them what their father was doing, and why didn’t they go spend some time with him.  Apparently they weren’t into a Judge Judy Christmas marathon, and wanted to be with me.  And I’m thinking, how is it my husband can spend the day on the couch, uninterrupted, completely healthy, and not helping to keep the children from disturbing their sick mother?  Again, I think he thinks I’m faking it.  And I’m thinking these kids are never going away.  I thought maybe if I could throw up they might get grossed out and leave, but the only person I was grossing out was myself.  What kind of low had I sunk to?

I needed someplace to go.  A reprieve for sick mom’s.  A place where the children couldn’t go, and my husband wouldn’t want to.  But where?  That type of retreat hadn’t been invented yet (but would be going right to the top of my nurse entrepreneur to do list).  I needed help now, and I knew just where to go.

I packed my overnight bag, pulled on my heavy winter coat, kissed my three kids on top of their heads, then said goodbye to my husband.  He looked at me surprised and said, “Where are you going?”  I replied, “To the only place I can get some peace and quiet.“, then walked out the door.

That afternoon, in my cozy p.j’s, snuggled under a warm blanket on the couch, watching T.V. I knew I finally was having that sick day I so deserved.  “More soup honey?”  said my mom as she checked my forehead for a temperature.  “No thanks.” I said.

Then I rolled over and fell fast asleep.


Reposted courtesy of

When the Nurse Becomes the Patient

Old Worm by Jean James

I work in the medical field, so I’m quite used to embarrassing things happening to other people.  I’m the first person to reassure my patient who just shit on the floor, “Don’t worry about it, it happens all the time.”  Anything to make someone feel better.  But what do you do when you’re the one with the embarrassing problem?

Three months after the birth of my second child I went to the bathroom one morning, and though I didn’t shit on my floor, I did have something very wrong with what came out of me that day.

Because I’m a nurse I have a tendency to examine the things that come out of my body.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not holding a magnifying glass or collecting samples, but a quick peek just to make sure everything appears normal.

This particular day was really no different, a quick glance, followed by a second look, followed by a horrified stare, until it sunk in what I was looking at, or more clearly what was looking back at me…

“O.M.F.G., there’s an f’ing worm in my shit!”  As my brain was trying to wrap itself around what my eyes were trying to deny, I could feel the panic creeping up my chest.  The idea that a living creature just made its way out of my ass was more than I could digest.  And as I began to accept that this indeed was real, my next thought immediately raced to the question, “Are there more?”

I needed help.  I was sure this didn’t qualify for a 911 call, so I had no other choice than to call for my husband.  My husband is not a medical person, he’s not comfortable with excrement, vomit, or any other abnormal bodily fluid.  So believe me when I say calling him for help was truly my last resort.

Hmmm how do I put this, “Honey, there’s a worm in my shit”

His reply, “What!!? Are you sure?  How do you know it’s really a worm?”

Me, “Just look for yourself.  It’s a goddamn worm!  I know what a worm looks like and that’s a worm…in my shit!”

Him, “Well how’d it get there?”

Me, “I don’t f’in know!  How does any worm get in your shit!?  This is kinda of new territory for me.”

Him, “What are you gonna do?”

Me, “Jesus Christ!  Go get me a Tupperware. I’m gonna scoop it up, call the doctor and bring it in for testing.”

Him, “You’re gonna scoop up your own shit?”

Me, “Yes, I’m gonna scoop up my own shit!  How else am I going to prove a worm just came out of my ass?”

So the nurse in me kicked on and I collected my own stool sample, worm and all, and called the doctor’s office demanding to be seen immediately, which wasn’t a problem when I explained why.

Since I work in a small hospital, I know the doctors fairly well.  It’s rather incestuous how we nurses use our doctors as our personal physicians.  Normally I’m not bothered by this.  When I had my children I wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed or uncomfortable carrying on a normal conversation while my doctor was up to his eyeballs in my cervix.

But like the rest of the animal kingdom, I tend to be a bit shy when it comes to number 2.  So carrying my own cup of shit with a worm sticking out of it to my primary care doctor/co-worker was nothing shy of mortifying.  Could either of us ever look at each other the same?

When it came time for me to see her, it was kind of like talking to my husband all over again.

Her, “So, what’s going on?”

Me, “I passed a worm in my stool.”

Her, “How do you know it’s a worm?”

Me thinking “Is she f’ing kidding me.  I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t sure.”

Politely I opened my brown bag and pulled out my Tupperware o’shit and showed her the forensic evidence that was my worm.  The look on her face was priceless; controlled horror, followed by the ever professional, “…hmm…wow…yup that definitely looks like a worm.”  And just for good measure she called in her nurse for a second opinion, as I shrunk lower in my pool of embarrassment.

Knowing she was way over her head, my doctor decided to send me to the Gastroenterologist (a.k.a. the ‘ass man’), as we were lacking a Helmintholgist at our small community hospital.

I vaguely knew who this G.I. doctor was; I hadn’t had a lot of dealings with him.  And after meeting him I realized his personality suited his profession.  Unfortunately for me, he was the only available G.I. doc at that moment.  He carefully examined the contents of my little Tupperware surprise and concluded there was a worm in my stool.  Well, thank you very much Captain Obvious!  Now that we were all in agreement that my worm existed, I more importantly wanted to know how it got there and if I had to worry about any more surprises on my next trip to the bathroom.

I had already done an internet search (because that’s the kind of crazy person I am) prior to coming to the doctor.  I learned more about parasitic worms that I ever wanted to know.  Their life cycle is so gross I’m not sure I can even tell you…okay I will, but I’m giving out one of those warnings:

This might be disturbing to children and people with weak stomachs, and everyone else in between.

In order to get a worm, you must first ingest something contaminated with fecal material (Ewww).  The eggs of the worm hatch in your stomach and migrate into the circulation, which then carries them to the lungs!  The larvae mature in the lungs then climb their way out into the throat where they are swallowed into the stomach, and make their way into the intestines where they develop into adults.  The adult worm can live 1-2 years feeding off of partially digested food.  I’m so going to puke just writing this.  Okay, so when I learned all this I counted back 1-2 years to try to figure out where the hell I was, and to my horror discovered I was in Mexico…on my honeymoon!  Feeling more like an investigator for the C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control) than a nurse, I relayed this information to Dr. Lackluster.

In return, he stoically tells me my worm must go to the lab for positive identification, and only then will we know for sure.  He remarks that parasitic worms are quiet common throughout the world.  Then he drops his bombshell theory as to how this particular worm came to find a home in my intestines.  He said I most likely got this worm from eating dirt as a child…DIRT!!!  So I quickly do the math in my head.  Kids eat dirt around the age of 2, I was 35-year-old at the time, so I just shit a 33-year-old worm.  Holy crap, no wonder that worm had a beard and a cane.  It didn’t come out on its own, if fell out, a victim of worm cardiac arrest.  Was this doctor sniffing too much methane gas?  It’s no wonder this doctor chose to be in a profession surrounded by assholes.

My mouth opened, then closed, then opened, then closed again.  My husband let out a chuckle, (like there was actually something funny going on) until I gave him that look that said, “Laugh again and I’m gonna shove my worm up your ass!”

I left there humiliated with my antiworm prescription and told to leave my specimen with his nurse.

Horrified, humiliated, and embarrassed, I handed over my worm to yet another set of eyes, and it was then that I felt a gentle hand touch my shoulder and a kind voice saying, “Don’t worry about it.  It happened to me once too.  Now every time my ass itches I think it’s a worm trying to get out.”  For the first time all day I laughed so hard, and felt so relieved to know I wasn’t the only one.  Thank God for that nurse,  I could’ve kissed her!

I’m happy to say I’ve been worm free ever since.  I’ ve learned a valuable lesson and am now very careful not to travel to third world countries…and have eliminated all dirt from my diet.

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.)

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…

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.

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.