Non-Nursing Stories

Mar. 23, 2017

Having just gotten off the graveyard shift one morning, I stopped in at Dr. Sheehan’s office for some dental work. He’s a local dentist who is inexpensive and good at his job. Even if you didn’t like his work, you still could not walk away without liking him as a person. He’s really a special man and very likeable.

Needless to say, since I had worked all night long, I was tired. After given a chair to sit in, Dr. Sheehan came to check my problem out. We had decided my wisdom tooth needed to come out, and soon. Since I had worked the night before, he offered to let me go home, get some rest and come back at a later date and have it pulled then.

“No, I’m okay,” I insisted. “I want to get this over with as soon as possible.”

“Okay then. I’m going to start with numbing the area.” While he worked, he chattered about different things. That’s one of the things that make Dr. Sheehan so likeable; he’s personable and a bit of a chatterbox and always has a kind word to say about the worst person he knows. “I’m going to let that set in for a few minutes and then I’ll be back in to pull the tooth.”

Fifteen minutes later, he came back and explained he was having a devil of a time with the other patient. “Are you good here or do you just want to come back. I don’t want to keep you waiting if you need to go.”

“Are you trying to get rid of me,” I asked jokingly.

Dr. Sheehan laughed, “No, no. I just know you worked last night and probably dead tired. I know I would be if I were up all night.”

“Take your time,” I answered. “I’m just going to take me a nap while you busy yourself in the other room. I do not want to leave with this tooth killing me like it is.”

About thirty minutes into my slumber, the receptionist comes in and wakes me up. “You’re snoring really loud,” she explains.

I mumble an apology and try to reposition myself in order to stay awake. Only a minute or two later, Dr. Sheehan comes in and has to numb my mouth again. “I’ll be right back.”

Several minutes later, the receptionist is back. She jars me awake, “Dr. Sheehan got held up again. He’ll be back in here in just a few minutes and you need to wake yourself up.”

I repositioned again. There’s only so much positioning and repositioning one can do in a dentist’s chair. Fifteen minutes or so later, Dr. Sheehan came back in. Because the stuff wore off again, he had to numb me a third time and said, “I’ll be right back.”

I didn’t get upset because I did agree to this. I could see he was overbooked and I chose not to leave until my problem was fixed. I couldn’t help it though and went back to sleep a third time.

Several minutes later, the receptionist comes in and says, “Michelle, we need to reschedule you. You’re snoring again and it’s scaring the children in the waiting room.”

Every time I go into his office now, I think about that day and just laugh.

Mar. 23, 2017

When I had my lap band done (a surgical procedure that aids in weight loss), my surgeon assured me he had it set up with the hospital that his patients only had to pay $15,000. Being skeptical, I called the hospital and talked to a woman by the name of Kelly.

Kelly assured me, “The surgery usually costs about $28,000 and as long as you don‘t go over that amount it will only be $15,000 and you have to pay upfront, before the procedure.”

I thought about that and then asked three very pointed questions of Kelly. First: “Define usually please.”

“Well, as long as it’s routine, you don’t have any complications, no blood transfusions and you’re in and out of the OR and recovery in the typical amount of time.”

Second: “What about lab tests: Are those extras?”

“No, they go along with the $15,000,” Kelly answered. “Except for your stress test. Because you’re a heart patient they need one prior to your surgery date and that will be at an additional cost to you.”

Third: “Anesthesiology? Am I going to get a separate bill from them after the surgery or are they also included?”

“You will not receive a bill because that is also included in the $15,000.”

“You’re sure?” I asked for confirmation.

Kelly laughed into the phone and answered, “Positive.”

When I went to put a down payment on the lap band surgery, I again, almost verbatim, asked Kelly the same three questions, including the “are you sure?” part of the questions. Almost verbatim, she repeated back the same answers as if I had never asked them of her before.

At the time I paid for the rest of the surgery, one more time, I went over the same three questions and, one more time, she gave me the same three answers.

The surgery went off without a hitch and I was in recovery thirty minutes ahead of schedule.

My doctor came in, being fully aware of the $15,000 deal, as it was his own agreement with the hospital, and said, “That was one of the easiest lap bands I’ve ever done. Very routine, very simple,” he assured. “I want you to stay in recovery for at least an hour but you can stay for up to two hours if you need to."

After the first hour, the recovery nurse came to me and told me that as soon as I could walk twenty feet, I could go home.

I sat up in the bed, dangled my feet, and said, “Let’s do this.”

She tried to sit me back in the bed. “Wait, I’m not sure if you’re ready to walk yet.”

I turned to her and said, “I‘m ready to get this started because by this time next year, I plan to have a thong and two new boobs. So, either you’re walking with me or I’m dragging you behind me. Either way, I’m getting out of this bed.”

We walked twenty feet together and twenty minutes later I was getting dressed and walking out the door. I had been in recovery, for roughly, an hour and a half.

Two weeks after the surgery, I received a $2,500 bill from the anesthesiologist. I called and asked them to explain the bill. When they explained it was for the lap band, I expressed what the hospital had told me. They denied that was ever the case and wanted to set up payments.

“Hold that thought,” I said and hung up to call Kelly.

“I was just getting ready to call you,” she said once I identified myself on the phone. “You’re bill is over $41,000 and you’re required to pay the difference from the $15,000.”

I’m very high strung so I couldn’t help it when I screamed into the phone, “What! My surgery was very routine and I was out of there ahead of schedule!”

“Oh no, no,” Kelly insisted. “They had a few complications and it ran up your bill so you have to pay the difference.”

“What about the anesthesiologist? You said that was included and now they are billing me.”

“No, I never said it was included,” she denied. “That’s a separate issue and you need to work something out with them. Right now, I’m concerned with the other $26,000 you owe us here at the hospital.”

“My doctor came in and told me it was very routine, the easiest one he’s ever done and even said I was ahead of schedule.” I was livid, to say the least. I went on to say, “I’m guessing lying is second nature to you but I’ll fix that. I am going to call him right now, tell him what you’ve said to me, give him your name, and let him call your administrator and work this out.”

I was so angry, I waited to call the doctor for fear I would have misguided anger toward him. In the end, I didn’t call him at all and I never heard from Kelly again nor did I ever receive another bill from the hospital.

As for the anesthesiologist: they continued to ask me for money and I never paid them a dime. Finally, after almost two years of their calls and statements, I finally explained to them what happened and what I was told by the hospital, not once, not twice, but three times, and even gave them Kelly’s full name. I haven’t heard from them since, either.

Mar. 23, 2017

When I was in nursing school I found many doctors to be quite arrogant. One physicians group would walk onto the floor, pick up charts, and without saying a word to any nurse, just walk off; especially Dr. Lee. The nurse, usually the head nurse on the floor, would have to know through telepathy, to follow him (them).

Being a student, I also had to make rounds with them when they went into my assigned rooms. I watched as these doctors spoke cordially to the patients and told them which tests or procedures they were going to set up for them, even if it was simply to discharge them. They never spoke to the nurse, not once. It was her job to just stand there and listen to what the doctor said.

When any doctor came onto the floor, the nurses were supposed to stand and offer them their seats. I always thought that was crazy. Most nurses spend their entire shift on their feet and savor the moments when we can sit for a few minutes. If there were plenty of seats available we didn’t have to stand. This applied only if all chairs were occupied. Nowadays, most doctors refuse to take our seats and frequently offer us theirs.

While doing a rotation on the surgical wing at the hospital, I found myself in need of a paperclip. As I looked around on the nurse’s desk and through drawers I couldn’t find one. I looked behind me to see Dr. Going, the ears, nose, and throat specialist, seated at the doctor’s station so I turned to her and asked, “Excuse me? Is there a paperclip over there?”

She turned to me and very haughtily said, “I’m not a ward clerk!”

The nurse sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “Michelle, that’s a doctor.”

I looked at right at Dr. Going and said, “I know who she is but I don’t give a damn if she’s Jesus Christ, she can still tell me if she’s got a paperclip over there! At least Jesus wouldn’t have thought he was too good to answer me!”

Quite meekly, Dr. Going answered, “I’m sorry. No, I don’t see one here.”

That moment told me, I would not ever work in a doctor’s office. I could not stand their arrogance and egomania. Thankfully, they have changed a lot since back then and have a better, more approachable and friendlier, attitudes.

Mar. 23, 2017

I had a patient once who had a temperature over 104 degrees. It fluctuated between 104.2 - 104.8; not going below or above. She stayed this way for about a week. We were giving her around the clock Tylenol and Motrin every eight hours between one another so she had something every four hours.

The family, voicing their concern, agreed to let me try an old home remedy. “Anything to help her,” they said full of concern.

I called Dr. Wilson and said to him, “I’m calling you about Mrs. Harrelson. Please don’t laugh but, I’d like to try an old remedy to bring down her temperature.”

“Is it still up?” he asked.

“Yes, it is. Don’t laugh at me now,” I started again.

“Go ahead, Michelle. I won’t laugh.” I could hear the curiosity in his voice as he wondered what I was going to ask him.

“I was wondering if I could put some red onion on her feet.”

He laughed. After he sobered up he said, “I’m an old mountain man and my mama used to do that to us when we ran fevers. There’s a chemical in the red onion, that when absorbed, affects the Hypothalamus gland which is responsible for our body temperatures.”

I was so relieved he didn’t think I was nuts. “So I can do this then?”

“Absolutely! Get an onion from the kitchen, cut it in half and smear the juices all over the bottom of her feet where they will be absorbed more quickly. You need to watch her closely though and don’t let her temp drop too fast. Check her every 15 minutes until her temp starts to drop and then wipe her feet with a damp cloth. Her body will do the rest.” As I wrote all of his instructions down Dr. Wilson started to giggle again. He instructed, “Call me back in an hour or two and tell me how this worked out.”

The red onion worked. Mrs. Harrelson’s temp dropped and we finally got it under control. The family thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread (you should have seen their faces though when I was applying the onion). Dr. Wilson later told me he was impressed that I knew about the red onion trick. It was moments like that which made me feel good about being a nurse. It was a trifecta moment; the patient was helped, the family was happy and the doctor was impressed.

Several months later, I had a patient with a terrible rash and it just so happened her doctor was Dr. Wilson. As he sat at the desk going through charts I asked him, “Would you sign the order for me if I wrote one for Mrs. Todd to have Lotrisone Cream?”

“I’ll sign anything you write, Michelle.”


“Yes, really,” he confirmed looking up at me and giving me a smile.

“Great! Where’s your checkbook?”

He laughed and said, “I think my wife has it.”

“Oh,” I said a little daunted. “How old is she?”

“Uhm, I think she’s 58,” Dr. Wilson answered with another chuckle. “Why do you ask?”

“I think I can take her for it.”

Mar. 23, 2017

I remember when I was growing up; I had so much trouble in school. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the subject matter, I did - It was my inability to retain some of the information and some of the time, I just could not focus on it. It was not through lack of trying either. I would cry about these things, usually after a good ass whipping (which always seem to help me focus better).

I felt like there was something wrong with me. I eventually got the gist of things, but it was as if I had to go around my elbow to get to my rear end to finally understand what was being taught to me.

I was in the last semester of 5th grade before long division hit me. Since then, I can do most problems in my head, without paper and pen. Poor Mrs. Rodocy. I am sure she was glad to see the back of me. For years I secretly thought she passed me just to get me out of her class.

I was in the 9th grade before it finally sunk in the difference between an adjective and an adverb. I still have problems with present, past tense, and present past tense. Funny. Most of my teachers said I would make a fantastic writer one day. Who would of thunk? They must have seen something in me I hadn’t yet found.

I was in my late teens, sitting in a doctor’s office, reading an article about Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). I had all the classic symptoms so, I told my doctor, “I think I have ADD.”

“No, you don’t,” he rebuffed. “For one thing, you’re female.”

Boy, I’m sure glad he noticed that about me with him being a doctor and all! “But I have experienced more than 80% of these things,” I continued.

“Even if you were, you’ve outgrown it by now," he insisted.

I didn’t think I outgrew anything. I really felt I just learned to compensate or taught myself a different way of reaching the same end result to a problem.

Two years later, the same doctor - I was sitting in his office reading an article, also about ADD. It said, “Recent studies have shown this learning disorder affects males and females, equally.”

I showed it to him. “You’ve outgrown it,” he said again.

A couple of years after that, same doctor again (You'd think I would have learned something), another article I was reading said, “Children never outgrow ADD. They train their brains to learn to do the same things a different way.” In other words, we can do the same as anyone else, we just do it differently (isn’t that what I just said?).

I showed him this article as well. He poked me in the tummy and said, “You’re gaining weight and getting fat.”

I threw the magazine down and said, “Thank God you've cleared that up for me. I was starting to think I was suffering anorexic nervosa because every time I looked in the mirror I saw a fat person staring back at me!”

Now we know why he has the “MD” after his name, right? Most people with ADD have high IQ’s and are over achievers. We excel once we put our minds to it. I love that I have ADD. I love what I can do with my brain; it's wonderful. So what that I cannot follow the directions on a box of jello, much less a recipe card. I can still cook though. I do it all from trial and error.

I even have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) secondary to my ADD, as most ADD’ers do. I do not like for certain foods to be touching. Wet foods cannot touch dry foods or cold foods cannot touch hot foods. It’s complicated. Numbers are my downfall. If KFC were to give me a seven piece hot wing instead of six, I’d make them take one back. It’s crazy. I know.

Just as the article explained, I’ve taught myself things by routine. I do things a certain way all the time so I do not forget things. Whenever I shower, I wash in a pattern so as not to forget the “important parts.” When I dress, I do the same. If I forget one thing, it totally screws me up. First my under-clothes, then my shirt, then my pants, socks, followed by shoes. That is the way it is for me.

Talking about getting messed up - When I first started on the morning shift (7-3), I woke up early, around 5:00 AM, to shower. It was a cold December morning too. I jumped in the shower hoping it would wake me up. Afterwards, I ran into the bedroom real quick, not sure if I were even awake or not, and quickly dressed.

I had to leave for work by 5:30 AM because it took me an hour to get there and I had to be on the clock at 6:30. I was falling to pieces as I was rushing out the door. I grabbed my purse, slung the front door open and headed out in a dash. Even though it was still dark, I could see my 84 year old neighbor riding his scooter by the front of the house. He was always up before the sun and puttering around.

He stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me, and then he waved and smiled real big. It was at this time I felt a terribly cold draft and looked down. I was in such a hurry to warm myself; I skipped my routine and went straight to my socks, then my shoes. Here I was standing on the front porch with a wet towel on my head and holding my purse. I was naked except for my shoes and socks. But, I was ready for work.

My neighbor now stalks the front of my house and smiles real big, winking at me, when I come out the front door.