Non-Nursing Stories

Mar. 23, 2017

I had never heard of sunblock before moving south. Up north we would pour the tanning oils and lotions all over us trying to brown ourselves but here in the south, the old cliché “a little dab will do you,” carries a lot of truth in it. It isn’t that the sun is different in the south than in the north, however, I think being closer to the center of the equator makes the difference.

When my husband and I took our children to the beach one afternoon as a precaution, I brought along sunblock with SPF 5. At the time, SPF 5 was the strongest sunblock anyone could buy. It was primarily targeted toward children and babies.

In spite of the fact I kept my children swathed in sunblock, I also kept a watch on them to make sure they were not getting too pink. It’s been known to happen. Even with the strongest of sunblock I have been sunburned before when out enjoying the occasion.

Because we’re old shoes at this and live around here, we could lie on the beach and spot the tourists that flooded the white sands. They’re easy to spot because they are all just as white as the silt.

When a nice family parked a few feet away from us and I saw the milky white color of their skin, I pulled the sunblock out of the ice chest and offered it to them.

“Oh we’re fine,” the mom said. “We are used to getting tans at home.”

“Oh,” I said noticing the ghostly white color of the three small children with her and her husband. If this was tan, this must be a family of Albinos. “Where is home?”

“New Jersey. We lay out on the beach all the time there.”

An hour later, I noticed Dad’s bald head was turning a nice shade of pink. Looking at the children ages toddler to preteen, I saw, they too, were getting a little pinkish.

I went to the mom again with the sunblock. “Are you sure about this? I know we use the same sun but honestly, it’s quite different here in the Carolinas.”

“Oh yeah, I’m sure, but thank you anyway,” she refused.

Looking at the children again, I said, “Okay, it’s here if you need it though. Just ask and it’s yours.”

An hour past that, we decided our own children were starting to turn pink and we need to go in. In the south, you don’t really redden until after you go inside and shower. Then what was once pink often turns red and painful.

I glanced over at our visiting New Jersey family and notice that Dad is coming up the beach with all three children in tow, and all three are red as lobsters. I also noticed Mom was packing to go.

Still, in a last ditch effort, I went back to the family and explain we’re leaving and offer the sunblock just one last time. "If for nothing else, just as a soothing lotion."

All my efforts were again refused. As we headed off the beach, I went over to mom the final time and said, “You guys are way too red and you are going to pay for this later.” Then, I gave her directions to the local hospital. As red as that family was, they were going to need it.

Mar. 23, 2017

During a doctor's visit one afternoon, my doctor and I were discussing his documentation of office visits, or lack thereof. I expressed to him he needed to do better than he is. For example: I have fallen and sprained my shoulder 3 times in the last year. He has not documented this.

I asked him, "Why not? What are you documenting?"

He answered, "I try to document pertinent information."

I said, "Don't you think me falling and spraining my shoulders 3 times in a year is pertinent?"

So he started typing it out on his laptop and said, "Okay, its in there now."

As I was leaving, I said to him, "Are you sure you're not a prostitute? I pay all this money to come in here and see you and I walk out feeling like I just got screwed!"

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.