A House Divided…We’ve Already Fallen

This isn’t about one president.  No one president can accomplish what they promise during their election campaigns since Congress is really running the show. If that’s news to anyone, I’m even more sad for this country.  To be fair, I have been so repulsed by political discussions for so long, that I avoid them. That doesn’t mean I’m stupid, and I’m listening more now.  What I am now is incredibly sad, and overwhelmingly unhopeful. It also stirs up painful reminders of how politics divide families, and erode even simple interactions.  There is nothing civil about US politics.

The divisions between the Republicans and Democrats is certainly nothing new, but it’s gotten to the point that there seems to be absolutely no common ground- like the fact that we all live HERE isn’t a good enough reason to come together.  A few days after September 11, 2001, there was that nice gathering of Congress on the Capitol steps singing God Bless America (and without the ACLU or athiest organizations threatening them with a lawsuit over a religious song- go figure; must have been their day off), and that was nice. It  is the last time I remember seeing any sort of overt public unity among our elected officials.  It was the last time I remember feeling like this is one country, “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.

During the Bush Administration, the ‘left’ media was nothing but vicious towards President Bush.  There wasn’t even any minimal respect for the office of the POTUS.  That wasn’t something I’d seen before (and please don’t start in on my lack of political knowledge- I’m just writing about what I remember; I spent a fair amount of time simply trying to survive personal issues to be all that cued in to what was going on in the world).  It was personal.  Pure anti-Bush… because people didn’t like him?  He wasn’t a democrat? He had an accent?  JFK had an accent, nearly got us into nuclear war with Cuba, and yet he walked on water… even more so after he was dead.  The country mourned what COULD have been. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

Bush  dealt with something that no other president had been forced to deal with, and there really isn’t a ‘perfect’ way to manage terrorism on home soil in a country that had, for the most part, been mercifully spared until then.  There was the first WTC bombing- and OK, so maybe Clinton could have done more- but I firmly believe he did what he thought was best with the information he had.  Nobody gave Bush that same consideration. What’s to say that in the vast deserts of Iraq there aren’t WMDs?  Do we really know?  Maybe they aren’t there. Which leads to the only option- the far left is into some consipiracy theory that they mock the extreme far right of getting into with their apocalyptic storage sheds and ammunition accumulation.

So Bush did what he thought was best. Is it better to be proactive or reactive with terrorism?  Nip it in the bud, or clean up the mess? Congress signed off on the military action, and domestic surveillance programs.  It’s not all on Bush’s head- but that’s so easy to blow off, since it was a democratic Congress that passed those things.  They certainly can’t take any responsibility…gotta be all on Bush.

The economy undoubtedly started to go south on Bush’s watch.  That’s a no-brainer.  He brought Obama into the picture before the swearing in to ensure the smoothest transition possible.  Obama had a mess to deal with, but it’s not like it was something that was done purposely to  undermine the stability of the US… or do people think that?  (padded room time).  Obama had to appear like he was doing something, so we all got those token checks to ‘stimulate’ the economy.  I paid bills; I didn’t stimulate anything besides the utility companies.

The ‘right’ media certainly doesn’t have anything decent to say about Obama.  I no longer read any media without looking for other sources of the same story before I even consider thinking about it.  It doesn’t do anybody any favors for either side to attack ‘the other guy’.  It just makes them ALL look petty.  And there are so very few media options to get anything approaching ‘fair’.

The most unity I’ve seen in the past 3 1/2 years is when Representative Gabrielle Giffords so nobly came to the State of the Union Address (or some such gathering in the Capitol), and she got what appeared to be genuine welcome and support after being shot and nearly killed by some whack job in an Arizona grocery store parking lot.  SO, let’s see- the worst event of terrorism on US soil, and the near death of one of their own- those are things worthy enough  to join together and be supportive about.  The budget, economy, healthcare (which nobody had time to review before voting), education (we’re dropping every year in the sciences and math), and just getting along aren’t worth enough.  Congress supports the destruction of this country whenever they get together- by inaction.  The survival of the country isn’t a reason to  work together.  Watching CSPAN is like watching a schoolyard nanny-nanny-boo-boo contest.  They get nothing done that actually matters.

I have no reason to think they’re going to act like adults in Washington, D.C. any time in my lifetime.  This country will continue to fall apart, and with the lack of emphasis on general education in public schools, the next generation is getting zippo  to help them figure out how to get out of this.  Congress is a body of  elected civil war participants with words and inaction as their weapons.  The country is imploding, and pride is going to keep it moving in that direction.

I don’t identify with either party.  I’ve got relatives that think I’m so far right, I’m fascist- but that’s based on what I don’t want to hear about, nothing about any actual conversation to actually find out what I think (or make assumptions because of my personal spiritual views; I didn’t come from a cookie cutter, no matter what someone thinks). Come election season, I don’t want to hear about people’s political views.  I miss the days when those things were kept private, and didn’t color what someone thought of another person. Or destroy relationships. I’ve also got friends that make me cringe with thier intolerance about anything to do with the left- if it’s democrat it’s wrong. Period.  That is just as counterproductive as what they blame the other side for doing- because it’s the same thing.   I find it all quite repulsive.   I believe everyone should have political views just as strong as they want to…and I believe I have to right not to put up with them in social settings. There are groups to share common ideas, and I’m not in those groups.  Everybody wants to be heard, but nobody wants to listen.

The house has not only divided, it’s not much more  than crumbling rubble.  Can it be repaired?  I don’t know. But if those who ‘represent’ us in Washington, D.C. can’t get it together, this country is going to slide downhill even more quickly.  What took 236 years to build up will go down like a house of cards with the slightest winds.  Our allies won’t stick around a train wreck forever.  And for those of us here, who remember ‘good’ years, it’s going to be a very painful thing to watch.  This isn’t just about a presidential election- it’s about government growing their asses up and doing what’s right for the majority of the country in a way that is responsible and sustainable.  Or get ready for anarchy.

I Miss Nursing, Really, I DO !!

When I was still working as a registered nurse, I don’t know how many times I heard, or how many times I said, “I wish I could retire NOW”.  I graduated in 1985 from an ADN program, and very soon after getting my license (we had to wait for snail mail back then) moved away from home to begin my career in a state/city 1200 miles from home.  I was so excited!

At first, I was the typical newbie. I was idealistic and knew just enough to not kill someone on purpose. That’s all nursing school teaches. It takes experience to make someone ‘good’, and that takes time and enough brain cells rubbing together to ignite a spark now and then.  Those first few years, I loved all of my patients, and everything they did was something to learn from.  The poop and puke, not so much, but I had a good gag reflex, and could smile through anything.  I didn’t even mind being elbow deep in someone’s butt sore if that’s what needed doing. And I was a supervisor’s dream- not married, no kids, and phone always turned on with no answering machine.  Yep. A huge target from the get-go; I’d pick up extra shifts, even at the last minute if I was home and answered the phone.

Then I grew up. Many things became decidedly less amusing.  The call-light jockey topped the list. When I found out that the spiel in nursing school about the call light meaning I didn’t ‘meet my patient’s needs well enough’ was a bunch of hooey, I learned to hate that thing. Some people are just so scared, or so regressed into the self-centric view of the world when they’re sick, that they need some sort of contact, a LOT.  I never minded the legitimate things patients needed, or even wanted.  But there was always some nitwit who had the audacity to complain about the brand of orange juice the hospital served.  Really?  And I can do WHAT exactly, at 2:00 a.m., about that particular life-threatening issue?  Maybe run out and grab a few nice juice oranges, and get to fresh squeezing them for ya? Eh?

Most patient families were very nice, and appreciative. They knew the real reason they were there- to support someone in getting well.  And then there were the invaders.  These are the families that send out messages to all known living relatives within a single day’s flight away that there’s free coffee in Junior’s room, and the nurses have nothing else to do but bring refills.  Though they do complain about the lack of service when there’s a Code Blue in the next bed. Go figure. Lack of pulse? Lack of coffee?  Tough call.  I’ll get back on that one.  But spell my name right if you’re going to take it to the supervisor, got it?  Thanks a bunch! 

 Doctors were another part of the equation. Most were great to work with, and knew if I was calling at 2:47 a.m. that it wasn’t to keep me awake;  something wasn’t good, and it couldn’t wait for 3 hours when he/she might start drifting in to do rounds.  I couldn’t just leave a note on the chart. One or two didn’t return my calls at all. That would make me so mad. Easy enough to fix that one- call the doctor he/she had ordered a consult from, and let them know that I knew  they weren’t the primary doc, but since he/she wasn’t returning my calls, did they want to do something about the guy having seizures who had never seized before? No? Well OK, just thought I’d ask.  That usually got the doc I really wanted to discuss the matter with to call back (after a brief call from their ‘real’ colleague)  apologizing for the phone upstairs not working right.  Uh huh.  Blame the phone. It worked when the other doctor called…

There was the one neurosurgeon who had a vast reputation as both a superior physician and world class asswipe.  One of his patients had the hiccups as a side effect of one of the IV meds we had to give them.  And every last doc but him would order a bit of a sedative to get rid of them; they’d go on for hours if nothing was done, and it was cruel and unnecessary.  But I had to call and report the hiccups anyway (even knowing the patient wouldn’t get anything to help) since  it was the patient who was miserable.  The asswipe doc told me there was nothing to do for hiccups but put a paper bag on someone’s head. SO, I wrote the telephone order, IN THE CHART, “Paper bag to head as needed for hiccups”, and signed/dated it.  He had to cosign that order. He’d given it.  He was still a jerk after that, but at least he’d address his patients’ needs a bit better.  This is when we all still used pen and paper charts.

This was about the time I learned to clean up diarrhea from one end of the bed to another, and then go on dinner break and eat chili. No problem.  In a pinch, I’d use a little kidney-shaped puke pan to warm up my Lean Cuisine Chicken Chow Mein…kinda looked like it belonged in there, to be honest. Made the docs nuts to see me in the back room with a fork in a puke pan.  But then they got to know me, and they were glad that’s all I’d dreamed up.  🙂

One of my  horror docs was a real genius who thought if he didn’t know about something that meant nobody would call and bug him about it. *rolling eyes*  Picture this:  a very sweet, but cash strapped guy who was diabetic, and could either get his diabetic meds OR the test strips to check his blood sugar. He wasn’t non-compliant for fun. He chose to get the medicine.  He ends up in the ER with some nutso blood sugar in the 600’s, and the ER gives enough insulin to get it to the mid-400’s (should be about 70-100 for the normal person- and I’d taken care of many diabetics who ended up permanently vegetative for ultra high or low blood sugars; nothing to joke around about. This guy wasn’t in that range, but I wanted to keep him there). The guy is awake, and with the program, so stable enough for the floor. OK, fine. The dude gets to the floor and I’m checking orders. Nothing for blood sugar checks after getting IV insulin, and still not in a normal (or tolerable) range. Lab isn’t due for several hours to check the regular blood work.  And I’m supposed to sit on this guy not knowing if he’s tanking, or has bounced high again after the insulin’s duration maxed out?  I don’t think so!  SO I call Dr. Genius, and ask about blood sugars since I’d checked one on admission to the floor, and it was still rocking in the 400’s (he was a bit irked that I’d checked it). There was no sliding scale insulin (the dose depends on the blood sugar, taken right before giving it), no orders to check the blood sugar (which would be standard), and the guy was still too high.  The MD I would never subject a corpse to responds “If I don’t know about it, I don’t have to fix it”.  *crickets*  I got nothing for that one (aside from an immediate call to my supervisor to let her know).

People really need to know what nurses have to deal with on the phone with some doctors. It’s nuts. Then they’re supposed to be diplomatic to not make the doc ‘look bad’.  I learned that his image is not my problem. If a doc wouldn’t give an order to deal with something, I’d let the patient know. No problem.  Fortunately, the vast majority of doctors I worked with knew that it was a team effort, and I was the part of the team that meant THEY didn’t have to wipe butts, serve coffee, have their arm halfway to Mars inside someone’s butt sore, get spit on, duck flying objects, referee family fights about Grandma being resuscitated until she turned inside out, not be able to pee for 8 hours easy, and sometimes 10-12, and on and on. Most doctors knew that the nurses had their backs.  I was up all night, it didn’t make any difference to me if I had to call someone, but the good ones left me orders for a lot of the ‘what if’ situations, so they knew that if I was on the phone, something wasn’t OK.  I didn’t send him/her to med school, and it wasn’t my fault he/she was on call!

But I miss those nights (and days).  They were my life.  Once a nurse, always a nurse.