Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Back to School: Bear Poop


I thought I had enough time to recover this summer what with the swimming and the tomatoes and the stack of fiction and all, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm doing Community Health this quarter and it should be meshing with me: it suits my background, we have a lot of independence, I love working with elderly folks, seeing people in their "natural environments" is always a thrill (um, more on that in a second), and one of my friends keeps saying, "Hey, we don't have to go to the hospital to pick patients EVER again!" I'm not sold on it. I have to make phone calls on my own time for one thing. Have you ever called me at home? It's almost impossible to find a quiet moment. It's a small house. I have two kids. They don't always get along/ someone is constantly getting injured.

And, the other thing. My patients aren't patients anymore. They're clients. It's almost like there's some sort of business transaction occurring. And then there's the whole question of: What am I doing here anyways? Yes, fine. I can do a lot to help folks with their health in their own home and, Yes, health is not just physical health, but do I really need to organize transport for people or play what's-that-smell? (No, not kidding. One of my client's caseworkers asked me to try to figure out what was stinking in the house. She thought mold. I say rotting dog. Please. Do you want details? OK. Hang on...) And, yep, I'm on my own out there. Cool! Not really. I find that I'm at a client's home and normally I love the stories about how someone's mom greased their chest with goose fat and covered it with warm flannel to treat rheumatic fever (the question I had asked, by the way, was: What are the health issues that are impacting you the most right now?), but I find myself thinking: Dang, I've been here for an hour and a half and I need to make some phone calls before I have to pick up the kids.

And that's the other thing. Time suck. I could spend hours and hours and hours researching goose fat and transit sources for the elderly. How can I get this guy out of the rotting-dog-stink house? Could it be the meds that are causing the intractable diarrhea? I could go on and on here. I have four clients for ten weeks (um, well, I have three. It'll take more phone calls to scare up a fourth). They're like my project. And I'm already tired. It should be fun! I can make a difference!
I'm tired! Can't I just go pick a patient and write up a care plan and have hours that end and go home now? Is something wrong with me?

OK. The good part. One of my clients has problems with incontinence. She's in her nineties. She said, "I can't skip anymore. Skip while you can." She also said that they didn't have elastic during WW II. I almost wrote on the back of my hand: Skip More. Appreciate Elastic. My client today is the most fantastic and interesting person. She had this great diorama/clock/light. It's plastic. There's a clock at the back (of course there's a crack in it, the plastic is faded and the clock doesn't work). It's the last supper. There is a little LED light in each corner. I don't even know what to say about it. I'm totally going to become attached to this gal. Oh, the other bad thing: emotional drain. Ten weeks and then goodbye/luck. That's going to hard in some cases. I just know it.

I can't go on here. I'm sure you were waiting around to hear about the rotting dog house and I want to tell you that I'm not going to help roll up and get rid of those rugs even though they are a tripping hazard and Rotting Dog Client is functionally blind. I'm not. No.

The picture is bear poop from my swimming hole trip.

15 comments:

Jaclyn M. said...

I'm not digging community health much either. =( 9 more weeks!!

Kristin said...

YES!! Well said.

I'm counting the weeks...

Kitt said...

Well, poop.

I wonder, do you know people who enjoy doing the job? I hope so.

Skip more, indeed.

Nurse Nubie said...

Do you have a preceptor or a lead? Ask her/him what they do like about that kind of nursing. Sometimes I feel like I'm being rude when patients go on about things, but I guess you just have to learn each patients "pause button" phrase. "hey what's that on your hand or boy I was so interested time really got away - we have to really get moving now." Or maybe someone else has some good 'back-to-the-point' phrases. Sounds like you are narrowing down the field you want to work in.

Nurse Nubie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nurse Nubie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nurse Nubie said...

Good luck. I hope you do well on this rotation.

Molly said...

I'm going to start looking at the things I do like more in this rotation.

Sure, Kitt and Nubie. My instructors give the sense of public health nursing as being for the hardy and adventurous. You need to improvise with the tools on hand, health is made in the home, etc. One of my instructors did home health in Alaska, the last frontier (or is that Wyoming?). Maybe I'm just too old to get into it.

Maybe it's just too big for me right now because you really can see most of the factors that go into a person's health. I opened my diabetic patient's fridge and there are half-full jelly jars and liters of soda.

And I *am* curious about these things. And it does seem like the place to start: out there in the community BEFORE the crisis occurs.

Maybe I'm just tired. Really. Or antsy. I feel like I'm jumping out of my skin and ready to get started. Maybe the other issue is that I'm not in charge anymore. I'm on the patient's turf and I'm not setting the rules. I feel...powerless. That was hard to admit.

And N. Nubie, good point. I'm sure as I get to know my "clients" I'll be better able to get them back on track.

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