The Nurse as Handmaid-Tart

Read why this stereotype is so wrong and dangerous for the patient…

TV, novels, films  and much of the internet portray the nurse as secondary.  As emptier of bedpans and bringer of water.  Period.  As someone killing time until she marries a doctor (G_d forbid!).

The great majority of doctors see nurses as annoyance, as threat, as hated mother and as handmaiden.  Someone once said: “Doctors treat all nurses like old dry dog shit and they treat outspoken nurses like warm, steamy dog shit.”  She was right.

In former times, the nurse was the core of a team.  Because there was no machinery, the doctor was forced to rely on assessment and information from those closest to the patient, the nurses.  They functioned as a problem solving team and physicians were not control-avoidant, they listened and together made plans, set goals and moved on to the next step.  This system worked extremely well and it was heady.

Joys of the job.

The nurse has a goal, driven by fear of failure and the absolute fun of achieving this goal AND THE PATIENT BENEFITS.  The goal is to return every body system and function to normal.  To do this, she must know exactly what is happening physiologically with the patient, assesses every change and define and watch for the next problem.  She watches pressures, body chemistry, neuro changes, heart and lung symptoms and any improvement or degeneration of status.  In addition, she gives medical treatments, medications, personal physical care, and emotional support and kindness to the patient.

She knows the status of her patient, minute to minute but she has a problem.  She can’t tell the patient’s doctor.  She can’t even tell him in private.  The best she can do is drop hints and clues… I use she for nurse and he for doctor because this defines the underlying dynamic of the exchange.  It is the same, however, with nurses and female doctors which means the dynamic is  actually about power, not gender. AND THE PATIENT SUFFERS.

And then there is the sub-text woo woo, (behind the scene and mostly invisible to the patient).  Bully managers that don’t ‘get it’, control avoidant doctors who don’t listen and administrations that have no idea what is going on in their hospital and have only one goal, money, and who make sweeping changes of doubling the nurse’s patient load to save money, (This destroys her ability to do the job correctly, a very, very expensive error.)

As for the tart!  That’s the last thing on our minds and we are generally not delicious, young, compliant and adoring subjects.  We are tired, overworked, sick of hospital politics and pissed-off.

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Causes of Hoarding and How to Prevent It

Hoarding is not a psychological disease. Our reptilian brain and childhood experiences drive us to hoard. All species hoard.

Our reptilian brains are about survival and continuation of the species. These two functions are beyond control and override everything else we do.  Scarcity and it’s companion fear, drive us. This is true for every living thing.

We are not all the same.  We are molded by our experiences and adapted by our drives.

From childhood, females build the nest and males build the support system.  Little girls play with dolls and boys with building.  Watch them playing… a boy may drive a plastic truck through the dirt, silently for hours and adults tend to see it as mindless pastime.  It’s not and if you watch long enough you will see the purpose.  Girls nurture and boys support.  The reptilian brain at work, busy, focused and with intense purpose.  Serious stuff.

Part of that drive includes amassing a collection of ‘things’.  Everyone does it.  Sports hero memorabelia for boys, pretty things for girls and most of the time it remains orderly and within control.

Hoarding is when it becomes out of control and the hoarder is not crazy, bad or low class.  The hoarder is trying to fix something damaged in childhood.

When a parent throws away or gives away a child’s toys, or more importantly the little things the child brings home, a stick or rock or flower…  when they pack up the child’s clothes and some favorite thing is lost forever.

Make a shelf for the child’s very favorite things.  Assure him that his shelf is off-limits to everyone but him.  When he outgrows his clothes, ask him if there is a favorite he would like to save.  Cleaning out the toys?  Ask him if there is anything he’s not finished playing with yet.  This implies that he will be finished with it eventually, a normal occurrence.

Children will look for things they loved and that have vanished and it continues into old age.  A terrible thing to do to someone.  They will have a lifetime of feeling unstable, vulnerable and certainly unsafe.  Remember that someone else’s things are important to them for reasons we will never know and the repercussions never end.

Adults need to remember also that leaving behind a room of childhood /teenage treasures when they leave home is absolutely not fair and reflects another problem.  They never wanted to leave mom and dad’s house and need an excuse to come back .  There is a bumper sticker that says ‘They haven’t left home until their stuff is out of the basement.’

So, the hoarder is keeping everything close to home, safely protected around him.  It may be a pile of newspapers but something happened to cause that.  Maybe someone interrupted a statement he made to arrogantly say:  “What is your source of information?”

Be kind to the hoarder.  Anything else is just another case of blaming the victim.

Why Women Shop, Why Men Fight and More About Hoarding

 Why Women Shop:

Girls begin to prepare the nest at about age 5.  It probably has a relationship

to estrogen production.  For generations a girl was given a ‘Hope Chest’, usually a large cedar lined rectangular box that was put at the foot of her bed.  This happened at puberty, around age 12 and was long awaited and expected, a rite of passage if you will.  Into this box, she was to put linens and things she had made for her future home.  It recognized the reptilian brain drive for reproduction and the required nesting.  All species do it!

As a child, she saved and protected and thought about things she liked.  When teenage years gave her freedom to move about, she began to shop.  The initial shopping was mostly for things to beautify herself in order to attract a mate, originally the primary requirement of the nest.  Later she shops for the nest.

70 pairs of shoes and gold faucets is a perversion.

Why Men Fight:

Young boys can play intently with toy trucks and heavy loaders for hours on end, day after day and never tire of it.  Or throw basketballs through hoops endlessly and never tire of it.  It’s all like a mantra, the precursor to adult jobs that will give him money to support family, his part in the reptilian brain’s nesting drive.

And men fight.  From our days in the cave, the male, stronger and testosterone driven was free to patrol and defend the nest.

Stabbing a passerby on the street and destroying villages with bombs is a perversion.

More About Hoarding:

Where the statistical numbers of 3-5%  are hoarders.  People who, by instinct and conditioning would hoard but fight it every day, are most likely well over 50% of us!

There are many events that initiate hoarding, all of them bullying, unkind behavior.

During childhood, someone threw away the child’s things… sometimes with the child watching and sometimes the child just found it missing.

The child quickly recognizes the threat and begins to keep his possessions close, thereby acting in accordance with his reptilian brain’s demand that he protect himself.  He is doing what he must.

And it can initiate as an adult.  If a husband says to his wife after she’s made a declarative statement in a social setting;  “What is your source of information?”, it will forever launch her into hoarding books, papers, documenting bits of proof and now computer links.

Hoarding is not the psychological disease.  Not hoarding is!

Hoarding is the natural reaction, part of the ‘taking good care of myself’ paradigm.  Those who do not hoard have been enculturated out of it.  If, therefore, hoarding is the norm, throwing things away is the deviance.  The trick is to, like everything else in life, use moderation.

When hoarders and would-be hoarders begin to throw things away, a scenario begins.  There is a very rapid assessment known to the victim, of how will I be harmed by this, and a flight-or-fight panic begins.  When done in old age, it’s preparing for death.

Jules Feiffer, the cartoonist, identified things as ‘little murders’.  This is a little murder.

Get Rid of Crows, Squirrels and Maybe Deer.

There are few solutions to discouraging crows and critters from city gardens but frightening them is easy, non-toxic and always  works.  They are all afraid of fire.

Crows will usually spend only one day in a tree and then move to another unless they are nesting and have eggs.  They travel and nest in flocks, often huge.  They become territorial and bold, attacking  cats, dogs and sometimes people.

Twisted Mylar ribbon, when hung from a high point and allowed to hang freely, will move as flames in a fire, warding off crows and squirrels but not the little songbirds.  Crows immediately silence and within minutes they leave your trees. They will move into trees nearby and out of sight of your ribbons so when making  Mylar twists, make extra and pass them out to your neighbors.

Only the twisted loops of red and silver, in the sun and moving, completely mimic flames and are the best.  Untwisted streamers need a strong wind to move them about and do not look like fire.  Twisting  the tape provides loops at the bottom that catch wind like a sail making them move with only a slight breeze.

The plain silver are holographic and when caught in the sun, reflect with thousands of prisms and changing colors.  While this does not mimic flame, holographic images confuse animals and apparently crows also.

Hanging these in larger clumps may also ward off deer and hopefully local  raccoons.

To look like fire, the Mylar must be twisted.  Cut a piece as long as your arms will reach or less.  Twist it about 5 times (3 for shorter lengths) and join the 2 ends.  Now twist again several times and again join the ends. Staple the ends together and tie  a string tightly around the stapled end to hang.  

If the crows return it will be brief and only because there is not enough wind to move the Mylar. They leave when the hanging begins to move again.

The red and silver Mylar ribbon, called “Bird B Gone Flash Tape” is available at Home Depot and Amazon,

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaking a baby that won’t stop crying may be an instinct of frustration. Even the saints among us have been to that point and somehow stopped themselves.

PACIFE Music to Calm stops the crying minutes after the screamer takes a breath and is quiet enough to hear it.  The mathematical character of this music along with the primal tunes Bernstein talks about quickly engage them.

Newborn drug babies, after the third day, begin a terrible and violent drug withdrawal.  The muscles in their legs undulate and cramp (we can see it and feel it), they purple cry nonstop, they shake, they have explosive diarrhea that eats their bottoms raw and they are beyond comfort.  This is the comment of one NICU nurse about a baby in drug withdrawal…

“I found a tape player and began to play the PACIFE music for him… I’d no sooner put it into the tape player than he stopped crying. It’s instantaneous. He’s looking around with a relaxed, peaceful face.”

– S. S., NICU Registered Nurse

 

Systemic Yeast

Need to cut systemic yeast down?  Everyone does.

Acidophilus is part of the huge population of good bacteria that the body needs to keep itself regulated, healthy and happy. Acidophilus is normal flora for women, and in GI tracts from mouth to bowel in everyone,  It’s job is to control growth of the Candida fungus in the GI tract.

Candida overgrowth comes from too much sugar, alcohol, stress and from antibiotics which kill all bacteria, even the good kind. Candida is responsible for thrush in babies, diarrhea, feelings of sluggishness and  lethargy and when overgrowth is large, a distinctive odor.

For milk drinkers, the very delicious Acidophilus milk is an amazing answer.  It’s sold in major grocery chains and health food stores, in half-gallon cartons or bottles, usually along with other types of non-standard milk on the bottom shelf. Acidophilus is also sold in capsules or powder form to mix with milk.

It’s in yogurt also but one needs to eat a lot of yogurt (and therefore too much sugar,  the small container of Yoplait has 5 teaspoons of sugar in it!)  to match the amounts in Acidophilus milk.

There is another way to get rid of yeast.  A story:

  • I hung my stethoscope over the trapeze railing on a patient’s bed in Trauma ICU and forgot about it.  Returning to work after four days, the patient, who had a trach, was in the midst of a code and I grabbed the stethoscope (ignoring the little voice in my head that said:  “Clean the earpieces.”)  and joined the code team.  Stupid! Every time that patient was suctioned day and night, probably every 20 minutes, he coughed, spreading who knows what all over the earpieces.  That was 43 years ago and the yeast and the itch is better but not gone.  The thing that almost fixed it was a completely non-yeast diet of no bread, no sugar, no fats, no red meat, no fruit or juice… for 2 years!

No More Sunday

As culture and religion change, many of us no longer have a ritualistic, dedicated day off.  One day blends into the next with shoulds and maintenance errands.  Jobs spill over into the weekend days, everything blurs, there is so much to do that any time for ourselves is stolen time and guilty time. Frequently that becomes ‘vege-out’ time in front of the TV.

Now, the tricky part is to pick a day that is Sunday.  Maybe a little meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga.  Do something different.  Ritualize it, same day each week, anticipate it and plan little treats for yourself on that day.  It takes 21 days to make a new habit so in this case it’s 21 weeks and therefore the success of it becoming integrated into lifestyle will depend on a very strong intention.

TV off.  Don’t open mail with windows on Friday.  There is nothing you can do about it until Monday but worry.

If you’re single and alone, treat this day as having a love affair with yourself. Do whatever you love doing and whatever will leave good memories.  Paint, curl up with a good book,  garden, grab a camera and hike, visit a new place, plan a mini adventure, garage sale or flea market shop.  Call a friend and go out for a great brunch, coffee and good conversation.  (Ground rules… only positive talk.)

Put the iPod on and let glorious music wash over you or listen to a non-violent audiobook. If cleaning house pleases you, throw open windows and doors, turn all the lights on, music loud and clean and sing and dance.  It’s your nest and your day.

If you love to cook, plan the week’s meals, shop for it and spend the day cooking, tasting, inventing…  music and lights on, doors open.  Expansive, lavish, joyous time spent.  Happy time.

Take the kids to the park and just watch them play.  No fussing over them, no deadlines, just enjoy it.

Construct for yourself a guilt-free day of rest, a day of pleasant memories.  Something to look forward to and back on.  The body and the mind need this reduction of stress and renewal of spirit, that’s why Sunday was invented.