Things I Learned in Nursing School: Senior Edition

Nurse w lampThis is it folks, I have survived. Here are a few choice tidbits from the last semester

Wisdom from a Professor: “They don’t put trauma centers in nice neighborhoods.”

Political Power: One in every 10 women voters is a registered nurse (Source: Maurer, F., Smith, C.  (2013). Community/Public Health Nursing Practice, 5th Edition)

On Cars: When you drive a big yellow car, it’s totally reasonable to refer to it as Big Bird. Oh yeah, and one more thing I don’t like about GM vehicles: apparently some of them have their own phone numbers. Because we totally need cars to be phones in addition to connecting to our cell phones. Riiiiight.

On the PICU: PICU stands for Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The kids there are very sick. This is not as sad a place as you might think. Or maybe I just have a ridiculously good attitude.

On Pediatrics: Much like Maternity, moms have a little advantage in this class.

Wisdom from another Professor, on How To Keep Your RN License: “Do your drinking at home, don’t take other people’s narcs [narcotics], and keep up with your CEUs [Continuing Education Units].”

On Yoga: Some classmates talked me into doing a brief yoga demonstration for a class project. People who don’t do yoga are impressed with what I can do. Imagine if they watched some of the other people in my yoga class….

On Chronic Illness: This semester, I had the opportunity to work with home health nurses. That is, nurses that actually keep people out of the hospital by visiting their homes. Now, think about your last doctor’s visit. You probably had to call some weeks in advance. Things ran late. You had paperwork, that was annoying because it was literally the same questions you answered last time you were there. Now, imagine that you or someone you love has a serious, debilitating chronic illness. Every day you have to deal with a system that requires multiple phone calls and properly filled out forms to get the simplest thing done. This system, which is supposed to “save money” by making sure services aren’t unnecessary or duplicated, costs time.

On Home Health Nursing: Florence Nightingale herself knew that nurses who go into the field need more training than their hospital-based colleagues. They don’t have a giant supply closet down the hall. They don’t have a charge nurse or any kind of help just a shout down the hall. They can’t count on a doctor coming by a little later. They have to look out for their own safety. Cars and cell phones have made the home health nurse’s life easier — you can have a trunk full of stuff and you can call for advice — but it’s still a hard job.

Save a Life or Two


One donation of whole blood gets processed into both packed red blood cells (RBCs) and plasma, often also other important blood products as well. An hour of your time may mean a lifetime to somebody else.

In Closing: sex sells, but more slowly; construction revolution; the freaking TPP has been signed but not ratified (still time to call your Congressmice); Sesame Ventures?; Bleeping New Yorkers freaking out over the bleeping crane falling into the bleeping street; Hillary wants to help; Kitty!

Exercise is a Good Habit too

Did you know that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight? You probably did. Did you also know it can prevent bone loss as you get older? Maybe you just don’t know how to get started without spending a lot of money on one of those exercise programs advertised on late night television.

Well, thank heaven that Google turns up a lot of good places you can start without necessarily buying a gym membership or some expensive videos. Just remember: whatever you do, keep doing something. Remember that this is a habit that’s going to take some time to do right (and even longer if you do it wrong). But all the research says it’s worth it.

Edit: Yet another study says exercise is good for you. Of course, If you started printing out these studies, you might go broke just buying paper.

In Closing: Ted is right; Schneier on doxing; sounds good to me; Mrs. Quimby would probably be in big trouble; the answer is blowing in the wind (and the sun too).

A Weighty Subject

Ok, I know it’s February. Those of you that are sticking to your plans to do something towards making yourself healthier this year, good on you.

Somebody accidentally put The Truth in a research article:

The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar.

Here’s the abstract; here’s related commentary. Among the findings are that 71% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from added sugars and about 10% of American adults get 25% of their calories from added sugars — not naturally occurring sugars like you’d find in a wide variety of foods, but added sugar that is only there because somebody put it there. All this sugar “has been linked to the development of high blood pressure, increased triglycerides (blood fats), low HDL (good) cholesterol, fatty liver problems, as well as making insulin less effective in lowering blood sugar.” Further, in the words of one of the authors, “Added sugars do one of two things — they either displace nutritious foods in the diet or add empty calories.”

Now what is that thing I’ve said before? Oh yes: “every weight loss diet that works demands that you sharply limit — if not completely eliminate — added sugars from your diet.”

Gee, do you suppose this could at least partly explain the obesity epidemic?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only weighty research that’s come out this week. It turns out that many parents don’t see overweight children for what they are! In fact, some of them think their normal weight boys are too skinny! This is actually a “review article“, which means they looked at the results of a whole bunch of other research studies (69 of them, in this case). It doesn’t take yet one more study to show that if Mom and Dad don’t see Junior’s weight as a problem, they aren’t going to do anything about it.

Cut the sugar: don’t even buy candy, cookies, cake, or sugary sodas. Take a realistic look at your kids, and then yourself. Maybe it’s time for more veggies and less of everything else.

In Closing: Affordable Care Act; Plague; your dose of NSA, privacy, spying, Snowden, and related links; Stray Dog Strut; $0.77; I think they like the status quo of cheap exploitable workers who will never be able to vote against them; poverty; and preventing unwanted pregnancy prevents abortions. Who knew!

An apology and explanation, of sorts

A few weeks ago, I needed to buy cat food and cat litter. I was in a little bit of a hurry that particular day, so when I found there were no carts inside the pet supply store, I did not return to the parking lot to search for one. I casually picked up a 30 pound bag of cat litter, placed a 5 pound bag of cat food on top, and briskly walked to the check-out stand.

Now, if you like humor, think about this mental image: a 4’11” redhead in full airport-walking mode carrying two heavy, bulky objects.

I didn’t think a thing of it until the cashier asked if I would like help out to my car.

So this is my apology. I’m sorry that I forget not everybody can do that. I forget that not everybody can hike themselves around 6 miles of hilly sidewalks and still be ready to do it again the next day. Unless I have house-guests to remind me, I forget that many people consider my almost-daily workouts to be “extreme” if not “crazy.” I forget that most of my classmates take the elevators up to third floor classrooms — or avoid classes in those rooms altogether! — instead of taking the stairs.

But here’s why I say it’s only an apology of sorts. I firmly believe that most people can get in pretty good shape too. In fact, almost everybody can engage in some new behavior that will at least let them be healthier next year, as long as you are actually conscious. I was not born with somehow superior genetics, I was not thin and athletic as a child. I can do many things today that I could not when I was younger because I worked at it. This is where you might say “oh sure, she must spend 3 hours a day at the gym!” Not true. Sure, I do some workout most days a week, but it does average out to less than an hour a day and most of it is in the comfort of my own home.

New Years is a time when a lot of people make empty promises to themselves to engage in new, healthier habits. I know that the overwhelming majority of these promises are empty and soon to be broken, because if it were really important, you wouldn’t wait until some magic date on the calendar. However, you’ve got a much better shot at a modest goal or three than a huge change of lifestyle so keep that in mind if you want to make changes for the better.

That said, I will still share some items that I hope will help you be healthier at the end of 2014 than you are today:

  • “If you’re a woman who thinks it’s okay to tell a skinny woman that she needs to eat a sandwich, I hope you don’t mind when that skinny woman tells you that you’re a fat ass.  Because that’s exactly the sort of shaming you’re giving her.” Don’t feel so “good” about yourself that you have to put others down.
  • If you’re going to get busy in the gym, don’t forget flexibility training. Even football players benefit from yoga. That’s right, I linked to the sports section and the world didn’t end.
  • You do have the time to cook good food, if you plan ahead.
  • Two from Tom Venuto: on attitude and predictions.
  • I still stand behind these two posts on diet and exercise.

Good luck next year. We could all use it.

In Closing: I didn’t know legless land fish existed; more researchers under the delusion that people can shop around for a hospital; another crappy ruling from another judge who doesn’t understand security vs liberty; that oughta work!; you don’t suppose income inequality and NAFTA could be related, do you?; new crypto; and a few pictures.

R.I.S.D: Rest In Shorties Department

I Would Watch That!: I have been given permission to share my son’s brilliant idea for a new TV show: he calls it “Law and Order and Batman.”

Dumbasses: There are plenty of vegan parents out there who manage not to starve their babies to death.

Leia: 20 facts, 20 pictures, one princess.

Startling: The amount of data that cell phone companies might have.

Pope Francis: I could like this Pope.

Coincidence, I’m Sure: The Feds cut off Vegas’s counter-terrorism funds (whatever) the same day a “suspicious package” forced evacuation of Nellis AFB’s hospital and the day after a suspected pipe bomb was left by the side of the freeway.

Sheila Bair Sounds the Alarm: the banks are getting ready to screw the economy again.

On Expanding War: “[Our leaders] should not casually initiate conflict with only limited understanding of complex situations. It’s past time for greater caution in commitments of U.S. military forces, particularly in the Middle East.”

Here Comes the Sun: Sunshine turns out to be good for humans.

Let’s Get Physical: So is exercise.

Imagine: Today and here are the important things.

What?: A man and his bike and his cat.

What Would Bryan Boitano Do?: Bacon restaurant and bacon cocktails (check the slide show).

Extremism and Understanding: Turns out they don’t go together well.

Yuck: Margarine.

About Time: Costa Concordia captain finally facing a trial. Hey, let’s not rush into anything, it’s only been a year and a half.

Dave is Right: Let’s fix the real problems.

German Efficiency: Not always a good thing.

Valjean’s Confession: Right, because preventing desperate people from feeding their families will totally solve the problem of crime. I’ve said this about Megan’s Laws and I’ll say it about this: if we have decided that some people will always be criminals, they should be put in prison for the rest of their lives, but then we need to have a serious discussion about what that means.

Hospitals Should Not be Allowed to Advertise

Recently, I received two ads for two different hospitals, and of course their emergency departments.

The first hospital’s ad arrived in the mail. It included a map, labeled “You’re only 6 miles from EXPERT ER CARE,” and the actual route I would need marked with a nice bold, blue line. Oh thank goodness, otherwise I might have had no idea how to get to that big hospital building clearly visible just off the freeway.

The second hospital left a card hanging on the door hyping how close they were. It included a refrigerator magnet with “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY,”  the address (including which freeway exit to take), a phone number, and even a web address. Because when you are having a medical emergency, you really want to check their website before going to the hospital. Right?

Now here’s the problem: to get to either hospital, I have to drive by a third hospital that is probably within walking distance of my home. Well, maybe not walking distance if I am having a medical emergency. Heck, the kids who hung the magnet on my door probably drove past the third hospital as well. Why on earth would I go to a hospital that is further away if I actually need the services of an emergency department? In a medical emergency, I need help now, not 6 miles from now.

The point is that both hospitals completely wasted money printing and delivering advertising to me. That money didn’t help a single patient. That money didn’t pay for a single doctor, nurse, medical assistant, or even janitor. That money didn’t buy any medical equipment or medications. That money didn’t keep the lights on in an operating room. That money didn’t even line the pockets of a hospital executive… unless his wife owns a printing company.

Cutting worthless ads won’t solve the issue of health care costs, but it’s a painless first step.

In Closing: Coming together online; frugality; and here’s some bonus health and health insurance links.

Things I learned


Last night, I completed my first semester of for credit college classes in a couple decades. Over the next few days, I will be sharing a few of the things that I have learned. Let’s start with generalities:

  • This is the sort of college where “admissions requirements” are pretty much “has a valid credit card.” As a result, there is a great variety of students: the fresh out of high school; the “holy crap my parents were right years ago when they told me I needed more education” crowd; more than a few recently discharged Veterans of varying ages; people embarking on an Xth career; etc.. In some ways, the place is remarkably like a less-funny episode of Community.
  • Some have the drive to succeed, and some just don’t. Some have the desire, but not the skill set. Some have the desire, but life gets in the way.
  • An alarming number of my classmates have woefully inadequate reading skills. That is despite the fact that free reading (and math) placement exams are available, and there are plenty of opportunities to improve one’s skills. Without the ability to quickly read and understand things like textbooks, assignments, and tests, a student is doomed.
  • Not surprisingly, the parking lot was much emptier the last week of class than the first week.
  • The irregular attendance of some of my classmates baffles me. They all paid good money for this class; you would think they would at least try to maximize their chance of passing!
  • Not all counseling departments are created equal. Some are there to get you the help you need — this is partly a matter of self-preservation, since that makes the student more likely to continue to pay tuition. Others are there to point out hoops that need to be jumped, come back when you’re done.

Next, we talk about my classes.

In Closing: book; or, we could admit that something that needs wheels is by definition not a carry on; or, we could enforce existing law; yeah I remember those days; blood pressure; what?; is this going to be what reins in drones?; 97% of scientists agree; and truth… Truthdogg.