Sunday, June 16, 2019

Head Nurse, Crazy Annie, Implements the Finder's Rule

Long time bedside nurses are just plain different, a breed of their own forged in a cauldron of unspeakable pain, suffering and just plain old garden variety misery. A mystical force motivates these caregivers to give all of themselves in the care of others. Mention self care to one of these hard core nurses and you are apt to get a snoot full of Camel cigarette smoke propelled by the robust laughter. If you were taking care of yourself, you were neglecting patients.

Crazy Annie was one of the most memorable old  nurses I had the experience to work with. Her facial expression reminded me of the Whistler's Mother painting; an aloof stare just waiting for an opportunity to unleash a verbal bomb.  She was a big lady with the arms of a power lifter from transferring patients. One of her innate beliefs was the notion that Hoyer lifts were impersonal and dehumanize the patient. I suggested that back breaking lifts were inhumane for nurses and received  an ear beating that I remember  all too well. Annie did not tolerate fools.

With retirement looming Annie became  even more vociferous with her various edicts about patient care. She believed that nurses should be on their feet the entire shift. "You can't take care of a patient if you are warming a chair," was her admonishment to anyone sitting around the nurse's station. She hollered at me for "holding up the building" when I was so exhausted that I was leaning against the wall in the dirty utility room after an especially grueling session with a balky hopper.

An assistant director of nursing outfitted in her finest attire made the mistake of rounding on Crazy Annie's floor. She was an unwelcome outlier to Annie. Bedside nurses were a tight knit group where people were unimpressed by degrees or rank, but how dedicated they were to caring for the sick. Annie  had a not so latent dislike for nursing administrators and derisively referred to them as "office sitters." I think that's where I picked up the use of the pejorative reference to those nurses who choose to avoid patient care. It might be insubordinate to think so negatively  about those in charge, but it would not be a mistake.

I hope the nurse administrator had room for gloves in her Vuitton Purse.

A fancy dressed, nurse busy body, from administration came strutting up to Crazy Annie with an urgent message. "The patient in room 606 bed 2  is covered in feces."  I smelled trouble in the air as Annie's eyebrows began their little dance as her mind percolated. Annie then started tapping her toe and had that look about her that always made me nervous. She squared herself to the offending nurse office sitter and sternly announced, "I'm instituting the finder's rule on this unit. Whoever finds the mess cleans the mess. Now get to it."

The Gucci nurse was paralyzed as Annie volunteered me as a helper by exclaiming, "Nurse Fool will help you turn the patient to make it easier for you. You look like the type that wears gloves for the unsavory tasks. The Central Supply Cart is in the clean utility room."

I hustled on down to room 606 with the Gucci nurse in tow. Upon arrival, the unsavory nature of the scene began to unfold. It was one of those my cup runeth over type of code brown's to use the whippersnappern  vernacular. A gurgling, gooey, smelly  mess of the highest order. The befuddled office sitter pressed her hands to her cheeks in deep thought. Just as I thought she was about to pitch in and help, she backpedaled like a circus unicyclist into the nearby stairwell.

As I went about the task of making the patient clean and comfortable, I could hear Crazy Annie proudly proclaiming, "I bet we don't see hide nor hair of her for a good long time!" A temporary victory in the land where all wellness is fleeting and office sitters have the final word.


  1. One of your classics OFRN!

  2. I did leave a comment after passing all the tests to prove I'm not a robot - count the pictures with cars/fire hydrants/buses etc - and it said it was published but it wasn't. Just to let you know OFRN I wonder how many people leave a comment but it doesn't actually reach you!

    Anyway my comments was simply "Love the story!" Great post. Thanks OFRN, Sue.

    1. Thanks for being such a loyal reader, Sue. Comments make my day and I've never subjected them to restrictions like checking the comment moderation box on blogger. I don't know why it's getting more difficult to get past all those tests for robots and such when posting. Robots would be welcome here too, the more the merrier. Commenters have been very kind and of astonishing civility despite my expected contempt young whippersnapperns must feel for my antiquated notions of the old nursing universe we so happily inhabited decades ago. Oh...well... and I'm not getting any younger and fear I'm slipping into that great cognitive abyss.

    2. You're not alone OFRN the other day in a conversation I completely blanked on the words "glandular fever" and "Epstein-Barr" for hours! (Admittedly I'd had a lot happening and very little sleep but still...) At least it makes me realise I'd be no use as an emergency room nurse anymore as I'd be calling out "bring me the - you know, the THINGUMY" when I couldn't think of the word! Oh dear. There's a famous Australian book about an elderly woman developing dementia (Coda by Thea Astley if there are any Australians reading this) and the opening words of the book are her saying "I'm losing my nouns!" Terrifyingly true.

      The trouble with those "prove you're not a robot" tests is that the pictures are so tiny it can be hard to even see if there's a bus/fire hydrant/car in the photo!

      Anyway great post about the Gucci nurse! Sue. (Now I'll just go and do the Robot test again to post this...)

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  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for indulging in my foolishness, Jono.

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  6. Your vocabulary is astonishing!! I love it. Thank you!

  7. Annie was quite a character with a strange sense of humor but a good sense when it came to giving patients the care they deserve. Sometimes late at night I can hear her outrageous laughter. She was one in a million.