On Tuesday afternoon I received the following text message:
Company is in the house. I’m setting up the beer and nacho bar in
my best Bobby Spencer outfit. We’re gonna have a great day! See you tomorrow
Company. Yay. If you take some time and look at the pictures of satisfied customers as they flash on The Joint Comission’s website the smiles are forced and probably fueled by handful of xanax and a mouthful of scotch. Because that’s how The Joint Commission makes me feel and Tuesday afternoon I started to feel the Ebola virus coming on. I swear my eyeballs looked bloody. But I sucked it up and went to work, praying all the way no one would bother to ask me questions.
“Trixie” is one of my co-workers and isn’t it convenient that she already has a nickname and I don’t have to assign her one for the ‘net. She came up with this name for her alter ego who is a little bit slutty a little bit ghetto and a whole lot Filters Off 24/7. I love Trixie. She’s the perfect example of what the balance of taking your job seriously without losing the ability to laugh looks like. She also refers to Bobby Spencer in her text because I have nicknamed one of our co-workers this because she is apparently very adept in high heels. Bobby ran a crash cart down the hall after a staff meeting the other day while wearing 4.5 inch heels. It was a thing of beauty and the poor woman will never live it down. Fortunately, the victim survived and her ankles survived.
“Fern” was on the desk Tuesday, I’m glad it wasn’t me because I am not the real charge nurse. “Fern” (not her real name, duh) is the second non d’plume for the “Real Charge Nurse”. She was first known to me as “Amazon Barbie” when I was “Martha” (for Martha Stewart who I adore! I renamed myself because Martha no longer fits) But it seems about a year or so ago, an elderly man with just a dab of dementia marched up to the desk barked out the following comment: “What is your job anyway? All I ever see you do is sit next to this computer like a houseplant.” I swear to God, she said he said this to her. And Fern may be a houseplant sitting next a computer all day but she doesn’t lie, especially about funny things said by demented people. And who knew that houseplants could multitask the way our Fern does! My houseplant doesn’t multitask.
I love Fern, she’s one of my favorite people which is sort of narcissistic because we share a brain. Seriously, we share a brain and because we share a brain, we share offspring, too. Only she’s
saddled blessed with three of the monsters darlings. She too has boys who have only just learned the miracle of running water and enunciating clearly when speaking so everyone can understand and not just fellow teenaged boys. She also has a young adult who has lost all motor ability to clean up after herself! Amazing the parallels! Our medical director thought we were being “cute” when we told him we shared a brain. But about five minutes into unit rounds the first day I was training for my old job-that-is-now-my-new-job, he got this funny look on his face and realized we weren’t kidding or being “cute”. I think he’s just a little afraid of us, too. That we are both about a foot taller than he is doesn’t help the poor dear‘s situation. But its not a bad thing to keep the little man guessing. It’s also pretty awesome to share a brain with Fern. I’m not sure she feels the same about me because she’s about five thousand times smarter than I am. But we do educate one another about nursey things. In fact, I explained to her the indications, side effects and dosages of Abilify right after it came on the market. Only I did it completely in Ebonics while doing my best impression of The Ladies Man. Oh come on people! Get your politically correct panties out of a wad! It was funny! Politically incorrect on so many different levels--making fun of psychotics and Ebonics, yeah I freely own that--but really? What a stupid name for an antipsychotic! It’s just begging to be made fun of: “This medicine will abilify me to differentiate between what is real and that which is not.” Was one of the lines in the riffs. In fact, our riff was so funny that we took it home to our families and now whenever Fern or June sees an Abilify commercial we riff on it.
The tone for a rather--at times--ribald work environment is set by all of us because we are just that kind of team. Once upon a time before The Joint Commission Of American Hospitals or God or the Chief Nursing Officer or the housekeeper (probably the housekeeper, they have all the power) took exception to our collection of “dolls” prominently displayed in the nurses station, we had a whole array of Hawaiian dolls, both boys and girls and a mermaid doll. People from all over the hospital and multiple departments knew about our dolls and would contribute to them. They would send visitors to us to cheer them up if the visitors were having a rough time of it. And it worked! Always made them laugh! We even had one that looked like our then medical director, balding pudgy guy with a ukulele and a grass skirt. It was brilliant. My favorite Rehab talisman was a stuffed monkey our case manager (like a social worker. Her nickname is “Cujo” which is pretty self explanatory. I’m afraid of her and I don’t scare that easily) had stolen from her then eleven year old daughter. The monkey would make monkey noises if you slapped it against a hard surface like the desk. It was a magnificent stress reliever. When I was doing relief charge, it lived not on the shelf next to my head but in a drawer next to me so I could take it out and hold my very long arm away from me and slap it repeatedly on the desk whenever I talked to particular people who were either acting like assclowns or stupid assclowns. One day Trixie told me I had a phone call and got the monkey out of the desk drawer for me before I even picked up the phone. Because on Rehab, if we aren’t anything else we are finely tuned machine and can anticipates one another’s needs.
It was about this time the unit down the hall from us received a really expensive make over and we started the hospital wide trend of referring to it as “Beverly Hills” or “The Bev” or “90210”. Therefore, we being the unit sadly in need of a remodel, referred to ourselves as “Compton” or the “hood”. We even had a rap song about the differences in the units complete with grunts and posing. I can’t remember how it went but the nurse manager from the other unit was not amused when she found out about our rap and The whole Beverly Hills thing. What would she have done if she saw our mock gang signs we threw at one another when we talked to her on the phone? Or announced we were going over to The Bev for supplies. Oh and they never remodeled us they just moved us to another part of the hospital so they could further gentrify the entire floor. The hospital she is like a big city. Still Compton after all these years.
So I wasn’t surprised when Trixie announced her intent to serve beer to the surveyors. I’m just relieved she remembered to put lids on the beverages so we didn’t get dinged for open drink containers. Dinged for that would make Nurse Bitchy McCranky-Pants bitchier.
If that’s even possible.