Handwashing! Handwashing! Handwashing!

October 16, 2013

My young cousin posted on Facebook a few weeks ago about her daughter, recently into the new school year, being home sick with a gastrointestinal illness.  A friend of my cuz’s pondered that, since the girl seemed to come down with the same illness around the same time every year, maybe she had an allergy of some sort.

No, no and no.

A nurse friend of mine posted the other day about her teenaged son coming home with vomiting and remarked she hoped she didn’t get it, too.  All of my nurse friends should know the answer to this one…

It’s all about proper hand hygiene, peeps!

I hate to tell some of you this, but most GI illnesses (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) are caused by germs which are largely transmitted via an oral-oral or fecal-oral route.  Yes, that really does mean someone’s poop being introduced into the mouth of the person who gets sick.  Now, maybe that is enough to get you to wash your hands!

“But our kids all have their little bottles of hand sanitizer and use them,” you protest.

Antibacterial, chemical hand sanitizers serve their purpose, when and only when there is not the availability of good old soap and water.  I’m not a big fan of hand sanitizers.  First, I fear their antibacterial properties might actually encourage antimicrobial resistance in some bugs.  Secondly, except for a fraction of the population (healthcare workers), they are usually not used in sufficient quantity or thoroughly enough for the task ‘at hand.’  ;)  A little spit and promise ain’t gonna cut it.

Nothing beats some clean, warm water and liquid or bar soap…plain old soap.,..and mechanical friction.  I know the CDC says to sing Happy Birthday twice while handwashing but I’m not sure we can keep our kids engaged for that long while not hanging over them so I propose the following… Just get your hands wet, your whole hands up to the wrists.  Get enough soap on your hands to create a lather…lather is bubbles and bubbles can be fun to play with!  Get the lather bubbles on all parts of your hands…front, back, thumbs and in between the fingers.  (Squish the bubbles between your fingers if you want.  Mom’s not here to tell you not to.)

That’s it!  Then rinse all the soap off, shake your hands and dry with towels / paper towels or, better yet, under a nice, warm hand dryer blower!  Try not to touch things on the way out and, please, keep our hands away from your face and mouth as much as possible.

If you ALWAYS wash hands like this before eating and don’t drink out of someone else’s glass, I bet you can make it through the winter vomit-free!  Wouldn’t that be great?



Where is our Heart?

May 19, 2012

Grayson James Walker, February 15, 2012


I just read this on The Huffington Post today.  Heather and Patrick Walker gave birth to a child with anencephaly on February 15.

Some of the most priceless moments I spent in obstetric nursing or in my nursing career have been spent with mothers or parents or families who had just lost a baby or babies or who were inevitably about to lose a newborn.  I endeavored always to bring to those few moments a lifetime of memories and a modicum of ease from the pain of the loss.  I tried to bring celebration and acceptance to the tragedy of those short lives.

My heart goes out to the family of Grayson Walker.  I am glad his brother and sister got to know him.  I thank his parents for trying to share their joy of his birth, life and, ultimately, death with us.  Shame on Facebook for taking that away from them!

We have lost our hearts in healthcare these days.  It is all about moving the meat and raking in the bucks.  Sometimes, as in my present job, there are bright but tiny rays of really good things being done with the upside of also bringing profit.

How can we as a nation claim to feel that every life should be celebrated (something I am not at all convinced is anybody’s business but the families involved) and yet disallow the celebration of this most preciously brief life?  Grayson should be known as well.  He should be allowed to exist as well, even if it is only for a few hours, if that is what his family wants.  And we should all be celebrating with them!

Presidential Race 2008

September 19, 2008

Here’s why we have to vote for Obama…

John McCain

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

looks too much like Steve Martin,

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

who has better eyebrows and is way funnier!

Also, Sara Palin, who plans oncontinuing to home school her children

Exhibit C

Would Set Women Back Centuries


One Observatory Circle

One Observatory Circle

if elected, is a dead ringer for Jane Curtin.

Exhibit "Duh"

Exhibit Duh

Curtin is, again, way funnier

Hmmm, a natural-looking middle-aged woman

and has better eye brows!

Don’t be a Dick!

Evil Mastermind

Evil Mastermind

Vote with your brain and your conscience this November.

Two Firearms Purchases in March 2007

April 21, 2007

If the news of the past week isn’t enough to clarify the need for gun control or more expansive regulation of firearm purchases in the United States isn’t enough, I don’t know what is.

Two people purchased handguns in two US states in the month of March 2007.  One, an obviously very disturbed young college student used his to kill thirty-two people, mostly fellow students, in Virginia the to shoot and kill himself.   The second purchaser, in Texas, used his new weapon to murder a coworker over a poor performance evaluation then take his own life.

The former has received monumental press coverage, consistent with its monumental horror…the largest mass killing in US history.  The second, well I don’t know how much national press coverage it’s received.  I heard about it on NPR and don’t pay attention to the “popular” press.   But it is of equal importance in my mind.

Both of these men, one 23 years old, the other in his 60’s, made their purchases in March of this year, less than two months before their rampages.  Both of them apparently presented the appearance of someone who is psychologically eligible to own a gun in the US.  And both of them used their purchases to take the lives of other, innocent people.

How many lives must we sacrifice before we realize that the ready access to guns, particularly hand guns, in the US is a bad idea?

I wish I could provide firm statistics for gun violence but the internet is just so full of information on the subject I simply can’t weed it out right now.  As a reference, I recommend viewing Bowling for Columbine.  I know it’s slanted toward gun control but it presents some interesting views…just the difference between life in the US and life in Canada (where gun ownership is far less widespread) is compelling.

Bottom line is that this is one nurse’s view of how guns impact us all in our country, whether we are direct victims or merely Americans who used to sleep with their doors unlocked and now can’t rest peacefully without a dead bolt.   There has got to be a better way, America.

What’s Wrong with This Picture? Uterus Transplants.

January 17, 2007

I heard on NPR yesterday that a hospital in New York has been conducting research and is close to being able to offer uterus transplants to women who want to bear children. You can listen to the story on NPR’s Day to Day by clicking here. You can read about the research here. Here‘s some more on the subject from the AP via The Spokesman Review in Washington. Need a little satire with your news? Try this, from The Spoof, in the UK. Gotta love them Brits!

Uterus transplants. That’s right. Not lungs, which are necessary to breathe. Not kidneys, which are necessary to process and excrete fluids and minerals. Not a heart, which is, of course, the ultimate transplantable necessity. No, a uterus. Harvested from a woman who was unlucky enough to be killed while of childbearing age.

In case you hadn’t heard, having or using a uterus is not necessary for life. It’s not even, truly, necessary for a fulfilling life.

C’mon, folks. We are so obsessed with having (i.e. “bearing”) our own children that we will go through major abdominal surgery (we’re not talking about a laporoscopic procedure here) and treatment with immunosuppresant drugs for the sole purpose of being able to say we bore our own child?

How much attention is being paid to the impact of those immunosuppressives on a developing fetus? More importantly, why expose a child to any kind of risk associated with that therapy if it’s really not necessary?

Reproductive science has developed some marvelous therapies…first artificial imsemination then in vitro fertilization. We can now screen for a large number of genetic disorders early enough in pregnancy to allow parents the choice to bear a child with Trisomy 18 or cystic fibrosis. We can implant the ovum and egg from one couple into a woman’s body and successfully cultivate a pregnancy to a healthy conclusion.

Why is it so imperative for a woman to actively, personally participate in the incubation and delivery process to reach fulfilment in parenthood?

The basic immorality of this doesn’t even address the fact that this therapy will probably be out of the reach of all but the wealthiest infertile couples. The working poor infertile couple who has no health insurance will just have to go without. Or they can do what we’ve done for centuries…take in a family member’s child, adopt…

This seems the ultimate folly and vanity to me. If we want to outlaw some procedures, instead of focusing on embryonic stem cell (using cells which will be destroyed anyway) why not focus on something really needless, like transplanting uteri?

On my other site…

December 4, 2006

…I posted the following. Since I thought is was so chock-full of the useful information I try to pass on to my patients, I thought I’d post it here, as my first, official Snarky Harpy at WordPress entry.

With no further ado, I present:

Dear “Tooth Abscess Keflex”

You stopped by this site on Saturday or Sunday using those words as your search term.

I hope you had some fun while you were here but I doubt you found the answer to your query.

Disclaimer: The following information is given for its anecdotal value only and is not meant to be perceived as offering medical advice or practicing my profession. In other words, I’m warning you to take this at your own risk and, if you get fucked up as a result and think about suing my fucking ass, you can kiss my rosy ass.

Anyway, “tooth abscess keflex,” I have learned in my experience as an ER nurse that the large majority of physicians I’ve worked with like to prescribe Keflex for skin wounds. Apparently, it covers a lot of the bacteria that regularly colonize the skin.

For dental problems, they usually prescribe a penicillin, usually Pen-Vee K. If Pen-Vee K doesn’t do the trick, they usually move to Clindamycin. I’ve seen my oral surgeon do just that when I had a mandibular cellulitis last summer. Unfortunately, Clindamycin is a very potent antibiotic which can nearly sterilize the gut, so developing Clostridium difficile following a course of Clinda is a distinct possibility if your bowel contains c. diff.

If you are a woman, any of the ‘cillin’s can interfere with hormonal contraceptives. If you use the pill, patch, Depo, etc, you’ll need to use barrier contraceptives (condom or diaphragm) for the duration of the therapy. I would continue until my next cycle, or at least for three extra days, just to be safe.

For prevention of c. diff. and the vaginal yeast infections many women suffer during or following a course of antibiotics, eat a yogurt every day (with active cultures) or get some acidophilus pearls/pills from a health-food store and use as directed. The refrigerated kind of acidophilus works best. I’d continue with the yogurt or acidophilus for 2 or 3 days after the antibiotics, a minimum of 7 days following a course of a long-acting abtibiotic like Rocephin or Zithromax.

The only cure for dental issues is to see a dentist / dental clinic and have the work done. Go see a dentist!

If you show up to my ER once, I will tell you that personally.

If you present yourself to me on two or more occasions with the same complaint, I will yell at you.


I promise.


Not Intended as Medical Advice**Read the Disclaimer, for God’s sake**


Post imported from Claiming my Inner Bitch on WordPress, because that’s where the search term led.

October 19, 2006

Hmmm…now things seem to be
working as they should.

Strange, I tell you!