Lesson: Things in small places = swollen things

Today a kid came in holding his hand in front of his mouth saying his lips were swollen. I asked him to move his hand so I could see the swelling, and when he did, I saw he was right. His lips were HUGE. Worried about an allergic reaction, I asked how it happened. I almost could not contain my laughter when he told me: he stuck his mouth inside a bottle to make funny faces. I guess that kind of thing might have been funny to a 7th grader, until they came out puffier than a major Botox accident. 


Uncle Jose is coming to visit

This week was kindergarten vision and hearing screening, and it made me want to pull my hair out. I was stationed on hearing testing, and with many of the kids, it went something like this:
Me: Okay, these headphones are going to go on your ears and make a noise like beep beep beep. And when you hear the beep beep beep I want you to clap [+ demonstration of clap], okay?
Kid: Yes! [Vigorous nodding.]
Me: Okay, get your hands ready to clap! [Turn audiometer on.]
Kid: [Facial expressions clearly show sound recognition, but sits there like a bump on a log.]
Me: Remember what you're going to do when you hear something?
Kid: Yes! Clap!
Me: Okay, then, clap when you hear a sound... [Turn audiometer on.]
Kid: [Bump on a log.]

Several hours later, I was left wondering why I ever wanted to be a school nurse. It makes me fear for the next generation.

Dysfunction personified

A kid was in the office for getting in a fight, which he followed with kicking the principal. His guardian came to the office to pick him up for his suspension, apologized to the principal, and said "I know you can't  hit him but I can." She followed this with a few spanks and this: "Where did you learn it was okay to hit people?"

That quote is verbatim.


Phone home

An important part of the beginning of the year is reviewing emergency cards for pertinent health information. It's a process made interesting by the vast array of spelling of some conditions, like "ama" (asthma) and vague phrases like "unknown heart condition." The names of the children are just as entertaining: welcome Destani Unique and Nevaeh Tnes. I try to follow up with as many as I can, but the majority have listed the wrong phone number or just plain don't return my calls. Today, I managed to get a hold of a parent who had listed a nut allergy on the child's emergency card. I started out the call as I do every call: "My name is Erin, I'm the school nurse. Your child is fine and well. I am going through emergency cards and noticed a nut allergy listed... blah blah." I start it out this way so parents know their kids are fine. I just said they are fine, right? Well, today I got [and imagine this being shouted in a very... um... urban accent]: "What?! Did you give Chris a cashew?! Why would you do that?!" She then passed the phone off to a man - despite no man being listed on any of the emergency contacts for this child - who, very dismissively I might add, said no big deal if he eats one, just a little itching will come out of it.

Got to love those parent phone calls.

10/1/10 Edit: Turns out this kid also has asthma and uses an inhaler, two things omitted on his emergency card. He had an asthma attack while I was at another site and the school called his parents to bring his inhaler in. They told them to just "watch him" and call back if it gets worse, and that they were "really busy" and therefore would never ever be able to bring his inhaler in. Great job, aunt and uncle, way to be excellent foster parents.


Drink up

I got my first really, really bloody nose at a middle school. As in, dripping clotted, clumpy blood. Started spontaneously, and ended quickly. (Thankfully, because even as a nurse, watching a kid pull clumps of blood out of his face make my stomach turn a little.) I was still wiping up the blood and had the now blood-filled garbage can still out when one of my regulars came in. I thought the blood might disturb her; instead I heard: "Did someone spill Kool-Aid?"

Kids are so innocent.

This is only a test

It was my first day at one of the three sites I have, hour one. I was just finishing my tour with the one and only health clerk (or technician?), Rietta, when we both turned toward the sound of a scream. It was a sight to behold: one person carrying a child flailing around like a fish out of water, the child's face and shirt covered in blood. "Nosebleed," I thought to myself. I strapped on a pair of gloves, grabbed some gauze, and was ready for their arrival into my office.

How exciting! My first customers to this office ever! The girl was still screaming, making it difficult to think or speak, so maybe that's why no one mentioned to me she's autistic and hates both the sight of blood and being touched. She's still flopping around on the floor, swatting away from me, and I'm starting to stress about how I'm going to silence her in a timely manner. By now the main office staff had come out of their offices to see the commotion and clearly this was my chance to demonstrate I'm a perfectly capable nurse that they're stuck with. I can hardly hear myself think when I get tapped on the shoulder by Rietta: "I'll take the nosebleed, you've got chest pain." She points to the corner of my office where I have a teacher sitting tripod style on a chair, clearly an ashen gray green that until that point I'd only read about in textbooks. I pointed at a man and told him to go call 9-1-1 - this man later turned out to be the principal - while I sat with the gray teacher. The principal comes back to tell me that the 9-1-1 operators wanted to speak to me, but when I go to pick up the phone line, it's dead. So, I call them back, tell them we've already called, but rather than wanting to say anything to me, they tell me the screaming in the background (the nosebleed was still going strong) is too loud for them to hear anything and someone's already on their way. Minutes later, the firetruck arrives, soon followed by the paramedics to whisk the teacher out.

And that was that. I looked at the clock: ten minutes had elapsed from the time the nosebleed began. I don't know what happened with the nosebleed - when I returned from talking with the paramedics, there was only silence and a mess of blood on the floor. The unconfirmed report I received later that day was that the teacher had a heart attack. And I was only just getting started...