So what?

Yesterday a student was escorted out my middle school in handcuffs by two burly police officers just as the bell rang noting the end of the day. I believe the fact that I was not the least bit perturbed by this signals I have officially adjusted to life in the ghetto. 

Type I

This week has been delightfully busy with bee stings, possibly broken bones, and nosebleeds up the wazoo. Monday morning came the most exciting news of all though: I now have a diabetic. For some reason, until now, I had been one of only two of us ten nurses that didn't have a diabetic, at least not one I had to check daily. Personally, I think the insane happenings at my school all year long have been karma for not drawing the diabetic card; I also believe I do have diabetics at my schools that just haven't been diagnosed, but I digress. This kid is an insulin-dependent diabetic, a 3rd grader on an insulin pump but too young to take care of himself alone. Nurses - not health clerks -are the only employees that can give insulin, which generally means at the lunch hour - ranging 11-1 - most school nurses are running around their various schools making sure all their diabetics are covered. This is what happened in my case: this boy is not at any of my schools but at the school he is at, his nurse is now having to cover too many diabetics at the same time, so I took over at the site closest to me. Confusing, right? I think to the outside world it sounds like an incredible waste of time and money, but if you understand the implications of diabetes and blood sugars you may get it. 

Anyway, now every day at 11:15 I head over to "the other side of the tracks" (across the freeway) to check on this little guy. Besides the fact that I get a stretch break, I really appreciate getting a glimpse of what life is like at the better performing schools, what the parents are like, and how they run things over at other schools. More than that though, I'm so glad to finally have the relationship with a student that most everyone else gets to have all year long. You get close quickly with your diabetic kids, and while I don't eat lunch with him, like several nurses do with their young diabetics, it is something special to have a kid looking forward to seeing you every day. It means someone cares that you show up to work.  



A few days ago I was walking out to my car after work, well after school had let out, and found the twin sister of the girl who had been in mom's weed cookies sitting on the bench. She looked a tad forlorn, so I sat down with her and asked her what she was doing. As it turned out, she had been kicked out Kid's Corner (the after school program at school) for a few days. That did not blow me away nearly as much as what came out of her mouth next: "I'm waiting for my mom." I tried to contain my startled reaction and called Rietta to get the scoop. 

After the weed cookie debacle, there was a court hearing and many social worker visits. In the end, CPS decided to not remove them. Apparently it takes more than letting your children get into your drugs to do that. Regarding Kid's Corner, she had been suspended for a week because she bit another child in the belly button region because he wouldn't play her game the way she wanted him. The Kid's Corner employee I spoke with says she's been increasingly acting out for months now, does anyone else think this perhaps have to do with her home situation? Hmm...

This is not meant to be libel against CPS. Every CPS employee I've encountered has been kind, and as helpful as possible, at least toward me. It's not their fault money is short and complaints long, and I understand they cannot possibly have adequate resources to do everything we would like them to do. That said, it was terribly disheartening to find that the twin girls - 8 years old - and their toddler sister - are still stuck at home with that mother of theirs. And if letting your drugs get into the hands of your kids too small enough to metabolize them is not enough to get a kid removed from their home, I don't know what is. (Thank goodness this was "just" marijuana that the girl experienced - what if it was cocaine, or something worse?)

All in all, it was an incredibly disappointing conversation on the bench.


Oops, I did it again...

Me: "Do you want to call your mom?"
Kid: "No..."
Me: "Do you want to call your dad?"
Kid: "My dad's in prison."

I know better than to ask such questions.

K, time to get off

Please stop the madness. A 9-1-1 call at my middle school this morning was the fourth this year for that school, as opposed to their typical one, or more often, none. I was at a different school, and didn't hear of it until afterward; when I missed the first call or two at this school I asked them to hold the excitement for when I was there, at this point I say, "Thank goodness I missed it." I don't actually enjoy recognizing the firemen, and I don't know why two of my schools have had four times as many emergencies as normal this year.

And if you're wondering what the call was about, it was another fixed pupil call. The principal called the police after the kid was acting funky, the police took his blood pressure and it was sky high, along with fixed and dilated pupils. They tried to coax the kid into telling them what he was on, he refused, so they called the paramedics. Kids these days...this is an 8th grader we're talking about.

Sheesh. I'm ready for Friday.


Oh, to be innocent...

This morning a student peered over the counter to ask the attendance clerk a question: "Excuse me? What's 4/20? Because someone just told me 'Happy 4/20' and I don't know what it means."

Edit: turns out I am. One of my diabetic students, a regular, came in and noticed the temporary tattoo on my arm (leftover from weekend fun). She asked if it was real, when I said no, she said, "Good." I asked why I wasn't allowed to get a tattoo, and heard this: "Because you're innocent! You have to stay that way!" It's so cute that these kids think I have no life outside of this office.


Urinals are not play structures

Eerily reminiscent to an incident a few weeks ago, I had just sent Rietta a sarcastic email in response to something she'd said when she called my cell phone. Not wanting to believe what it might be, I didn't answer it; seconds later I was buzzed on the loudspeaker to answer line three. For them to intercom me during classtime, I knew it was urgent. Rietta was on the phone and told me a boy had fallen off a play structure, was complaining of neck pain, and 9-1-1 had already been called. Still, I could hear in her voice - and just knew, at this point - that she wanted me there. I told her I was on my way, and sprinted out of the school. The school I was at is across the street from the fire station, and I hadn't heard them leave yet. I caught green lights, and arrived at the other school just as the fire truck's sirens had grown loud enough that I was going to need to pull over. I walked them into the school, told them what I knew, and led them into the office. Yes, that's right: the office. Neck pain, and he had been moved to the office - I wanted to scream at someone, but didn't know who. 

Once we all crowded into the nurse's office, I found out what really happened: the boy had been toying around in the bathroom and tried climbing the partition between urinals in the bathroom. It was at least a five foot fall to the hard (and sticky and gross) bathroom floor, he had a few cuts, but mostly couldn't move his head. After some sleuthing I found it was him who had moved himself to the office for help; I was thankful there wasn't an adult to yell at for that.

There were a few noticeable things about this commotion: first, when the secretary finally reached the mother to let her know that her son was being taken to the hospital, her response was, "I'm going to get dressed and I'll be on my way." Now, perhaps there was a perfectly logical explanation for her having to get dressed at 1:45 in the afternoon; regardless, I'm quite sure if it's my child I'd have run to the school naked if I had to. In fact, I did run to the school, beating the firemen, and realized as I drove off I left my office completely vulnerable - laptop on, email open. I ran to the school knowing that I probably wouldn't do anything useful, but just in case, I had to be there: these kids are all my babies. No matter how much they can irritate me, or how likely I think it is that they won't graduate or end up in jail, or how much I hate their parents, they're my kids. When the mother finally arrived, after the babysitter, after the child was strapped on the gurney and ready to go, she spent so much time dilly dallying talking to other parents that the paramedics actually had to wait in the ambulance for her to get in. Again, I don't have kids so I can't say for sure, but I have a feeling if it were my child, I wouldn't be holding up the ambulance. (I also like to think I wouldn't have a child playing in the bathroom during class, but that may be wishful thinking.)

There's also the fact that this is the 3rd time at this school that paramedics have taken away a student; I was told last year there were none. At this point, I was not surprised to hear the jokes, telling me that "fire trucks are not toys just because they might come with cute firemen." On that note, I'll admit to recognizing one of the fireman, which is when I told Rietta: "this is not a good sign if I recognize one of the firemen, we're doing this too often." More weird was when I finally returned to the school I had been at originally and found a fire truck parked in the parking lot. I walked into the gym to find all three of the same firemen that had just been at the other school waiting to present at the after school program I had last week, and said hello again. As usual, when I recount my day to myself or someone else, I can only repeat this about school nursing in the ghetto: I am not making this up. 


True stuff.

Read this. I've noticed the trend since I arrived: there's no water for the kids to drink, and the number of kids who come in for headaches due to dehydration is terribly frustrating. I can't blame them; if I'm eating out one of my biggest determinants in choosing how much to tip is how well my water was kept full. I can't imagine if my choices were drinking out of a water fountain (that there will certainly be a line for) and chocolate milk. The food we feed them is bad enough; the least we can do for both their health and academic performance might be to keep them hydrated.


Now I get it...

Months ago, I had a student in my office moments before the bell was going to ring signaling the end of the day, crying hysterically to me that she wanted to go home sick. Confused because the day was already practically over - she clearly wasn't trying to escape schoolwork - I asked what else was wrong. Between sobs she explained that she really didn't want to go to Kid's Corner (the after school day care program held at school), because "they yell." I rolled my eyes, and shooed her back to class - it's just day care, right? 

Wrong. I went there yesterday to speak at their Career Month. Those ladies running the program were awful, shouting commands at them right and left. I was afraid to step in the wrong place myself, and I was the guest speaker. I pretty much sprinted out of there after my talk, relieved to not feel like every breath was under scrutiny. Now that I've experienced it myself, I don't blame those kids for hating that place.

At least it was worth it: a student came in today for a cut, and told me she liked my talk yesterday. Yay for kids, happy Friday.

Super sad

There are two sisters in 2nd and 3rd grade that come to school totally filthy, every day. I've sent these girls home for lice repeatedly, including the first day of spring break's intersession, where they were supposed to try to catch up on what they'd missed because of their frequent absences. They had been sent home yesterday for lice and mom tried sneaking them back in today by having them walk to class, hoping they'd bypass the office. The teachers sent them down to my office, and back to their house they went. The most noticeable thing about both of them is their utter filth, and from what I've heard, mom's even dirtier. I was talking to one of their teachers about them - she was asking me how she might be able to politely donate her daughter's old clothes to the girls, because her own children don't need the excess clothes, without implying to the mother that her kids are dirty - and she told me that the mother of another one of her students asked if the girls have parents...because, she said, they're so dirty and always alone. 

This is something I've learned on the job: some people should not be allowed to have children. 


What did you bring?

This isn't really to do with being a nurse, this is about being a person. 

How sweet it is...

To be loved by a kindergartener. This morning a little girl was working in my office - not in trouble, just needing a place to concentrate - and I helped her learn to spell a few words. There's not many things better than seeing the light bulb turn on in a kid's head. She was more gracious than most adults, thanking me after each word I helped spell. When she said she was leaving I asked if she was really going to leave me all by myself in my office. She responded: "Well...I could give you a hug?"


Return Of The Children

I had a two week repreive from the kids, but the "break" ended in illness for me. I dragged myself to work Monday morning after a weekend on the couch to be greeted with a tiny kindergartner puking up breakfast in my office, and as I held the trash can for him, I silently begged for his mother to hurry the heck up. Eventually she came, but not until well after I'd lost my own appetite. The rest of the day was a bloody blur: a fire drill, minor asthma attacks, and a serious nosebleed on a kid that didn't know what to do with it, and therefore had to "check it" every five seconds. Feeling worse by the minute, I switched schools midday hoping the change would let me soak in my misery in peace. I went to my middle school to see if my Tdap work had paid off at all, but barely touched the shot records as I was bombarded with various needs. There were the usual kids in to take their medication, and then a particularly bloody kid who had been tripped running during P.E. Cleaning him up was easier than the other task, which was to keep him conscious as he turned colorless looking down at the blood seeping out of his scrapes. Finally, I went to take a break and update the attendance clerk on our Tdap status, and a kid walked in with his hand on his head. I asked what happened and he responded, "I busted my head open!" I figured this must be like the kids who walk into my office complaining of a broken leg, but when I asked to see it, I was taken aback to see blood gushing out of his head - he really did cut it open. I have never seen so much blood in a single day of work, and it was reminiscent of my nursing school days in the labor and delivery department. All in all, quite a welcome back. Now, onward: to summer vacation.  


The fleecing of your tax dollars, continued

In case anyone has been wondering where I've been, I've been here... but not the kids. They are on their second week of spring break and return Monday - finally! Wondering what the school nurse does working during spring break? Making phone calls and signing letters demanding Tdap records be provided. My contract is based on 185 days, and since I was hired two weeks into the year, I'm making those days up now. [Note: At the time I was signing paperwork for this position, I asked to just have the normal work schedule of the other nurses and prorate my salary. HR's response, verbatim: "That's too complicated."] One positive thing I have to say about working these weeks is that the phone calls have been nothing short of entertaining - you never know who's going to answer. When I called one wrong number, the woman responded, "What? I have kids?" Others asked me what I was doing working during spring break (I don't know), and hearing the startled voice of students who answered was quite fun. Even more entertaining was the vast array of answering machine messages, though I really can't take any more hip hop music right now.

'Til next week when the little ones return...