One semester down...

One to go. I have three weeks off now, and it comes just as I am at my wit's end with chickenpox, lice, and  idiots. I am planning on going into full on relaxation mode so that, unlike after Thanksgiving break, I return well rested. Now please excuse me while I spend the next three weeks with my new roommate: 
As always, thanks for reading! Farewell for now, and cheers to more challenges and adventures in the new year!!



These last few weeks have been hellish, to put it mildly. My life feels like it's been consumed by what is officially now an outbreak at my middle school, eating away at my patience and sanity. You can probably imagine how it felt, then, to be griping to one of my elementary schools about the mess it is making, and have the secretary respond, "Oh, I was going to tell you...someone came to school with the chickenpox on Monday."

To sum up my reaction in a three letter acronym: FML. It's always me.

The good news is that public health and I are really now BFFs. The bad news is that this is why I had to be on the phone at the park this afternoon, discussing procedure, once again, and why I was writing work emails when I should have been eating dinner. The public health nurse asked me if I switched over to this elementary school that I was now reporting from the middle school, and I explained, no, I oversee both schools...plus one. I am not sure what world she lives in, but she was quite shocked at this revelation. I decided when I am sick of dealing with chickenpox cases, I will ask her for her job, which apparently takes place in a land of roses and rainbows.

Kids are in school two more days, I am at work for one more day before winter break. It cannot come soon enough.


Lice Mom: the saga continues

I'm beginning to think I should start a new blog just on my encounters with Lice Mom. She came in for a "check" for her daughter, and in our twenty minutes together, I nearly lost my mind. I began by carefully checking the scalp, and found it to be nearly spotless with the exception of a posssible nit or two. I showed Lice Mom what I believed might be nits, and she said they were dandruff flakes. I agreed they might be, removed them, and continued my overly thorough check. I then made the mistake of saying what was on my mind: "I know you came here to pick up your daughter's homework, but I'm inclined to have her stay because her scalp is so clean." She looked at me with disgust, and said, "Are you kidding me?" I got a lecture about how if her daughter returns to school she will of course get lice again, which ended with, "If that happens, I will kill you." I let out an uncomfortable laugh, the kind you do when you're not sure if someone is kidding or not, and all I got was a nasty stare in return. 
There were many responses I wanted to give her, most of all, IT'S NOT MY FAULT. Also, if your daughter is so freaking knowledgeable about and petrified of lice as you have made her, and she is not sharing hats/combs/brushes/jackets/etc. with anyone at school, she isn't getting it at school. Period. Out of fear of retribution though, I kept my mouth shut in meek silence. I don't actually think she will kill me, mostly because she's smarter than that. No, she would do something worse, like find a way to sue me even if it's not for lice, or find out which car mine is out in the parking lot and have that destroyed. Regardless, I fear the day her daughter gets lice again, and rather than have the guts to talk back to this woman - and perhaps I should have - I emailed the prinicpal our conversation so it's at least on record. 
What really, really got me though, more than her threat toward me, was her attitude about letting her daughter be in school. First, when I found what might be a nit and showed her, she denied any such possibility. Then when I suggested she stay in school if her head was indeed as spotless as she insisted it was, she began making excuses, saying Lice Daughter was on the verge of a UTI and bronchitis due to stress from the lice. Then, she looked and looked, until she found a nit herself and proclaimed it as such - and therefore her daughter couldn't be at school. She'll take any excuse to not have her daughter in school, her daughter that is so shy and scared - of her mom, no doubt - it's pathetic. The situation is making me ill, but I can't think of anything I can do for her without putting myself or my job in danger.



I'm taking Friday off, and I mentioned it to my little Spitfire diabetic so she could get a heads up:
Spitfire: What? Noooooooo! You can't be gone. Who's going to be here instead? Can I see a picture of whoever is going to be here instead?
Me: Um...Why do you need a picture of her? She's very nice, you'll just have to trust me.
Spitfire: If I see a picture I can decide if I like her, and if I don't like her, I'm just going to have to stay home that day.
She can be such a pain the ass, but she is just so cute I kind of want to pack her up and take her home with me sometimes. I'm pretty sure I'd take better care of her than her mom does.
And now I am left wondering how to break it to her that we're switching schools after Christmas break, and she should be getting a new nurse either right after or soon after we return in January. 


I am not making this up:

A parent sent her seeping, oozing, bump-covered, chickenpox-infested child to my middle school. "He doesn't have a fever anymore, so he's fine, right?"


Tip of the week: If your child is oozing ANYTHING, either cover it up completely or better, just keep them home. Particularly if it is a very contagious disease, like chickenpox.

To make this situation even more horrifically comical, this student is autistic, and while waiting for his mom, was angrily waving around yelling at everyone, "I'm fine!" I picture the virus being flung around willy nilly while he's doing this in the main office, which is what every nurse wants at their school.

Four more days of the little rugrats before three weeks of winter break. I hope they all stay home in their own houses with their viruses.



Printed on the belt of a middle-schooler: i <3 doobies!


Return of Lice Mom

I knew this was coming, I just hoped it wouldn't be so soon. Lice Daughter came into my office around 11:30 this morning, saying her head was itching and she had pulled a couple of bugs out of it during class. I combed through her hair and found a few nits; just enough to be hemming and hawing about whether or not to send her back to class and claim I thought they were dandruff, or dare call her mom and inform her. Lice Daughter told me her mom was in the hospital last night, so I was thinking I'd send her back to class and tell her to let her mom know her head was itching, when all of a sudden she pulled out a bug: "See, I told you!"

Dammit. She was right, and it was crawling around on her fingers. I bagged it for evidence, and as she looked upset, told her she seemed frustrated. She responded, "It's not that. It's that my mom's going to be mad." :(

I told her to call her mom while I packed up my stuff to run off to check my diabetics. She dialed, and when her mom answered, shoved the phone at me and whispered with a panicked look on her face, "You tell her! I don't want her to be mad at me!" I got to be the bearer of the bad news, and Lice Mom was none too happy to say the least. She finally said she would come and get her, and I dropped Lice Daughter off at the front office to wait for her mom as I ran out to my other school.

There are eight more days of school before winter break, and I'd be shocked if she returned to school clean before then. I feel SO bad for this poor girl, being stuck home with her witch of a mother, and yet I can't think of anything I can do. Calling CPS would bring repercussions that none of us at the school want; she doesn't need a referral to Healthy Start either, because she takes her daughter into the doctor when this happens. There is absolutely nothing I can think of to do for her.

In other news, the highlight of the day was when a chocolate milk-covered first grader crawled into my lap as she was waiting for her mom to bring her a change of clothes, and we played some imaginary games I could barely keep up with. That, and the $71 in mileage reimbursement I received for October. At 55 cents per mile, you do the math: I'm spending way too much time in my car with this school schedule.


Today's waste of taxpayer money

I was assigned this Friday morning, but after the week I'd had, I had no qualms about putting it off until today: creating a timesheet. This isn't just any timesheet. Apparently my position is funded by two diffent accounts in the district, the general and special education funds. The state is now requiring that for positions funded by two separate accounts there be a timesheet accounting for how much time that employee spent working on things from each account. For me, this means on my timesheet I have to account for 20% of my time in special education activities, and 80% in general population activities, whatever that means. However, the directions are key: "IMPORTANT - each day should not look the same!  80% of your time is to the general population at each school and 20% to Spec Ed....Even tho' the "sample" shows each day about the same, we have been instructed NOT to do that, because no two days in your schedule are ever exactly the same. " 

I received this email in December asking me to backlog through August, and continue keeping these "logs" in the future, so I spent this morning making 5 monthly timesheets with random numbers. While I wouldn't say I'm a mathematical genius, I wouldn't exactly say basic arithmetic is a challenge for me either. Still, inventing my hours at random in an 80/20 fashion was not simple, and I couldn't help but wonder why in the world I was having to waste my morning doing such calculations. The list of kids I needed to check on, the list I always have and usually plug away at each week but wasn't even able to touch last week, keeps growing. This job feels less about the kids every day...



This has been Mrs. Nurse's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. It is one thing, an experience I've been through many times now, to have something go wrong with your kids: pot cookies, parents that won't get shoes, doubting whether you made the right call on an asthma attack, or newly orphaned kiddos. It is an entirely new experience to have issues between professionals and be made to feel inept and worthless. The politics and bureaucracy that until now I've managed to stay relatively clear of impeded my ability to function in a capacity that I knew I needed to: as a public health nurse. You'd think it would be simple; I'm a licensed nurse, a licensed public health nurse at that, but the hoops I had to jump through this week were staggering. Trust me when I say this: you do not want to know where your tax dollars went this week.

There is good news about this experience: I became phone friends with the sympathetic county public health nurses, to start. I learned, yet again, to trust thyself: when I got a call on Thursday morning reporting a second case of the disease at the school, I knew my efforts were for a good cause (tip: contagious diseases do actually spread). Lastly, I was reminded what this job is really about: the kids. Given our system, it's impossible, I see now, to not get bogged down in the politics on occasion, but the reason I come to work in the morning is always, always, always the kids.