Two Cuties

My spitfire diabetic came in at lunch, like always, to check her blood sugar. I've been battling a sinus infection, I believe, and was at the peak of it, thinking of how much I wanted to crawl back in bed. She asked how I was doing, and I answered honestly, "Actually, your nurse isn't feeling so good today." We got to chatting, and she decided to have lunch in my office with me rather than the cafeteria. She had a packed lunch - a huge rarity - and even better, with the carb counts on the items. As she started munching, I emptied out her lunch bag to see what she brought. I pulled out two Cuties, and, perplexed, I asked why she brought two (she eats like a bird). Not missing a beat, and sounding like I was an idiot for even asking, "Well, one's for you."
How sweet! She may have some serious problems at home that sometime surface in the manner of attitude problems at school, but somewhere in there, not very deep, is a really nice kid.



A kid was in my office waiting for his ride to pick him up, firing off questions in rapid succession:

Kid: What's your bladder?
Me: It holds your pee.
Kid: Did they have black and white TV when you were a kid?
Me (the 26 year old nurse): What? No...But TVs were fat, if you can believe it, not everyone had a flatscreen.


Miscellaneous Items

A girl came to school today in slippers not because she wanted to, but because she didn't have shoes. She said she was embarrassed and our awesome secretary ran over to Target, on her own dime, to buy her some shoes. Some people call this enabling, letting parents send their kids to school without proper clothing knowing the school will take care of it, but when you're looking at a seven year old girl so ashamed of herself that she won't make eye contact, you can't help but help her.

While the secretary was out, the attendance clerk sent me to supervise a first grade class while the teacher had to step out for a few minutes. How fun!! They were so thrilled to have the nurse be their "teacher" for a few minutes, and when you have 20 kids who are so excited to see you they can barely stay in their seats, you can't help but be happy. I had various kids I've seen in my office lately shouting at me how their cough has gone away, or how the lump on their arm is still there, and we had a Q&A about the materials in my hand - vision charts and an audiometer. This would be one of those "other duties as assigned" thing, and I'll take over (temporarily, at least) a bunch of six year olds anytime.

When the teacher returned, I continued on my way to finish the last of my kinder screenings in Mrs. Meanie's class. I thought she was just mean in regards to lice, but no, she is mean. I was only in the classroom for 30-40 minutes, and heard not a single positive sentence out of her mouth. Instead, it was, "Hey! Do I need to send to the principal's office?" Really a tragedy to have such a person leading a classroom of terrified 5-6 year olds, but at least she is the black sheep of teachers at this school.

It's that time of year again...Budget proposals. No one is happy, and morale is low. And no, nurses aren't safe either, and I'm at the bottom of the totem pole. Yay.

Last but not least, if you're in a school district that does NOT have a no-nit policy, please please please email me your board policy (if you can find it) on lice - click the "Contact Me" button on the top right corner. Are live bugs allowed? Is there notification if nits are found? I intend to go into my policy revision meeting next weeked fully armed.


Tuesday morning

This week I am finishing the last of my kindergarten screenings at one of my schools, a task I had been dreading ever since last year when I discovered how patient one needs to be with kids so young. Things changed this year, beginning with my timing of screenings. I learned that no one in their right mind tries to screen kinders before winter break, because they don't know how to stand in line or follow directions, and often times, their own name. Second, the kinder teachers - with the exception of an aformentioned Mrs. Meanie, are just fantastic at my schools. I've been doing the majority of my screening in the classroom itself, and after spending many mornings with the various classes, I can honestly say I have no idea how those teachers do it. They are endlessly patient and positive in the face of snot, vomit, tears, and wet pants. They get the privilege of spending their days with some of the cutest kids at school, but despite the fact that this year's screening was a world away from my traumatizing experience last year, there is no way I could do their job.

I often get some strange reactions and responses from students, particularly the kinders, during screening. My vision chart gives them the choice of an apple, house, or umbrella, and they have to tell me the shape as they get smaller. I've come to expect the apple to morph into a heart, the house into an igloo, and the umbrella into a "j" as the shapes get smaller. But I got a new one this year when a student started laughing at me. Nothing like a tiny five year old laughing at you and saying, "Your game is silly!" to make you feel...well, silly, holding a chart and asking a kid to identify the same three shapes over and over.

Changing the subject, this morning a student walked in and before she could answer what was wrong, she projectile-vomited all over my office floor. It confirmed what I was saying to a teacher last week: give me puking kids over lice picnicking in someone's hair.


Yay Friday!

A first grader had her lunch with me while she waited for a change of clothes. The contents of her home packed lunch: Cool Ranch Doritios, peanut butter filled crackers, and an unidentifiable small container of something that smelled like Oreos but looked like clumped dirt. Perhaps we shouldn't be just concerned with what our schools are feeding our children...

I also noticed a kindergartener in my office today was wearing eye shadow. I asked why, at age 5, she was wearing makeup: "My mom lets me!" I wasn't surprised to hear from her teacher that mom came to the conference dressed "like a Las Vegas stripper."

And an update on the lice front: turns out the principal - who distributed the policy for us all to read - is the designated person to send students home with lice, according to our district policy. I won't pretend I felt nothing but joy this morning watching Ms. Meanie's mouth drop open when I told her, as she happily marched a student down to my office, to take her student to the principal and leave me out of it. I can only hope she tones herself down a tad now that she has to take her craziness to her boss instead of me. And, my meeting with my boss to revise the lice policy - the one everyone scoffed at when I said I was going to ask for such a thing - is officially on the calendar for the last day of the month. I can hardly wait to plead my case.

Cheers to another three day weekend, and spring break rapidly approaching! 


One Louse-y Valentine's Day

Right after school started, a 2nd-grader came into my office saying that her teacher wanted me to check her hair. I wanted to pretend I didn't see the nits, but I couldn't do that, and tried to break the news as gently as I could that I'd have to send her home. Her lips started trembling and her eyes welled up as she cried, "But...It's the Valentine's Day party today." I called her mom, who asked me to check her sister as well while she made her way to the school to pick her daughter up. Sure enough, her sister had nits too: bye bye girls.

An hour or so later, Ms. Meanie marched a student down to my office to show me some nits in her hair. I don't know how closely she is looking at students during class, but she had to look REALLY closely to find the very few remaining in this student's hair. She cheerfully reminded me that we have a "no-nit" policy, and practically danced her way out of my office. She, of course, would not be around to hear the parent screaming at the front office when they came to retrieve their daughter.

Sweetie 1 came with her mom to my office a short time after that, and although I had to examine her closely, there were still nits: I had no choice but to send her home, particularly so because she's in Ms. Meanie's class - if there is a single nit, that teacher will find it, no matter how much dandruff it's camoflauged in. The mom suddenly became emotional, for the first time since I've been dealing with her, and her kiddos, telling me that she's having an issue with the teacher. I urged her to say something to the principal, because the little girls won't speak up for themselves and it is totally unfair the way the teacher is singling her daughter out. I felt terrible sending her home again, but at least I was able to give her a little Valentine's Day something I had brought for her.

The first sisters that came into my office returned just in time for the party, thanks to a mom who was determined to comb out the nits in time for them to attend. An impressive feat, for sure, but I know the problem will continue to not be taken care of in the home.

To pour some salt into my wounds, I heard from my boss that the union somehow got themselves involved and intends to fight any potential policy change. Don't ask me why, but the implication is that I will be forced to continue to enforce the absurd no-nit policy probably forever, breaking kids' hearts right and left when I forbid them from hanging out with their classmates, and letting the schools lose loads of money to unexcused absences. I miss the days when my biggest problems were my diabetics - at least that is a serious medical issue.


He said yes!

I sat down at my desk this morning only to find a couple of lice bugs in a ziplock bag. Now, I can happily eat my lunch with kids spewing right next to me, but what I have found most nauseating in my job is (are?) lice.



Continuing the story of Absence Seizure boy and his impossible to reach father...

Imagine my shock when the main office called to say Absence Seizure Boy's dad was at school to see me. I know my short time in this position already has me jaded, because one of the first things that went through my head was, "$#@$, I really wish I had a bulletproof vest." Instead of someone coming to yell at me though, I got to meet one of the nicest, most concerned parents I've had the pleasure of meeting. He apologized profusely for not getting in touch with me earlier, which I totally forgave as soon as I saw how clear it was that this man had his son's best interests at heart. We discussed a care plan, and his son's current health - including a small brain tumor that is small enough and stagnant enough that the doctor's have chosen not to remove it, at least for now. He recently gained full custody of his four children, and it could not be more obvious that this man wants only the best for his kids. I rarely have the opportunity to interact with such positive, caring, and thankful parents, and it totally made my day.

Or so I thought, until I checked my voicemail late afternoon. It was the campus police officer calling me, someone I've only nodded to in the hallway before, asking about Absence Seizure boy. Apparently he got word that A.S. boy has a brain tumor, and just, you know, "wanted to know if the police department could do anything to help." What? How nice was that message? Of course I accidentally deleted the message before jotting down his number, but I can't wait to tell him that there's nothing to do at the moment for the kid, but what a nice gesture from the police department. In line with the esteem I think our 911 dispatchers should be held in, cheers to an awesome police department!

Side note, I ran into a different campus police officer a couple days ago. Two of his recent highlights: a man getting himself caught for indecent exposure in front of an elementary school just as the kids were leaving for the day, and a middle school student found smoking a bowl IN class. Both of these incidents were in the "nice" part of town. It's like Antoine Dodson said...Hide your kids, hide your wife! 


Keep calm and carry on!

(Or as I prefer, keep calm and ride on.)

An obvious point of my position is that I cannot be at every site all the time. Emergent situations do not schedule themselves for when I'm there. As a result, I am becoming a pro at phoning in directions for site staff. Take last week, at my middle school: a new epileptic student (absence seizures) had started Monday and despite my efforts that began the Friday before he started to reach his father, come Thursday, I still had no parent contact that might have given me some insight into this student's epilepsy. I had called the student into my office on Wednesday to get some information from him, but he was mostly vague and unhelpful. By Thursday, I knew I needed to at least notify the teachers and site staff in case of an occurrence at school, so I sent out an email with general care for absence seizures to those that needed to know. Good thing: Thursday afternoon, the school called me in a panic, with Absence Seizure Boy in the office recovering from his third seizure of the day - he hadn't told anyone about the other two. I could hear chaos in the background, and had to remind myself that for seizure novices, seizures can be scary, whether absence or grand mal. Quite quickly, they calmed down and the situation got sorted out: he was doing just fine, but given it was #3 of the day and I had no idea how frequent they normally are (answer your phone, A.S. Boy's dad!), I suggested they get someone to pick him up. Crisis resolved.

They say people call 911 only once in their lives, but I suspect this must be the mean and not the mode (think back to your middle school math definitions). I'm 26 and have a couple calls under my own belt, and I can recall those instances that I've had to call like they happened five minutes ago. The thing that stands out the most in those calls: the reassuring voice of the dispatcher giving me directions. One of the things I hate most about my job is the fact that I have to act as a dispatcher sometimes, giving phone directions to someone totally medically unqualified, rather than being able to be present myself for whatever incident. Even so, I do my best to emulate the 911 dispatcher aura of calmness, because they're awesome. Here's to 911 dispatchers, and for everyone, no matter the situation: keep calm and carry on!



We hired a health care specialist in the district who will be taking a couple of my morning diabetic checks off my hand. This should be good news: last month my mileage totaled 186.5, which is totally ridiculous. In reality, it's sad: I'm going to miss seeing my spitfire diabetic every morning, and being someone she could count on all the time. Though I'll still be there for morning checks twice a week, and everyday at lunch, I can't help but feel bad about the change for her sake. She's had so many people come into her life and then leave, and I know when I leave that school - supposedly any day now - I'm just going to be one more of those people.

As it stands, we have a really good relationship. She learned early on to not mess with me, and I've been upping the positive rewards with her. When I was talking with her at lunch about the "new girl" I casually mentioned that she better behave as well with the new girl as she does with me. Her response: "I actually have an evil twin, and she might be here on Friday. With you, I'm "Elizabeth," and I'm the nice one, but I don't make any promises for the new girl because my evil twin might be here instead." I don't doubt her.