So Dang Cute

Contrary to what it may seem like on this blog, I do have coworkers other than the principals and teachers at each of my school sites. There are other nurses in the district, as well as health clerks that manage student health records. I don't mention them much here in part because I rarely see them, but also because, frankly, most aren't worth mentioning. I'll spare everyone the details here, but I liken the group to a gaggle of middle school clique-y girls - except they're not. They're middle aged women that for whatever reason (and it's more than just an age thing), I don't fit in with. I've successfully stayed out of most of the drama among them for the past two years, but this year is different: I'm their target. There are emails going around, and the whispering being done behind my back isn't exactly inaudible. While it's a consolation that the nursing coordinator and my boss are both in total support of everything I do, and I know I'm getting my job done, it's hard not to have it wear on me just a wee bit that I'm so blatantly the odd one out. 

The reason I bring this up is that this mess has made me appreciate my time with the kids that much more. I performed hearing and vision screenings this week on the "Special Day Class" which are the autistic, CP, Down's Syndrome, and other similarly abled kindergarteners. Personally, I think the SDC classes should be renamed the So Dang Cute classes, because that's what they are. Those kids are without a doubt my favorite kids out of all 2000+ that I take care of, even though for about half of them I have to mark "Could Not Test" as their screening results. Those kids - like most 5 year olds - know what really matters in life: whose fly is unzipped, who farted, and when snack time is. 

Happy Labor Day! Don't drink and drive. 


Names are with you almost forever

I used to be pretty stunned by some of the names I come across in this job, but now that I'm an old hag in my third year, I have come to expect the worst. Still, I was surprised to find a new one today. I'm not at liberty to say the full name, but here's a hint: his first and middle names are a single letter. Yes, a letter. No, they don't stand for anything. Naturally, this was the one kid in the class that turned out to be color vision deficient (CVD is the more accurate description of colorblindness), and I had to address an envelope: "To the parents of" - of a letter. A single letter, no period signaling an abbreviation. 

Parents, when you name your kids, it's going to be with them for awhile. Do them a favor and give them a real name, not just a letter. (On that note, thanks Mom and Dad for giving me a short, easily pronounceable, and easily spelled name!) 

Unrelated, I'd like to take a moment and say thanks for the overwhelmingly positive comments and emails I continue to receive. While I can't respond to every one, I do read them, and always appreciate them. Thank you!! 


I will never understand.

The parent of a student with myasthenia gravis said some unkind words about me to the secretary on the first day of school. I attended a 7:30 a.m. meeting with her the next day to calm her fears and realized I was this mother was the quintessential helicopter parent. (She wanted to come to school with her fifth grade daughter for the first month just to make sure she was being properly watched. Note, this kiddo has no need for an aide or anyone like that. She can administer her own nebulizer if need be, and has a pretty clear hand signal in case of a respiratory crisis.)

Fast forward to the second week of the school. Myasthenia gravis mom was in the main office complaining about her daughter's $80 backpack being scuffed up, and mentioned casually that her daughter has Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease...and she'd been at school all week with it.

For the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around the thinking of some parents. I beg of all parents: do not send your child to school with an infectious disease.


Just the usual

I had been nagging Spitfire Diabetic to bring a binder with her doctor's orders and logs since school began. I spoke with her mom myself on the first day of school who said she'd bring one in, but wasn't surprised that almost a week later, there was still nothing. Tired of sending home little sticky notes with her blood sugar and insulin, I had Spitfire explain the holdup: "Well, after school, I do my homework, and then I play with my brother, and then my mom goes to her A.A. meeting." 

That child knows way too much. I ended up getting her a binder myself. 



I am not making this up. I was out sick on Friday, and my nursing coordinator called me Friday night to let me know how my diabetics did for the day. (She knows me well, I won't sleep unless I know they were taken care of.) She also relayed to me the shocking story of the mental breakdown of a high school teacher. Apparently a teacher whose mental health was already questionable caved under the stress of the first week of school, and did something I still can't believe as I type it out. She divided the class in half, and threw trash on one half of the classroom. She explained: half of you (the students) will make something with your lives, the other half of you are garbage and are going to waste your life away. I can't imagine being the principal at that school and having to explain that one to parents.

Totally unrelated, I finally made it to my elementary school today (from here on out, referred to as Disneyland). The kids are just the cutest, and a couple of kindergarteners came to see me after a playground accident. While I cleaned up the scraped knees, one of them told me a very long, drawn out story. I didn't follow most of it, but I did catch the end. "And then I left my UNDERWEAR in the BATHROOM!!!"

And that is why I have learned to love kindergarteners. You might be feeling pretty crappy after a rough first week and unwillingly having to take a three day weekend that included strep throat followed by an amoxicillin reaction, but those kids can put a smile on your face like no one else.


Day 1

7:53 Missed call from Elementary School 1. Just left home, on the road, miss the call.
8:19 Almost to Middle School, pull over, and call Elementary School 1. Secretary answers, says they are swamped and will talk to me later. Never hear from them again the rest of the day.
8:22 Middle School chaos. Talk to parents and kids dropping off medicine, enter in shot records, reject shot records missing the Tdap shot.
9:19 Breakfast. Scarf down oatmeal while answering emails.
10:22 Introduce myself to an unfamiliar face saying hello at my office door. Become bug-eyed when I hear in response, "Oh, we've met before. I'm the superintendent." [Oops...]
11:55 Drive to Elementary School 2. Discover High Maintenance Diabetic Mom didn't send along any doctor's orders. Turns out she wanted me to call the doctor's orders and take care of that myself. Other diabetic, Spitfire, came with no orders either. Luckily I had stashed last year's away just in case. Hear about a parent that was "flipping out" and in tears all morning because her teacher didn't know how to care for her myasthenia gravis daughter. Discover a care plan for M.G. girl I'd requested from her previous school had just arrived in the mail, temporarily calming principal and secretary who had been victim to this parent's anger.
13:05 Back to Middle School. Work on Health Alert list and emergency care plans.
14:00 Lunch while answering emails.
15:15 Try to deliver care plan to teacher of student with a pacemaker, but door is locked. Teacher has no mailbox because they are a substitute; the school is still short three science teachers.
15:30 Call parent of one of the independent diabetics at the school who had left her one glucose meter in my office.
15:35 Leave, at last.

This all happened with a tonsil the size of a golf ball in my throat, and tomorrow I have a record three meetings scheduled in one day: one with myasthenia gravis parent at 7:30 a.m. sharp, a 10 am meeting to pull a severely asthmatic student out of P.E. permanently, and a 1 p.m. meeting with a teacher to discuss an epileptic student of hers. In between, I will try to finish care plans and get all emergency plans to teachers that I need to, as well as take care of my diabetics and all the phantom and real stomaches. It is pure chaos for everyone in the beginning of the year, nurses included, but overall, it is such a relief to have the kids back.


The fun begins...

Yesterday the contract days began for everyone else, so while I've already put in seven days of work, everyone else was jolted into reality yesterday. Things are as hectic as they always are in the beginning of the year, and last night I helped pass out schedules for the students at my middle school. I was there to enforce the Tdap law, refusing a schedule to anyone without the shot (and, possibly, off the record, I might have been sliding them a waiver if they didn't have proof or told a good story about why they didn't have the shot). I'm at a new middle school this year, and many of my students from the last two years - the ones previously at my middle school that closed - were there last night. It was great to see them, for them to see me, and for them to see we have some common ground in that we're all in a new place now, with new people.

The real highlight of the kids' anticipated return, though, happened today. I called the mother of one of my diabetics, one I like to call "High Maintenance Boy." High Maintenance Mom took a long time to trust me last year, but she finally did, and her little boy is one I can only describe as darling. He's a naive sweetheart of a kid, one who last year in fourth grade didn't know how to tie his shoes. Anyway, I decided to be proactive and call them rather than have them try to hunt me down in the chaos of the first day of school tomorrow to find out if anything major had changed. H.M. Mom answered, and when I identified myself, she said, "Oh! H.M. Boy was just talking about you, he was asking me if you were going to be his nurse. Here, he wants to talk to you." She put him on the phone, and I just want to let you know, there isn't anything much sweeter than having a high-pitched, squeaky fifth grader ask you if you're going to be his nurse again this year. We talked a little bit about his summer (it turned out he didn't have much to say after expressing his relief that I'm his nurse again), and then I talked with the mom again before hanging up.

Holy crap, I realized, when I hung up: I am so ready for the kids to come back. I know it's a statement I'll regret soon - perhaps tomorrow, even - and I'll be just as "so" ready for the breaks. But working almost two weeks without the children has been a long two weeks.

Welcome back to the kiddos, tomorrow! Let the fun begin!



I'm headed into my third year in my district now, which is kind of a big deal for two reasons:

1. I'm tenured. Yes, you read that right. There's a two year probation period immediately after hiring, and, having passed that, I'm safe. This isn't too say I'll never be laid off, they can pink slip me just like anyone else, but firing me would be difficult given I have the California Teacher's Association (no small union) backing me up. This is particularly comforting knowing my boss has made it crystal clear that given a reason, he has no trouble letting people go. We lost a health care specialist last year who was just a week shy of finishing her probation, and apparently in the past, he let a nurse go just before she finished her two year probation period. (I was involved in the first incident, and totally supported his move, and while I wasn't involved in the second incident, it sounded justified.) I'm not perfect, nor is this any reason to slack off, but knowing my job is secure for the next year is no small potato in this economy.

2. Not to brag, but I have some clout. I've made a name for myself, and have stayed on the good side of the nursing coordinator and my boss, which means when it comes time for decision-making, I often get what I want, or at least a say in what I want. This year, I got what I asked for in my school assignments. I'll be keeping my same two elementary schools, which means one in the poorest section of town that I've been at for the past two years, and one in the nicer section, the one with my two diabetics. The two schools are across town from each other, but I decided I'd rather keep my diabetics - and my other elementary school - than have to train someone else on my diabetics and be worried about their care. At least when they're in my hands, I'll know how they're doing every day. The middle school I had for the past two years closed, so I'm taking on the one nearby. It, too, is in the "ghetto" of town, and prior to the other middle school's closing, the two schools were rivals. There was a lot of fuss, understandably, when the one school closed last year, with comments in the local online newspaper giving threats such as, "Bring your Kevlar," referring to the expected fights this year as two schools try to share one roof. It should be an interesting year at the middle school, with many unhappy people and staff trying to merge, and I'm hoping I won't regret my choice of schools.

The kids return on the 15th, and though I'm sure I'll miss these days soon, right now it feels like they can't get here soon enough. I am ready to see my babies again, and I'm tired of doing paperwork all day long without interruption.


I'm baaaaaaack!

I resumed work on Thursday, getting an early start on my contract this year to work on enforcing the Tdap law for 7th graders. It feels like I'm just shuffling a bunch of papers and I'm looking forward to the return of students next week. As I was entering in shot records, I came across this gem written in on a child's emergency contact in the "Mother's Occupation" section: "Cool Mom."

Oh the joy some parents might bring me this year. In the words of the Joker: And here...we....go!