I'm still here, thank you.

What a nice bunch of comments and emails I've received lately, questioning my whereabouts in the blogosphere.

I'm here, and wanting to get back to writing. I don't think I have enough work stories to feed this blog alone, depending on how many tales of bureaucratic BS anyone wants to read though. I've tried to avoid the magnetic pull I'm feeling into the mommy-blogging category, but I am not sure I can resist a rant on some of the toys I've deemed inappropriate given to my child. If the possibility of reading about another crazy mother's path through parenthood terrifies you, go ahead and unsubscribe now just in case...I feel a post on the subject of pink Lego sets coming up.

On another note, I'm famous today, and I would have tidied up my house a little more had I known my snapshot would have been posted along with my comments. But seriously, P&G, you almost doubled the scoop size. I can't imagine laundry dirtier than what's in my house: toddler cloth diapers. One scoop of it has been sufficient for the last 20 months - what on earth would someone be washing to need almost double the original suggested amount of detergent? And how asthma-inducing would the fragrance be of the clothes washed using the new suggested amount?

Anyway. I'm here all, and open to suggestions on post topics - see the contact information in the sidebar. Happy holidays!


Your tax dollars at work

Sixteen million children (21%) live without consistent access to food.  That is a staggering number. And yet...there's this: the state's vision screening requirements in California changed recently, requiring both near and far vision screening for Kindergarten, 2nd, 5th, and 8th grades. Once you screen near vision, it is either a problem or not, and it is ineffective and a waste of resources to continue to screen for it years down the road. Then why are we asking school nurses to screen for it in the later years? Because lobbyists. Seriously. Eye care specialists made sure this requirement passed, which results in increased referrals (i.e. money) for themselves, and more (unnecessary) work for school nurses. Where are our priorities?


Dear Teacher,

I know you really don’t want to have your student with hemophilia come on the field trip to the pumpkin patch with you but, guess what, he is. You won’t find support from me for your idea to exclude the kiddo because of his condition, no matter how many emails you send me. And yes, I have contacted his parents, and no, they can’t go with him on this field trip. Deal with it. Love,
Your School Nurse

It’s been a busy week. The best part was confirming a thought I had about this position: I can work from home on occasion. There is an enormous amount of case management and report writing in this position, and I’ve been wondering why I even drive in sometimes when all I really need is a quiet place to work. Hello, home office! 


Dear Parent,

Just because you are an MD - which somehow you managed to point out to me despite not being able to return your child's emergency care plan until two months later - does not mean I will sign off on the heavily edited care plan you returned to me.

Perhaps your expertise does not include allergy management, because the new recommendation is that if someone has two or more systems involved in an allergy reaction - in the example you gave, an itchy throat and vomiting - an Epipen should be administered. I am not into the "wait and see" method when it comes to potential anaphylaxis. I also can't say I like the idea of administering PO Benadryl for your vomiting student in case of ingestion. The fact that you seem to know his pattern of reaction so well is a concern too, but not something I can base future reactions on. Just because you have been so fortunate as to have his symptoms stop at an itchy throat and vomiting doesn't mean they won't progress further, quickly, the next time.

We are discussing a severe food allergy, and this is the first I've ever come across a parent suggesting less of a response than the standard, recommended treatment plan. Weird...and my gut says no, I just haven't figured out how I will phrase my response to Mr. Pretentious Parent, MD.



It's been almost a month since I've written and it's not for a lack of material, it's a time problem. This district is nuts. And I say that coming from a district that I also thought was nuts.

We (the district) are being swamped with refugees from the Middle East. During a screening, I asked what the name "FNU" is that I was seeing all over the place on rosters..."Family Name Unknown." Families are arriving without any documentation, so kids enroll in school with no last name or birthdate, no English, and scared out of their minds. They come to school and are behind a fence from their parents surrounded by strangers, and they cry and cry as they feel they are being taken away from their family. I read health histories and find stories of kids watching family members being killed in front of them, of escaping their home country on horseback, and arriving here with no one to ease them into their new world. Now when I see Middle East turmoil in the news, I no longer click to the next headline, I read through the article and try to get a little closer to understanding what some of these kids have been through. It's heavy stuff.

The heavy stuff, then, makes it that much more special when something a little more light comes my way. A secretary brought a student to me yesterday with "possible ringworm" that his teacher had sent him up for. He had a red ring on his hand, but it wasn't raised, and just didn't look like ringworm to me. "That's not a hand stamp, is it?" I asked. "Yes, it is, it won't wash off!" Ahh...yes, that's why they pay me the big bucks. To identify hand stamps.


The Haves and the Have Nots

I am assigned to four schools, but two are on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other.

One of my elementary schools is located in an incredibly idyllic neighborhood. It’s like the neighborhood in The Truman Show. The campus, unlike all the other ones in the district, is wide open. The school borders a city park, and there is no fence separating the children from the school and the park, and there is a gate that runs from the creek to the park. That’s right – kids could access a stream of running water fairly easily if they want to. Well, they would be able to be near water if it were not a dry creek bed right now…We’re in California, no such thing around here. On the drought note, the neighborhood surrounding the school is full of bright green manicured lawns, a rarity around the city and state right now. The parking lot is teeny tiny, and it’s not a problem because so many parents walk or bring their kids to school in a wagon. Parents answer the phone on the first ring, and arrive within minutes whenever the need might arise. Parent and grandparent volunteers can be found all over campus and the school hosts fundraiser nights for parents to contribute further to their child’s education. When I sent out care plans, I was able to email most, and the only ones not returned were no longer enrolled in the school. In short: parents are wealthy and involved.

Just a short drive away is my Title 1 school. Families hail from all over the world here, some of them brand new to the country after escaping the war zone that their native country had become. The language line is frequently used here, because the Spanish interpreters cover only the Spanish speakers. I received a single care plan back from a mother; I probably had the wrong address for the rest as the population in the area is so transient. Here, I am tracking down parents, asking them how I can help their child get glasses, where at the other school, the glasses are on the student before I even knew there was an issue. My office is near the kindergarten pickup area, so when morning kindergarten is nearing the end of their day, I watch the parents gather in front of my window. It feels like I am watching a little snippet of the world’s people: so many shapes, sizes, and heritages, all in one place. Neighborhood yards are brown, bordered with chain link fences, and people walk the streets with shopping carts filled with their belongings.

It is mind-boggling to me that such different lives are being led in such close proximity. 


Spitfire 2.0, and, phew.

Here I was, concerned about my lack of contact with students at this new job...Hah! I spent three hours this morning dealing with an out of control kindergartner with Type 1 diabetes. His teachers had mentioned he was having some behavior issues, and weren't sure how much of that could be attributed to blood sugar spikes and falls. I kind of rolled my eyes a bit, to myself, when they were telling me this, but I said I'd stop in. Then I popped in this morning, as promised, and could not believe it. Twenty-six kids were sitting in their squares, criss-cross-applesauce with bubbles in their mouths, and the one I went to check on was spinning in circles, crawling on desks, trespassing around the teacher's desk, etc. It was bad. We ended up having an impromptu meeting with dad after school due to a comment the young lad had made: "I'm mad so I better check my blood sugar." I've seen kids manipulate adults using diabetes, but not at five years old...yikes. His blood sugar was completely normal all morning but repeatedly asked to test and said his blood sugar was why he was acting so poorly.

This kid is going to be a problem for my foreseeable future, but ahhh...it feels good to see a blood glucose meter again.


Lice in the news

Mutant lice! This doesn't surprise me at all; parents have been complaining to me for years that the lice shampoos don't work. Also, if lice-removal companies charge $250/hour, perhaps I should consider getting a summer job working for one...


I'm not in Kansas anymore

After Spitfire's note, I went to work today lamenting a bit that my new position does not involve as much face to face time with students. I got down to business at my middle school, cranking out care plans in a tiny office crammed with student cumulative files and dead printers. (I nearly laughed out loud when the vice principal asked, "Have they told you about this school? We have crazy stuff happening here...We have students with diabetes, we've had kids with seizures.." Um, lady. I'm a school nurse. That sounds totally normal to me.) After several hours, I'd had enough of my little hole of the office and the unfriendly grump of a secretary, so I moved onto my elementary school down the street. 

There, I did the same thing but in a wide open "nurse's office"...An office that contains the staff bathroom, the fax machine, the custodian's things, and more. Still, better facilities than any of my other schools. I spread out and was again trying to crank out care plans, when I heard two young students come in the back door. One was clearly covered in vomit, and she walked boldly into my room and vomited again, all over...And I mean, all over. Her hair, her shirt, her shorts were all drenched, there were the chunks on the floor...It was lovely. I grabbed her a trash can and started getting her cleaned up, because, am I supposed to just watch a kid's vomit soak in on herself? No. The secretary came in shortly after and was clearly surprised and incredibly grateful toward me for helping out the kids...Isn't that why I'm there? 

At my old district, all of the "gross" things were directed toward me the moment I was on site. I thought that's what school nurses were hired for. Here, apparently, they are thankful if I even acknowledge the kids as humans. 


From Spitfire:

"my nurse is ok but she can't beat you lol"

The best compliment anyone could ask for from a 7th grader. (For reference: Spitfire is a diabetic I cared for from 3rd-6th grade. I gave her my email address when she and I finally parted ways after 4 crazy years of lunch together.)


Day One

Well, Day One for the students. I started off my day at my Title 1 school, which was an absolute madhouse. Apparently it has the same number of office staff as another nearby school - in a much better neighborhood - with twice the students. It was a zoo, to say the least. As it turns out, I know the principal - she and I worked together in one of my schools last year. She left to come to this district, and I accidentally followed her. She and I talked about why we both left our previous district - the same person was the cause for both of us, really - and I made what I hope will turn out to not me a false promise by saying I'd be there more often than the previous nurse that was there on a "drop in" basis. I touched base with a kindergartner with Type 1 Diabetes and his adorably anxious parents, wrote some care plans, and soon was out the door.

Next I went to a home assessment for a preschooler being evaluated for autism. I thought my school had been a zoo; this house with just two kids was far worse. The boy was literally bouncing off the walls, off me and the rest of the assessment team, etc. It was a disaster. Mom had her hands full with a toddler, as well as her son being assessed, but both were so out of control it was near impossible. I left with the adaptive PE teacher, who answered my first question before I could ask it: no, they're not all like that. It was particularly bad, she promised me, and although you never know what you're getting into with a home visit, they don't usually go so poorly.

Last stop was a second school, in a great little neighborhood just a few miles from my Title 1 school. There, I spent a few hours furiously working on care plans, with the exception of a short "break" when a boy came crying into the office. The office staff clearly normally handles all of the minor first aid, but asked me to check this one out. In five years as a school nurse, I had never seen a broken bone until today -- don't ask me how I managed that. But today, I finally saw what was clearly a broken bone. The poor first grader was sobbing in pain and looking like he was going to pass out. Mom got there quickly, and I returned to my care plan work.

If today was any sign, it will be an interesting school year.


First Impressions

Today, Day One, I left my audiometer that I had literally just signed out, in the great wide open at district office. Whoops. I sent a message to the health secretary as soon as I got home, and she tucked it under her desk for me. Not really the first impression I was going for...the forgetful nurse who leaves a trail of expensive equipment behind. C'est la vie.

New Beginnings

A new school year, in a new job, in a new town. I know what you're thinking...Already?? Yes, school starts this week for many of us. Gone are the after-Labor-Day school year starts around here.

My first official day was today, although I went in last week for orientation, and students begin later this week. My assignment is to cover three elementary schools and a middle school, and oversee 1.3 LVNs to cover diabetics, health and vision screenings, IEPs, and whatever else comes up.

With no direction as to what to do first thing this morning, I decided to show up to one of my schools and at least introduce myself. I happened to get there the same time as an all-staff meeting, so I had the opportunity to meet all of the teachers and support staff. There was a common theme to their reaction about me: "Thank goodness." This particular school is a Title I school, and, apparently, not an easy one. The psychologist flat out said it is a tough school to have as an incoming nurse to the district, and then, when we were signing up for vision screening at the end of a nurse's meeting, one nurse mentioned it as well. "Okay, Mrs. Nurse, I'll help you out there..We'll tackle it together, it'll be okay." She was trying to soothe me about something I didn't know I should be anxious about. I mentioned what she said to our lead nurse, and all she did was pat me on the back and say, "Yeah...it'll keep you busy."

So, there's that school! Who knows what that might bring. Plus, two other elementary schools, three diabetics among two school sites, IEPs coming in already, etc. Such is the life of a school nurse.

The good news: we have a great lead nurse, and some of my coworkers seem particularly positive and team-oriented -- quite the opposite of the last five years. I'm not really sure what's in store for me, but the overall attitude among all the nursing staff seems to be, "We'll make it," instead of, "We're screwed." Hallelujah.


Part II

It's easy to think of the many problems of my district. A co-worker and I were just discussing today the number of people we know who have screwed up in their jobs but remain employed. Exhibit A: a nurse, an RN, who gave a student the wrong amount of insulin (too much), realized her error, fed the student extra food, did not contact the parents, and then used white-out to edit her logs. I am pretty sure she shouldn't even have her nursing license anymore, but she held onto that, and returned to work after a 4 month paid administrative leave...And returned bragging about her "paid" vacation that she got while the rest of us filled in for her assignment.

But this job has not all been for naught. I received something in my inbox yesterday that assured me of this: "Dear Nurse (----------) its me (-----------) [Spitfire] I miss you so much I read your letter it made me cry ok gtg eat be safe talk to soon
P.s.I can't Waite for the 2nd Frozen lol 💋"

That simple note made every challenge (and there have been a lot) in this position worthwhile. 

There have been a lot of goodbyes in the last couple weeks for me, and while I will miss bits and pieces of this district, I'm looking forward to a fresh start somewhere else, new scenery on my commute, and new faces in my office. 

Now please excuse me while I treasure my time off with my baby-turning-toddler of a daughter. 


Part I

I'm working summer school this week, which means I get paid per diem to work in a ghost town. I was driving home yesterday and thought to myself, just 48 hours of this district left to go - hallelujah. As a work environment, it has headed in a quick downward spiral over the last two years. The lack of entries here are evidence of this; instead of being able to enjoy my job and the people in it, I've been driven increasingly crazy just trying to stay afloat in it.


The end of an era

On our last day together, I told her I would miss her, and almost fell out of my chair when she said she would miss me too. In true Spitfire fashion, she continued earnestly, "I met my new nurse. I don't like her at all, she's old and her hair is long and gray." It's the closest thing to a compliment that I'll get from her, and I'll take that, along with the big hug she gave me before she skipped out the door. Bye, Spitfire: the oldest soul trapped in the smallest body I know.


Ah, kids.

A student wandered into my office while waiting for her very late aunt to pick her up. She leaned over my shoulder and asked what I was eating. It was strawberries that I was dipping in leftover cake frosting, but I didn't particularly want to admit that the nurse was eating frosting by the spoonful. "It's dip," I explained. She was clearly skeptical, but she bought it. Kids...they are so innocent, it's lovely sometimes.


This is the thing.

This is the thing about school nursing: the kids do not care about the personnel drama of your organization. The secretaries, for the most part, don't know about the personnel drama of the nursing staff. And yet, that personnel drama is what will make or break the job. I love some of the school sites I've been at over the years; they are a joy to go to. Others...not so much. But in the case of school nursing, it's not just whether or not the school site is a pleasant place to be, it's the leadership and camaraderie, or lack thereof, of the nursing staff. Even if I don't see them, or maybe because I don't see them, the worst part of my job is the "team" I work with.

So, it's important I separate the kids and other staff I work with from the other...people...I work with, the ones that are the reason I am leaving. I will trudge to work tomorrow and put on a smile, leaving it out from my daily conversation that the LVN that was supposed to "support" me with my impossible caseload this year has been more work than she's been worth. Critical thinking isn't one of her high points - I will never understand the medication error she made early on* - but attendance hasn't been either. Perhaps I am the only one who grew up thinking you're supposed to go to work, school, whatever, unless there's an emergency, because she's been out approximately once a week for the last few months and seems to think that's the norm. But I am even less impressed when she sends me an email with a "P.S. Also I am taking a sick day tomorrow." Not a question to ask if she should find someone to cover her assigned diabetics or if I will, just, this is what is happening.

These situations create a cloud of frustration for me that I need to check at the door, because not one of my secretaries or students will understand, or should have to try to understand, this kind of thing. <Sigh.> I really do like what I do, just not who I do it with (or who I don't do it with). This is why I only have 16 work days left with this district.

*The infamous med error: This LVN administered an inhaler to the wrong student...and not just any incorrect student, but a student that didn't even use an inhaler. Apparently she was expecting another student - one in the special day class, that isn't easily mistaken for another general education student, mind you - and gave this other kid who wasn't having trouble breathing an inhaler. He was in there because he "didn't feel well" and when the school nurse gives you an inhaler, I guess you're going to take it, right? This one still boggles my mind.



Spitfire came to my office around lunchtime saying her blood sugar was 471 and her mom wanted her to go home. This is normal these days: kids bypass me using their cell phones and clue me in once everything is arranged. She said she needed a new pump site (which I showed her we had with her bag of extra supplies) and her mom wanted to take her to the doctor's, so she arranged for (one of) her mom's ex-husband's to come get her. 

When the ex-husband arrived, he had a new pump site in hand. I asked if that's all that needed to happen, because,  clearly, I had been left out of the loop. I explained that I had already told Spitfire we had the supplies to change her pump site, but she was obviously hoping to get picked up from school. He was firm with her in expressing his disappointment, and explained that she would be staying at school. She and I changed her pump site while the ex-husband waited. 

Afterward, she checked her blood sugar. It was 141. I looked directly at the ex-husband and commented that it was quite remarkable for her blood sugar to drop 300 points in half an hour with a malfunctioning insulin pump. We asked her to show us the history in her pump meter to, and, unsurprisingly, found no 471. Ex-husband said to her he would deal with the matter later, and left very politely. 

Spitfire sat quietly eating in my office, unable to make eye contact with me. Finally, I broke the silence and said, "Busted." She looked at me with anger, claiming that it really was 471 and her meter was broken. Um...No. 

I have been working with her since she was in 3rd grade; she's now in 6th grade and never have I seen her as mad today as when I called her out for lying about her blood sugar. Our relationship is coming to an end in a couple of weeks and while I am sad that I know she will hold a grudge about this for some time, perhaps the rest of my time with her, hopefully one day she'll look back and see that she needed some tough love. 


Universal Precautions

This morning I had two students in my office, one waiting to go home with pinkeye and the other one also waiting to be picked up as he was feeling ill. The secretaries placed a third outside the door to my office, also waiting for her ride to pick her up as she wasn't feeling well. A fourth student came in to get something to package a tooth in (a "tooth" necklace, yes, they make such a thing), and while he and I were packing it up the third student in the doorway vomited. And by vomited, I mean vomited. [Stop reading now if graphic descriptions of bodily fluids make you ill.] 

I actually thought chocolate milk had spilled, until I smelled it. There was a thick layer splattered around the girl, right at the entry to my office, and some had dribbled onto her pants, down her leg, and onto her shoes. The largest puddle was so thick a paper towel wouldn't stand a chance. The secretary called for the custodian to clean up, and I kept the students in my office in so they wouldn't step in the vomit, or get sick themselves from smelling it, as one green-looking boy said he might. 

Next thing I know, the principal - who has never been particularly warm toward me - stepped over the vomit, and barged into my office to ask me what was going on. I explained what each of the students were doing in my office, including the one that came in for his tooth but was now stuck due to the vomit at the doorway, and that parents had already been notified for everyone. The principal's response: "You need to prioritize a little better," and an eye roll to boot. She was apparently quite irritated that I had not cleaned up the vomit. 

First of all, I don't need eyes rolled at me. We're adults. But second of all, I'm not going to apologize for waiting for the custodian. I do not have the materials in my office to clean up a vomit puddle that size. (And even if I did, I'd still make the kids in my office wait to step on the floor until the custodian got there.) I do not have access to cleaning solutions, rags, mops, or the stuff that you sprinkle on puddles to help mop them up. So, no lady, I will not get on my hands and knees and wipe up a sea of vomit, exposing myself to who knows what. 



I have 30-something days left in the school year, and five days of summer school, and then I am out of this district and into a new one. I am not at all sure the new district will be a better work environment than this one, but I am pretty sure it cannot be worse...I have essentially ignored all the things I find ethically wrong with working in my current position on this blog, because I don't think it'd be appropriate or useful to whine here, but wow, do I feel good about leaving...

Being in the lame duck position has also encouraged a senioritis-type attitude in me. Let me tell you, it is so much easier to get a dentist appointment at noon than it is to get the last one of the day. 

I am soaking up the time with the kids that I do have left, because I was warned in my interview there would be much less of that in my new position next year. Spitfire nagged me for weeks, until I caved in and watched Frozen one night, and she gave me one of her rare hugs in return. Rarely have I seen her as content as she was when I was knowledgeable enough to have a lengthy discussion with her on Olaf. 

My days are a whirlwind right now and this is really only a post to say that I do still exist. I know I keep saying it, but, more later. 



Two applications, one interview (and the other interview declined) later, I have a "new" job.


I took this job originally intending it to be a filler, a way to get a paycheck, while I found a "real" job. One year turned into two, which turned into three, four, and now five. What? A husband and child later, I've realized that a) school nursing is kind of fun and b) I'm pretty good at it. Unfortunately, my current district wasn't one I could see myself staying in. One example of why not: just two weeks ago, I emailed my boss to voice my concerns about my caseload. I had never once complained about my workload, unlike most of the RNs I work with, but it became too much with the addition of another diabetic student. I wasn't (am not) able to do anything as thoroughly as I'd like, and besides needing to protect student safety, I have a nursing license to stay loyal to as well. It was a short and, I thought, sweet email that said just that: I'm concerned, and may I please have help. (Most other nurses in our district have been working with LVNs, some two, except for me, which is a whole different story.) I found out from our lead nurse that our boss then had to call her and ask who I am. I've worked for a man for five years who apparently doesn't know who I am...despite, you know, being the movement behind the lice policy change, a CPR/First Aid Instructor, and other resume highlights.

Anyway. I will still be a school nurse but am moving to a district that is twice the size of my current one, has three times the RN staff and about 6 times the LVN staff (seriously). My future boss talked with me at the interview, discussing the differences between my current district and theirs. Theirs, he said, would entail more supervising of LVN staff, less hands on with students, and more case management. It's the first opportunity I've ever had for growth in my career, and I'm taking it.

I start in August but to be officially hired and do the paperwork there, I need to officially resign at my current position, which I plan to do this week. Then I will finish out the school year as a lame duck of sorts. Hallelujah.



Losing the student last month was rough. As the principal said though: "We can't take them home." That doesn't stop me from wishing I could sometimes. 

I've added a new diabetic to my load, a newly diagnosed, wonderful 5th grader. You can't ask for a better student to work with: responsible, a motivated learner, she has it all. The problem is she's at a different site from my other two sites with diabetic students, so now I travel to three different school sites on a daily basis, and sometimes my fourth school site if they're lucky. Yesterday, I had a meeting at school #1, then went to #2, then back to #1 to see my diabetics, then #3 for more diabetics, then #4 to see my new diabetic. It is utter insanity to be driving around this much, and I'm going to try to leave any comments on my caseload at that.

Being out and about so much has given me the opportunity to see some new sights around town though. They include: chihuahuas walking unaccompanied on the sidewalk of a busy, four lane street, a man with a teardrop tattoos beneath both eyes, and mothers with kids in the baskets of their strollers (converting a single stroller into a double or triple). There's a reason I commute. 



I just received word this evening that one of my students passed away this weekend of an asthma attack. He was a kindergartner this year, one I've met several times for a variety of reasons, and he always left an impression on me. Just last week, I met his mom, when she brought in an inhaler for him to have at school. The paperwork for her son was insufficient, but I ended up accepting her son's emergency department discharge paperwork instead of the district medication form we use so she wouldn't have to wait for a doctor's appointment to have the medication at school. "I want inhalers here, we can work on formalizing the paperwork later," I told her. 

Her son came to me first thing that Tuesday morning, and I could see that he needed his inhaler, so I coached him through it. Just over an hour later, he came to my office again asking to use the inhaler. I listened to his lungs and explained to him that his lungs sounded clear. He said he was "scared" of having trouble breathing - and who could blame him - which was why he wanted his inhaler again. We talked at length about staying calm and techniques to do so, and he gave me a high five on his way out the door. 

And now, he is gone. 


Reason why I like my job #53254:

Because you just never know what these kids will say. A sixth grader comes in every day to take his Ritalin pill at the same time I see my diabetics. Each day, I say, "Hi [Student], what's new?" He always pauses to come up with something new, sometimes a new lunchbox or a new book he's reading. But today, I got the best answer yet - and I've been seeing him since he was in fourth grade. 

First, he answered my question with one of his own: "Do you know what sober means?"
"Well my dad is in a club and he got a chip for being 5 years sober!"


Salt and Ice Challenge

I like to think I'm up with current events of young folks, but when a middle school student came in this morning with what appeared to be a second degree burn from a "game" he had played over the weekend, I realized that I'm not all that current. It turns out kids like to play the "salt and ice challenge" in which they put salt on ice and stick it on a body part. Whoever holds it longest wins with the highest pain threshold, because what they are doing is essentially burning their skin. 

What? This is a game? I'm going to choose to lose, myself... 



I let a tearful second grader call home to get picked up. Her dad said he'd be on his way, so I sent her to her classroom to get her belongings. Soon after, the secretary asked me if the student went back to class, and I told her that I'd asked her to go get her backpack but she would be back soon...Another few minutes later, a classmate of the ill student came to my office to tell me the student had never come back to pick up her things. 

I brought the classmate to the front office where she reported, loudly and in front of the ill student's father, that the student was missing...Oh, crap. The secretary, the principal, and I quickly checked all bathrooms in the school, and her classroom again, and still we couldn't find her. The secretary used the PA system to ask the student to come to the office, and she came in through a side hallway. Apparently she went to her normal after school pick-up spot to wait for her dad. 

Sheesh, though. "Sorry we lost your daughter" is not exactly a statement you want to make to any parent, particularly in the neighborhood of this school. 


Poison Control Center

It's becoming more rare that something brand new happens on this job. I've seen concussions, broken bones, stitch-requiring lacerations, etc. But I finally had the privilege of calling Poison Control after a first grader ate one of those oxygen absorbing packets you see in items, the small salt-like package that is labeled all over with "DO NOT EAT." I didn't imagine it'd be too damaging, seeing as how those packages come in so many items, but I thought it would be better to be able to report to her parents that I'd called Poison Control than assuring a parent, "It'll be fine, I just 'googled' it." 

They're a lovely bunch over there that answer Poison Control calls, and as expected, the lady that answered the phone told me that the student would only have a stomachache as a result, and asked that we give her something to eat (to bind the oxygen absorber to something to help pass it through).

I told the student she would be okay, and to eat a snack out of her backpack when she got back to class. She burst into tears, refusing to leave, saying, "But it's still in my stomach, it's going to be stuck there! I want to get it out!" After a lengthy explanation of how poop works, she agreed she'd have a snack, and went on her way. Aww...First graders are precious. 


It Does a Body Good

A student that was in my office while waiting for a ride home watched me pack up my stuff to go home. I pulled my jar of pumped breastmilk out of the refrigerator in front of her, and put it in my purse. "What's that?" she asked. I told her it was milk, and thought we could leave it at that. But no, she wanted to comment further, "Oh, weird! I thought it was cream, because it has that thicker layer on top like cream does." Some kids are so observant...


Manic Monday

We were off for two weeks, although I can hardly say flying across the country with an almost nine month old just itching to crawl was a restful break. I was thrown back into things Monday, beginning with an 8:30 a.m. 504 meeting. In nearly five years, I have never been to a 504 meeting that has started on time, so I didn't sweat running a few minutes late...only to find that, indeed, this would be the one that started promptly at 8:30. Oops. 

The bell system wasn't working at school, but at some point classes started and minutes later, one of the PE teachers was walking a bloodied student into my office. He'd run into a wall, broken his glasses, and had a cut on his eyebrow that dripped blood all over his face, shirt, and shorts. I cleaned him up and we called his mom, who apparently seemed to disregard the seriousness of it, to find someone to pick him up. The student got dizzy, and I called mom back to reiterate that he needed to get picked up immediately. Thankfully, his grandfather arrived before I felt like I needed to call 911, but his grandfather laughed off the injury. I told him head injuries can be serious, handed over a head injury information sheet, and sent them on their way. I found out the next day the student did have a concussion. 

Soon after this, a teacher popped into my office, telling me a student was present that had had mono over the break. Despite what people like to think, mono is not the most contagious thing ever, but before I knew it the teacher was telling me about his trip to England coming up in February and how he couldn't afford to get mono. "Me neither," I said, thinking to myself, "I'm not planning on making out with the student so I don't think it'll be a problem for me." Still, I played the politician's role, listened to his concerns, and called the student in. I talked with the student, told her she was welcome to stay, and told the secretaries about my decision so that when the teacher complained about it they'd have a leg up on it. I can only imagine the teacher's reaction when I sent her back to class. 

At lunch, a severely asthmatic student came into my office coughin
g, and his inhaler did little to alleviate his symptoms. He's a frequent flyer, always with a bark-like, painful sounding asthmatic cough, and he called his unsympathetic mom, who came to get him at her convenience an hour later, so he could go home and do his breathing treatment. She berated him in front of the entire office for calling her, saying, "We need to get this under control, you can't keep calling me." I nodded in agreement thinking she was talking about his asthma, and then I heard her continue on to say that he just needed to suck it up and stay at school. Um...your kid can hardly breathe, lady. Please take him. Thankfully she did take him this time, but I'm not looking forward to the next time I'm stranding in the office with him. 

I had grand plans to start working on an assignment for my credential program, but needless to say, I didn't get a chance to do that on Monday.