Posts filed under New York Times

How to Quantify a Nurse’s ‘Gut Feelings’

At the start of my shift, at 7 a.m., my patient, newly admitted a few days before for a blood cancer, was talking and acting normally. By the end of my shift, 12 hours later, she had grown confused and her speech was garbled. A CT scan revealed bleeding in her brain. She was sent to intensive care and died the next day.

Posted on August 12, 2018 and filed under New York Times.

Many Drugs and Many Doctors Lead to Many Mistakes

I am a home hospice nurse, and when I get new patients after they have been discharged from the hospital, the list of drugs included in their paperwork is always wrong. Some mistakes are minor: The list includes a relatively harmless drug the patient no longer needs or it leaves off a minor dose adjustment. But other mistakes are more serious — the list may include an important prescription the patient never knew to fill or may have the patient on two medications that can be dangerous when taken together.

Posted on March 14, 2018 and filed under New York Times.

Breast Cancer is Serious. Pink Is Not.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I have breast cancer. The country is fully pinked out in support of breast cancer screening and research, and though I know all the pink is meant to make me feel good, to tell me that the entire country has my back, I actually find it profoundly alienating. Pink is not a serious color, though cancer is a very serious disease. Pink is about femininity; cancer is about staying alive.

Posted on October 30, 2017 and filed under New York Times.

The Real Problem With the Health Care Bill

With the American Health Care Act headed to the Senate — and possibly President Trump’s desk — it’s important to step back from the debate over the bill’s details and recognize two essential truths about American health care.

Posted on May 10, 2017 and filed under New York Times.

When Hospital Paperwork Crowds Out Hospital Care

A FRIEND was recently hospitalized after a bicycle accident. At one point a nursing student, together with a more senior nurse, rolled a computer on wheels into the room and asked my friend to rate her pain on a scale of 1 to 10.

She mumbled, “4 to 5.” The student put 5 into the computer — and then they left, without further inquiring about, or relieving, my friend’s pain.

Posted on December 20, 2015 and filed under New York Times.

Finding the Meaning of Death in a Concert Hall

“Death and Transfiguration,” a 25-minute tone poem by Richard Strauss, is the type of entertainment I’ve tried to avoid since becoming a hospice nurse. I worry it will make me feel the job too deeply in my time off. But this performance was by the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, in which my son plays first violin, so we went.

Posted on October 3, 2015 and filed under New York Times.

Choosing How We Die

IN 1975 Shirley Dinnerstein, a 64-year-old Massachusetts woman, learned she had Alzheimer’s disease. Three years later she was in an “essentially vegetative state,” according to her case records, and a court was deciding whether to honor her previously expressed wish not to be resuscitated if she died. The court ruled in her favor, establishing, for the first time, that patients’ care choices at the end of life could be officially documented in the medical record without being validated in court.

Posted on July 24, 2015 and filed under New York Times.

THE END - Love, Death and Spaghetti

“Theresa, you gonna sit, you gonna eat.” My orientation for hospice nursing didn’t cover this — an Italian grandmother who was clearly not going to talk to me about her dying husband unless I sat at the dinner table with her family and ate. Well, when in Rome, I decided, and obediently pulled up a chair.

Posted on April 13, 2015 and filed under New York Times.