Thursday, August 09, 2012

"all i need is jesus . . . and two extra strength tylenol"

Greetings from my new home! That’s right, I moved, making the two-year stint in my last apartment the longest I’ve lived continuously in any one place since starting college. (Strangely, that’s also about the same amount of time I’ve ever stayed at a job, or sustained a romantic relationship … this doesn’t say anything about me, does it??? That I've had a lot of learning experiences? Yes! Good answer.) Anyway, here are some tips I gained from the latest of my many relocations.

1. If at all possible, move into a place with a garbage disposal. Seriously, it will change your life. My daily stress has been reduced by at least 20% now that I can just wash my strawberry tops, French-pressed coffee grounds, and stuck-to-the-bottom-of-the-pot rice grains down the drain.

2. Do not succumb to laziness and Oprah by hiring 1-800-GOT-JUNK to remove things you no longer want and don’t have the energy to list on Craigslist. Although they will ensure your old dust collectors don't go to waste if possible (like by finding places to donate working electronics so people will actually use them), they cost more than hiring movers to move ALL of your stuff, and they don't tell you this until they get there. Better to donate it to my favorite thrift store, The Sidewalk.

3. Speaking of, if you live in Baltimore, do go to the 7-Eleven on South Broadway in your U-Haul and hire the first three men from Central and South America who jump into the passenger seat to move all of your stuff. Overpay them, because they will be friendly and reassuring and make fun of you when you get the truck with a 14-foot trailer stuck in the alley behind your new house and have to back it out about 100 feet ("Ella esta nerviosa! Hahaha!"). They will then get behind the wheel and do it for you.

4. Don’t drink and move, as much as you feel you deserve it, especially if you have to work a bunch of days in a row afterward, because then you may weaken your immune system and come down with a nasty respiratory infection that will cause you to miss two 12-hour shifts while you are home feverish and "managing your respiratory secretions with a tissue," and you don't get sick time yet so your shenanigans just cost you, like, three times what 1-800-GOT-JUNK did. Just saying.

And last but not least, here are a few recent highlights and fun facts from the world of psych nursing... 

The title of this post is a quote from one of my favorite patients in recent memory. She was the first actively psychotic patient I got to interview. Psychosis is fascinating--in addition to typical hyperreligiosity, this patient also had delusions of grandeur, specifically that she was an undercover cop. She had come to our unit after real cops found her sleeping in an abandoned building. When I asked about her living situation, she told me she lived in an "abandominium." On a test of cognitive functioning, she was asked to write a sentence and wrote "[Patient] was here," in mirror writing. She stated that what she wrote looked normal to her. Apparently mirror writing can be caused by damage to the brain's left hemisphere. Also, by being Leonardo DaVinci. It even happens in Chinese!

I have learned lots of new vocabulary over the last few weeks. Here are a few of my favorites:

Intermittent Explosive Disorder -- "A behavioral disorder characterized by extreme expressions of anger, often to the point of violence, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand." To put it mildly.

Neurovegetative -- The definition isn't actually terribly exciting (pertaining to the autonomic, aka, apparently, "vegetative" nervous system; and for our purposes it refers to illness indicators such as sleep, appetite, and concentration). I just like that I now get to describe people as "neurovegetatively intact."

Zone of Helpfulness -- The zone to which all mental health practitioners should aspire to be in (i.e., neither underinvolved or overinvolved).

Humor -- On a textbook page of therapeutic communication techniques (e.g., active listening, broad openings, restating, theme identification), humor is described as "the discharge of energy through the comic enjoyment of the imperfect." I've never quite thought about it that way!

At the beginning of every shift we get a report sheet that contains a brief synopsis, pertinent information, and updates on each patient. After one patient's name, in bold: “Patient needs to wear pants when out of his room.” Ahem. Updates are noted daily and generally include a major treatment change, a discharge plan, etc. A recent update for another patient: "7/30/12: Patient is really a rapper." (Apparently a staff member had confirmed a prior rap career of a patient who claimed as much.)

A nurse told me a story of a former patient who was seen wearing sunglasses out in the Day Area of the unit. She asked him why he was wearing sunglasses. He responded, "Because my future looks bright."

Aaaand I'm out.

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