Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nurse Ratched: Agent of the Combine

Nurse Ratched is alive and well.  Remember her from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest?  The ever-handy cheat sheet literary shortcut, Cliff's Notes, describes to a T one such "nurse" with whom I have locked horns for the last few days.  She evidentally graduated summa cum-laude from the Nurse Ratched Memorial School of Medical Protocol & Discipline.

I have been her personal McMurphy.

Cliff's:  "Nurse Ratched is ...a scheming, manipulative agent of the Combine ..."

With orders from Dr. Norma Popsiclehands to move my case along with all possible speed because of the potential DANGER inherent in having a MASS in my ABDOMEN around my VENA CAVA, Ms. Biopsy Coordinator at the Big Christian Hospital to which I was referred was not impressed with that one iota.  No sense of urgency will interefere with her carefully wrought power structure in Radiology.  She dug in her heels in a "we see shit like this everyday" way and immediately thumped the book on protocol. 

When she requested that I hand deliver my CAT scan films to her to "speed up the process," I complied like a bunny on steroids.  Sliding into a seat next to me in the waiting room at Radiology, she launched into the boilerplate litany of instructions and conditions with a measured low-toned patronizingly saccharine voice. She was smiling the whole time, hoping, I am sure, for a dull, shocky, freaked out lamb who will just deliver herself unquestioningly into the hands of the people who "know best"  but clearly studying me for any hint of rebellion, any hint of McMurphy in there screwing up her dictates.  Looking directly into her eyes, I sensed a Ratched-esque dictator complex.  It was ON, in a big way.

She:  When scheduled you will  arrive two hours early, do your paperwork, change into a gown and we will run an IV.  Bring a list of all medications you are taking. We will be taking blood at that time to run tests.

Me:  Since you will be jamming a really large long needle into my stomach, you're going to  put me out right?

She:  (Her face adopting the rigor of the realization that I am not lamb-like.)  No, you will receive local anesthetic and something to relax you.  You will need to be able to respond to direction.  Doctor will  come to speak with you and at that time it is my suggestion you ask for your relaxation meds then otherwise he will assume you will not need any.  He's the boss and he'll determine how much.  The nurses will administer per his orders. So be nice to them, they've got the candy.  Please have a driver to bring you home who is over 18 years of age since there may be instructions.  But first, Doctor will look at your films and approve or disapprove your biopsy. He will look at them Monday....

Me:  But it's Friday.  Just after lunch. You know this is urgent. Can he look at them today please and can we schedule the biopsy for this weekend or Monday?

She:  No, he cannot.  He will look at the films Monday and after he approves or disapproves them, we will make your appointment at that time.

Me:  For Tuesday right?

She:  I can't guarantee that...

Me:  (Breathing somewhat faster now) What constitutes an approval?

She:  There are two criteria - is it large enough and can he get to it.

Me:  Fine, I can tell you how big it is, my paperwork from the ultrasound and the CT scan tell you how big it is,  and that it is right there under my rib cage...easy access.  It's a no-brainer. Can't he just throw those x-rays up on the light wall and look today and do me Monday at the latest?

Cliff's:   Ratched tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine. The slightest thing messy or out of kilter or in the way ties her into a little white knot of tight-smiled fury.

She:  (Here she steels her jaw, but still smiling with a set of little chicklet teeth gritting like a skeleton.) I will be presenting your films to him Monday...

Me: You would let me wait an entire weekend about this when time may mean the difference? That's cruel and unusual, don't you think? Where is he?  May I please speak with him now...

She:  He's in a procedure right now and cannot be disturbed...

Me:  I'll wait.

She:  He will not be free for the rest of the afternoon.  I can guarantee he will not have one spare moment...his schedule is full.  He's the boss you know.

Me:   Holy hell woman!  Hey! I don't care if you and Doctor have a suite at the Bohemian and plan to complete the kama sutra all night long, I'm the one with the tumor! That makes me the boss!  You pretentsious unyielding cruelly controlling bitch!

Cliff's: The name Ratched is also a pun of "ratchet," which is a both a verb and a noun for a device that uses a twisting motion to tighten bolts into place. Like a ratchet wrench she keeps her patients 'adjusted,' but like a ratchet, a gear in the Combine, she is herself mechanically enmeshed.

With that utterance, and the sour closed-down look on her officious face, I knew it was over with this crew.  And sure enough, Doctor had not even blown his nose in the direction of my films by Monday afternoon, and Ms. Biopsy Coordinator had someone else begin communicating with me, Ms. Biopsy Coordinator 2, who informed me that they could only pencil in an appointment for me in another week. And that was only IF Doctor approves.

SFX:  Cars crash, metal on metal screeeeeeeeeeeeeeech, crump! Horn blares and doesn't stop...

Jump cut:  Dr. Norma and her office administrator, The Amazing Carmen, have me reporting to another hospital at 6 a.m. tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving, where they had the time, the compassion and the wherewithal to help me out. 

McMurphy put the sink through the window this time.  The Chief just laughs.

All These Things I've Done -The Killers


  1. On my top five all time movie list...yup, OFOTCCN. Well done, had me laughing thru your frustration.

    Be well girl. Have the Best Thanksgiving Ever and I'll be back next week. (puter issue at home so I'll be readin, just not able to comment)

  2. Sounds like Nurse Wretched, with Boss Doctor wishing he were doing the wild thing but instead out on the links with a different set of balls. Because, after all, the Icy Nurse, who probably spawns asexually, "accidentally" caught his in a clamp years before.

  3. I've seen you in action... Nurse Bitchface has NO idea of the power you may wield. Sorry that this is all hapopening. Glad that you've been "reffered"...

    only words of comfort and love, as I really have no advice... I love you Linnnnn... and "mass" = "boss" I agree.

  4. Glad you were hooked up to a facility that had time for an urgent case! Holy moly that is insane.

  5. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!! keep sqeaking, and remember that deep down Nurse Ratched was nothin' but a giant wus. Did she really refer to the Doctor as "Doctor"? Like that's his name? annoying.

  6. She did indeed refer to him as Doctor. Not Dr. So-and-so, or Dr. (insert Firstanme here), or even the more familiar yet comforting Doc. The other hospital I went to was amazing - 180 degrees. I'll write soon about that...

  7. Thank you, Linda. I know this person - in fact I have known many of them. There is nothing to be done. They are too involved in their own situation to be involved in anyone else's. No empathy. There should be a test for that before nursing school admission. Anatomy can be taught, but one must be born with a kind heart.


Come on! Blurt, rant or engage in verbal disrobement! Anything goes, so indulge yourself right here, right now.