Now, if you know anyone who is a nurse or trying to make YOU become a nurse, one of the things you’ll hear a lot of is this: “But nursing has so many opportunities.” And it’s true.

IF (and there’s always an IF or a BUTT–hehe–isn’t there?) you have sucked it up and completed your floor rotation for a couple of years. Which I had not done. And I was not about to do, because I’d have ended up in Happy Horse-Shit Sanitarium drooling and twitching. Having an autistic kid had tried my sanity enough and it just wasn’t going to happen for me.

So, when staring down the nose at paying two mortgages, my (significantly less) fat butt kicked into gear. I interviewed for such positions as a 3-11PM on an Ortho/Neuro floor where the average patient ration was something like 6-7. That’s a fucking ton of people who can’t walk needing you to help them do, well, anything.

Then there was the Sunshine Nursing Home. I walked in, interviewed, noticed that the small vestibule between the outside and inside smelled like piss and was told by a very sad looking RN that if I wanted this job (gestures around sadly) to just call her back. Yeah. No. Thanks. Not thinking that suicide is in the cards for me.

My last beacon of hope (before I went to the dark side of case management) was through a temp agency. While I wasn’t thrilled about being given an hours notice of potential work for a night, they paid really fucking well, and I didn’t have to go on a gazillion interviews and explain yet again why I’d taken a break between graduation and that point in time (a couple of months). Tedious, is thy name.

But something that they had for me that didn’t require huge amounts of floor training was at a prison. A Juvenile Prison. I’d be filling in for a staff nurse who was going to be out for brain surgery. Weekends, hours were great, and it was about 20 minutes from my house.

Fucking sweet.

I drove to my parents house, anxious to share the news and pick up my son, and was greeted with a whole lot of, “you’re kidding, right?” and “please tell me you’re kidding.” The Daver was okay with it but no one else could believe that not only was I about to go work in jail, but that I was thrilled about it.

I reported for duty on the ass-crack of my first morning and was immediately given a huge ass key chain. See, now you make fun of janitors for having a fucking pocket full of keys, but I thought it was rad. I was given a brief orientation by the head RN and left to my own devices after being warned not to let the kids lock me in the med room.

Okay, that mental picture is making me laugh. O! Vicodin you wily bastard!

This, this I could do, I told myself as I wheeled the cart of meds around passing out drugs and making sure the kids swallowed them. Apparently they’d been having problems with kids hoarding NSAIDS.

(no one said teenagers were smart all of the time)

It was a fucking great gig: I never had to put any of the kids in the time-out room, and despite the head RN worrying about my pasty ass the kids and I got along pretty well. No one locked me in the med room. Not even once.

I *loved* it. I’m a rare breed who happens to love teenagers–even the fucked up asshole ones–and despite the fact that I appeared to be a pushover, they learned pretty quickly that I was a force to be reckoned with. Plus, how cool is it to work in a prison? Seriously now.

The lady I was covering for recovered much more quickly than she’d anticipated (mayhap like a certain DAUGHTER of mine who kick the ass of brain surgery. Hells yes!) and I was summarily left jobless again.

The rest of the story is even more boring and tedious, but a quick recap: ended up in case management/hospice and worked on extending benefits for those at the end of their life.

(Do I know how to pick uplifting jobs or WHAT?)

But shit, if I could go back to work at the jail again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. If for no other reason than that I could legitimately whistle Folsom Prison Blues while I worked.

40 thoughts on “…Just To Watch Him Die

  1. Have you ever watched that Juvies show on MTV? It’s pretty interesting. I always feel bad for kids in jail, but their deviant little asses probably deserved to be there.

    What’s NSAIDS?

  2. LMAO@ Folsom Prison Blues!!

    And I bet in the job at the prison it was something different everyday. Lord knows if you can depend on teenagers for anything, it’s to shake things up.

    You might want to look at getting back into that. You sound as thought you loved the shit out of it, so why not look into it again in the future?

  3. The jail sounds AWESOME!! I’d have eaten that up in a heartbeat!!

    As for the piss-scented nursing home- I turned a lot of those down too… ugh. I think the only reason nurses working there don’t off themselves is because they’re pinching narcotics off the drug cart!! (it’s the only way I’d make it through an HOUR there!!)

  4. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across this blog but THANK YOU for your honesty about nursing. I have one semester left, no real ambition to decide where I want to work or what field I want to go in, and I don’t feel guilty about that.

    I wasn’t one that grew up wanting to be a nurse, nor did I have some experience where a nurse saved the life of a loved one and inspired me to become a nurse. I love taking care of people, but working at a hospital has made me wonder what on earth made me enroll in nursing school

  5. I hate teenagers – all of them. I didn’t even like teenagers when I WAS a teenager!
    Oh yeah… Kent heard a lot of that “opportunity” crap and was getting sucked into the nursing thing but after looking into the programs (and, coincidentally, hearing he’d have to wipe peoples’ asses) he decided not to do it. I think you asked me once what he decided and I’m a jerkface so I never answered. xoxo

  6. See, I think that’s amazing that you liked it there. I wouldn’t last a single second. I hate teenagers (even when I was one, I was planning at the time to go into teaching, and I was amazed that anyone would want to work with people that age); I’m a total pushover; and I can’t stand not feeling like I’m actually making things better. That’s not to say that job isn’t important; it clearly is. But for example, my husband is a counselor who works with people dealing with mental illness and chemical dependency. There are some days (and some clients) where all he can do is try not to make things worse. Making things noticeably better just isn’t a guaranteed part of the job. And my hat goes off to people who can manage that kind of job, because I think I would just get sucked into despair.

    So from walking the halls in juvenile prison to microbiology? You pick some cool careers!

  7. I can’t even imagine doing that. My husband worked for almost 2 years in a group home for aggressive developmentally disabled kids, ages 9-15. These were kids that were one step down from the ones that you worked for. They were kids that had raped and been raped, beaten and all had some form of mental issues. Schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD…if there is a problem, one of them had it. The youngest kid had been in the home since he was 5, when he had raped his baby sister. At 5. Just heartbreaking.

    He finally quit when he got attacked by a kid with pruning sheers (don’t even ask where he got them) and asked for a day off to recover from the mental stress (thankfully he wasn’t hurt) and they said he couldn’t have the day.

    It drained me and I didn’t even have to work with the kids! But he loved it too, especially feeling like he was making a difference. Even if it was just a little bit.

  8. so when my brood starts hitting 13 i can just send em on to Aunt Becky right? And if not ALL of them, then at least tessa, right? right?

  9. Dude. I can totally see you working at a prison. That’s awesome. I would work at a prison for kids in a heart beat! (Not grown ups. I can NEVER work with grown ups ever again!)

  10. My SIL has been a nurse for oh, about…9 months now. 3 months ago she left for the dark side of case management. It did not take her long to figure out she’d rather deal with insurance companies than patients and doctors.

  11. There are so many great prison songs. It’s hard to chose which to whistle while watching over teenagers. 😉 Sounds like a good job to me, but I ain’t all there. 🙂

  12. My first-born just got a job as a C.O. at a prison. He is maybe 5’7″ and weighs 130 lbs. I begged him to remember to walk in the center of the aisle. These aren’t Juveniles, though. These guys are big, scary dudes like in “Alice’s Restaraunt”

  13. NSAIDS stands for non steroidal anti inflammatory’s. In other words motrin and advil.

    Sounds like an awesome job! It really does. My sister was an ER nurse and has n’t been able to go back since a bad car accident she had (totally her fault so don’t feel sorry for her–I don’t!) so she got a job at a dermatologists office doing laser hair removal. Pretty good gig. Maybe you could look itno something like that. think of the awesome benefits! Free laser hair removal!

  14. I love teenagers! I always said with every year my kids got more fun! Even those teenage years were great…….I loved having them at the house (Mine and their frineds). I never knew how many would be at dinner, or how many would be sleeping over…..
    Best years of my life! To this day when any of them are in town they stop over to visit “mom”.
    It’s all in your perspective. I would have enjoyed the juvenile prison….

  15. You are braver than I – I hate kids and could never handle the emotional part of working with terminal patients.

    Plus, I watched Oz on HBO and would always worry about being shanked.

  16. I LOVE teenagers. I used to teach jr. high and then was intake and assessment director at a psych. hospital. My favorite is when they say, “Fuck you.” I just look at them coolly and say, “That’s not an option for you.” Great post!

  17. There are a lot of opportunities out there for nurses… Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad opportunities mixed right in with the good ones!

  18. I once worked doing job placement for felons. I broke my ankle and was out for a few weeks while someone tempd my position. I was fired for needing to much time off. While I was gone one of the ex-cons raped and robbed my boss & the temp. They never recovered the buisness in that location. I have never ever felt so blessed to have been fired EVER! Until then

  19. So why again is your dream job microbiology PhD? Being a prison nurse for kiddies sounds so much cooler! As a compromise, can’t you do microbiology in the prison? I’m sure they have some pretty cool bacteria laying around.

  20. Aunt Becky has the keys to a medicine closet. I must be dreaming. Oh wait, ‘had’ the keys. Damn it.

  21. I love teens, too. Always have. As long as they know that you’ll take no shit from them, they’re pretty easy to deal with. Hell, give me a teen full of angst over a three-year old full of whiny attitude any day 😉

  22. Prison nurse definitely sounds like an interesting job. Did I mention that I have decided to go to nursing school??? 27 isn’t too old for a career change is it?

  23. Wow- as a fellow nurse I totally hear you. Can I also say thank you for always being there for me on our journey. You are so absolutely sweet. I remember you words from when I was in the hospital with Brynn…you are absolutely the best!

  24. Bless you for working with troubled teens. I’m so glad there are people out there who can do it. In my working days, I stuck to adult rehab myself. Although they acted like teens sometimes, I didn’t feel guilty about the occasional daydream of throttling them.

  25. well lets see, i am currently in nursing school. and today is just another one of them days where i came home from totally bombing a flippin test, that i sat here wondering, why? why why oh why, did i WANT to go to nursing school???? i love my job i currently have. if i could actually afford to live on what i am making at that job……hahahahaha. fat chance.

    last week, we actually had our clinicals at the local max juvie joint here. omg, better than NICU, lemme tell ya!

    i just wanna win the lottery and open a florist shop/nursery and play outside for the rest of my life. ha

  26. And now I have the “Folsom Prison Blues” going head to head with “Teenagers” in my brain. Fantastic!! I love reading about your nursing experiences – had I been forced to go into nursing, I now know just what it would’ve been like. 🙂

    I like *my* teenagers, and I suspect I would like others if I ever got off my ass and got to know a few, (I certainly still seem to THINK and TALK like one) but …. yeah.

    Xanax salt lick – there’s an idea whose time has surely come. 😀

  27. Some of the best jobs I ever had involved working with weirdo teenagers. I loved every stinking minute of it.

    When Will was in the NICU, I had a passing thought that I could be a damn good nurse. And then my emotions took over. No effing way. I can do the science but I would be all messed up and depressed all day. That, and the adhesive/antiseptic smell in hospitals makes me want to gnaw on a xanax salt lick.

  28. Thanks for the belated birthday wishes 🙂 Anyway, interesting you should discuss this, because right now I find myself in that spot of trying to figure out what’s next, and my choices seem to be teaching or nursing. But perhaps it’s more the IDEA of nursing that appeals to me, rather than the fairly wretched work itself….hmmm….

  29. You know, my methadone clinic stint usually makes people wince, but it wasn’t that bad either. Most of those people were there because they wanted to overcome their issues…most.

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