Friday, May 17, 2013


I am cynical. Resolutely. I embrace it.

Yes, Merriam-Webster. I am captious. I am peevish.

I am contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives.

One of the examples: Cynical people say that there is no such thing as true love.

I used to believe there were such a thing as true love. I searched for it tirelessly, I gave myself up and over to what I thought it was. But c'est la vie, l'amour m'├ęchappe. Humans are imperfect, hence there is no true love. Just love of the imperfect, as best we can.

At work last night, someone said, "I had no idea you were such a misanthrope." I said, "I know. I smile so sweetly; it's easy to be confused." One of my cynical coworkers said with a wink, "Oh, but she could never hide the truth from me."

I remember the way I used to be. I used to have faith in human nature. I used to believe that people would do the best they could; that they'd work to help others and had good intentions. Some people do. I don't distrust all humans, but we are a very self-interested lot. Myself included.

And even by ancient definitions, I am pretty cynical. The Cynics, whose philosophy developed as an offshoot of Socratic thought, worked to achieve arete, very roughly translated as personal virtue/perfection (there is no direct English equivalent) by overcoming distracting thoughts, emotions, and life circumstances. Cynics didn't give a shit about social conventions or prettiness. They were the original anarchists. Living on the margins and calling things as they were didn't make the Cynics too popular, either. They were too outspoken and frank for middle-of-the-road folk. Sound familiar?

I am trying to find the place, that place, my place in the garden where I am safe; where no one can fail me. I made the mistake of letting people in, and...uh oh. There is always the possibility of transcendence when you go out on a limb, but experience has shown that's highly unlikely. Very unlikely, indeed. And where do I end up when I try to see if people have changed? With an angry dragon. People are far too predictable, and I am far too easy to abandon. I even say, "Thank you!" for the experience. Damn that people-pleasing conditioning.

I was talking to Nalini this morning about being fucked up. Am I kryptonite? Does it come back to my existence being some horrid disturbance in the force? Why did the metaphorical condom break? What is it that makes me *too much*? Nalini, sagely, says again and again, and as always: although it's always good to consider the common denominator in all of this (me), there are also a lot of fucked up people who have issues of their own, compounded with an inability to deal with conflict, and terrible manners.

Which leads me to last night on the unit. I had a patient who was making great progress when I took report; six centimeters dilated, hoping for a natural birth. There were students around, and the clinical instructor asked me if I would accept one. I agreed, of course, as I expected to have a delivery, and students always want a delivery. I don't mind students, and usually students are eager and useful. They usually volunteer to take vitals and ask questions and comb through the chart and try to make the most of six hours on the floor. Not so this time. First words: "I am only here to watch." WTF? This is a clinical assignment. No, she wasn't going to chart because of EPIC, but what about thinking and doing some work, some assessment, taking initiative? She didn't volunteer to do anything, and strayed from the room and my side as often as she could, even when I'd try to get her involved. She was disinterested, and I didn't care. Normally I would say something and change up my teaching style, but I was over it. The student missed seeing the MD come to the room and perform an artificial rupture of membranes because she wasn't with me. The clinical instructor, whom I admire, told me that this student in particular was "upset" that in her three days on the unit she hadn't seen a delivery. I understand. In my three days on the unit for my Maternal-Child Health rotation, I also didn't see a delivery, but I persevered and made it happen, didn't only complain. And at the same time the student was complaining, she was asking to leave *early* to go study for an exam. I have no time for that shit. And when I was at the desk monitoring and charting, she told me she wanted to sit with her friends in the break room and study with her friends. I was horribly unimpressed. I wish I had said, straight up, "You scare me. I don't want you taking care of me, my family, or any of my friends should you ever get a license, which you shouldn't. Nursing isn't about exams, it's about paying attention to patients."

The student kept asking me when my patient would deliver. I couldn't answer that. One never knows, especially with a first-time mom; could have been one hour or four. The student ended staying over, however, and my patient did deliver. The student was useless, although she thanked me profusely for "giving her a delivery." I didn't do anything except my job. Again, gross for that false gushiness. I told her that I have shifts in which I will have two deliveries, and shifts in which I have none. Her concept of L&D nursing is strange and very self-focused: it was about *her* experience and not the patients'. Well, I thought: Maybe communicate and be polite and help, and things will happen. Ever hear of being a good politician? No. Of course not.

I am so disgusted today and want to forget yesterday, but experiences like that are haunting. I have such difficulty forgetting the bad things.

I am now set to be a clinical instructor in the fall, but I am anxious after last night's experience. I fear it's going to be just like teaching at UC Berkeley at San Jose State. Entitled students whining, just like my terrible cohort at Samuel Merritt who made our professors' lives hell without knowing what they were talking about. "We're in grad school, and grad students don't use Power Point." What?!?

I can write the best syllabus ever, set out my expectations, and there will still be those people, the ones who bother me like thorns. Only in nursing my concern is more pressing than in art history because these students can eventually kill people. Why go into nursing if you're not passionate about seriously taking care of people? Yeah, I know, the money. But nursing is back-breaking and humiliating at times, and our patients entrust us with their lives. I forget that nursing doesn't always attract the brightest, most thoughtful people, and that I ended up in the field by felicitous accident.

I despise entitled ostriches. I abhor humans who cannot put themselves in other people's shoes.

I also have to say that it's frightening now to know what goes on behind the curtain of health care. I know what to ask, and when to fire nurses and physicians. Average people don't. I feel bad for them. Ignorance can be bliss, but it can also kill you. Ask providers questions, lots of questions, and if they cannot answer them intelligently, or make you feel bad for asking them, get rid of them.

Now that's off my chest: I am glad to be on strike for a week. Sutter is claiming they don't know why we're striking. Umm, try reading our contract and looking at your "last, best, and final offer," and seeing how you're being incredibly disrespectful to us. And then give us our contract.

Putting on my red and going to the strike line! Go RNs!!!

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