Nurse Ratched’s Caregiving Advice

 

Nurse Ratched and Patient LarryEverybody is talking about the results of the 2016 Oscars. But four decades ago, the classic 1975 movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” won all five major Academy Awards. The poignant drama chronicled the plight of young Jack Nicholson’s character Randle McMurphy who was confined to a state mental institution. This was not a Utopian facility where the nurses and doctors were lovers of people, or even keepers of the Hippocratic Oath. Instead, this description of life in a psychiatric facility vividly depicted the horrors of the treatment of some patients before mental health reforms.

Especially noteworthy in the film was actress Louise Fletcher’s 1976 Oscar winning portrayal of the brutally hardhearted and dictatorial Nurse Ratched. This fictional character is everything a good nurse would never want to be. The American Film Institute designated Ratched as the fifth greatest film villain of all time in their series 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains. Today, her criminal treatment of patients would be grounds for a medical malpractice suit of dynamic proportions.

Although I don’t think I’m as bad as Mildred Ratched, I must confess that I possess no aptitude for medical practices. I have a queasy stomach, and am rather lacking on the virtue of patience. Therefore, caregiving was definitely not at the top of my list for life tasks. Yet a decade ago, while caregiving for my husband following his third major surgery in eight months, I received an email addressed to “Nurse Ratchet.” The sender, a longtime friend had misspelled the sadistic caregiver’s name, but I knew instantly who she was referring to.

Despite my lack of nursing skills, like many other spouses and adult children, the lot of temporary caregiving had fallen on my shoulders. In light of this, I promised a registered nurse who really is a modern day Florence Nightingale, that when I made it through my season of caregiving, I would compile a list of practical tips for others facing the daunting task.

First, a caregiver must determine to maintain his or her sense of humor, be organized, and carefully prepare for this awesome responsibility. If possible, find a way to make the room where your loved one will be recuperating as dark as possible during daylight hours. This does not mean that you cannot shower your “sickie” with sunshine if they desire. But when pain or discomfort has kept them up during the midnight hours, window coverings will help simulate nighttime so they can rest. To avoid unnecessary expense, you can purchase used drapes to cover windows at a thrift store or garage sale.

Second, check with your physician’s office about the medical equipment that will bePill bottle required. If a hospital bed is necessary, have it in place before your charge arrives home. Stock up on other supplies such as a walker, cane, crutches, shower seat, etc. and even prescriptions. Fill your cupboards and refrigerator with non-perishable groceries since it might be quite awhile before you will be able to leave your patient unattended. Prepare a journal to record administered medications, treatments, and even meals to avoid confusion.

Then there is entertainment to think about since the most difficult patient is a bored patient. Make sure a television with a remote can be readily viewed from the hospital bed. Plan a pre-op trip to your local library, to check out interesting books and make a must see list for videos. When consulting with medical professionals write down the questions that you want to ask and request any resources that might be available for your situation. Don’t try to be superman or superwoman, but whenever possible ask for assistance from relatives, friends, or your church by communicating your specific needs.

List of MedicinesThe caregiver has to get out and you can’t allow self-imposed guilt to keep you from taking care of yourself. Exercise, eat right, sleep whenever possible, and remember that “this too shall pass.” Most of all, forgive the world for moving full speed ahead and forgetting your difficult situation. The flowers, cards, calls, and visits will probably trickle off rather quickly, since life goes on. If you are a long-term caregiver like millions of Americans, finding a support group could provide a vital network to alleviate the stress and isolation this responsibility can create. But if you become severely depressed seek professional counseling. After the caregiving season ends, some caregivers also experience a temporary depression unsure of their next purpose. Hopefully, this won’t last long, because life has a way of continually presenting us with new tasks and adventures.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.

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The Danger of Distracted Driving

Highway at nightI recognized the small truck right away. The logo on the vehicle’s door represented a local company that I respected. One that I had done business with in the past. Driving next to the pick-up on a two lane highway outside of town, we were stopped by a red light in adjacent lanes. The sun had set over an hour earlier. Even though it was dark, the light from a cellphone clasped in the hands of a young female driver illuminated the truck’s cab. Her long hair obscured most of her face, because she was glancing down glued to her cellphone screen instead of the road in front of her. Not only that, but when the light turned green, mesmerized by a text or Facebook post, she didn’t move.

After driving about a half mile down the 50 mph highway, I looked in my rearview mirror concerned that she would get hit from behind. The mother in me frantically wanted to warn her to start moving. Thankfully, she finally did. At the next red light, it happened all over again. The distracted girl remained oblivious to her surroundings engrossed in the phone. A second time the truck sat still when the light turned green. This time when I glanced back, the mother in me wanted to take her car keys away.

As a nation, we are justifiably concerned over the possibility of another terrorist attack. Yet in all probability, it’s a driver more interested in their iPhone than safe driving practices that could contribute to our demise. A September Wall Street Journal article reported that traffic fatalities surged 14% (NSC statistics) in the first half of 2015 blamed on more drivers, cheaper gas, catastrophic weather, etc. But famed Berkshire-Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet says that he believes distracted driving could be an “overlooked contributor.”

In reality, we have no idea how many auto collisions occur annually due to our addiction to our phones, especially with the invention of the Smartphone. According to a USA Today article last year, “Cellphone use causes one in four car accidents” by Gabrielle Kratsas. “The [2014 edition] of National Safety Council’s annual injury and fatality report, “Injury Facts,” found that the use of cellphones… [caused] 26% of the nation’s car accidents, a modest increase from the previous year.”Directions

Although this report doesn’t include all the incidents where drivers did not divulge that they were on their phones. For example, can you imagine anyone reporting, “I was on my cellphone not paying any attention when I plowed into your vehicle.” Nor did “Injury Facts” name texting as the primary culprit, since in 95% of the cases investigated, drivers were using hand-held or hand-free cellphones.

Fourteen states currently ban hand-held cellphone use while driving, but Ohio is not one. If we are honest, most of us have difficulty doing more than one task at a time. Especially, when that task involves use of a cellphone while travelling 70 plus miles an hour on the interstate. It’s not just at high rates of speed either. How many times have you been stopped at a red light when you observe a preoccupied motorist like the girl in the company truck? It’s even more frightening to be moving along and spot another driver’s neck in the downward dog yoga position fixated on their phone.

End of Road signNot long ago, driving a car was a privilege that came with weighty societal responsibility. Today, young drivers are at increased risk due to their lack of experience. The CDC reports that “they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.” But older drivers are guilty too. Distracted driving includes: cellphone use, texting, applying makeup, programming a GPS, eating, arguing with a passenger, etc. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that, “In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver…an additional 424,000 people were injured.” If you’ve ever fought your way back to health following a serious wreck, you realize that those numbers represent countless individuals whose lives have been severely impacted by someone else’s possibly careless behavior.

We all want to use our Smartphones, so many of us are contributing unnecessarily to the problem by looking the other way. There are Ohio laws against texting, but the National Safety Council advises folks who want to be part of the solution to “Support Cellphone distracted driving legislation… for bills banning cell phone use-handheld and [even] hands-free-while driving.” This might seem a little drastic, but what would be a good solution to stop distracted driving?

Christina DrivingChristina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. 

 

 

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