Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Shannon Leigh on being a nurse



When you ask most nurses why they chose their profession, a common answer you might get is that they like to help people. Which, in my opinion, is a good reason. A few may say money, which is a terrible reason. While others still may state they didn’t know what else to choose. Another poor reason. Nursing is a very humbling job. There’s not a lot of glory, so to speak. Which typically weeds out the good from the bad. And believe me; I’ve met some terrible nurses, as well as great ones.

Why did I pick nursing? Probably a combination of things. Primarily, I’m a nurturing type of person. I do like helping people, and I have a knack for remaining calm in the throes of an emergency—although I tend to fall apart afterward, particularly when it involves my kids! Yes, the pay is nice. Yes, it seemed the best choice at the time when trying to decide what to do. But ultimately, I think the deciding factor came one day when I was watching TV and saw a commercial for Kosair Children’s Hospital (in Louisville, Kentucky) talking about the rewards of being a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse. I knew right then and there that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with those little babies and help make a difference.

After six years of college—a bachelor’s degree in four years is a joke unless you have no job, no kids, and no other responsibilities but going to school for 17+ credit hours a semester—I finally graduated from Indiana University in 1996 with a medal of distinction, a RN BSN certificate of degree, and a bleak job market. Believe it or not, nursing jobs were hard to come by back then. There were so many little colleges popping up that offered two year RN degrees (Associates) that the market was saturated with nurses. Luckily, I’d been working as a nurse’s aid at the local hospital, had managed to squeeze my way into the Obstetrical Unit (OB), and was able to begin work as an intermittent nurse for a few hours a week.

While I hadn’t made it to the NICU yet, I did work for a while in postpartum. Spending time with new moms and their babies, teaching them how to breastfeed, change diapers, etc. was a lot of fun. Since jobs were scarce, the possibility of getting into the actual delivery room any time soon was pretty much non-existent. Not long after I graduated from college, another hospital nearby posted a position for a PRN (as needed) nurse in their OB Unit, which included Labor and Delivery. I applied and got the job so I began working a few hours there as well. I was moving closer to the NICU I’d dreamed of.

After several months of delivering babies and learning that along with the reward of bringing life into the world came a hefty dose of responsibility and liability, I realized that as enjoyable as the OB department was, I didn’t like the fear of getting sued and losing my license. Six years was a long time to watch go down the tubes. At that point, I decided NICU was no longer for me. I applied for a temporary, second shift position for the US Census Bureau as an Occupational Health Nurse and was offered the job. At the time, I expected it to be a short-term thing. Once the Decennial Census was over, they’d let me go and I’d be looking for a job once again. I was so wrong.

Not long after I began my career at the Census Bureau, one of the other dayshift nurses (there were only two) decided she could no longer work. She went out on disability, claiming the job was causing her undue stress. Undue stress? Ha! Try delivering babies and hoping like hell everything goes okay. That’s undue stress. Anyhow, my temporary nightshift position was suddenly converted to a permanent dayshift job. Yea! What’s so funny about all of this is during nursing school, a counselor came in and gave my graduating class a little speech about what our futures would entail, how some of us would work in this field or that field. She said, based on our size (52), that it was likely that two of us would go into Occupational nursing. I remember thinking at the time. “Not me, I’m going to the NICU.” *snickers* How naïve I was.

So what is an Occupational Health Nurse, you wonder. What do I do? Well, it’s sort of like being a school nurse, for grown ups. And believe me, if I didn’t know how old my patients are, I’d swear I was dealing with a bunch of kids! Don’t even get me started. You’d be amazed at how childlike adults can behave, but that’s best left for another blog.

What do I do all day? Well, if you ask my ex, he’d say I sit on my butt and do nothing, which is grossly inaccurate. I do sit a lot. I have an office with a nice, ergonomic chair (working for the government does have its perks) that my butt stays parked in for a large portion of the day. But that’s not to say I don’t do anything from that position. Actually, I’m up and down a lot. It really depends on what my patient needs. Which is good because having your butt fall asleep is a very unpleasant sensation. Even worse than a foot. I never even knew a derrière could go numb, but it can and mine has. It sucks.

A blood pressure check, some Tylenol, a pep talk, yeah, I can multitask; I can sit and do all those things. Digging out splinters, looking for foreign objects in the eye, cleaning freely bleeding wounds acquired through the poor use of box cutters, those usually require me to leave the comfort of my seat. I also respond to emergencies on the job site, teach CPR and First Aid to the employees, perform ergonomic evaluations, the list goes on…

Occupational nursing is a lot different from hospital nursing. There’s a lot more teaching, a lot more problem solving. Everything revolves around how it impacts the job and the employee’s ability to do their job, both immediately and long term. You don’t have the benefit of having all your orders on how to take care of your patient illegibly scribbled in a chart. Yes, I meant illegibly. Have you ever tried deciphering a doctor’s chicken scratch? It’s terrible.

At my job, there is no doctor. You make the decisions on how to treat you patient’s ailment based on their symptoms. This not only means deciding whether to give Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Excedrin, or Aspirin for the typical headache, taking into consideration their other health issues and medications, but also whether or not someone’s chest pain is heart related and they need a trip to the emergency room, or they just have indigestion from the burrito they ate at lunch. And let me just mention that just because I think they may need to go to hospital doesn’t mean they agree. So dealing with difficult patients and convincing them that the money spent on an ambulance run is money well spent if it saves their lives is another one of my job duties.

Believe me; I’ve had patients come in wanting their blood pressure checked, discover it’s stroke-level high, admit they haven’t taken their medicine in the last week or so because they just didn’t bother to call it in or won’t have the money until payday (despite the fact that they smell like an ashtray so they obviously have money for cigarettes), then tell me they’ll call their doctor if they don’t get to feeling better and just want to go back to work. Why’d they come to the Health Unit to begin with? Just to verify that yep, their blood pressure is astronomically high? Yeah, makes me want to throttle them. However, I do believe strangling the employees is a no no, even for a government facility. So I return them to duty, praying they don’t go out on the floor and have a heart attack or stroke. Then I usually get a call from an angry supervisor wanting to know why I sent them back to their job with a dangerously high blood pressure. Like it was my choice!!! And I have to calmly explain that I can’t force anyone to seek medical treatment, whether I advise it or not. It’s great. Everyone loves to bash the Health Unit nurses when they think we don’t know what we’re doing, yet we’re the first ones they call in an emergency. Ironic isn’t it. Remember what I said about glory?

There’s a lot of autonomy and in many ways, a lot more responsibility with my job. I remember when I first started working at the Bureau; I asked my supervisor if I needed to carry malpractice insurance (like you do as a hospital nurse). She laughed and said, “Why? You’ve got the entire government and their best attorneys on your side.” It was an eye-opening statement, in more ways than one.

Needless to say, that was nearly 14 years ago. My temporary delve into the Occupational Health world morphed into a fulfilling career that I love, despite the frustrations. So when someone asks, “What do you do?” I proudly say, “I’m an Occupational Health Nurse.” Then with a dramatic pause, I have to add, “For the Federal Government.” Kinda makes me feel like a special agent or a super hero.

Imagine the Mission Impossible theme playing; me decked out in a tight-leather, black, body suit; cool sunglasses; armed with a syringe in one hand and a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope in the other; ready to battle the forces of hypertension and promote disease prevention…

Leigh, Shannon Leigh. Occupational Health Nurse for the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Ha ha ha.

Okay, maybe not tight leathers—I have to wear scrubs. Nothing wrong with an active imagination, which leads me to one of my many hobbies: writing. But that’s a story for another time. I’m off to fight sickness and poor life-style choices. Now where’d I leave that cape…

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Chasing Booty
by Shannon Leigh

ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-267-5

Available from Amber Quill Press
 
 
BLURB
 
When cops can’t catch the most-wanted criminals, they hire Gaelyn. She comes from a long line of bounty hunters, including her father, uncle, and grandfather. Extensive training in weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, and adverse conditions have seasoned her into a formidable opponent against any contracted hit, whether male, female, alien, or human. She has little fear of the unknown and thrives on adventure.

Only one other hunter matches her status—Reese, a Trøndite from the small planet of Sør-Trøndalag in the Capricornus Sector. And the man has a knack for stealing her contracts. Both cunning and gorgeous, the mix doesn’t seem quite fair. But attractiveness holds little power over money. Reese had beaten Gaelyn out of a half-year’s pay a scarce three months ago, and she will be damned if he outwits her again.

Thinking she’s duped Reese back onto Jupiter, Gaelyn isn’t too happy when she runs into him on Quaoar at the Blue Moon, an authentic hole-in-the-wall bar tucked at the end of a narrow alley in what would be considered the rough part of town; just the place to find her contracted hit. But Reese not only has the information she needs to find her mark, he also has a business proposal that’s too tempting to pass up. And a partnership with Reese just might prove rewarding in a way Gaelyn never expects...

EXCERPT

...With an air of “don’t-fuck-with-me” in her step, she made her way toward him. “The bartender seems to think you can be of some assistance,” she declared, stopping a mere six inches to the left of the man’s seated frame.

He ignored her, choosing instead to take a long swig from his mug.

Removing her laser from its holster on her left thigh, she plopped it onto the counter top. Her hand rested lightly on its black metallic shape, her finger hugging the trigger. “Well?”

“I can take you there, for a price,” he replied, his deep voice a thunderous rumble within his muscular chest.

Annoyed, she lifted her chin. “Name it,” she practically growled.

The man chuckled. “It’ll be steep,” he warned. “Perhaps more than you’re willing to pay.”

Gaelyn’s patience wore thin. They wasted precious time. Is this guy gonna get down to business or what?

Struggling to see his face beneath the shadowed hood, she leaned a little closer. “Look, buddy. I don’t have time for games. Either name your price or I’ll take my business elsewhere.”

He glanced at her, his onyx, deep-set eyes two bottomless black pits within his handsome angular face. “I want half the booty. For starters.”

Gaelyn’s breath caught in her throat. Reese.

This wasn’t happening.

He pulled back his hood, letting the heavy material fall onto his broad shoulders in a neatly folded pleat. “Hello, Gael. It’s been a long time.”

Her right fist doubled at her waist. With forced control, she resisted the urge to knock that superior smirk right off his handsome face. “Reese,” she said through clenched teeth. “I suppose you’re after the same hit.”

He shrugged. “It’s a sizeable payoff.”

“He’s my contract.” Warning laced her tone.

Reese turned fully toward her, his massive frame almost comical atop the strained bar stool. “Well now, seems we have a difference of opinion on that matter.”

He offered a grin so seductive it could melt the ice right off Quaoar’s frozen surface. The bartender’s description fit him to a tee. With his rectangular features—the wide zygomatic breadth, the broad jaw and flaring gonial angles, the prominent chin—Reese did look like the devil himself. Of course the red skin, horns, and barbed tail only added to his demonic appearance.

Gaelyn’s gaze dropped to the tight black T-shirt stretched across his bulging pecs and flat abs. Warning bells clamored in her head, but her inspection continued on to the waistband of his faded jeans, and inevitably to the generous bulge at his groin. An old song her father used to play popped in her head and it took everything she had not to belt it aloud.

The devil went down to Georgia, he was lookin’ for a soul to steal.

In a bind, cause he was way behind, he was lookin’ to make a deal...

Despite her fury, Gaelyn’s insides responded. Her stomach knotted with instant need, causing her pussy to clench. One couldn’t dispute the man’s virility. While they’d never “hooked” up, she couldn’t deny her attraction. She’d be willing to bet half the contracted pay that he’d be awesome in bed.

She’d heard Trøndite males had large penises, that they were, in fact, able to do extraordinary things with their members. She wasn’t sure what those things might be, but the swell in his pants clearly indicated his considerable endowment. She imagined herself down on all fours with Reese up behind her, pounding his big cock in and out of her tight channel.

Moisture seeped between her legs, making her leather pants cling to her crotch most uncomfortably. The room felt hot. She hadn’t had a good fuck in quite a while. Perhaps they’d work that into the deal...

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Shannon Leigh
 
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