Tag Archives: work

Yeah! The Beta Reads Are All In For Book One In The Naked Eye Series

Belinda Pollard has some great articles on beta readers, what they are, how and when to use them.

http://www.smallbluedog.com/what-is-a-beta-reader-and-why-do-i-need-one.html

I can’t say enough good things about my betas. I was so very glad that I went all out and had a dozen team members take a look. I had readers who focused on the “Big Picture” and readers who focused on the “Little Details”. Getting both of those perspectives contributed immensely to the creation of a better product. A couple weren’t able to read. That my ten readers loved the story and its characters thrills me.

This is not a high-level English literature read, and it’s not supposed to be. It’s an entertaining, fun read with zany, quirky characters, a bit of a romp. So many improvements have been made. There is still work to do. I plan to have the edits completed by November. I’m working through some attribution tag improvements and cutting some fluffy stuff from Chapters Three, Eleven and Twenty-Five to tighten up the read.

It has been a joy to work with so many brilliant minds and their varied talents. I had a wonderful audience well-suited to provide the feedback we needed to move this project forward. I say “we” because this seems a great team effort.

My plan is to park this first book come November, and spend the next year writing books two and three. Then they will go to an editor. I am hoping to have three completed and ready to publish by November of 2016. It may take a bit longer than that, but I am thinking getting into the flow with the series has been accomplished. If it takes another year that will work just as well. I want to publish them at three month intervals.

I’m still thinking a pseudonym of sorts will be best for this change in genre and style. I don’t want readers of one genre confused by the other simply because of author name.

A Great Big Thank You To All Who Were Willing To Help Out!

Your time and effort much appreciated.

You all get free airline and Disney tickets and can stay at my place (I wish).

We’ll have a big party!

Seriously! I am deeply indebted. Let me know if I can ever return the favor somehow.

Have you ever been a beta reader?

Have you used beta readers?

If not, you are missing out on a valuable experience.

Would You Work For Free?

One of the most talented writers on the web is right here on WordPress. Of course, now she is all ta ta wi wi with her own self hosted site since she has so much traffic, but I knew her when. Whether she is writing about backpacking across Southeast Asia, her deranged psycho-stalker ex-boyfriend, or her crazy co-workers in the psychiatric hospital, Aussa Lorens knows how to spin a good yarn.

I am going to be perfectly honest and tell you when I first met her in my comments, I did not like her. I thought, “Who the hell is this ‘HackerNinjaHookerSpy’ biatch talking about her psycho ex-boyfriend and getting wasted on wine on my comments. Has she gone mad?”

Then I went to her blog and got the whole story. I stayed there a while and read her exceptionally well written adventures in Southeast Asia. And more about her hilarious life in the nut house. Now I just love her and you will too. If you have not met her already, drop by and get the scoop. Her latest post (http://aussalorens.com/2014/08/07/firing-stories/) had me in stitches. You must read the comments also. They are as laughable as the posts.

I promised you posts in a new category called Nurses Notes. Aussa reminded me about that when she spoke of the nurses she works with, which she often does. Since I was one of the good nurses, and not one of the weirdoes just working for a pay check, I didn’t relate, at first, and I resented her remarks. Then I thought about my own co-workers. The ones I escaped from when I retired.

With her last post I also asked myself about my personal motivations as a nurse. I wanted to help people avoid pain and suffering. Nursing school was tough. I thought if I just saved one person, it would all be worth it. But God’s honest truth…if I wanted to work for free I would have become a nun.

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There was; however, one time I recall taking an assignment for no other reason than the pay offered, and that is what I will tell you about today.

I had a job once where it was ALL about the numbers and the dollar signs. Not for me, but for my employer. It was about ten years before my retirement, when I was working for a Hospice organization. It was a for-profit organization and my bosses, Mario and Leanna, were brutal. (They’re married now BTW.)

I did the job for a year. It was the most challenging and most rewarding year of my thirty year career.

I worked in Marketing and Admissions…selling dignified death. It is the only marketing position I’ve ever held and there is a whole different climate on that side of the fence. I was a Palliative Care Liaison (PCL).

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There were five of us PCLs, all registered nurses. We were expected to knock down four admissions in an eight hour day. Basic math tells you this is a full day, but there should be travel time and meal time and an occasional break. Also, being the compassionate person that I am, I would often feel the need to spend more than two hours with a family. After all, this was their loved one dying. Sometimes (doctors be damned) we were the first ones telling the patient that they were terminal. That’s not news to deliver lightly. Most days turned into at least ten or twelve hours.

We went to homes, nursing homes, and hospitals explaining services, ordering oxygen and durable medical equipment, arranging transportation, getting tons of paperwork signed for a payee source, usually Medicaid with its myriad of complex forms, conferring with physicians and team members. Sometimes we schmoozed doctors over dinner and cocktails (company paid) and sometimes we delivered donuts to nursing home staff when admissions were slow.

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Hospice, common in Europe for eons, was a relatively new concept back then in the U.S., so the marketing aspect was crucial. It was all about appearances and we were expected to dress professionally in suits and heels, despite the heat and the loamy terrain we often had to trudge through. We had rolling offices we lugged around in the trunks of our cars.

This particular day, I had slept only about four hours, having been up till 2am the previous night faxing paperwork to insurance companies, Medicaid, and HMOs. I arose with sun, showered and suited up.

By 7am there was already a fax from the referral office. My first appointment was in Yeehaw Junction, fifty-five miles south…in the center of swampy cow country. The only establishment in Yeehaw Junction is a restaurant with what was formerly a bordello upstairs that serves as a hotel.  The historic Desert Inn dates back to the 1800s as the first working hotel in Florida.

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Roadkill hash and vulture eggs were the only thing on the breakfast menu so I had a few cups of coffee while waiting on my 8:30 am appointment time. The family and patient I was visiting with were already prepared for Hospice services so all I really had to do was get the paperwork done, make a few phone calls and be on my way.

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As I hit the turnpike and headed north my pager went off and the text message from Mario said I needed to be at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) by noon. Passing through Kissimmee at 11:30 am I felt I needed to swing through the drive-thru at McDonalds and grab some lunch to eat on the way. It was sweltering hot in that suit and I was thirsty so I swigged down about two thirds of the super-sized diet coke in a hurry.

On to the ramp at Osceola Parkway; the next exit would take me straight down OBT to Orange Avenue and ORMC. I was making good time. Not going to happen. Ten miles south of the exit, I topped the bridge to see traffic backed up for miles. No exit between me and OBT and no turning back. This was going to be a long one. I waited.

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An hour later, I was still waiting. Knowing we were supposed to stay calm, cool, collected and maintain a professional composure, I texted Mario to call the family and explained what was happening. I could see the helicopters transporting accident victims up ahead.

Calm, cool and collected was a challenge to maintain when you have had to give your lunch over to an old man tapping on your window and pee in a McDonald’s cup in broad daylight. (Not an easy task for a woman guys.) Bless his heart, he had given himself insulin and was on his way to meet his son for lunch. Without food he could have gone into seizures, or worse. Four cups of coffee had to go somewhere.

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Mario texted me again, “Where the hell are you?” I explained everything. “That’s TMI over lunch.”

“You asked,” was all I could reply.

By 2:00 pm I was at the hospital and the lady and her daughter were most cordial. They were glad I was there as the plan was to have Mama go home to the daughter’s house and all of the necessary paperwork was signed and arrangements were made.

4:00 pm and I was texted to be at Florida Hospital (FH). I am not happy because, while I have only had two appointments, I have been on the go since 6am on 4 hours sleep. My day should have been over an hour ago or more, and I still haven’t had breakfast or lunch. I grabbed a tuna wrap and a tall iced tea to go at the restaurant café.

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I beat rush hour traffic and made it to the FH parking garage in thirty minutes. Just enough time for that supersized soda and that large iced tea to mingle and I was on the tenth floor. The nearest breezeway, and bathroom, was across the garage and down seven floors. All I can say is thank goodness for heels. This is NOT a small building.

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With aching feet and a throbbing shoulder from hauling my office across two counties, a ten story parking garage, and up ten more stories in the neighboring building, I made it to the ICU.

My patient, while relatively young, had a horrible clinical picture. I reviewed the chart, made some notes and met privately with the family. The fairly young woman had two children present, a young man and woman in their twenties. They were divided over what to do. Mother was unconscious and had been since brain surgery fourteen days ago. Mother had two terminal diagnoses, brain cancer and inoperable liver cancer. She also had a colostomy, a foley catheter, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) where she was fed intravenously through a central venous line, and was on a respirator.

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There were two more children in college, so it was necessary to make a conference call, a difficult thing to accomplish through AT & T at that time. Using my little flip chart, I explained the services a second time. I was hoping for a tie breaker, but again, they were divided.

About that time, the doctor shows up. We ended up in a sparring match with us both citing statistics and lab values. The hospital staff, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and two of the children favored terminating most of the life saving measures and sending her home. Two children and the doctor (who had known the woman for years through their church) were at odds. The doctor was adamant, “If you take a woman right out of brain surgery and throw her in a wheel barrow and cart her across town she IS going to die!”

I couldn’t argue with that. I must have repeated a thousand times, “You all think about it and give us a call when you decide.” Each time, I was met with another barrage of questions which the doctor disputed, but the staff supported. It was horrible for the family. I insisted they had been well informed and did not have to decide at that moment (another thousand times). After 7:30 pm, I walked away.

Lifting my rolling office into the trunk I split my pants. About that time I received another page telling me to be at M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic by 8:00 pm to do a formal presentation for a staff meeting. I explained my dilemma. I was NOT excused because three other PCLS were still on appointments and one had gone home sick. I had ONLY done three appointments.

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The Salvation Army was on the way and they were still open when I got there. I grabbed the first pair of black pants that fit. I was wasted by the time I finished that presentation a half hour later and it was pouring rain when I left the parking garage. I drove home and called in reports to the various Team Leaders simultaneously. Getting out of the car in my own garage an hour later my Salvation Army pants zipper busted…but I was finally home.

10:00 pm and I am thinking my long day is over. I slipped into my PJs and made myself a frozen pizza. The fax machine had already spit out tomorrow’s four appointments.  I tore them off and started going through my paperwork faxing signed forms to their respective agencies.

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By 11:00 pm I was done with that and crawled between the sheets. My pager went off with a notice to call Mario at home. What?

There was a patient on the south side of Orlando at Dr. Phillip’s Hospital that we needed to hook up a CAD pump (Continuous Analgesia Delivery system) for so he could get out of there before midnight. It required and RN. There was no team nurse or PCL available. All of the Team Leaders had gone to Miami for a conference and I was their last hope. It was imperative that this patient be out of the hospital by midnight and the ambulance for transport was already waiting. The hospital staff was not allowed to touch our equipment and the agency pharmacy had already dropped off the narcotics.

It would be a ten minute deal. The patient was already admitted to the program and was just awaiting transport. Normally we were paid $75.00 per visit, Mario offered $150.00. I knew this was a make or break moment, but I was exhausted. “How much is it going to cost our company if we wait until tomorrow?”

“More than $3000.00.”

“I’ll do it for $1500.00”

“Deal.”

So this was the one time that I can recall actually taking a nursing assignment for no other reason than the money offered. By 2:00 am, I was back in my bed preparing to do it all again the next day.

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Would you work that hard for free?

An Untold Story of Early Retirement

I have mentioned retiring early, and many are under the assumption that I was fortunate, and in many ways I am. However, I want to share with you the rest of that story. I retired from nursing a few years ago in 2011. The stress at the time was unbelievable. I am an empathetic and sensitive nurse. I was working in pediatric extended care. The last four of the eight years I was there were terrible. There were nurses, caregivers, behaving like criminals.

Caught in the crossfire, I spent my time at work dodging bullets and watching the kids under my supervision like a hawk. There was an out and out gang war between the Haitians, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Jamaicans who staffed the facility (not a prejudice, but a fact). It was a large facility with over 400 on staff and I was the only white woman on night shift. The women were vicious as they tried to get each other fired and their friends hired. They were cutthroat at each other, and placing young lives in jeopardy.

Seriously, I spent my time outside of work giving depositions to lawyers, writing letters to corporate, filling out police reports, and doing everything I could to protect children from the very people who were supposed to be providing them with a warm, nurturing, loving, compassionate environment. It was horribly sad. I’m not talking about neglectful care, I am talking about deliberate abuse that left children with injuries and put them into hospitals. Some even died. It was THAT bad.

I don’t talk much about my nursing career on my blog. I have shared a few stories, but the taste my final years left in my mouth was so bitter it is not something I can easily look back on. There were a half dozen law suits, and several of the women involved dealt with dire consequences. A few were arrested. I was threatened by one. I went on medical leave and ultimately resigned, which forced the resignation of others.

There was some justice this year when the facility was shut down midst allegations of abuse and neglect and I was more than glad I was no longer a part of it. There was a big write up in the paper. It was splashed all over the six o’clock news. The children were placed into medical foster homes. Now that some of these cases are settled I feel I can freely talk about it. The consolation is that the kids get much better care in the small private medical foster homes than they ever could in a large state funded institution.

Having processed this all through two different administrations, I felt deeply inadequate and powerless when I was in the thick of it and it took a couple of years to mellow out about it. I was angry. I was mad about what was happening to the children and families involved. I was mad about what was happening to my innocent co-workers (the ones not involved dealt with professional and emotional consequences, also). I was disturbed that a thirty year career in health care had boiled down to such a catastrophe. The feeling of failure was enormous.

Yesterday I shared this with another blogger/author friend. You may wonder why I am sharing this with you now. I think it is the reason that you don’t see cute little anecdotes about me and my patients. There were many before all of this went down. Looking back beyond those few final years, I can laugh. I can recall the joys and triumphs of my patients and coworkers, but it has been a long while. There is a new category on my blog called “Nurses Notes”. I am hoping the stories added under this category will be more entertaining than this one.

My apologies that this is such a downer.

Just something I needed to share.

All proceeds from sales of Red Clay and Roses are matched and go to the Russell Home for atypical children.

Not Going to Work Today

Not Going To Work Today, Nope!

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I usually don’t rant on MY site.  I save that stuff for ranting in the comments on YOUR sites.  I would not want to appear unprofessional or undisciplined to my fans (both of them).

Today is different in so many ways.  There are so many squirrels in my house and my head that I am feeling as if I should just have a nut fest and be done with it.  Don’t ask me why I have been so terribly distracted.  I really don’t know.  All I know is that I have been and it’s been going on for about twelve hours.   Here is what has been happening:

First, it was 12:00 midnight August 6th, and I was speaking with a dear friend, (I do have a few) Ionia Martin, about responsibilities.  It occurred to me that I was supposed to go to work in the morning.  I checked my work order.  OMG, I have to be up at 4:00 am!  I had looked at the calendar. The one that hangs on the wall in my study to keep me focused.

You see, I don’t work every day.  I am a Registered Nurse and I do wellness screenings as an independent contractor.  I am semi-retired (not making any major life or death decisions anymore for those who are worried).  I pick up an occasional day here and there, but don’t have regular days or hours.  I had myself scheduled to work for Summit Health at Flagler Construction, just about ten minutes from my house.  Easy enough, right?

Last night, I printed out my work order, signed off of the computer and went about preparing for my work day.  First, I couldn’t find my white shirt, the one I have to wear.  It was not in my closet.  It was not on the back of the chair where I toss my not so dirty clothes; it was not in a drawer.  Next, I could not find my black pants.  They were not in the closet.  Then I remembered that they must be in the dryer.  I checked the dryer and found my white shirt.  Why was my white shirt in the dryer with my dark clothes and where were my pants?  I hung up my white shirt and spent another half hour looking for my black pants.  Finally, I decided I would wear a different, more uncomfortable pair.  I undressed to take my shower.  It is going on 1:00 am and I decide to wait until morning to take my shower.  I pick up my housecoat from the top of the wardrobe, and there they are, my comfortable black pants.  Whew!

I crawl into bed, knowing that I have to crawl out too soon.  The alarm goes off!  I get up and fix some coffee using the last of the creamer.  I could have sworn I bought more coffee creamer.  I make it into the shower and spend another thirty minutes drying my hair and getting out of the door.

Luckily, I made it to Flagler Construction on time with five minutes to spare.  There is not a soul around.  It is 6:00 am.  The gate is locked, there are no cars in the lot, and the lights are off.  I pick up the phone and call the Team Leader.  No answer.  I call the next number and reach a nice lady on the team, who is trying to get ready to go to work, somewhere else.  She informs me that we aren’t scheduled for the job at Flagler for another week.  We laugh at my stupidity and I turn the car around to take my sleep deprived butt back home.

Well, I was already awake, and my shoulder was hurting too bad to try to go to sleep.  I popped a few Ibuprofen and poured myself a cup of coffee.  Damn!  Why didn’t I think to pick up some coffee creamer?  I sipped the strong black coffee and started putting away the dry goods I had left out last night after making supper.  I opened the pantry and there is the coffee creamer.  You know, the “must be refrigerated” coffee creamer.  I decide that I really need to eat some breakfast with this medicine on my stomach, right?  I can’t find the cereal.  I put the probably ruined coffee creamer in the fridge (surely there are enough preservatives in there to keep it from spoiling).  After all, I just bought groceries yesterday.  There, in the fridge, is the cereal.  I have breakfast.

My husband gets up and I see him off to work.  I am thinking, “You really should get a nap.”  But my shoulder is hurting and I need a pain pill.  I open the bottle and chase down a little white pill with the coffee.  What the hell!  Didn’t I just take Ibuprofen?  What is this?  I, the RN, read the label, “Daisy Nicholls, Prozac 20 mg.” (Yes, my dog is on Prozac..it’s for thunderstorm panic and it works.)  Being a firm believer that Prozac should come in aerosol form, I retire to my room with my painful shoulder and try to get a nap.  It worked.  I slept for a couple of hours and woke up feeling rather refreshed…and happy!

This time next week, I shall be at work, at Flagler Construction, but for today I am off……way off. ~ S.K. Nicholls