Friday, August 12, 2011


Finishing my stint on third shift this morning, I stepped into the clear cool air and watched the beautiful blushing sunrise. It was a serene moment after a long night and a tense early morning.

One of our patients had left AMA just after morning labs. Last week, high on cocaine, Russell** started a bar fight and injured his shoulder. Dr. Joe told him that the surgery would be delayed for several days to allow his body to metabolize the cocaine. Russ was not happy to be stuck in the hospital for a week and recompensed by abusing the nursing staff: dumping his urinal over his sheets and the floor, barking at us when we walked by and spitting at anyone who came into the room.

We, of course, avoided him as much as possible. Well, Dr. Joe neglected to mention to Russ that he would have to have another drug screen before the surgery. Apparently his visiting friends had decided to bring him more drugs instead of flowers. When the lab tech went in to draw his blood, he went a little nutso, pulled out his IV and, blood dripping down his elbow, stormed out of the room toward the nurses' station screaming about bovine stool and ordering us to procreate with ourselves. Thinking he was going to attack us, we called a security code.

After the grey coats wrestled him back to his room, Dr. Joe came up and told him that the surgery was, yet again, delayed. Russ decided that he didn't want the surgery and demanded to be allowed to leave. Dr. Joe, quite angry and quite willing, retrieved the AMA paperwork and Russ left.

I stopped by the grocery store for cat food on my way home. I settled in the express line as a heavyset young woman unloaded her cart of items with the corresponding WIC vouchers on the counter. I had the rest of the day off and so buried my natural impatience with a magazine.

I soon found myself eavesdropping on the transaction ahead of me. The woman, refusing to pay the 58c difference for a bunch of grapes, told the cashier to take some grapes out of the bunch. I watched as the scan was voided, grapes removed, rescanned, voided, grapes removed, rescanned, voided, grapes removed, rescanned, voided and then grapes added one by one until the weight matched the amount allowed by the WIC voucher. *sigh*.. "day off.. day off.. day off.. breathe.."

The cheese came next without issue. The juice wasn't juice but punch and not allowed under the rules of the program. Argument. Huffing. Return with Lemonade. Argument. Huffing. Apple Juice.

Finally, the cashier began scanning the non WIC items: HungryMan dinners, bagels, jars of baby food and beer. Total $21.53. Oh, only have $18.37.. Big eyes look at the cashier then move to me. I bury my face in the magazine. Hummm... Ok, take the baby food off.

I drove home judging her. I drank my black coffee and judged her. I thought about the choices that she could have made but didn't. I began to reflect on the decisions that I have made that could be better and I felt guilty. I could have had something other than that blueberry muffin this morning. I could have had tea instead of wine last weekend. I make awful decisions all the time: too much cheese, not enough greens, not enough water, reading trashy novels instead of literature, watching True Blood. I have a degree in chemistry and a passion for studying nutrition. I still make crappy lifestyle choices. I think most people do.

Lady, you're doing alright. Keep going to your classes at WIC and keep fighting for every grape. Please just don't do it in the express line. And don't date anyone with a gimpy shoulder; he's bad news.


  1. Am I a bad person for judging a bit for giving up baby food for beer?

  2. I created a little story in my mind...

    She's a single mom, struggling at minimum wage and her good-for-nothing baby's daddy doesn't pitch in. Well, this time, she'll have her beer and GFNB'sD can go without his weed and buy Precious' food.

    I still judge her. HungryMan? Ugh. And they're like $3.00 each! I can think of tons of dinners that she could make for less money (and less time than the 45min in the oven).

    I can't help but think of all the patients I work with who make *facepalm* decisions (like the cocaine dude) At least she's part of a program that is quite stringent about the food given and she's required to go to regular nutritional counseling appointments AND they assess her kids' health at each certification. Here's hoping some of it sticks.