OK hello and happy day, both for me and I so wish for you. I am going to write about a subject I wanted to write about last week, but had to wait until I got the doctors report to share with you.
It started weekend before last. As I hinted in another letter I was off work a week and accused of something by a nurse. Here is the full story. Now remember there are different perceptions and while others will assign motive, I plan to give others the benefit of the doubt and just describe actions, not the thoughts of the accusers. While Ron and some of my co-workers have hard feelings and ascribe nefarious motives to the nurses involved, I can’t do that, the doctor said so. It simply is not in me to be that way toward others.
So on that Sunday morning we were on our second or third day of the massive new computer program, which added layers of new charting requirements for nurses and a lot of extra struggle for us secretaries. But we were low on Pt’s at the start of the day and it seemed to be going well. I got up to answer a call bell for the charge nurse as she was stuck in her other PT’s room and struggling with the new program.
First I need to tell you about our chairs…weird jump right? Well the chair figures greatly in this and we have two types. One is the low office chair type, and the other is a high sitting, no arm type. I always get myself a high one with no arms because it is easier on my artificial hip, and my bad back and easier for me to get up as I often have to do.
So I came back to my station to find Eddie had taken my chair to talk to Theresa. I like Eddie. He is a tall, 6 foot, 1 or 2 inch tall man, who runs and tries to keep in shape, gay, more campy than masculine even with his size and fitness. He can be snide, sarcastic and I think funny and like me full of energy. Eddie is more….woman… than I am at times, the kind of gay man who is big into gossip, socializing, talk, talk , talk, and in some ways pretentious. But I like him and have enjoyed working with him. I think he is funny.
I greeted him joyfully and told him he took my chair. He smirked at me and replied “I don’t see your name on it “. So I sat on the desk top next to him and shook the chair. Not to try to take it away or anything, ( like how could I he is huge compared to me ) but to be playful and maybe a bit annoying. Somehow Eddie’s arm got pinched. I really don’t know how, I surely did not mean it to. He got angry and I felt bad. Eddie called me some names, insulted me, and I said I was sorry and he stormed off. I figured it was a bad thing but over.
Theresa waited a little while then jumped me over the whole thing. I heard her out but felt bad enough about it and as she was not my boss and had no right to be lecturing me, I turned away from her and ignored her.
Later in the day, toward the end of shift, we got an extra late PT. It required we bring a nurse up to the unit as we were now full and busy. But it was a critical PT and one we had not had before. Theresa was assigned to help the other nurse with the new PT and the new computer program. A person trained on the new system sat with me and we started right away to do the order set that came up with the PT from the doctor. The people in charge of the new computer system thought we found an error with the way the order set was created in the computer and so four of the “superusers” ended taking over my station, I just got up and gave it to them as I had gotten enough done to make sure the medications were available to the nurse and the right orders were in the system.
The programmers decided I had done the order correctly and my interpretation was the right one, and I got my station back and went to signing off the orders as I am required to do, name, number, date and time completed. During this whole thing a Doctor asked me if he could have the chart. I asked if I could keep the order set as I needed it to finish my work and he agreed. I gave him the chart. When the programmers gave me back my desk, I noticed the doctor sitting next to me was not using the chart, but dictating his report on the phone. As the chart was sitting closed right next to me, I took it, opened it to the right place, put the order set in it, and started signing it off. The doctor saw me do this and was OK with it, but asked if when I was done could he have it back to add a note. It was at this point my world fell apart as it was then Theresa lost her cool and started in on me. I did not know but the nurses were having a problem with the Pharmacy over the medications ordered by the doctor. Not in my scope of practice, I don’t have much to do with medications other than to ensure the order is scanned to the pharmacy, and to give the medications to the nurse when they come up in the tube system. Most secretaries don’t do that second part, but I figure that it is important for the nurses to get the medications as soon as they come up, it feels good for me to get up and move, so as the tube is right behind where I sit, I get up and take the med to the right nurse. It simply saves them having to hunt for the medication or worry if it arrived yet. Days I am there they love me doing that for them, if they don’t have it…it did not get to us, is the way they feel when I am on.
So back to Theresa, she was frustrated, upset , and she took it out on me. Coming over to the big long nurse’s desk, she leaned over it and demanded I give her the chart. I told her I had three more pages to sign and then I had to give to the doctor next to me who asked for it. She blew up, and then kept repeating the same thing. Basically she was saying I needed to make a copy of the orders so the nurses could sign them off on the new system. I kept asking her to let me finish signing the orders off, and then she could talk to me..but she wouldn’t wait. She kept it up; I then told her she was preventing me from finishing my task and giving the chart to the doctor. She was not happy with that answer and kept up demanding I give her my full attention and do as she said. I stopped, closed the chart, faced her across my desk and told her she was keeping me from finishing, that I had been asked by the doctor to give him the chart, that she needed to just let me finish the signing of the last two pages and then she could talk to me as she needed to.
I thought I was handling a tense situation in a grand and good way, but she blew. Stormed I couldn’t talk to her that way and fumed that I was way out of line. I went back to signing off the last two pages and gave the chart to the doctor. Then I faced Theresa, and asked her what she wanted. She told me I needed to give the nurse a copy of the orders on new PT’s as soon as I get them, because the nurse needs to sign the orders off. I reminded her I normally do, I am the only secretary that does that. Even before the new system it simply made my job, and the nurse’s job easier to do that. So as I scanned the orders to the pharmacy, I would also have the machine make a copy I gave to the nurse. But Theresa had a full head of steam and a need to let loose on some one. I was that one. She kept saying I needed to do it and had not, and I told her about the programmers taking my station and I simply couldn’t do as she asked this time. She threw her hands in the air and stormed off. I got up and went to my charge nurse, and asked her, “What do I normally do when we get a new PT and bring to you”? My charge nurse, who is a lovely older woman, who is so sweet as to make your teeth hurt, she is so kind, wonderfully caring and really grand. I respect her so much, because of who she is, how she lives and how much she gives of herself to others. She answered without hesitation, “a copy of the orders, you make a copy and bring them to us”.
I felt vindicated; I was accused of not doing something and was just told by my charge I have normally done so. I went to go back to my desk, noticed Theresa had brought one of the movable computer desks to right beside my desk, and a crowd of people were gathered there. I decided I should go do the many other tasks I can and try to do, as I did not want to get into that crowd and wanted to stay away from Theresa.
So as it was end of shift and the night crew was arriving, I briefed my relief and went to the back. As a group of us gathered in the elevator to leave, I noticed Theresa was standing next to me. I wished her a good night.
(Side note. I don’t seem to be able to stay upset with people. Even those who have hurt me bad. The doctor said it is because of the abuse I took as a child, I have a need to please. But something short circuits inside me, and I just can’t seem to carry anger or hostility toward others. So for me it was all over and I wished her a good night )
So we went home, had a great day off, and all was good in our world. On the way back to work on the day after that, it was now Tuesday morning, I talked to Ron about how Theresa likes to lecture me. He said a few things and as Theresa is not my boss and our director is really clear all are to be respected and treated as equals, he was going to see what he could do to help. I lost interest as once I turn something over to someone else, I let them take care of it and Ron has been taking care of me for 22 years.
So with a happy heart I was walking down the hallway with Ron toward our nurses’ station. The nighttime supervisor came up to us and asked me if I would join him downstairs to talk to the day shift supervisor and the director of our units. I thought nothing of it, and went with him, if I thought of it at all, I figured there was something they needed done right away and wanted me to start on.
I walked in and sensed the tension. They told me that a complaint had been made that I had been aggressive, had made a nurse feel unsafe and threatened at work. I was stunned. Really hurt inside, I struggled to understand what I was being told. They told me what Theresa had written them, what Eddie had said. I told them I was very sorry Eddie got his arm pinched, I was just playing, as I thought he was playing with me. I had no hard feelings against either of them, but really felt bad about Eddie, as I never wanted him to get pinched and as for Theresa, well she was always trying to “lecture” me “for my own good” as she put it.
The words Theresa has used kicked an automatic policy into place, they had to suspend me, and have me evaluated to see if I was a threat to myself or others before I could return to work. I couldn’t even think. I was so stunned. I did not have any anger or hard feelings, in fact I felt bad about Eddie’s arm. But I just listened and the words rolled over me. My director was telling me what was going to happen and what I had to do , but it all stopped registering. I remember her asking if I wanted Ron, if they could ask Ron to join us. I wanted Ron, I always do and will, I love having him beside me and he has been my rock and my strength for 22 years.
I don’t even know what happened for a while. I just felt so sad and broken inside. Then Ron was there and he was not happy. I could see that. He was angry and I could see that. A plan was made, my director was good to me, she had arranged things and was going to see I was paid, even though I had not even thought of that part of it, but the words that stuck in my head were that I had been accused of being a threat, someone was so uncomfortable around me they felt fear, and I couldn’t return to work. I was sinking inside myself.
I guess my director made some calls and got me set up with the people who would set up the Psychologist exam. I had no hard feelings; in fact I was numb inside. I did not want anyone afraid of me, hard to believe anyone was. I am an older man in bad health who just does the best I can to help others. I love my job, I get to help a lot of people and the job is perfect for me…more so now that I know what the psychologist said.
Ron was willing to take me home, but I made it myself, and then over the week went to the appointments I needed to go to. During the week I got texts of support from my director and my supervisor. I know they are very busy ( I would not want their jobs, it is way too hard and way too much on their shoulders) but they kept texting me support and making me feel wanted. I almost quit. I couldn’t imagine coming back to work if people were afraid of me, if I made anyone that unhappy, that upset.
This Monday I got a call from my director. I knew the report was not done yet, and she was asking me to come back to work. I was not sure. What about the people who were upset with me…what would happen…I admit I was scared. I was worried and frightened. She was grand. She told me it was her right to decide, and she had! She wanted me back at my desk, back at work if I felt up to returning. I do love my job and the people I work with. So I went back to work Tuesday.
I was so nervous I got sick before going to work. I was not sure what I was to face. I walked into my unit with a heavy heart and a feeling of dread. Imagine my surprise when the first person to see me pulled me into a big hug, welcoming me back. Almost the entire night shift gave me a grand hugs, and then the oncoming shift did the same. One nurse gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me I always made her feel great and happy and she was so glad I was back. To say I was floating on air would be an understatement.
I looked over and saw Eddie. What to do? Do I go up to him, hold out my hand, stay away from him and let him have his space? I was very unsure. I have always thought we were friends, but he may feel otherwise, he did go to my superiors and complained about me. What should I do? I decided to give him his space, and see how it went. My director had told me, in her call, that if I felt bad or needed to, I could leave the floor and go to the back or even come to her or the day shift supervisor. ( I wouldn’t dream of doing so, interrupting their busy day )
After about two hours Eddie came up to me and started talking. Just as though nothing happened before, as though we were still friends. I responded. At first I was slow and unsure. I did not want to make him feel bad or that I was angry or anything. But over the day things returned to normal for me, I worked close with him to get things ready for new PT’s and to do my job and help him with his. That is what I do, help the nurses with their jobs. I am not able to do their jobs, but to be an extra set of hands to help them. And I love doing it. So everything seems good with Eddie, which makes me happy, but I am still worried about Theresa.
So remember I had already returned to work. Which I am glad for. But today while in my allergists office I got a call from the psychologist. I really did not have time to talk to him, and he had me on speaker phone so I was getting a terrible echo. But what he said was this:
I was not a threat to myself or anyone else. In fact the tests showed I have trouble standing up for myself, even if provoked or mistreated. I am a bunny. I try hard to please. I need others to defend me even from co-workers who maybe having a bad day. I can’t draw lines for others not to cross even if it means my own safety is threatened. He felt that I needed more support from management. He felt the whole incident sprang from others disrespecting my job and position, and my not being able to stand up for myself. I tried to tell him management couldn’t stand up for me any more than they had, because I have not complained about anything. Several times I have been called in when management has heard of something happening that I did not tell them, and being told they needed to hear about these things. I just don’t do it. One nurse threatened to kill me and I never told. I just don’t feel comfortable running to management every time my feelings get hurt, not that they wouldn’t support me, they always have insisted I am part of the team and what I do is important…it just feels like school yard tattling to me. So and so said this or insulted me…I feel I am better than letting that get to me or bigger than complaining about it to management. Remember what I said about how busy they are and how much they have to do. To bother them because a nurse cussed me out or threw their own job on to me seems inappropriate, unimportant.
So there it is. The doctor says I am unable to stand up for myself, want to help everyone and to please others…a bunny. The bosses don’t know what happens because I won’t tell them…same as when I was a small boy being abused…I told only once and was laughed at and made fun of from the very people I thought would stop it. I am back to work, doing what I love, working with Ron , who does protect me and makes me feel safe. I guess my world is good again. But boy there was a rough week of tears. My tears. Which is a grand indicator of how much I love what I do. I have owned my own businesses. Before I took the job in the hospital, to be with Ron, I had my own computer repair and networking business for 16 years…yes 16 years. I did well at it and enjoyed it. But I wanted more, wanted to be with him more, and this job offered that. So it works for us and I hope for the people I work for.
OK friend, I have to go. Give me a few minutes to spell check this, as you know my grammar and such is horrible, and then I will send it. Be well and many hugs.