Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays

NewFNP would like to institute a rule firmly stating that her schedule the week before Christmas and, equally as importantly, newFNP's birthday can accomodate only well visits and patients who would like to sit and chat about ways to keep healthy throughout this holiday season.

Patients who should bypass the tiny community health clinic and go straight to the emergency room include those who are a) new to the practice and b) 80 years old and c) having chest pain and dizziness and d) apparently carrying a right-sided heart the size of a Plymouth around in their chest as evidenced by ekg tracings. Shame on newFNP for forgetting to share that this gentleman also had inverted t-waves. At least the decision to send a chap like that to the ED is an easy one.

Similarly easy in the "A/P" department is a woman who is being seen for itchy eyes and has a blood pressure of 150/110 who casually notes that she has been snacking on ice for the past year or so and whose hemoglobin was an eye-popping 3.4. Note: blood should not be pink and watery. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah - you're getting a blood transfusion! Hell, maybe even two!

As for newFNP, she has five consecutive days off and she frankly needs it. Burnout, baby, burnout. Five days should provide newFNP with a fresh outlook and, considering the season, perhaps some new fashions with which to create a vibrant return to the 'hood.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Heavy metal

Amongst many other ills one might see in an economically depressed community, newFNP's clinic sees a lot of children with elevated lead levels.

Now, when newFNP was in school, she was taught that it was the 18-month old child snacking on deliciously sweet paint chips off of brightly colored Mexican pottery or the child in an urban setting who lived next to a freeway/refinery/#2 pencil factory who was at risk for lead poisoning. In newFNP's clinic, we have another lead source: tamarind or 'chili' candies.

Now, newFNP is an unabashed sweet tooth, but she has never developed a taste for the chili candies. Little did she know that she was preventing herself from lead exposure. If she had developed this taste, she would be able to buy such candies by the bag-full from her local ice cream truck, the corner market or the streetside vendor. The lead is plentiful in newFNP's hood!

Getting these kids off the chili candies can be like getting Barry Bonds off the 'roids. According to the parents newFNP sees, it's the grandparents who are the tamarind-lead pushers. It's always those who you least expect!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

newFNP writes for pleasure

Although newFNP has been in practice over a year, she is still surprised by the amount of firsts she has.

For instance, yesterday she was asked by a patient - in the hallway after the visit had ended - to write a letter on her behalf allowing her to bring her own linens to the conjugal visits with her incarcerated husband. Although she may have sensitive skin, newFNP's patient is clearly not a modest woman.

So let newFNP think. Hmm.... medical issue? She doesn't even have atopic dermatitis! Possible smuggling consequences? NewFNP is almost 100% sure that her malpractice insurance does not cover "prison break."

While considering her request, newFNP has tried to envision the sheets provided by the penal system for such purposes. Her hunch is that they are more 'army surplus blanket' than '600-thread count sateen'. All creature (dis)comforts aside, newFNP thinks that she will decline to write this utterly non-medical letter. Sadly, newFNP's patient will have to endure the prison-issue sheets and newFNP will have to deal with the resulting fungal, bacterial or viral consequences as they come.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On Call

NewFNP hates being on call for several very valid reasons.

One reason is that, for some reason, patients do not hesitate to call at 10:00 PM to cancel their dental appointment for the following day. After a glass of wine, newFNP could not give a shit whether or not you cancel your appointment and she most certainly does not want her private evening time disturbed by this mundane request. She also wonders who in the hell thinks to call the after-hours phone to cancel their appointment! NewFNP knows that many of her patients are not savvy and wishes that she was allowed to simply hang up on them. Alas, there is a record of who is on call and newFNP is still interested in maintaining her employment.

Secondly, newFNP has to cart the stupid call phone everywhere she goes, including the gym, dinners out, H&M, JCrew, etc. What the hell. Please, leave newFNP to her elliptical machine, hamachi carpaccio, $12 t-shirts and $150 cashmere v-necks in peace. NewFNP had 19 calls yesterday. Nineteen. One was for a medical reason. Eighteen were front office issues.

Finally, in newFNP's clinic, clinicians are not compensated for their on call time. If newFNP were compensated $5 per on-call day, she would have 3 new cashmere sweaters per annum. Now that would make the call experience much more worth it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The three D's

NewFNP apologizes for the recent silence, but she has moved (homes, not clinics) and is just settling in to her new place. Ahhhh.... home sweet apartment home.


NewFNP must have previously noted how patients' chief complaints come in waves. One day it's nothing but pap smears - one vag after another. The only difference is the amount of hair. You might be surprised to know that a 250-pound woman has the flexibility to get a Brazilian but they do! The next day, one might be swimming in abscesses and chalazions. Frankly, it's uncanny - do newFNP's patients all know each other and coordinate their visits? Perhaps they figure that newFNP will really be on her game if they all come for the same thing on the same day. Suckers!

So newFNP just had the diabetes and depression day. Some patients even had both. Now, newFNP is no expert on either, but can manage each effectively in the primary care setting. NewFNP admits that she is a little dodgy when it comes to changing for oral hypoglycemics to insulin, but she has no fear regarding starting an adult patient with depression on an SSRI. But one after the frigging other for eight hours? Fucking hell. NewFNP thinks of her mental health colleagues and is so thankful that there are people in this world who can address these sometimes debilitating depression cases. Because newFNP sure as hell cannot during her 15 minutes. The diabetes/depression day is not a rewarding one for newFNP. It just doesn't make for a fun clinic day.

That is until newFNP was rewarded for her diabetes/depression diligence with The Third D: Dookie. Now, newFNP is no stranger to euphemisms for the act of moving one's bowels. She generally, however, reserves 'dookie' for elementary school students and not for 38-year old men. NewFNP truly attempts to be professional during her visits with patients, but then someone says something like this, "Yeah, I used to dookie like 3 or 4 times a day, but now I maybe dook once. Maybe twice, but I used to dookie a lot." All that newFNP heard was "dookie, dook, dook, dookie, dook." Oh, it was awesome. NewFNP was biting the inside of her lip in order not to start laughing.

The Dook. NewFNP will never forget him.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Get out the vote

NewFNP's clinic had a little excitement today.

No, newFNP is not speaking of the large anal warts she saw, nor of the 29-pound 13 month old whose parents state that they give her about 80 ounces of whole milk per day, in addition to both chocolate milk, juice and the occasional soda.

Nope, newFNP's clinic had a visit from our state's democratic gubernatorial candidate. In what newFNP considers a 'preaching to the choir' get out the vote effort, Mr. Candidate did a little walk through, hand-shaking, baby-kissing visit complete with secret service and television cameras. NewFNP has already voted for this underdog thanks to the ole absentee ballot, but she was glad to see him seeing a side of our city that many politicians would love to - and largely do - ignore.

Thank goodness newFNP was still rocking the sleek blowout from her star hairdresser and was wearing a smart outfit today!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


NewFNP has had some tough patients this week.

There was the 80-year old with CHF and hepatic congestion. Do they make liver sudafed because we need to decongest that bad boy!? NewFNP is decongesting that old liver and treating the CHF with good old-fashioned furosemide, which should really improve her urinary incontinence. Sorry about that.

Then there was the lady who was adamant that newFNP had not refilled her Relpax last month. NewFNP remembers the conversation in which she said that she would refill it. NewFNP wrote in the chart that she refilled it, but did newFNP hand the medicine to the patient herself? No, she did not. That responsibility falls to our dispensary clerk, who is sweet yet lacks a certain something - let's call it IQ/ability to multi-task/grace under pressure. It is not out of the realm of possibility to think that newFNP's patient perhaps did not receive her medications. However, newFNP has to trust herself and her employees and, thus, did not refill the med. NewFNP's patient was practically homicidal. It was not an enjoyable experience. Yes, newFNP knows that you are not stupid. Of course, newFNP appreciates that you are not a liar. Yes, newFNP understands that you would like her to supervise every interaction that occurs between all staff members and patients of the clinic. Sadly, newFNP has 29 other patients to see. NewFNP apologized, of course, but our relationship is damaged.

NewFNP hasn't had too many patients get mad at her. It was a drag, but newFNP had to stick by her staff because there was no clear mistake. The documentation stated that the patient received the medication. Bummer.

In other news, apparently the power of the blog is beyond what newFNP imagined. After posting that she hadn't heard from clinic B, newFNP received an e-mail asking her to interview... this Thursday at 9AM. This e-mail came in one week after newFNP's e-mail went out. How about some advanced notice for schedule clearing purposes? We'll see. We'll see.

And finally, check out this article on about antibiotic resistance.
Not a day goes by during which newFNP does not chastise a patient about antibiotic misuse. Come on people! Get with the program!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Was it something I said?

NewFNP feels like a rejected internet dater.

After being sought out via e-mail to interview at community health clinic B, newFNP replied to said clinic's Assistant Medical Director using the same medium, stating that she would love to interview, knows of the great work clinic B does, etc, etc.

That was a week ago. Nothing. Is newFNP P.N.G. at clinic B without even knowing it?

Oh well. NewFNP hears that community health clinic B pays shit, so that wouldn't work anyway. Since graduating, newFNP has noticed that many of her conversations with her late 20's/early 30-something friends focus on paying off debt, saving for a down payment, paying off private loans super-ASAP, how the fuck anyone ever buys a house, etc. Therefore, newFNP certainly cannot earn less than what she now earns. Seriously, newFNP still drives the same piece of dump she drove in grad school and rents an apartment.

So screw you clinic B! NewFNP will make the most of clinic A for now. At least she has some good stories to share.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What to do, what to do

As many of you know, newFNP has been experiencing distress at her place of employment as of late. This distress led newFNP to forward her CV to two of her public health type colleagues who are, as they say, connected.

And now newFNP has a job interview at the Cadillac of community health clinics.

Here is the conundrum. There is never a *good* time to change jobs. There are times that are worse than others. For example, newFNP has a three-week vacation planned in February. Is it a bad thing to say, "Oh, and BTW, I'm going to need to take February off. Problem with that?" NewFNP thinks that is not ideal. Secondly, newFNP let her CPR certification lapse. Fucking hell because now newFNP has to sit in that MF-ing course all over again. Double fucking hell because it looks flat out bad to let such a thing lapse when applying for new employment. Thirdly, newFNP's clinic just lost a provider - no big shock. This does, however, cause extra stress on the existing staff.

Finally, newFNP really likes and respects the MD with whom she works. NewFNP will need to excuse herself from work for a half-day to attend said interview. NewFNP wants to tell her MD, but doesn't want her MD to think she is a big ship-jumping a-hole. Ay ay ay. And newFNP is not even sure that she wants to leave her fucked up community health clinic for a more posh community health clinic. This posh clinic is at least 15 minutes further from newFNP's new apartment and, in newFNP's city, that could be a real problem.

NewFNP has about 10.5 hours to figure this all out.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hard times are spreading...

Oh, has it ever been rough in newFNP land. NewFNP has had nothing good to say about work. No funny stories, no frustrating patients. Wait, did newFNP just write that? Of course there have been frustrating patients! But newFNP has been too discouraged to share them with anyone.

You see, newFNP's Board of Director's voted down all of the clinic employee raises. NewFNP's clinic manager continues to jam the clinic with too many patients. NewFNP had a size large bloody speculum fly out of a vagina at her yesterday (lesson: no matter what - hold onto the speculum). Oh, the velocity!

In short, newFNP feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. Maybe newFNP has too many entitlement issues. Maybe she should look at her job as just that - a job.

But that is *not* how newFNP sees her role. NewFNP is not a telemarketer. She has chosen a career that values humanity and that seeks to promote wellness. NewFNP wants the agency for whom she works to value her in kind.

And newFNP can't stress it enough, but she needs cute shoes and some new Joe's Jeans!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Stay away from the windows

It has been an exciting few days in newFNP land.

In addition to the minimum 27 patients per day newFNP has seen this past week (range 27-34), we had a little drive-by shooting fatality/car crash in a too-close-for-comfort location. And by that, newFNP does mean visible from the front door of the clinic. NewFNP was all for closing up shop that day but alas - once the fun and games of clearing away the body and the cars was taken care of, all returned to normal. Only the disconcerting knowledge that newFNP does, in fact, work in the hoodiest of hoods remains.

Thankfully, newFNP had an unexpected treat today. As she deftly moved around her patient to partake of a thorough lung exam, she was treated with a rare sight: a mullet. A wavy mullet. Others might not find joy in the mullet, but newFNP was thrilled! It's not so often that anyone rocks the Billy Ray Cyrus these days!

It was a high in newFNP's achy breaky day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


NewFNP hates to repeat herself, but it is tough to deny that the shit that comes out of a kid's mouth can brighten one's day.

A little background. NewFNP is averaging 30.3 patients per day this week. This is a fact that would give her CEO a big boner but makes newFNP want to stab her eye with a used needle, repeatedly. NewFNP is looking in every corner of every room for the silver lining, but newFNP is fed up. One might even say that newFNP is fucking fed up.

So thank goodness for little miracles, right? And it is unusual in newFNP's life that miracles take the form of fat 9-year olds, but it seems as though miracles do indeed work mysteriously.

This chunky guy was midway through his physical when newFNP instructed him to lie down for the old abdominal exam. Reclined comfortably, he closed his eyes, stretched and sighed, "Ahhhhh, I knew this day would finally come......" He was so serene and sincere, as though he had stepped into the day spa. Or did this patient think he had stubled upon the Best Little Whorehouse in Anonymous Urban Center?

As his mom, older sister and newFNP were chuckling, this Hugh Hefner protoge continued. "I knew that one day I would be here and be examined thoroughly." Now, newFNP knows that this little kid did not intend for his comment to sound creepy or weird - let alone pornographic - and he probably didn't even intend for it to be humorous. But he indeed did receive a thorough exam and is off to urology as a result. Did his big genital fat pad eat his testes or were they never descended to begin with? That is for Dr. Penis to decide.

There was a distinct lack of awesome little kid comments today, however. NewFNP could go for one tomorrow. NewFNP could also go for a day with 20 patients, a new Miu Miu handbag and some raspberry-colored Marc Jacob's patent leather wedges. Alas, newFNP thinks that the wedges are a more achievable desire than is a light clinic day.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Office staff rant

A tough thing about being newFNP (or supervising MD or co-worker NP) is that there are no other employees in the clinic as responsible or as knowledgable as you. In some ways, that's fine. In other ways, it makes newFNP want to yell at people and throw her pens at them.

NewFNP's biggest pet peeve in not having labels in the chart.

NewFNP is the third stop in the clinical flow. First stop - front desk. Second stop - MA/vital signs. Third stop - newFNP.

As evidenced by the above written flow chart, here are at least two people ahead of newFNP who can open the chart and see that there are, in fact, no labels. Ultimately, the front desk needs to take a split fucking second and look in the chart. Are there labels? No? Print them out!

Ten minutes later, when the MA writes down the chief complaint and sees that there is no label with which to identify the patient on a new progress notes page, she then has the opportunity to ask the front desk to print out some labels.

Now, newFNP is not sure how often the aforementioned scenario occurs, but she is quite sure that it did not happen three times today, a day in which newFNP was responsible for the care of thirty-four patients. On such a day, newFNP finds it difficult to be polite when wasting precious minutes of her time to go do someone else's job. It is not as though newFNP has neglected to mention this ever-present need for labels to all clinical staff during weekly staff meetings. To the contrary, time and time again, newFNP has pleaded with her co-workers to throw her a fucking label bone. Alas, no.

Ranking second on newFNP's list of pet peeves is incomplete or an absolute lack of lab results in the chart when a patient's clearly stated CC is "lab results." Should it ever happen? No. Should it happen daily? Hell no. Does it? Shit, yes it does. This causes newFNP to hunt down her MA and request the results. Sure, newFNP could find them faster herself, but fuck that just on principle.

There are many other things our MA's miss. Some of it a simply a lack of knowledge and newFNP is not going to fault them for having next to no education. However, newFNP attributes a decent amount of MA oversights to sheer laziness. And newFNP is pissy about that. NewFNP has struggled all year with the fact that she is working like she is on the chain gang all day long while she sees other employees looking on MySpace and taking 10 minutes to figure out from which fucking fast food restaurant everyone wants to order lunch.

Being at the top of the intellectual food chain in one's community health clinic is at times a welcome responsibility and a frustrating burden. NewFNP sincerely believes that it would not take much effort on the part of other staff to ease the workload of the clinicians. Sure, we'll see the 25-30 patients per day. Just make it a frigging smidge easier on us.


Friday, September 15, 2006


NewFNP feels that she is not alone in declaring that, for FNP students, pediatrics can be daunting. Kids have high fevers, they have weird rashes that may be viral or may be frigging measles. Who knows? What new NP has ever seen measles? What parent feels confident in the diagnosis of 'viral exanthem'?

Nonetheless, pediatric visits have turned into the highlights of newFNP's day. Why, just this week, newFNP had a five year old boy laugh and scream, "You're touching my penis!" during a regular old testical exam during a well-child check. You just don't get that kind of enthusiasm during the adult exam. A four year old boy this week told newFNP several times, "You're funny." And, damn it all, that kid is right. NewFNP was having a grand old time chatting up this four year old about school, his cousin, crying, Batman - a little sample of all things important.

For all the students, newFNP thought she would share some secrets to help overcome the fear of pediatrics for you and your patient.

1) This lesson is courtesy of Sunshine, a co-ed with whom newFNP studied. New FNP uses it without fail. Kids hate the ear exam, but looking for Dora or SpongeBob in a kid's ear will greatly facilitate the process. Sometimes newFNP tells the kid that she saw Dora running to the other ear and they graciously turn and offer the ear for examination. This tool is not limited to the ears, no sir. It works on the mouth too!

2) Making an amazed face upon cardiac auscultation is a wonderful tool to get kids interested in what's up. Of course, older kids can listen to their own hearts, but the young kids like to see that you think their body is working well.

3) Knowing when you don't have to do a full exam is important. Not every well child check needs to be a head-to-toe. If kids are scared and crying, newFNP lays off, especially if they are a regular patient. NewFNP explains her lame exam to the parent, letting them know that being scared is normal and that newFNP will provide a more thorough exam when the child is not screaming and kiding under the chair.

4) Tell parents to bring the kid back the next day if you're concerned. In newFNP's experience, parents don't appear too put out when it comes to their kids' health. You can also try obvious things like oral rehydration and fever management in the office. Duh.

"You're touching my penis!" Ah, good times.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Holiday! Oh yeah, oh yeah! Celebrate!

Ah, the joy of a two and a half-day weekend! NewFNP did have to work on Saturday but then was able to luxuriate in the glory of 2.5 days off. That is, until she attempted to return to work this morning and appreciated the hell that is the first day of school, which added a full 15 minutes onto her usual 20-25 minute commute, only to arrive to a waiting room with a population density that rivaled Calcutta.

It is entirely anecdotal yet positively indisputable that the first clinic day after a holiday weekend sucks donkey nuts.

Too. Many. Patients.

What happens in that one extra day during which newFNP is having brunch and playing Scrabble and cursing The New Yorker for not picking her brilliant caption that causes a 15 billion-fold increase in patients?

And the air conditioner in newFNP's clinic has bought the farm. Granted, that was two weeks ago but temperatures are soaring here is newFNP land and one would not call the exam rooms in newFNP's clinic 'spacious' or 'windowed,' thus creating a real issue with heat, smells - you get the picture. Perirectal abscess? Sitz baths and Keflex until the air conditioner is repaired. Not that newFNP would do that, but it seems a fair alternative given the conditions.

All in all, today was almost enough to make newFNP seek refuge in the suburbs. Or the spa. Or Barney's. Or perhaps just the H.M.S. Bounty.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Knocked up

As a part of newFNP's continuing growth, development and work stress, she has taken on the role of prenatal care provider.

Here is newFNP's ideal first prenatal patient: 25 years old, normal weight, 8-10 weeks pregnant, non-smoker, no drugs or alcohol, taking prenatal vitamins, stable home life. She can have a cup of coffee per day because, come on, newFNP isn't a fascist.

Here is newFNP's actual first prenatal patient: 22 years old, G3P2 with a 7-month old, living in a shelter due to IPV, quit her 2 PPD smoking habit "2 weeks ago," in the 19th week of her pregnancy seeing newFNP for the second prenatal visit of this pregnancy, no prenatal vitamins, with both children in foster care, overweight and missing a front tooth. NewFNP knows that the front tooth isn't relevant, but it does paint a certain picture. Did newFNP mention that this patient was a walk-in? Of course she was! Only the non-complicated patients seem to make appointments in newFNP's clinic.

Trial by fire, this prenatal care bit.

Look at all of the opportunities newFNP has to provide education, support and care.

That is newFNP's new mantra. The old was one "fuck this" and that mantra just doesn't always work.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Celebrating one year of newFNP

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago today, newFNP had just completed her first day as newFNP.

NewFNP saw five patients that day - today it was thirty.

NewFNP is certain of one thing - being nice to patients makes all the difference in the patient experience of their care. NewFNP had a patient last week with cerebellar ataxia. What is cerebellar ataxia, you might ask. That is precisely the question newFNP was asking herself as she sat staring at her patient. No matter, because newFNP was nice and took time to talk to this woman. Midway through her visit, she told newFNP, "I want you to be my doctor." Well, sister, newFNP can't be your doctor but she can be your FNP even if the only thing she knows about cerebellar ataxia is that she needs to get your ass to neurology.

NewFNP also has to remind herself that many people in her practice are, quite frankly, health illiterate. Many people do not know how to care for themselves; they don't know the difference between what is healthful and what is dangerous. For newFNP, that is sometimes hard to fathom. Before newFNP was newFNP, she knew that Gatorade was not a health drink. She didn't learn that in NP school or in MPH school - she just knew from sometime long ago.

This lack of basic health knowledge is frustrating to newFNP at times, such as today when she had an urgent walk-in for, no joke, a bruise. A run of the mill purple bruise. But as newFNP felt herself thinking, "What in the motherfucking fuck is this person doing here," she backed off that ledge and remembered that this person was in clinic to get newFNP's professional and educated opinion about her bruise.

Ah, the wisdom we amass.

Although newFNP has yet to submit her request for a salary increase, she did receive a brand new chair at the end of the day today. For the past year, newFNP has had this ghetto-ass hoopty chair. No more - newFNP is now ergonomically correct and does it ever feel good. Now if she could only get a computer.


Thanks for sharing this year, newFNP readers.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Scoot down

Quite frankly, newFNP does not understand how it is that women who have had many children, who have had prior pelvic exams, and who are in their 30's & 40's do not understand that they need to scoot that shit down in order for newFNP to do a pap. NewFNP feels a bit akin to Hannibal Lector as she repeats, "Closer. Closer, please. Closer." Imagine, if you will, a woman on the exam table, feet in the stirrups, legs fully-extended. What do they expect newFNP to do? Shimmy up on the table with them in order to get a peek at their cervices? And why is it when newFNP instructs them to move closer to the edge that they inch their way down the table? Is there an epidemic of women falling from the exam table - ass first, feet a-tangled in stirrups - that has these women stricken with fear about scooting? Ay ay ay.

Friday, August 11, 2006

You're fine, now go away

Frankly, having no insurance sucks.

NewFNP had a patient whom she began to treat for anemia last week when she entered our clinic with a heavy period and a hemoglobin of 7.2. For those not in the know, that qualifies as 'fucking anemic' as opposed to 'holy shit, is this patient ever anemic.' NewFNP's approach was three-fold:

1) iron supplementation (duh) and repeat hemoglobin in 48 hours
2) oral contraception (no provera available in the clinic)
3) CBC

Upon said patient's return, her hemoglobin had increased to 7.4, not an amount for which anyone will win any prizes but enough to calm any fears of imminent bleeding out. This is no faily tale, however as this lady's OCP was causing vomiting and a lot of it. NewFNP operates from a philosophy of avoiding insult to injury and, therefore, changed up homegirl's pills.

Alas, while the patient tolerated her new pills well, her menses was one tough customer and didn't feel the need to leave her the hell alone. She went to the ED and received 2 units of blood. Although newFNP did not see her in follow-up, she did see that her hemoglobin was a nice 11.8 the next week. Her period, however, was tenacious! It was not to be stopped by hormonal contraception alone. She was referred to an OB/GYN and received essentially no care.

She returned to newFNP's clinic the next day, clutching her head and crying in pain. She had been seen in the ED the night before, received no imaging and was discharged with a diagnosis of migraine. In the clinic, her right eye was deviating from its normal gaze. She was the most distressed patient newFNP has seen, excluding of course first rectal exams and male GU accidental erections. NewFNP called 911 and the friendly firemen took her to the hospital.

A quick phone call to the patient's home the next day revealed that she was, yet again, discharged with no imaging and told that she needed to see a neurologist. Yeah, no shit ass-crack. That's why newFNP sent her to the fucking hospital in the first place. How the fuck can we tell if the reason she has such heavy periods isn't from some underlying bleeding disorder that is causing her to also bleed in her brain if we don't do imaging?

When a 17-year old with anxiety comes into newFNP's clinic complaining of chest pain, she is likely to get the full cardiac work-up (read: an EKG and auscultation in all essential spots instead of just one or two). When a tyke with a sore throat comes in, newFNP checks him out as though he could have something aside from the 85% likelihood diagnosis of viral pharyngitis. NewFNP does not send every case to the ED. Apparently, that's a good thing given the crappy care they receive.

NewFNP knows that the EDs are overburdened with patients as well, but seriously, what the fuck?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hold the mayo

There are days during which patients just break newFNP's heart.

Imagine having gone through a fetal loss, an ectopic with subsequent tubal scarring and years of infertility before finally meeting a reproductive endocrinologist who will work with you when you're uninsured. Imagine being evaluated for Clomid and preparing to start using it. Then imagine finding a breast lump. Then having a fine needle biopsy with a "bad" result. And then imagine the waiting between those results and your impending excisional biopsy, when you have nothing to do but think of how you're not pregnant and how maybe you have breast cancer just like the beautiful woman sitting next to you in the breast clinic when you had your needle biopsy.

And on top of all that crap you get a cold and end up in newFNP's care. Son of a bitch, right? That's just what you need!

NewFNP breaks the touch barrier a lot. She believes that a handshake or a simple pat on the back or the arm goes a long way in welcoming patients. NewFNP took this patient into her arms today as she sobbed.

So, yes, there are days when patients just break newFNP's heart. Of course, there are also days during which patients just bust newFNP's chops as well.

Today was a combo platter.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fine art

NewFNP has no personal opposition to tattoos. In fact, she must admit to having had a certain attraction to some tattooed gentlemen now and again. In fact, it has been rare - if ever - that newFNP has felt morally and personally offended by a tattoo. NewFNP supposes that there is a first time for everything afterall.

While conducting a physical exam, newFNP noticed that her patient had half of a buxom naked lady peeking out from under his mid-calf-high gym socks. Not only was this lady stacked, she was also sitting with her legs widely spread, knees bent. Although her nether regions were covered by the gym sock, newFNP had a guess as to what was hidden beneath. Well, in case newFNP was wrong in her assumption, when she walked around to the patient's side, she got a glimpse of something she had never imagined anyone - save for disgusting perverts - would want eternally portrayed on their external calf.

NewFNP must confess that the artist was clearly a student of the female external genital anatomy. Professional or lay, this tattoo artist knew his stuff. NewFNP can't be certain, but she thinks that she saw a Skene's gland. In any case, is it necessary or even desirable to have a 7-inch tall tattoo of a naked and anatomically accurate lady in the doggy-style position, fingering herself , and glancing longingly over her shoulder? NewFNP thinks decidedly not.

NewFNP has thought about this a lot - not the tattoo, per se, but her reaction to it. A) NewFNP felt offended. Period. B) NewFNP did not want to continue to provide much care to this individual who clearly has low regard for women. C) NewFNP felt sorry for this person's daughter.

Maybe newFNP should have suggested tattooing underpants on the lady. Or maybe she could have just said, "Oh - I see you have a fucking repulsive tattoo. Do you have a difficult time getting laid?" But she didn't. She just did a quick exam and moved on to the next 50 million patients that day.


Monday, July 17, 2006

But it's 4:53 PM

Here is the patient who should be the 4:45 walk-in: tinea, 1 lesion. That's it. You have ringworm, welcome. Please come in and accept my anti-fungal treatment. And then leave so that newFNP can too leave in order to make it to her overcrowded, under-air-conditioned gym prior to all of the elliptical machines being hogged.

Here is the patient who should not be the walk-in at the aforementioned time: the never before seen in our clinic 63-year old lady with the visibly pulsating carotid. It wasn't small, nor was it subtle. It was reminiscent of the boils on the truck driver's neck in 'Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,' a must-see movie as far as newFNP is concerned.

In considering this patient, newFNP has but two words: time bomb.

Carotid bruit? No. Hugely wide carotid with a loud - and newFNP does mean loud as all getout - pulse. Is it an aneurysm? Possibly. Whatever it is, it needs more in-depth evaluation than newFNP's little community health clinic can provide. And did I mention that her BP was 144/40? Well, it was. NewFNP likes to call that a "wide" pulse pressure.

So, to sum up: wide pulsating carotid + wide pulse pressure = good-bye pulsing neck lady. Enjoy the ED. NewFNP sincerely hopes that this trip will save her patient's life.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Oh, did she go to Hopkins?

NewFNP was enjoying the lull experienced last week thanks to graduations and World Cup. It was all about 20-22 patients per day last week. Well, that lull is over. Thanks a lot, Mexico - way to get eliminated.

The patients are back, and quite a few of them are vexing newFNP. NewFNP must admit that she feels excessive frustration when her patients do not adhere to the regimen she prescribes. Yes, it's the patient's choice whether to go along with the plan or not. However, if the patient chooses not to get with the program, it is newFNP's hope that the patient will not continue to come to the clinic and complain of the same thing over and over again, ad nauseam.

NewFNP's 40-something year old depressed patient with a history of clearly unresolved childhood physical abuse and the full SIGECAPS spectrum reviewed her SSRI/counseling treatment plan with a cousin who advised her to just "work it out" on her own. NewFNP inquired, "Is your cousin a doctor?" Astoundingly, she's not. Nonetheless, blood is thicker than water, even when water wears the white coat. So, OK, Horatio Alger-ess, grab onto those bootstraps and start pulling.

Monday, June 26, 2006

You think you had a bad week?

OK, listen. There are many difficult situations which newFNP must control in the course of a work week. These include, but are not limited to, the following quotes from patients and/or clinical experiences from last week:

  • 'I stopped taking my Benadryl because it makes my eyes hurt.'
  • 'My cholesterol medicine makes my throat hurt.'
  • 'My hernia [umbilical] is hurting and I didn't go to my ultrasound appointment, nor did I call to cancel or change the date.' This is a paraphrase. This same patient also told me that she felt "little balls" on her abdomen. Yeah, sister, that is called cellulite. Tummy cellulite. Now goodbye.
  • 'All I eat are fruits and vegetables.' Hmmm.... 276 pounds and a glucose of 350, all from those dastardly fruits and vegetables? Perhaps newFNP is approaching diabetes care all wrong.
  • Let's see, what else: fat kid, fat kid, fat kid, kid with possible ocular tumor, fat kid with hypertension, primagravida with a fetal ultrasound too devastating to describe, fat kid, hugely fat adult.... you get the picture.
But do you know what made last week a fucking nightmare? I'll tell you.

NewFNP has lost her palm pilot. The son of a bitch is gone, along with ePocrates, Kid-O-Meter, BMI Calculator, 10 year risk assessments, my hairdresser's phone number, my facialist's phone number and a plethora of other useful information. NewFNP has a new PDA on the way but misses her piece of crap Clie.

Sony Clie, wherever you are, newFNP loves you.

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's not you, it's me....

NewFNP has had some tough conversations in her day, ranging from "Well, I actually am not a real fan of purple angora mock turtlenecks but thanks for the thought" to "You have chlamydia" to "I really feel like this is not working out with us." Now she has had the "You have cancer" talk.

As with any break-up conversation newFNP has had, the build-up was worse than the event. NewFNP was surprised, quite frankly, at how unaffected the patient was upon hearing the news of her cervical cancer. Perhaps she didn't understand, perhaps she was shocked, perhaps just stoic. Her daughter, on the other hand, appeared to grasp the magnitude of the diagnosis and perhaps her mother's mortality.

In speaking with the woman and her daughter, newFNP asked again when the patient's last pap had been. Her daughter asked, "Two years ago, right?" Her mom replied that she had never had a pap and that the exam two years ago was a mammogram. This is a multiparrous woman - no pap ever. NewFNP is struck by the frequency of that experience in her patient population. She also is reminded of how important it can be to ask the same questions over and again, especially if your communication is compromised by language issues.

As newFNP has had time to reflect upon the initial appointment, she is struck again at how she initially doubted her eyes and her knowledge and how, upon receiving the result, she began to appreciate her abilities. As newFNP reflects upon the care uninsured people receive, she is struck by how flat out fucked they can be. NewFNP has awesome insurance at a very hoity-toity facility. She has a palpably and audibly crunchy knee that needs evaluation. She received her appointment the same day as her primary care physician generated the referral. NewFNP's patient has a big ole tumor in her va-jay-jay and our referral coordinator couldn't secure a colpo/biopsy appointment for her. She had to walk into a specified clinic, lab result in hand, and get medical attention.

Her biopsy was last week, as was her CT scan. NewFNP is awaiting the results, fearful of what they will bring.

Although it didn't feel good to tell this woman that she has cancer, it felt right. It felt respectful to deliver difficult news straightforwardly and compassionately, to answer questions and to be a support.

Now let's get those HPV vaccines rolled out and prevent all these abnormal paps, biopsies, cancers and deaths.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A plea

Ladies, please - hear me out.

Now, newFNP knows that all members of the fairer sex will at some point be afflicted with nipple hair, or more specifically, peri-areolar hair. NewFNP is not of hirsute stock, yet even she has had to endure this hardship. But what makes this tragedy something one can easily overcome is a little something called tweezers, a not-so-new technology. NewFNP opts for Tweezerman, but she is sure that even Revlon makes a pair that would be suitable for boob tweezing. Especially when your nipple hair is coarse like a man's and two inches long like a certain recent patient in clinic. So, please, cut newFNP some breast exam slack and tweeze.

Disclaimer: newFNP considers herself 100% feminist and does feel some guilt regarding both this post and her aversion to whatever makes her female patients happy as far as breasts go. NewFNP will send a check off to NOW right away.

Right after she sharpens the edge of her tweezers.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Oh, to be wrong!

Normally, newFNP enjoys being correct. NewFNP likes good grades and completed NY Times crossword puzzles (only the Sunday magazine crossword, not the NYT crossword). At this relatively early stage of her career, newFNP also enjoys correct diagnoses. When she presumptively treats a strep throat while awaiting culture results, she feels selfishly relieved when the cultures are positive.

NewFNP, however, is not so pleased with her correct presumptive diagnosis in her sweet 68-year old patient. This woman's chief complaint was urinary incontinence, but she also noted a very foul vaginal discharge. Oh, and some vaginal bleeding. Not all the time, but vaginal bleeding nonetheless. The words "post-menopausal vaginal bleeding is cancer until proven otherwise" rang in newFNP's head as she was taking the history.

Other pertinent info:

  • no sexual activity for many years
  • last pap 2004 - patient assumes it was normal
  • vaginal discharge progressively worsening over 6 months
  • vaginal bleeding times 4 months - intermittent
It's newFNP's understanding that there are some vaginal infections that present themselves even before the patient is in the lithotomy position thanks to the ol' olfactory system. NewFNP had yet to experience such an infection until meeting this patient.

Although it feels insensitive to say it, newFNP had to choke down her gag reflex during the exam. The odor was reminiscent of abscess contents. The discharge was green and, man alive, was it ever copious! It was literally running out of the speculum as fast as newFNP could swab it.

Now, newFNP frequently wonders if cervical lesions will be visible to the naked eye. Ectropion, sure. But what about those purple lesions? Are they moles? Should I know this? Whenever newFNP sees something she is unclear on, she makes sure to get a nice sample of it for the pap. Well, what this lady had going on was so visible that newFNP had to look at it many times over to actually believe what she was seeing.

If memory serves correctly, the chart note read something like: Gray round lesion, approx 1.5 cm, rough surface, adjacent to cervix at 3:00. Friable.

The referral note states: Rule out gyn cancer. Pap pending.

The pap isn't pending. It was faxed to newFNP today. Squamous cell carcinoma. No BV, no trich, no gardnerella. No GC/CT. All of that discharge must have been necrotic tissue sloughing off.

In the next few days, newFNP will be, for the first time, telling a patient that she has cancer. In Spanish. In fucking Spanish.

It is horrible to be right sometimes. Yet, it does reinforce the adage that seeing enough normals will help you to recognize the abnormals. That, however, isn't enough consolation for newFNP right now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What a feeling!

Apparently, newFNP's HR department has nothing better to do than to come up with new policies regarding professional attire. There were some expected no-no's, of course, such as a prohibition against shorts and half-shirts. Sorry, Beyonce, no job for you at newFNP's clinic!

There were, however, some unusual frowned upon fashion pronouncements. For instance, it is "inappropriate" to wear khakis or chinos. I'm sorry, but where is it appropriate to wear khakis if not to work? Also not making the cut were clogs, of all things. Sorry Dansko. You'll have to appeal to the Dutch because the community health clinic says you are inappropriate.

The most unusual fasion item to make the "no" list were... wait for it..... stirrup pants! Please, someone tell me, what is newFNP going to wear with her leg warmers, headband and off-the-shoulder sweatshirt? What's next? Outlawing Forenza oversized v-neck sweaters and Members Only jackets?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


There are times throughout the day during which newFNP sees her patient and immediately senses a "what the fuck" coming on. What newFNP would like to do is gingerly tiptoe backwards out of the exam room, hoping that the patient never noticed that she was there.

Given the state of affairs of one patient today, newFNP could have probably succeeded in the aforementioned exit strategy.

Before continuing, can newFNP just make one more plea to prevent frigging Type 2 diabetes? Yes, yes, we can't save them all, but newFNP is sure as shit saving herself. And if a gaggle of patients want to set sail in the health boat with newFNP, they can hop on board. Ahoy!

Here is why "Develop Type 2 DM" is not on newFNP's to-do list.

A) Renal failure.
B) Proliferative retinopathy/blindness.
C) Peripheral neuropathy/amputation.

And if that weren't enough, newFNP has a new reason to add to her list: Charcot's Foot - a complication of neuropathy that leads to fractures of the bones without having experienced major trauma. Because of the neuropathy, the fracture isn't felt by the patient who continues to walk on the affected foot. This, in turn, leads to severe deformities, sometimes intractable ulceration and the potential for amputation.

If you haven't seen Charcot's Foot before, conjure images of Kathy Bates' character hobbling James Caan in "Misery." That is what Charcot's looks like. It's swollen, warmer than surrounding skin and looks like someone took a sledgehammer to it.

And if that wasn't incentive enough, just think of this: Charcot's Feet cannot wear cute shoes.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Parenting 101

A little about me. NewFNP is not a parent. However, newFNP knows crappy parenting when she is beaten over the head with it.

Take for instance the mother and daughter pregnancy test walk-ins this week. Mom in her late 30's, daughter in her late teens. Mom's test negative, daughter's test positive. Mom relieved yet concerned about having had two menstrual periods the previous month. Daughter devastated, crying, fallen, crushed.

Mom wrapped her arm around her daugher's shoulders and told newFNP that her daugher had been raped in February. NewFNP inquired as to post-sexual assault care. She had none. No health care, no police report. No menstrual period for two months. No knowledge of whether she had been infected with an STI. No counseling.

Mom repeated over and over to the daughter, "It's OK, it's OK." OK? Fourteen weeks pregnant as a result of a rape is OK? No, not OK. Pretty fucking far from OK.

After a 20-second series of "it's OKs," mom turned her attention back toward herself and inquired as to her irregular periods. NewFNP said something polite but dismissive in order to re-direct the conversation to the daughter. Mom played along, but would not be deterred from receiving the answer to her relatively pedestrian query. NewFNP encouraged her to follow-up with an appointment. What newFNP wanted to tell her was to drop it and to focus her attention on the needs of her re-traumatized daughter.

Is newFNP out of her tree or is there a time during which you let your needs fall aside in order to deal with a crisis? Isn't that part of being a parent? That's part of the reason why newFNP is sans child - still selfish, this newFNP! Still putting her needs first.

Speaking of, J. Crew has some cute frigging spring flats. Perfect with smart trousers for clinic-wear!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wet to dry

It's not until one washes one's hand three trillion times per day that one truly appreciates the drying effects of water. It's Saharian in its drying capacity. However, one can certainly understand how a patient who is told that she needs a wet dressing in order to dry a seeping wound might raise an 80-year old eyebrow and toddle off to the pharmacy to buy some more minty-cream.

NewFNP was happy to take a look at her patient's wound yesterday. In fact, when newFNP was in her whirlwind med-surg rotation, she was somewhat of a wound guru. Well, folks, those days are long-fucking-gone. As newFNP unwrapped the homemade bandage and caught a whiff of the minty salve, she began to realize the extent to which one year of untreated wound festering can wreak havoc upon delicate ankle skin. What began as a "vein" that she scratched with her shoe turned into a large - let's say 5 inches in diameter - ulcer covered with thickened yellow necrotic tissue.

She has been using all matters of salves and creams for the past year, all leaving her unfulfilled and with a growing lesion. The scent of the cream she was rocking in clinic yesterday was reminiscent of kindergarten paste and she had applied it just as thickly as would a 5-year old. She told me, with utter contempt, that one doctor told her that she should just cover it with water and that it would heal. The tone in which she conveyed this story implied, "As if."

When newFNP prescribed the exact same treatment, she wrote the kindly old lady a prescription for sterile water and told her that she needed to use this "special water" to heal her wound over the course of the next year.

Special fairy water - that's what newFNP will say next time.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Body count

Hours worked: 8
Number of patient visits: 27
Number of complete physicals: 6
Number of IUD insertions newFNP did for the first-ever time: 1
Number of third-graders weighing in at greater than 100 pounds: 2

Number of weeks of vacation newFNP currently receives through her clinic: 2
Number of sick/personal days: 4 - total, not each.

Sure, newFNP understands that she earns approximately 10K under market because she works in community health. Sure, she is savvy enough to reason why she is forced to see so many patients day in and day out.

But what newFNP does not understand is why her clinic's management does not seem to address the concept of "burn out" and spend some time considering what it might do to prevent it from happening to its employees. All newFNP wants is 4 weeks of vacation per year. Yes, it's a lot. No, it is not at all unreasonable.

NewFNP suggested this change to the doc with whom she works, who in turn suggested it to senior management. NewFNP is anxiously awaiting their response. Her passport is current and aching for some new stamps.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's nippy out

Ah, fashion. NewFNP loves fashion. NewFNP loves shopping. Just to descend into the warm embrace of the Prada SoHo, to flirt with the sassy Sigerson flats, to luxuriate in the sensation of a Theory cashmere sweater against one's cheek - even at the outlets! NewFNP loves it all.

There are, however, some fashion trends newFNP just can't endorse. These include MC Hammer pants. Can't touch this? Yeah, no shit - who would want to with those baggy ass yellow trousers? Also on the list are jelly shoes, even Marc Jacobs jellies. A current fashion forward look which newFNP finds revolting are the gladiator sandals. Go away with your leather ties up your legs. It's ugly and slutty looking.

A look that has likely not graced the pages of Vogue or Marie Claire in some time might be the half-shirt. As fashion forward newFNP readers know, longer tees are in. Bare midriff - out.

Apparently, our 275-pound walk-in yesterday morning didn't get the memo. She also must have missed the memo that it is important for breast health to wear a bra. She clearly missed the memo stating that one's ample bosom belongs inside one's half shirt as opposed to hanging out of the bottom, nipple pointing directly to the floor.

Is newFNP wrong, or is it very unusual for a woman to bear her nipple in public? Granted, newFNP lives in a rather progressive city where the climate is mild and where boobs are an important accessory. Nonetheless, it is newFNP's opinion that one must be utterly divorced from reality to A) find it acceptable to share one's lady-goods with all of the clinical staff and patients or B) not realize that one's nipple is actually out of one's shirt! I mean, come on, isn't it even a little cold? Isn't there a breeze with which to contend?

Bottom line: newFNP is no conservative, but she votes to keep the nipples in the shirts when in public.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I had this pain....

When newFNP has a pain that self-resolves, she is thankful and happily moves on with her life. That is not the case, however, for many of newFNP's patients. I cannot begin to tell you the frequency with which I hear of bygone aches and pains, now entirely resolved.

So you say that your back hurt 3 months ago? Interesting.

What's that? You had a headache last year, just once and then it went away? Well, aren't you a medical miracle.

Pardon me? What caused that pain you experienced last July? NewFNP must confess, she'd be hard pressed to say.

Lest anyone think that newFNP is an asshole, she does in fact inquire as to whether there are any other health concerns that might have brought the patient to the clinic. Most frequently, the answer is no. Sometimes, however, there is another chief complaint.

One such example is my mid-30's male patient who segued from resolved pain to constipation. Ah, poop. Now there is something you can really assess and sink your teeth into during the history-taking!

For instance, when was your last BM? Today.

I see. And how often do you have a BM? Every day. Twice a day.

This is the point during which newFNP questions her Spanish skills. Twice a day? Constipation? Something is not adding up!

OK, well, twice a day falls well into the range of normal...

At this point, newFNP's patient won the Brown Star Award when he disclosed his normal bowel pattern of three movements per day. Maybe the day after Thanksgiving, but every single day?!?

As newFNP sees it, Mr. Poopie has just saved himself an estimated roll or two of TP per month, not to mention an estimated 30-45 minutes per week away from the throne.

Perhaps he could devote that saved time into an extra workout!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Every day, am I right? Thirty minutes? Yeah, me too.

Sorry - font so small and newFNP so unable to fix it. Caption reads: Be honest - how much are you exercising?

Strapped for cash

No, newFNP is not here to complain about salary, although it is too little to support major urban area rent, plus shopping - and not even at Barney's, plus student loans. No, at this point, it seems as though newFNP's clinic has bigger fish to fry.

You see, as in many other metropolitan areas, newFNP's metropolitan area has a significant population of uninsured people. NewFNP's clinic offers 100% free services to these people, including the dispensing of some medicines. No, we do not offer Botox, but we will do our part to keep a patient's A1C at a reasonable level. As such, newFNP's community health clinic in positively out of money for uninsured patients. Imagine newFNP pulling her empty pockets out of her flattering Theory trousers, shrugging all the while, and you'll get the idea. The well is dry.

So, what next? How does newFNP provide an acceptable level of care to these patients if she can neither order labs nor dispense meds? NewFNP is already sensitive to the financial strains of community health practice. Should newFNP provide more thorough care to her insured patients than she does to her uninsured patients? The thought is unsavory at best. And unethical, according to newFNP's ethics.

Our finance department has placed a stop on all of our orders as a result of these dire straits. How much has this administration spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and the bullshit Social Security overhaul? How much was spent on a certain state's special election in 2005? How much do the Boston Celtics earn collectively? NewFNP will tell you what - it sure as fuck wouldn't take billions to keep our patients healthy.

So far, newFNP's clinic remains relatively well stocked. However, if we run out of gloves, newFNP is placing a moratorium on all rectal exams. Hey, you've gotta draw the line somewhere.

Monday, March 27, 2006

You can't keep a good newFNP down

Since newFNP last exposed herself to a patient's aromatic purulent discharge in a not-altogether successful attempt, newFNP has incised and drained not one, but two further patient lesions.

Lesion one: lady business abscess. OK, not exactly lady business but suprapubic in locale and wholly a result of picking at one's ingrown hair. Hands. Off. Ingrowns. I restate my case initially argued in "Picky Evolution."

Lesion two: epidermoid cyst. NewFNP has been waiting for this since she first became acquainted with one during her independent study in derm.

NewFNP is floating in her derm dreamworld. Oh, how newFNP loves derm. Bring on the Retin-A, kiss that acne and those wrinkles good-bye. NewFNP would love to scrapy-scrape your big fat plantar's wart, just as she would love to inject your inflamed acne lesion with kenalog. NewFNP loves to draw pics of derm lesions. NewFNP simply loves derm. It's a pure, unadulterated love.

OK, back from dreamworld. So, an epidermoid cyst. Not pretty. It forces one to utilize culinary analogies when describing cyst contents: cheesy. Soft cheese. Soft white cheese. Rondele, anyone? The I&D is exactly the same, except that you want to get the sac which contains the contents out in order to prevent recurrence and numbing the patient is so much more difficult. The contents of the cyst are firmer and therefore require a larger bored syringe in order to introduce the lidocaine. Ouch, big fat needle.

What can ruin a perfect I&D is another provider's student attempting to horn in on the I&D action. And by horning in, newFNP means asking not once, not twice, but five times to either perform or observe the I&D. At each query, newFNP replied 'no,' each response becoming progressively more firm and annoyed, the last of which being, "You can stare at me all you want; the answer is no." Is the student six years old? No, no she isn't. Yet newFNP found herself speaking to her as though she were. There is a reason that newFNP does not have a student: because newFNP needs the experience herself. NewFNP still is gaining comfort in her role as pus-expressor.

Note to all students: when your preceptor says 'no,' there is a reason. Don't push it. Should newFNP even have to tell anyone that? NewFNP is certain that her readership is already savvy enough to realize the non-kosher maneuver by our student.

In the end, not even pushy student could spoil the supremely successful I&D. NewFNP was even able to disrupt and express the sac. You can imagine my happiness - bordering on beatitude.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes

NewFNP has fallen in love with the well child visit. Yes, it's true that sometimes the 13-year old well child weighs more than newFNP. Thankfully, those visits are rare enough. But for the most part, well child visits afford newFNP a break from diabetes and BMIs of 45. NewFNP likes all kinds of well child visits now, but has always held a soft spot for teenagers. Especially ones that ask funny questions.

So, all in all, an average 14-year old male well exam. Thin, plays field hockey (quite unusual in my inner city area), respectful, has all parts intact and has no inguinal hernia. Testicular torsion education - done. Safer sex/abstinence education - done. Repeated denials of current or prior sexual activity - accepted by newFNP.

As always, when about to exit the room, newFNP asked, "Do you have any questions?"

"Yeah, I have a question," he replied. "Is it bad to masturbate?"

The way he asked was so sincere. I set the chart on the counter, faced him squarely and said, "No, it's not bad. Everybody does it. Just don't get caught."

He was visibly relieved. Whacky kids!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You never forget your first

It's true for any number of experiences. First kiss, first love, first bad grade (not that newFNP would know anything about that), first abscess I & D. Now, let me go on the record as having stated that newFNP likes gross stuff. But what newFNP does not like are gross smells. Seriously. NewFNP has never eaten ketchup because she is repulsed by its aroma.

Here is the sequence of events:

12:30 patient: mucopurulent cervicitis
12:45: lunch
1:15 patient: abscess

The smell. Holy shit, the smell. First of all, it was an ass abscess. Top of the rump, right gluteal fold. Second of all, there were 5 of us in the small MF-ing exam room. Me, the patient, her sister, the super-MD I work with, and my favorite MA who lives for nasty procedures. Again, the room is small. The room was also hot. And did I mention the stench of the abscess? Can you see where this combination of forces leads?

So, prep, anesthetize, cut, express, express, express, express, express (you get the idea), whiff, feel faint, get hot and clammy, realize you are about to hit the deck, call for back-up, sit, regain composure, express, pack, cover. Try to get the smell out of your memory. Try harder. Keep trying. Visualize the relative beauty of the cervicitis. Thank the heavens for bullshit URI appointments.

And a tip: for those who are also new to abscesses, my MD told me that the pH of the pus weakens the effect of the lido so numb 'em up somethin' good! Happy draining!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

And the hits just keep on comin'

NewFNP has been on hiatus, largely although not entirely due to a lack of fun/interesting stories to share. Nonetheless, as newFNP indugles in a some moments of reflection here and there, she finds that there are some stories worth sharing.

In the on-going series of firsts, allow newFNP to share some of the new experiences she has had in the past two weeks:

-first patient passing out, becoming diaphoretic and having a BP of 68/42 and a HR of 40 during venipuncture.

-first patient with 8+ hours of uncontrolled epistaxis coupled with first experience of being unable to find 1:1000 epi and served with a side of being the only provider in the clinic.

-first realization that my 19-year old patient is engaged to and not the daughter of my 58-year old patient. Permit me an aside, s'il vous plait. Upon further questioning, this young woman disclosed that she and her partner had begun "dating" when she was an assumingly worldly 13-years old. Their son is three. What was her life like that a then 52-year old man was attractive to her? Where were her parents? Why did the man troll down that path of pedophilia? And why is the gentleman I know today, the same man who was screwing a child, so incredibly likeable?

-first suspected child abuse reporting call, only it wasn't suspected. Note: don't forget to ask what the child is hit with, ie. a belt, a hand, a shitty start to life.

-first time of blinking back tears due to feeling utterly overwhelmed, suprisingly not on the same day as the child abuse report.

-first time looking in an ear and seeing something resembling the aftermath of a roadside bomb. Shades of red and gray, jagged edges to a clearly blown TM. Tumor v. traumatic rupture of TM? Let's have the ED decide.

Oh, life. Is it too soon to ask for a raise?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Home sick

No, not 'homesick' as in newFNP is at work and missing her 1-bedroom apartment, but home sick as in see 'formula for success.' More time to devote to old NYT crosswords and The New Yorker.

But anyway, the time spent at home sick can't be all fun and games and cursing one's stabbing abdominal pains. As such, let newFNP tell you three little words that will make any newFNP truly embrace her 'sit-near-the-door' policy.

"I hear voices."

Super. I'm 30 minutes behind schedule and you hear voices. Are you sure you don't just have a cough?

Allow me to set the stage. My mid-40's patient was sitting on the exam table, paper gown and drape in place, and had an affect that quite frankly screamed medicated mental illness. She lacked emotion. She was treated with 2 anti-psychotics and 1 SSRI. Perhaps newFNP should let her psychiatrist know that something in her med cocktail wasn't fitting the bill.

So here newFNP is with the voice-hearing lady. After enquiring as to what the voices said to her and thinking, "please don't let it be 'kill the nice blue-eyed NP,'" I was relieved to hear the relatively benign, "Well, they are babies and they are telling me that I am their mother." OK, doesn't sound emergent.

Then she proceeded, as earnest as could be, "Is that normal?"

Hmmm... normal. Possible responses include:

a) "Normal, shnormal."
b) "I think the attraction to motherhood speaks to a lot of women very strongly."
c) "Who am I to say what normal is?"
d) "No. Shit no, that is not normal. Fuck!"

Now, if community-health-newFNP was an infertility-newFNP, she would lean more towards 'b'. But my community health clinic's scope of practice does not include infertility issues and this lady wasn't speaking about her deep-seeded inner desires for pregnancy. I chose a softer version of 'd' with a splash of 'b' thrown in for flavor.

This patient was not a sexually active lady, but believed wholeheartedly that there was a possibility that she was hearing these voices because she was, in fact, pregnant. Now that is getting into a whole area of religion and mental illness with which newFNP is not comfortable. Urine hcg negative. Let's get you in to your psychiatrist.

All in a day's work.

By the way, the swamp nurse article in this week's issue of The New Yorker made newFNP's job look like no work at all. NewFNP is all manicures and pilates compared to Miss Luwana. Here is a quote from the article:

"The mom I'm working with now is a sixteen-year-old unmedicated, bipolar rape victim and crack-addicted prostitute with a pattern of threatening to kill her social worker, who recently abandoned her baby at her ex-boyfriend's sister's, and who has an attempted murder charge in another situation..."

Now that makes me feel like I am working in a private practice.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The formula for success

Gentle reader, it is vomiting and diarrhea a-go-go here in newFNP land. We have seen countless children over the past few days with all manners of fluid evacuation. Patients have it. Staff members have it. Children of staff have it. Will anyone escape? My facialist is always telling me that I need a colonic in order to have perfect skin. Maybe she's got it all wrong. Maybe I just need some acute gastroenteritis to flush out the toxins!

Alas, the toxin-flushing argument is likely not going to be a winner with a worried parent. So what do you tell the patient's worried mom? Sure, fluids, fluids, fluids, but how much exactly? No worries, newFNP is here to provide the answer to that pressing question. As newFNP always says, there is no time like the present to review the exciting world of pediatric maintenance fluids.

Here's the formula:

First 10 kg: 100/ml/kg/day (aka 1000 ml if the kid is a full 10 kg - see how easy this is!)
Second 10 kg: 50/ml/kg/day
Each added kg: 20/ml/kg/day

For example, a 28-pound (13 kg) kid requires 1000ml + 150ml = 1150ml/day. Let's divide by 30 and tell the patient something they understand: No less than 38 ounces in 24 hours, buddy.

See, easy peasy! That is, if you have a calculator or are John Nash.

Oh, and newFNP is certain that everyone already knows to get a urine on these kids. A nice little quantitative measure of current hydration status. The whole "sunken orbits" is a little too subjective for newFNP. Maybe the kid was just not blessed with a doe-eyed countenance! Does that indictment really need to be a part of the permanent medical record?

Happy calculating!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pet Peeves

There are a few things that turns newFNP off during the clinical encounter. And I'm not talking about all the patients who ask me about my marital status.

Nope, I mean the ones who open the door and stare at me when I'm reading another patient's chart in the hallway. Estimada paciente, do not go back into your room and leave the door open while waiting for me. Read the thoughtful en espanol educational materials that I have photocopied on cheerfully-colored paper on my own time and that will offer helpful suggestions to help you lose 30 [read: 50] pounds. I hate that you continue to stare at me while I read your chart in the hallway so as to garner a shred of an idea as to why you might be visiting me. I understand that you are waiting a long time for me. I promise that I'll be in ASAP. Now shut the damned door.

But even more than the patient-imposed open door policy, newFNP gets all bunched up when, after opening the door, she sees the patient perched on the rolling stool. I'm telling all y'all motherfuckers that I have two graduate degrees, a stethoscope and a white coat. I have earned the rolly stool. Who doesn't know that the rolly stool is for the one who writes the prescriptions? Move it, buster. If it's a kid, I let it slide because - hey- the rolly stool is fun. But adults get no love from newFNP is they steal the stool.

Why is newFNP so lame as to even give a fuck if the patient wants the rolly stool? A) It's a safety thing. I am positioning myself closest to the door in case you are a weird-o or mentally disturbed like the guy who stabbed Carter on 'ER'. B) I don't want to sit in the regular chair. Period. C) The rolly stool is mine. D) Respect. It's silly, but it seems disrespectful somehow. I'm sure it's not intentional but nonetheless, you go to your seat and I'll go to mine.

End of story.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The apple doesn't fall....

When newFNP was a student, she wrote a (fascinating and insightful) paper about parental loss in childhood, but specifically adolescence. It doesn't take a frigging genius to know that this is one of the most painful losses a child faces, that its consequences are potentially devastating and can be life-long. The legacy of that loss can profoundly shape the child.

Given that newFNP has such keen acumen, she should be incredibly prepared with all of the right words when a patient tells her that he or she has, in fact, experienced parental loss.

My 11-year old patient's mom died when she was 8 - complication of diabetes. My 11-year old patient is 243 pounds. Her acanthosis is pronounced. Can you see the trajectory?

She knows. I know.

She is scared. She is terrified to have her sugar checked because what will happen to her if she has diabetes? Will the same end meet her as met her mother? And she is only 11.

It is so complex. Her dad tends to give her whatever she wants because he cannot give her what she has lost. So she gets honey buns and Hot Cheetos. She is too young to know how to really do anything different. She is too scared to honestly talk to me (in 15 minutes) about her weight because of what it signifies.

This is the poignancy of family practice. This family is in crisis. They both need to make changes and they both need support following their loss. I want to give them the tools to mend their family as best they can. But 15 minute appointments. Damn.

I don't know if what I did was right, but I told her that I was there to help her and that I wanted her to know that there are people in this world who care for her, who love her. I told her that I would be there for her even when she wasn't sick, that she could come in just to talk if she needed to. I told her that my mom died when I was young because I remember thinking that I was the only person in the world who could ever experience such heart-wrenching loneliness. Shit, I hope that still falls within the confines of holistic care. Patients feel free to ask me about my marital status and parity, so I can tell other patients personal stories if they are relevant, right? I just wanted her to know that she had somewhere to turn and I didn't know how else to make her see that.

And now I need to find a childhood grief specialist. Who takes public insurance. Motherfuck.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Don't send me back

There are days when newFNP is simply unable to dodge all the shit being thrown her way. Today, of course, was one of those days. From 10 AM on, I had nothing but problems. Here they are.

One. Depression followed by PTSD. The depression was just sad. The PTSD, on the other hand, wasn't entirely convinced that he wanted to live. Clearly not an easy appointment. At least now I know how to write a 'safety contract' in Spanish. Oh, and when you are telling me that you think you'd be better off dead in one sentence, the next sentence sure as shit had better not be 'why do you think my throat hurts?'!!

Two. Hi, my new diabetic patient. I see you are 39 and have already had a below-the-knee/above-the-ankle amputation. I see that your burn wounds, affecting both hands, are not healing after 1 month, are slightly smelly although not infected and that your sugar is 'HHH.' Oh, you say you're peeing all of the time and that your vision is blurry? I can't say that I'm shocked.

Diabetes. Damn! Did everyone read the special in the NY Times about Spanish Harlem and the 20% prevalence of Type 2 amongst the residents there? Read it. It actually gives some good insight into how people cope (or don't) with the illness.

Three. It's 4:35. You're my 55-year old 3:30 complete physical and pap. It's not your fault that you're in my room late. I'm sorry you had to wait for me. Blame it on the diabetic guy.

Four. Prescription nightmare. Not my fault, but my mess to deal with nonetheless.

Five. My two incorrectly scheduled pediatric physicals, both scheduled at the same time, both 30 minutes late. Yes, your mom was pissed. I'll tell you what: next time be on time or call and let us know that you're late. Don't tell the receptionist that you didn't know you had to be on time. Have common sense and don't be mean to the front desk staff. This happened while I was with the patient who wanted to die, trying to get the social worker on the phone. So, no, I won't leave my patient to explain to you why I'm not seeing you today.

Is it any surprise that I cannot remember the other 18 patients I saw today? None of them were really 'easy,' many of them were new.

As I looked at charts in the hall before entering the patients' rooms, I was very conscious that I had to keep my frustration with my day to myself. I had to tell myself that Sra. X deserved the best of newFNP, not the frazzled and borderline tearful newFNP. That is a tactic I haven't had to employ frequently, but it was indispensible today.

And, thankfully, it worked. Yes, I was miserable with stress. Yes, I thought of requesting a phenobarbital-induced coma. Yes, I was thinking of ways to avoid ever going back to work again as long as I live. But I treated my patients well at the end of the day.

Even the one whom I saw at 5:15.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Cure for the Obesity Epidemic

I've got it. It's a plan that will never come to fruition, but one I think has the potential to be quite effective. No, it's not the removal of sodas and Taco Bell, Golden Arches,Burger King and vending machines from schools. It's not more exercise or daily P.E. in schools. It's not 'you'll get Type 2 diabetes and have hypertension and dyslipidemia, all predisposing you to a big old MI.' Those are good ideas, by the way, great ideas even, but my proposed campaign is meant to have a visceral response, striking at the very core of insecurities all over the world.

(I love hyperbole.)

It's fair to say that all people have some degree of interest in their genitals, right? I mean, we have penis pumps, Brazilian waxes thanks to those evil J Sisters, circumcision, female circumcision as well as various nether-region accoutrement. Men can't stop touching their goods from infanthood until, well, until they die I guess. This obsession is the basis for my campaign.

My idea is this: let's raise the awareness of the 'hidden penis' and the 'fat vagina.'

I mean, does any guy want to exchange his average penis for a huge pannus? It's not even a fair trade!

And ladies have labiaplasty in order to have a perfect genital portrait. Not my patients, but I've seen the advertisements and if plastic surgeons can play off vag insecurity, then so can public health. So don't get a huge vag!

And after this awareness raising campaign, we can transition back to the more traditional interventions. It's worth a shot. The other methods sure as hell aren't working very well.