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Saturday, September 16, 2023

The respiratory Therapy Cave

I typed "Respiratory Therapy Cave" into BARD. And this is what Bard had to say:

The Respiratory Therapy Cave is a fictional place that is often used as a metaphor for the challenges and rewards of working as a respiratory therapist. It is a place where respiratory therapists can go to escape the stress of their jobs, share stories with their colleagues, and learn new things about their profession.

In the Respiratory Therapy Cave, there are no rules or regulations. Respiratory therapists can be themselves and express themselves freely. They can talk about their patients, their successes, and their failures. They can also learn about the latest advances in respiratory therapy and share their knowledge with others.

The Respiratory Therapy Cave is a place where respiratory therapists can come together to support each other and to celebrate their profession. It is a place where they can feel comfortable and safe.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Get Your Anxiety Treated! You Deserve It!

If you're grappling with anxiety, it's crucial to seek treatment. Do you find yourself worrying excessively, losing sleep over racing thoughts, altering plans due to nerves, or using substances to cope in social situations? If you identify with one or more of these experiences, you may be dealing with anxiety. The good news is that you don't have to face it alone any longer.

I understand the challenges of living with anxiety firsthand. There were three reasons I didn't seek treatment for many years. First, anxiety is often misunderstood by medical professionals, leading to overlooked diagnoses. Second, there's a pervasive tendency to deny the existence of anxiety, even when it's evident. I personally denied having anxiety for decades, despite being told by social workers, psychologists, and a psychiatrist that I had it. Their intention was to help me accept it and find treatment, but I resisted until recently. And a third reason is the social stigma about brain disorders. For example, when I became convinced I had anxiety, I talked to my brother about it. And I talked to him about the prospect of taking medicine for it. And he said, "You don't want to take psyche drugs, they mess with your head." Little did he know that not taking psyche meds is what messes what your head. The psyche meds prevent this, or at least make it better, allowing you to have a better quality of life. 

The hurdle then becomes how to seek anxiety treatment when you're grappling with anxiety itself. I, for instance, have a form of anxiety known as social anxiety disorder. Being around people triggers intense nervousness, making me feel profoundly uncomfortable, especially in familiar company. The pressure to engage in conversations heightens this discomfort, leading me to either say things I feel are foolish or withdraw into silence. My son appears to experience similar challenges and has been undergoing counseling. During one session, his counselor mentioned "Selective Mutism," a term that seemed to describe not only my son but also myself.

Learning about Selective Mutism and its treatment options was eye-opening. My son was prescribed Prozac, one of the few medications studied in children, and over time, we've seen substantial improvements in his anxiety levels. He's become more relaxed, although there's still a long road ahead. This prospect of progress is what sent shivers down my spine, as it means he'll receive the help I didn't get.

Through my research into this condition, I've gained extensive knowledge about anxiety and its treatment. While I've developed my own strategies for managing it as an adult—sometimes involving quietude and, at other times, avoidance—I still grapple with anxiety. Why do I persist? How different would my life be without the limitations imposed by anxiety? With these questions in mind, I mustered the courage to talk to my doctor.

The irony of discussing anxiety with a doctor when you have anxiety is not lost on me. Many times, I've wanted to broach the subject but couldn't find the courage. That, in itself, is a sign of anxiety. Perhaps my doctor recognized it because without hesitation, he prescribed a medication called Celexa. Will it work? Only time will tell.

And here's another thought. the cartoon I use on this post is not truly accurate. A person like me, who has has developed coping strategies, will not look like this character -- he or she would look calm and cool. If you saw me and I was experiencing anxiety, I would look totally fine. And that's part of the problem. And it reminds me of a meme: "It's not anxiety that I am faking, it's looking fine that I'm faking." 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Do I need to stay on days?

I've penned several articles discussing the pros and cons of working the night shift versus the day shift. Among my writings, there's a particular article that stands out (though I regrettably can't locate it at the moment). In that piece, I compiled a list of 20 advantages associated with staying on the night shift, countered by just one advantage of switching to the day shift – the benefit of being alert and less fatigued during daytime hours. This equilibrium played a pivotal role in my decision to transition to the day shift back in 2010. It's worth noting that prior to that shift change, I had dedicated 14 years to my role as a night shift therapist, and I genuinely relished the experience.

To be completely candid, the decision to transition to the day shift was a tough one for me. I had a deep appreciation for the solitude of the RT Cave during its quieter moments. It was during these peaceful lulls that I blossomed as a prolific blogger, crafting many of my blog posts. Naturally, I fretted that the switch to day shift might stifle my creativity and put a halt to my writing, possibly rendering my blog obsolete. Fortunately, I've managed to continue writing while on day shift, although perhaps not at the same prolific pace I enjoyed during the night shift.

Another motivating factor for the shift change was my two children. With my older children, early mornings became a constant even on my days off, forcing me out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. This disrupted my preferred 7-9 hours of sleep, leaving me perpetually fatigued. I thought that moving to the day shift might afford me a chance to feel more like a "normal" person on a daily basis.

However, while these considerations played a role in my decision, I believe the primary reason for my shift to days was my boss's preference. She often sought my input and wanted me on day shift to facilitate this interaction. One day, after a coworker's retirement, my boss informed me that I was being placed on the swing shift schedule. This schedule entailed working one night shift and two day shifts each week.This was a nice schedule at first, as it means no weekends. This made it so I never missed any of my older children's sports activities on weekends. 

Around 2015, approximately five years after the shift change, I began to find the single night shift per week increasingly challenging. The shift was particularly demanding because, during my years as an exclusively night-shift worker, I had strived to maintain a somewhat balanced sleep schedule. Even on my days off, I'd sleep in until around noon or 1 PM. However, this equilibrium became unattainable while on the swing shift, where working nights often meant staying awake for 12 to 24 consecutive hours. Consequently, in 2014, I made the decision to fully transition to the day shift. Now, after all these years, I'm contemplating whether to remain on the day shift or consider returning to nights.

So I am thinking a new list of advantages and disadvantages of working days versus nights is in order. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Did Asthma Lead Me To My Job As An RT?

Did asthma cause you to become a respiratory therapist? Because I'm so open about my asthma I get asked this question quite a bit. And the answer is both yes and no. 

As a child, I felt most at ease having deep conversations about God and life in general with my mom, rather than my dad. My mother always had an approachable and open demeanor, making our discussions easy. However, there were a few occasions when my dad offered me his concise advice. Typically, these moments happened when we were alone, such as during a hospital visit when I was the patient.

I vividly recall one incident during a Thanksgiving trip to Uncle Torrin's in Indiana when I had to go to the ER. I was sitting up on the ER bed, waiting for the doctor's assessment after my breathing had stabilized. In that comforting atmosphere, my dad quipped, "Have you ever considered pursuing a career as a respiratory therapist? With your lifelong experience dealing with asthma, I believe you could genuinely connect with your future patients."

Dad often shared his advice on various occasions, usually as a brief remark, as mentioned before. Rarely did he elaborate further. On one occasion, perhaps in our backyard when it was just the two of us, he added, "You have the freedom to choose your path, but if I were in your shoes, I'd seriously contemplate becoming a respiratory therapist. It truly seems like the perfect fit for you."
And I heeded dad's advice. I was actually kind of excited about the prospects of being a respiratory therapist and 

Honestly, I found it intriguing when my dad broached this topic. There was a part of me that felt a bit frustrated because he didn't delve deeper into the conversation or take it to a more profound level. However, that was simply how my dad was; he spoke his piece and left it at that. As a teenager, I often didn't know how to respond. I might have remained silent, leading to an awkward pause, or perhaps I simply replied with a brief, "Okay." 

Dad's words of wisdom continued to resonate in the recesses of my mind. Then, during my Junior year, an exciting opportunity presented itself at West Shore Community College: a career day featuring a discussion on respiratory therapy. My anticipation grew as I learned about this event, and I couldn't wait to attend.

The event took place in a spacious room at the college, large enough that one of the stations was stationed next to an ambulance. Looking back, I suspect the ambulance was part of the paramedic career presentation, but at the time, I mistakenly thought it was related to respiratory therapy. The respiratory therapy table was conveniently placed right next to the ambulance, which is where I eagerly listened to what the RT had to say about the profession.

In my typically shy manner, instead of asking probing questions to gain a deeper understanding of the field, I blurted out, "Do you have to take chemistry to become an RT?" The RT kindly responded that indeed, I would need to pass at least one chemistry class. This response sent a wave of concern through me because, at that moment, I was struggling in my chemistry class.

Although I was genuinely interested in pursuing a career as an RT, my fear of that challenging chemistry course ultimately influenced my decision not to choose this path when I was eventually accepted to Ferris State University. So, as it got closer and closer to that time I would have to decide, I started leaning towards being a teacher. I loved kids. I loved the idea of helping children learn. And so I thought it would be neat to be a teacher. 

Still lacking confidence in whether this would be the right career path for me, I resolved to seek advice from a couple of the teachers I held in high regard. However, approaching teachers, even those I admired, proved to be a daunting challenge for me. Initiating conversations and approaching people did not come naturally to me.

One day, at a baseball game where I was watching my younger brother, I noticed Mr. Anderson standing near the fence. Summoning my courage, I positioned myself next to him and, in my usual soft-spoken voice, asked him if teaching might be a suitable career choice for me. Mr. Anderson was known for his laid-back and easy-going demeanor, which is precisely why I chose to approach him. He exuded optimism, and I assumed he would have positive insights to share about the teaching profession.

To my disappointment, Mr. Anderson did not paint a rosy picture of teaching. He remarked, "It might not be the best profession for you. The financial rewards are rather limited." 

Nonetheless, I remained determined to seek advice from the other teacher I had in mind. Regrettably, I can't recall his name, but I do remember that he was an English teacher who, like Mr. Anderson, had a friendly and approachable demeanor. I assumed he would be an easy person to talk to. However, due to my social anxiety, I still struggled to muster the courage to approach him.

Finally, one day, he initiated a conversation with me on a different topic, and I seized the opportunity to ask, "Do you think teaching would be a suitable career for me?" To my disappointment, his response echoed Mr. Anderson's discouragement: "There's not much financial reward in teaching. It can be quite a disheartening profession."

Indeed, it was a frustrating turn of events. I had discovered a career path I genuinely desired, yet my confidence wavered, and the two individuals I had hoped would boost my spirits let me down.

Consequently, when I sat down a week later to fill out the forms sent to me by the administrators at Ferris, I didn't select teaching as my first choice; instead, I reserved it for my second option. Surprisingly, I opted for journalism as my primary choice. The decision was somewhat spontaneous, influenced by the fact that I was taking a journalism class at the time. Although I had a passion for writing, I mostly envisioned writing as a side pursuit rather than a full-fledged career path. 

As a result, I didn't immediately pursue respiratory therapy after high school. Instead, I embarked on a two-year journey to explore the world of journalism.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Does Acupuncture Work For Asthma?

Your question: o you think that acupuncture is of any help in dealing with asthma?

My humble answer: 

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese therapy, involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing. What are my thoughts on its effectiveness for asthma? 

I have no experience with acupuncture either as a patient nor as a respiratory therapist. Although I am familiar with it based on various articles I have read on the topic. I have also had discussions with a few asthma friends who have tried it. Some say it helps while others say it does nothing.

These testimonies seem to correlate with study results, with some studies showing mild benefits in symptom reduction, while others have found no significant improvements compared to a placebo or standard asthma treatment. So, while some asthma patients report experiencing relief and improved lung function after acupuncture sessions, scientific evidence on its efficacy remains inconclusive.

It's essential to remember that asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that requires proper medical management, including controller and rescue medications, as prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider. Acupuncture, if used, should be considered as a complementary therapy and not a replacement for evidence-based medical treatments.

If you are considering acupuncture as a part of your asthma management, it's crucial to discuss this with your healthcare provider, who can offer personalized advice based on your specific medical history and needs. They can help you make an informed decision about incorporating acupuncture into your asthma treatment plan.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Your question: I have a question for you. I am a nurse. But, that aside, my 87 year old mother was admitted to the hospital for poop problems. And the doctor ordered QID breathing treatments. She also added 0.3cc hypertonic solution for my mom. My mom has never had any respiratory trouble. She has never smoked. She takes no respiratory medications at home. She is not short of breath. She said the breathing treatments do nothing for her but allow her to spend time with the nice therapists. The respiratory therapist says her lung sounds are clear and she sounds the same before and after the treatments. Today, the respiratory therapist came into the room, assessed my mom, and we had a discussion about why the treatments are needed. We both decided it would be a good idea to discontinue the treatments. So, the RT Discontinued the order. The doctor came in to assess my mom an hour later. And later on I learned that the doctor re-ordered both treatments. Why? Why does a doctor think my mom needs all of this? I am confused? 

My humble answer. Doctors are privy to esoteric wisdom that therapists and nurses are not privy to. For further information on this topic, please check the Real Physician's Creed

Monday, August 21, 2023

Hit The Road Jack

Amidst the challenges of having a family member with dementia, I acknowledge the difficulty it poses for everyone. Yet, there's a part of me that contemplates the unique perspective that dementia can offer, a gift in its own way.

I once had a dear friend who received the devastating news of terminal cancer. Surprisingly, she carried on with life as if everything was fine. It seemed as if dementia had granted her the ability to be oblivious to the impending stresses of her mortality. She genuinely had no inkling of her illness, enabling her to embrace life with peace and joy.

In this way, I believe dementia can be a gift from God, allowing individuals to navigate the challenging journey between diagnosis and the inevitable. An encounter with a patient today reinforces this notion. As I step into his room, the nurses are singing him a heartfelt happy birthday. One nurse affectionately mentions, "He's my favorite patient."

As I prepare to conduct an EKG, I quickly realize why. There he lies, half-naked, with a radiant smile on his face, singing aloud:

"Hit the road Jack and don't you come back No more, no more, no more, no more Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more"

"What you say? Hit the road Jack and don't you come back No more, no more, no more, no more Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more"

"You are in your happy place," I remark to him. His smile broadens, and he pauses his singing, responding, "Yes. Yes, I am.... Hit the road Jack..."

Throughout the day, this gentleman serenades us peacefully, finding solace and comfort in the melodies that resonate within his heart. While dementia may pose challenges, it can also offer moments of serenity and contentment, guiding individuals on their unique journeys through life.