From A(cetaminophen) to Z(ofran): An Alphabet of Nurses

You’re in the hospital. Your nurse is trying to make you better. What is s/he bringing you?

Warning: Blunt nursiness to follow. May be too much for those of a delicate temperament.

Acetaminophen: Come on, y’all, you know this one. Tylenol! Takes the edge off pain (except pill-seekers) AND fever. Double whammy.

Beta-blocker: Okay, okay. It’s not technically one medicine. But if it ends in -ol, it’s probably a beta blocker. Like atenolol, propranolol, etc etc. Great for lowering a high blood pressure.

Calcium: “Come on, I take this at home for my bones!” Not so fast, snarky reader. Not only is calcium great for bones, Tums are great for your tummy.

Digoxin: This was one of the first meds we learned about. It helps to slow the heart and prevent arrhythmias. Cool fact: comes from the foxglove plant!

Enalapril: This is an ACE inhibitor, another blood pressure medication. Can cause a nasty cough.

Flomax (finasteride): Look this one up, y’all. But a lot people get it.

Ginger ale: A lot of people swear by it for nausea…

Haldol: OK, I’ve never given this, but in a nod to psych nurses, this is an important one for chillin’ people out.

Ice: Great for pain and fevers. Sometimes old remedies are the best.

Juice: Great for clear liquid diets, bad for blood sugars. Especially popular – prune, effective for the bowels.

K-phos: On dialysis? Take your K-phos with your food!

Lasix: Gets the fluid off by making you go to the bathroom. A lot. Great for heart failure, bad for potassium.

Milk of mag: A fantastic bowel med, especially when mixed with prune juice or coffee in the delicacy known as a “Brown Cow”

Normal saline: Also .9 NaCl!! Almost everyone gets a bag of this. No nutrients, just straight isotonic fluid replacement.

Oxycodone: The gold standard of pain pills. Some permutation of 5-15 q 2-4 hours should get you through (we’ll titrate up slowly because we don’t want you unconscious!)

Potassium: Nasty big horse pills. Or nasty orange powder. Or nasty “K-rider” that will hurt as it goes in. You take your pick.

Quease-Ease: Great for nausea for some, useless give-away for others. Smells minty. My teacher said you could get the same results with an alcohol wipes, but alcohol wipes don’t look nearly as cool as the submarine-like Quease-Ease tube. And the scent lingers for months!

Respect: I snuck this in here instead of Rifampin, because nurses have (or should have) a lot of respect for their patients. Mutual respect is essential to the healing relationship.

Sulfas: Great for infections. Bad for allergies.

Tiotropium: You got COPD? You’ll get this inhaler (AKA Spiriva) 

Ultram: Tramadol, the non-narcotic narcotic

Vancomycin: You got an infection, we’ll give you a PICC and pump you full of this. But slowly. Cuz it bubbles. And it will turn you red. And if it gets into your tissues… it’s bad.

Water: Ice water, and lots of it.  

Xanax: You are getting sleepy… very… sleepy…

Yaz: OK, I don’t give this much either, but the few young women who I treat usually bring their own from home.

Zofran: Great for nausea, oral or IV.

There you have it! A nursing alphabet!!

3 thoughts on “From A(cetaminophen) to Z(ofran): An Alphabet of Nurses

  1. Ariel, you could write just about anything and it would be interesting. I hope you continue to write posts. Always refreshing to read.

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