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Message in a Bottle | RN JoAnn Spears Enters the World of Texting

I recently bit the bullet and started text messaging. It’s not like face time and it ain’t Hallmark, but it has its advantages. It was an added bonus to discover that a career’s worth of nurses’ notes was the ultimate preparation for a would-be texter.

I avoided texting for a long time because I was put off by all the cutesy abbreviations. What was I thinking about…nurses invented abbreviations. KCL? We know what it is, what it can do, and how not to kill people with it. We can tell if someone is AAOx3 at 50 paces. We know if an LBM calls for NPO or BRATT. LMAO (laughing my ass off) or TTYL (talk to you later) is small stuff compared to a G10P9, V-fib, or calling Dr. Strong.

I was also text-resistant because of my grammatical principles. I went to Catholic School in the 1960s, when grammar had glamor. There was nothing of subtle, sexy, Audrey-Hepburn-in-a-little-black-dress-restraint about prose as I learned it. Less was not more. Less was…less.

Then came nursing school, where I committed sacrilege against everything the good Felician Sisters taught me and took up ‘telegraphic speech’. Old-time telegraphers got right to the point because they paid for their messages by the word. I learned to write my nurses notes as if I did the same.

If non-nurses read those notes, they would probably say the same things that naysayers say about text messaging. Disjointed. Poor grammar. Unfamiliar words, phrases, and abbreviations. Impersonal. Redundant. Lots of minutiae. A scary language, and I don’t understand it.

I was privileged in the latter part of my career to do a lot of auditing, so I’ve read more nurses notes after the fact than most. They were quite full of emotion, some of those impersonal and disjointed bits of minutiae, when you understood about them.

Jubilation can ooze out of a note, carefully signed with the letters ‘GN’, that simply says ‘TLC given, pain ↓’d’… if that note follows five or six others documenting PRNs that have had no impact at all. Vigilance, instinct, and intuition jump out from a dozen entries of ‘VSS’ at unordered fifteen minute intervals, followed by the code note that reveals that the @#$%, as some wise nurse knew in her gut it would, had hit the fan.

Some nurses notes are like the prizes at the bottom of a cracker jack box…just like some text messages are 🙂

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