Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

I Should have called her the gardener…

Hey y’all,

I’ve been struggling with making progress on a few writing projects then something came up and the words came easy.

About a month ago, I’d previously posted about a nursing instructor that made an impact on me. More recently, on Instagram, a site called Vocal invited people to write about a woman that influenced them for Women’s History month.

I thought about that instructor and wrote a more detailed / refined essay. I shared a little more than I did in my prior post. Below is the address:

*I think you might need to put this up in your address bar to avoid the nuisance of creating an account on Vocal Media to get in.

If your able to take a few minutes to read it, I’d be so grateful!

Please never mind the tip thing at the bottom!




Maybe I'm not an introvert

A week ago Saturday, I deferred going to the gym, figuring outdoor walks were safer, so on Saturday and Sunday I took a brisk one hour walk. Through and out my Oak tree lined neighborhood I went, then onto a side street shaded by various trees with new greenery. A powder of yellow pollen buds coated the sidewalk.

I was proud of myself for displaying some self-discipline and finding a healthy outlet for the increased tension in the air at the hospital where I work. We are getting ready. Our suspected cases ( admitted and in isolation) are few, but we are not naïve about the seriousness of this.

By Tuesday morning, all eight sinus cavities in my head were blocked up and my head felt heavy. I was sneezing into the elbow of my arm at work and apologetically telling everyone it was sinuses and how I got this way. I already was assigned Wednesday off.

I thought to myself This will resolve.

Wednesday I had a low grade fever and sore throat. Being responsible, I ignored my diagnosis of the problem and did all the required phone calls -my MD, then the Health Dept, then back to work.

A low number of surgeries scheduled and my allergies bought me three days off.

And here I am on day four of being at home

It’s Saturday afternoon and I can’t wait to get back to work.

I’ve gone to the drive thru Starbucks daily despite having plenty of coffee pods at home. I’m unusually chatty with the cashier at the window, even asking what she’d recommend as a breakfast sandwich to go with my coffee. So thankful they are open, my tips are generous.

My quiet home has always been a luxury after a day of sensory overload. Now it feels like a low security prison – okay, that’s an exaggeration. I like helping people and my status is making me feel hog-tied.

Feeling useless to my daughter in NYC ( who’s moving to a new apartment this week), I’ve Venmo’d her money for the silliest things. All you mom’s out there – I know you understand.

I’ve cleaned all the cabinets in my kitchen, cleaned my baseboards. Next is the garage. These things only have importance so that I won’t let my fears for my older parents, my other family members, and peers working in ER / Critical care get the best of me.

My Faith.

My faith.

It’s my comfort.

And maybe I’m not an introvert anymore.


There’s one you always remember

Prompted by a call for essays on women that have inspired you, I immediately thought of Professor Susie Forehand, a Nursing school instructor that I feared, then respected and admired because she had enough faith in me to push me to be the best I could, even when I wasn’t so sure I’d made the right choice in picking Nursing as my course of study.

Only wanting to confirm dates of her tenure at Valencia, I googled her name and found this great article.

At 19, I didn’t understand why her comportment made me feel as if I didn’t deserve to be in the Program. Reading the article, I understand now that she had to work so much harder then I to just be allowed to study Nursing.

On one clinical day, I remember the sweat dripping from my forehead as she stood at my shoulder and quizzed me on the two pills I’d just placed in a medicine cup. She stood close enough that she noticed a drop on my brow.

“Don’t be nervous. You know this.”

That was about as nurturing as she ever got. ( It’s okay – I had cheerleaders in my family wanting only success for me and generous with words of support.)

Better late than never, I need to look her up and find out some way to thank her!


Power in Small Packages

This is a story about resilience and what an honor it is when someone shares their fears with you.


Not long ago, I prepped someone for back surgery, their third back surgery, and this was no ordinary patient.


I had met her and her spouse a year prior. Through conversation I learned they both had military backgrounds. His — I could have guessed. He had the bearings, the posture of someone who understood regiment. Hers — a little bit of as surprise. Petite and effervescent – imagine a young Michele Pfeiffer.  Somehow, through natural flow of conversation, I learned she had suffered much loss at a very young age and built her future with a lot of hard work and determination.


Before going in for this surgery, her mood quieted, she called me over. “You got my back, right?”

She said it with a straight face. I couldn’t tell if the pun was intended, but then her eyes welled.

“Of course, of course I do. Your surgeon, he’s the one I went to see last year myself.”

She relaxed some. Minutes later the OR team entered and she gave them the most genuine smile a patient could give. I gave her the pre-op meds ordered for her.

Off to the operating room she went. I talked to her husband for a moment before he exited.

An hour and a half later I heard a rapid response call to the recovery room. I looked at the schedule at the desk, wondering Who had a problem post-surgery?

Walking over to PACU later, I learned it had been her and she was now in ICU.

My heart sank.

I went to the waiting room to see her husband and to see how she was doing. He, I learned, was upstairs with her. With permission from the nurse and an affirmative head nod from my patient’s spouse, I stepped into her room and over to her bedside. She had just been extubated.

This tiny package of dynamite wasn’t content to have an Endotracheal tube down her throat. Less than six hours after it had been placed, she had improved enough to have it removed.

Quite uncommon

Some people will never let life knock them down.



It’s the first day of the New Year and I feel like, gosh Susan, you should have something poetic to say, but…..I don’t.

I had the day off. I didn’t stay up until midnight yesterday drinking champagne, so I was up today by 8:30 am (for a nurse, that’s sleeping in). That was my party, staying up two hours later than usual because I could.

Today I had Black – Eyed peas, beans and cornbread with the folks as a New Year’s good luck kind of thing.

Then I came home and mowed my yard.

Yep, that’s the exciting thing I did for New Year’s Day. Ha!


I am on page 42 of Melinda Gates book The Moment of Lift. (Thank you, big sister. Good choice)

My daughter has educated me enough to have some competency on Instagram.

And I can hold my plank for three minutes.

So, there’s that.

But hey, there’s a new nursing in the blogging world! Say hello to Anna.

New Year, Improved Me

New Year, Improved Me



Just when I started beating myself up for not blogging regularly…

Oh Come On!

“I’m calling for the nurse who has the patient in room 329. They’re scheduled for surgery for noon.”

The person answering put me on hold to go get the nurse I needed to talk to.

Two minutes later

“Hello. Can I call you back? I’m in a patient’s room.”

“Sure” I say.

No call back in thirty minutes. I call back.

“Hi, yes, this is Susan. I need report on your patient. They will be picked up around 10:30.”

“Well, I’m in another patient’s room.”

I pause. “O.K”

I get a call back in twenty minutes.“Great! Let’s go! Fill me in.”

“Um, okay. Uh, let me see, um”

Deep breath. Deep breath. She may be having a rough day. “They have been NPO, right? Nothing to eat or drink.”

“Of course not”

“Great. Some history please.”

“Let’s see. She has choleo, um, cholelist..”

Silent groan

“We’re taking out her gallbladder. You don’t have to try to say that word. Any other history? Diabetes? Hypertension? Renal disease? Peptic Ulcers? Abnormal labs?”


“Ok.” We’re getting somewhere. “I noticed she’s under the age of fifty. Hysterectomy?”


“Well, please give her a cup and get a urine sample so you can do a test for pregnancy. Mandatory before surgery.”

“Well, um, she uses a wheelchair to get to the bathroom.”

“Multiple Sclerosis?” I throw other possibilities out to her.

I’m getting annoyed. “Why?”

“Not sure. Let me call you back.”

Five minutes later I get a call back from the nurse. My tone is modulated to hide my impatience. “Well…?”

“Um, she’s a paraplegic. That’s why she has a wheelchair.”

I took a deep breath before speaking.

“I’m concerned that you didn’t know that. That is all I’m going to say.”


Courage is one step ahead of fear. – Coleman Young

Courage is one step ahead of fear. – Coleman Young

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“Why are you not married?”

He was having a hernia repair.

The question caught me off guard. I’d said nothing about my personal statistics; asked him how he slept last night being that he had to arrive at our center at 7:00 am, reminded him he’d have lifting restrictions after surgery until cleared by his surgeon.

IV port wiped with an alcohol pad and Zofran given, I stepped back.

One of those rare moments I don’t have a response for a patient. Choices…

“I don’t know.”

I won’t settle.”

Life is too short to chase people.”

I’m busy living large.”

It’s not in my hands.”

They’re all good answers.

But it’s not about me.

When your on the clock it’s not about you.

But still, he deserved a reply. To not answer would be rude.

“Brad’s in the middle of making a movie. It’s delaying the courtship.”


Yes! A Hardback by a R.N!

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I always take the Barnes and Noble entrance to the Mall knowing I’ll be inspired to keep writing. How can you not? Best Sellers to your right -new releases on the left.

A few weeks ago a hardback on one of the center tables slowed my steps. How to Treat People subtitled A Nurse’s Notes by Molly Case.

I’ve never seen a book like this, front and center, in a large chain bookstore.

Molly Case trained in southeast London. She writes of her experience as a student, then as a clinician, embedding patient anecdotes with her personal reflections , giving enough patient information to emphasize the critical nature of their fragile health while stile respecting patient confidentiality.

The prose is poetic, never lapsing too deep into clinical descriptions. They are there, but just enough to lend credibility to the author.

I’m more than halfway through this book, growing more and more attached to her story. It helps that she begins by sharing a high risk surgery she needed prior to entering her teens. She understands her patients’ pain.

Her compassion is a coat Miss Case never takes off.

All you nurses out there (and the other wonderful WordPress friends who support my blog), check it out!



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