Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

A Love Story

“I went off on my first mission and when I returned, she was different. I flat out asked her what was up and she said she had found God.”


It was my turn to be on call for Saturday. We pre-op patients in Recovery (PACU) on the weekend. There is no sense in opening two departments for what we expect to be a three or four patient day.

He had a Veterans cap on. I nodded, tapped my finger to my forehead to acknowledge his service, and thanked him. He carried the conversation from there, sharing a summary of his two year spent living and fighting in Da Nang, South Vietnam.

When there was a lull in conversation, I asked him how long they’d been married.

His wife, moving little due to her hip fracture, lay with her hands folded together, a content smile on her face as if his presence removed the pain she was enduring.

My question prompted his response above. Below is more of what he shard:

“There was something different about her. I couldn’t put my finger on it; I just knew I had to have whatever it was she had. So, she explained it to me and the next Sunday morning, I put on my suit, held her hand real tight, and walked into her church. It was as scary as landing at Red Beach – I knew what I was facing there.”

I waited to hear more, but he, like most veteran I’ve met, got to the point fast.

“I worked hard and got God in my heart so I knew she and I would be together forever.”


Another one of those days I can’t believe I get paid to do this job.



A New Treasure

Following morning fellowship, I turn off the mute button on my phone and check for messages or new emails. I see an email message that I have a new follower.

Nice! Someone appreciated my thoughts enough to click that ‘follow button’, knowing my posts will be added to their list of incoming emails.

When I got home, I opened the link up to their site.


Inspiring quotes, pictures of sky – deep with color, and sincere reflections by someone younger than my daughter.

This is a comment in her Bio: ‘I have a great fear of shallow living.’

She pulls (and gives credit) from philosopher Epictetus and Anne Frank all the way to author Shel Silverstein.

Treat yourself today. Visit her blog:


Don ‘t Quote Me

“Just throw it in the bag.”

He had changed and was lying on the stretcher, covered up, hands behind his head, a casual smile on his face. His prosthetic stood in the small space between the stretcher and chairs. And by that, it stood between me and his IV pole.

Picking it up, I placed the casted form on the chair stepped past it, and hung his pre-op antibiotic. Turning, I grazed the chair with my knee and the prosthetic slid to the floor. It landed with a thud.

I took a quick breath in. He laughed.

“Don’t worry,” he said.

I gave him a wry smile. “You know, to me, it’s no different than if you had fallen.”

With a smile so big it showed his teeth, he responded, “Man is more than the sum of his parts!”

A quote by Martha Graham came to mind.

“A famous dancer once said ‘The body is a sacred garment’”

His face dropped.

“Oh goodness honey, you’ve gotten all serious on me.”

I blushed while taking his prosthesis and putting in a labeled bag next to his other things. Then a call light went off and pulled me away for ten minutes.

I heard that his surgeon was arriving early so I stepped to the keyboard to quickly enter his vitals and pre op med orders.

“Susan, I gotta use the restroom, like fast.”

A natural reflex, I lowered the bed while at the same time lowering his side rail.

“Hon, I don’t have a leg to stand on!!

I started to blubber apologies, but he cut me short with “I win. I win. Sacred garment…phhewwy!”

He was kind enough to not laugh too long at my expense!

Lesson learned. I will never quote when taking care of a patient!



I Pick Zoey

i pick zoey

I recently finished binging on the Netflix show Nurse Jackie. Yes, the show has been long gone for a couple of years now, but Netflix is my only ‘channel’ and a little T.V is my way of slowing for a moment, putting down the ‘to do’ list down, sitting on the floor and stretching ( an activity that never seems to follow my gym workouts).

I didn’t get into the show because I found it entertaining to see how long an impaired nurse could keep working and get away with an addiction with potential to harm others. The supporting characters are well written — they are not fluff created to showcase the lead actress. Any show, movie, or book that deftly ties together characters with plot gets a star from me.

And speaking of stars, by the sixth episode, I wanted to rename the show ‘Nurse Zoey’.

Zoey is the polar opposite to Jackie, young and inexperienced, brimming with optimism, sensitive to the patients she encounters, so bubbly she bounces as she walks – unlike the taut stride of which Jackie moves through the ER with. ( Merritt Weaver – awesome acting!)

Zoey has a veneer, shiny but no repellent. She absorbs light, glows, and sends it back out.

I watched to see if she would become jaded when Jackie’s drug addiction was no longer a secret. Would she get discouraged, angry? Would she develop a salty tongue? Have a case of sour grapes when the supervisor, a lifetime friend of Jackie’s, first disregards her concerns that something is going on with the seasoned nurse?

She didn’t. There was a scene where she shared with Jackie how sad she was because Jackie had been her role model. Zoey wasn’t critical or accusatory.

I hope everyone has a ‘Zoey’ at work.

I do.

She’s not the youngest. As a matter of fact, she’s the oldest. And the most experienced. And she has a past in management. She could retire, but she loves nursing.

If you’re reading this, work buddy, I wanted to tell you, “It’s a pleasure.”

Thank you for coming to work with us!

Everyone out there, nurse or any other type of professional, take care of your Zoey.



Survey says…

A lot of surveys should be landing in my parents’ mailbox over the next week or so. Between the two of them, in the last four weeks, there have been two ER visits (one that turned into an admission), one outpatient surgery, at least one diagnostic test, and I’m sure they’ve had labs done at a facility owned by the area hospital they’re frequenting. One of these visits will not garner a positive survey.

After my Dad’s outpatient surgery, while in recovery, his blood pressure kept climbing.

I observed the nurse get an order, put the smallest dose anti-hypertensive medicine possible in the tubing port of my father’s practically bone dry IV, not bother to flush the medicine with 10 cc of normal saline, and then not hang another IV bag and open it up some. She retook his B/P in under three minutes.

I remember starting to clench my jaw, but then she repeated the dose. (She had an order.)


The medicine never reached his vein.

At this point I was struggling to have that ‘we nurse stick together’ comradery.

The evening call nurse came over seconds later. It was 7:00 pm. (Call staff takes over at this time.)

She disconnects the long IV tubing, leaving his IV, with a short section of tubing, in.

So there’s his medicine, in the tubing.

They take my Dad’s pressure again.


The second nurse tells him he needs to relax. She tells him that he is tensing up. They take his pressure again.


They take it again a minute later. 205/105. He’s going to have a stroke and I’ll need to kill a nurse.

I tell nurse #2 I need to speak with her privately. She complies. I tell her, with my jaw clenched tight, exactly where I think that B/P medicine is and why. She returns and re-doses my Dad and flushes the medicine in with syringes filled with normal saline.

Two minutes go by.

B/P 168/95.

He’s home and fine. That’s the most important thing. I’m still debating whether to write a letter to the hospital or wait and see if he gets a survey.

Either way, it’s not good. Someone’s coming down a notch.


Anything Eating You?


I got in my car. A good day. Checked my phone. No messages. A quick look in the mirror to see if the ‘After lunch’ swab of lipstick lasted.


Why? Why? Why? Why?

Why couldn’t someone say “You’ve got something between your teeth.”?

After my healthy spinach salad lunch, I had checked on another patient, talked to at least two coworkers, passed through the OR to PACU – smiling at saying “Hello” to several, and discharged a patient before clocking out. And there it was, the whole time, a green wedge of iron and fiber lodged between incisor #2 and #3.

Me, the magnanimous person I am, I have sucked up the awkwardness, discretely making anyone victim of this incident aware with a graceful like movement, my hand moving featherlike up and toward the side of my mouth, parting my lips only millimeters (not the dentist office mouth stretched open look), and with my index finger, pointing to an imaginary piece of food between my teeth. I’ve always gotten an appreciate “Oh, thank you!”

Would it have been that hard?

Now I know I’m on my own. It’s every nurse for themselves.

No more spinach

My iron tablets are sufficient.

And I’m picking up extra floss on the way home.

One more item to cram into the pockets of my scrubs.





I stumbled on this poem a year or so back. The metaphor is perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Hope is the thing with feathers                                 

Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson


Beauty is Everywhere

When the day ends, my route to the parking lot includes walking past the balcony area by the waiting room, turning left toward the North elevator, then down to the first floor. There is always music heard overhead. Once in a while there is live piano music.

Yes, we have a Baby Grand in the Atrium area. Our hospital is small, but not lacking in classy accessories. I’ve sometimes seen a volunteer on the bench, back sloped, playing a melody — eyes connecting with each key as stiff fingers press until chords ring out.

Today someone was at the piano. I heard a tune that was a mix between Barbara Streisand’s Memories and Chopin’s Opus 9. It was a mid-pace tempo with brushes on the C note.

I slowed my pace and moved closer to the overhang. I saw at the piano, not a regal looking volunteer — silver cap of hair, starched green vest, but a stocky man in his late forties,  five o’ clock shadow on his face — wearing a thinned tank top and faded jeans. His body swayed, following the fluid like movement of his arms.

Curious cat that I am, I hopped on the elevator right behind me, rode down, and walked over to get a closer look.

Flip-flopped feet pushed the pedals under the piano.

I asked him the name of the tune.

“It doesn’t have a title. I wrote it.”

My eyebrows shot up.

He continued.

“I’m a composer, or, uh, a wannabee composer.”

I picked up a coffee for him from the Starbucks behind me and asked him to keep playing.

He needs to keep playing


On the Eve

navy medicmedic

Memorial Day has never been a ‘Holiday’ to me in the classical sense. Only weeks after my daughter’s birthday, it flies up and smacks me in the face.

  It’s been a long day here; at least I’m off tomorrow. 

The recovery room is empty. This is the last one.

Two of them turn and spin until they are draped in blue, hands donned with sterile gloves, heads capped — hair all tucked under. A third, masked and head also covered, announces the patient’s name, the date of birth, the allergies, and the type of surgery being done. Behind the vertical drape at the head of the bed, a lanky figure scans the monitor, rises, drops a tube that collects stomach bile, and then ducks down again.

As the one who announced the case moves around the room, he starts up a conversation, “…Navy…Marine…”

He doesn’t stand still much, so I can’t hear where he said he was stationed.

Scissors, graspers, and dissectors lay on a draped table. As they are passed to the conductor in the room, an intact belly quickly becomes the recipient of inserted probes that blow air, suction waste, and provide an inside look at a swollen biliary vesicle. His female assistant, while handing over tools, no prompt  needed, adds to the conversation. “While I was in…”

I didn’t  know she served for so long. Her anecdotes have everyone smiling. I can see it in their eyes.

The conductor, as he deftly probed, tugged, snipped, and sutured, brought color to the conversation, sharing how his residency in the only trauma center for miles helped prepare him for his time in Afghanistan.

Thirty-five minutes have passed. The conductor/surgeon is done.

I don’t even recall seeing him suture up the four small incisions, but they are closed. The assistant is dressing them.

To some, this might have been just a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. On the eve of this somber day, a day set aside to remember those who have died while defending our country, it was more to me.

Much more. 


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Reposting someone else’s stuff for a reason

Because it’s good, really good!

Nurse RosemaryMarie of Noble Doubt has written a wonderful piece about a nurse who opens her heart and tells a story without  forgetting her purpose.



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