Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

Nurse On The Loose

There are times when I’m not a very nice nurse and I’m not apologetic about it. It usually involves my family.

Case in point: As I dropped off my Mom and Dad at the ER entrance last night, I told my Dad to let the vomit land on the floor — he’d get taken back sooner.

When he was being seen by the triage nurse and a little too weary  to answer the questions as quick as they came, I gave the nurse my Eat $#%! and Die stare. I was ready to let my Mom loose on her.

Then, as he  sat with a headache bringing him close to tears, I casually mentioned to the receptionist that his pressure was close to 200/100 and asked if the triage nurse could recheck his pressure. I wanted her to roll a portable machine out to him, the goal being to emphasize that he needed monitoring. It worked. The triage nurse came out  with a wheelchair and took him to room 16.

Once he was seen by a physician, my Mom and I tag teamed hovering at the doorway ( she more than me – she’s inquisitive by nature). We stared at each medical person that walked by. I know this is annoying because I’ve been on the other side of it. Oh well…

It was an allergic reaction to a Betadine eye wash post an ophthalmic injection.

He is fine now.

I would say and do all the same things again in a heart beat.


The Conversation

My heart is ready to burst out of my chest — in a good way. I feel an overwhelming urge to cry, just like I did when she took her first step.

As my daughter spoke, she articulated her words. Her eyes never left the page of the book in her lap.

“Extensor…oh, the adductors. O.k.”

She wants to add personal trainer as a side gig to her current “side hustle” jobs, as she calls it.

I wanted to help.

The book “The Anatomy and Physiology of Exercise.”

“Mom, I didn’t know the back muscles were so complicated.”


You know you’re a nurse when conversation with your kid about anatomy makes you feel closer to them.

Somebody get me a tissue.


Everyone Should Get At Least One

“Susan, there’s a limit of two visitors per patient.”

I didn’t know that. I’m so naïve sometimes. I thought whoever could fit into the pre-op bay was okay as long as I was doing my job and getting the patient ready. The more, the merrier.

“Okay” I quietly said to the passing peer. “Give me a few minutes to get everyone back to the waiting room.”

If the visitor had a sour disposition or a look of doom and gloom that was resulting in my patient getting fidgety, I’d find a sweet way to send that person off for coffee. Somewhere around here, we have a few leftover Starbucks Buy-one-get-one free cards. Or I’d point out the value of them getting breakfast under their belt.

The family in front of me, not the case. They were nothing short of entertaining, and the important thing was that they were entertaining the patient, keeping his mind away from the reality that, in less than thirty minutes, his surgeon was going to make three little incisions in his belly to fix his abdominal hernia. The atmosphere in this bay was similar to that of a tailgate party.

I squeezed past my patient’s two younger brothers and his next door neighbor in order to give him his IV Dexamethasone.

“Hey, did you know we named it?!”

The brothers said this almost in unison.

“Huh?” I missed something.

“We named Kevin’s* hernia. We’ve been calling it Prudence. Get it? Protrusion – Prudence the protrusion. We read one of his reports and kept seeing the word over and over.” They both reached over to rub Kevin’s* belly. He laughed. Then he farted. The laughter escalated.

People walking by slowed. This was not your usual family attendance for someone having surgery. A teeny part of me wanted to squelch the shenanigans.

‘Miss Susan, there’s more of us in the waiting room. Can they come back?”

Gosh, I hated saying no, and almost as if someone read my mind, the OR nurse and anesthetist showed up.

“It’s time.” They announced.

I was surprised by the degree of panic I had that the whole family wasn’t with Kevin* and turned to the OR nurse standing next to me. Not getting to say good-bye is a soft spot for me.

The OR nurse had heard the request and had a simple solution.

“No problem, we’ll go out the front door past the small waiting room so everyone can say “Bye” then go left toward the OR.”

I gave Kevin a sedative in his IV, disconnected the wires from the monitor, and reminded the visiting brothers to herd everyone else to the large waiting room once Kevin* left pre-op.

I stepped back so Kevin could be wheeled out of the bay. The brothers followed suit and jogged over to the area set aside for family. The foot of Kevin’s stretcher was pushed to the right and I subconsciously turned my head in the same direction. Kevin, still awake, had a loopy grin on his face.

In front of me, in a fashion similar to a wedding reception line, six people stood side by side, all looking on expectantly as Kevin was rolled toward them. Each held out their left arm, shoulder level, palm sideways, and greeted Kevin with a high five as he passed.

It was a Go-kick-Some -Ass kind of high five. No one showed their fear. It was all “You got this” kind of vibe.

I’ve had a lot of joyous moments in my life. This one is added to the list. I’ve never had so much fun sending someone off to surgery.

We should make this kind of exit from pre-op mandatory.


The House

Today felt unusually long because I went in later than usual and before leaving I could see from the windows that it was dark out. I was so frustrate by it. It’s Thursday – dinner with Mom and Dad night. Even going in later, I should have been over by 6:00 pm at the latest. I started to get angry. It’s Thursday, dammit.

Then I made it to the baloney area of the second floor. From where I stood, I could look out the large glass window into the violet shaded evening with outlines of business buildings in the distance. Below me stood our gigantic atrium palm, the coffee shop, and the winding stairway that leads to the cafeteria. The engineers use incandescent bulbs downstairs in the public area, so the lights shine a soft yellow and look like miniature moons .

I turned toward the east hallway, and as I started walking, there was a feeling that I can only describe as enticing. I mean, I was exhausted. I needed to leave. But something felt good that I couldn’t  put my finger on.


Not the T.V show, the word, or more specifically, “The House”, the inside reference by employees when talking about various things related to the entire establishment, not just one unit or department.

When everyone is starting to head off to sleep, or even think about it, and the lights dim, it does feel like a home. Corny, yeah, maybe, but when there is clattering all day and people bustling around with a sense of urgency that adds tension to the air, a quiet house feels good.

A whole bunch of sleeping people under one roof feels a little like family.


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