Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor


The other day a nurse from a separate area came by and reported she had completed the phone calls for surgical patients coming in the following morning.

I expressed my appreciation with enthusiasm. We’d had one of those ‘back to back patients’ days and it was great to know that task was done.

Her response dampened my spirits.

” Hey, you do stuff for me, so I do stuff for you. That’s how it works.”

I reflected on this the way home.

rec·i·proc·i·ty /ˌresəˈpräsədē/


  1. the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.

This creeps me out. Am I the Pollyanna I keep refusing to be called? Can’t people do things because it’s right to do them? Or simply because it’s a task needing to be done. Maybe because helping others feels good – Yep, I said it. It feels good.

And, I’m mature enough to realize that if I’m doing stuff for someone over and over and there a trend of what is starting to feel like a one way street, I need to come to terms with what is underneath my repetitive action( and I’m not talking about things like sponsoring a child in foster care).

I know what co- dependency is.

I decided to not let this take up any more space in my brain. I came to the realization my peer was just calling a spade a spade. And, that the next time she needs some help with something, I better say yes 😂

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March Moment

hit on head

“I don’t like needles.”

Twenty-one. Probably his first. Unless he’s donated blood.

“Thanks for letting me know. Most don’t. We use lidocaine. Just like at the dentist. It ‘ll make it less painful.”

“If it hurts at all, I’m going to punch someone.”

I waited to hear a laugh. No laugh.

Twenty-one. 6’4”. Long reach. Sculpted biceps.


“I’ll be right back.”

brrinng brrinng

“Hello. Anesthesia. I have a patient that I need help with starting his IV.”


This is the only time I have bailed on a patient.


What a Silly Idea !


It started with a text I received at 0500: Calling out sick

Me: Get better.

Response: Remember, Suzann’s also off.


Next text to me: You’re in charge.

In my head I screamed Noooooooo! I want to stay in my bubble with my patients.

I was going to stay in my bubble with my patients.

There would be no charge person today. I would pretend for about ten minutes after clocking in — stand at the desk and look over the schedule with an authoritative air, ask the other a.m. nurses how they were doing. (They’re both older than me, been nurses longer. That’s how this duty should be designated! Years of duty, not time on the unit 🙂 )

My sick little coworker must have been light-headed when she wrote the last text.

So anyway, I thought as I drove…

Every time a surgeon came in, I was going to flip my head in the direction of the desk and grunt, hoping they’d understand my eloquent expression to mean “the bay numbers are next to your patients’ names on the schedule.” When the phone rang, I was going to exaggerate my movement, make it seem like I was incredibly busy. If an OR nurse came over, I was going to get that Oh my God, I’m so busy look. (They’ll either offer to help or hold up their hands and reassure me they can come back later).

Now, I’m not promoting anarchy here — call it a culture of independence, hehe.

My patients will be taken care of.

The place won’t fall apart.

And when the manager calls to check in around 0630, I won’t blatantly admit any anxiety, I’ll just let a little slip out in the tone of my voice.

…Fast forward

She came in early.

We were fine.

The trauma of being in charge for seventy-five minutes didn’t leave too many scars.

I went back to my bubble 🙂



Ka – Pow!

Taking One for the Team

Have you ever taken one for the team? You know, been the person who, walking down the street saw a baseball on the sidewalk next to the broken window and picked it up only to have a police officer come up behind you and put you in cuffs.
I wasn’t put in cuffs last week, but the feeling of frustration was similar, and my cop was one of the nicest anesthesiologist on our unit. Now, I don’t know how to act around him.
In my defense, I present the backstory:
I’m off the unit for two hours helping in Radiology. I finish up, return to pre-op and begin to set up a bay for a patient coming from the floor. Staff is minimal. It’s midday. Some are at lunch.
As I leave the bay, two OR staff members (a nurse and a nurse anesthetist) are at the other end in Bay 5.
“Susan, is this your patient? We’re ready to go.”
I stride over to the schedule at the desk. In OR time, ready to go means READY TO GO.
“No. But I got the name here. Let me find that nurse.”
I see her in the last bay with another nurse. They are both gloved. Supplies for accessing a port are scattered on the bed. Accessing a port is a one nurse job — this must be a difficult one. I walk over to the nurse on the left side of the bed.
“They’re here for your patient.”
She whips her head around. “Oh shoot, I didn’t pull meds. He needs Ancef, Versed and Zofran.”
I’m caught up with my work and available to help. “Hey, I’ll get them.” And off I go.
Two minutes later I am standing next to the two OR staff reaching to check the chart for accuracy of the meds I pulled. The anesthetist says to me, “The AIC hasn’t seen this patient.”
* AIC is Anesthesiologist in charge
I place a call to the “AIC” and quickly explain what I need. I then tell the patient “… this is a measure to ensure everything is double checked.”
Five minutes after the patient departed, the AIC, in front of passing family members and staff that included my manager, gives me a five minute lecture about calling him in a timelier manner and goes on to tell me that the patient in question had been there for almost two hours. He ignores me when I try to explain that I stepped in to help the assigned nurse. I see a couple of nurses look up then away.
He finishes with a comment on how I have presented his group in a poor fashion.
I hadn’t stopped moving since I arrived at 0545 and the dual role of working Radiology and Pre–Op is already taxing without being the unwitting recipient of a lecture that should have been reserved for the other nurse, the one who had over an hour to get that patient ready.
He got to me.
I couldn’t stop my eyes from swelling up, and the lump in my throat got bigger and bigger. It took everything I had to stop myself from saying “But, that wasn’t my patient.”
Between his admonishments, this anesthesiologist was saying “Don’t take it personally.”
I chose to be a grown up about it.
I wish he had also.


What I learned on September 4th


One of my coworkers can collect supplies and start an IV in less than three minutes.

One checks in as many patients as me and still does most of the chart prep work before she leaves.

Another one comes in the latest, and no matter how many add-ons, maintains an uncanny sense of calm.

The fourth, she just stopped working Saturdays’ after doing it for almost two months straight. Few knew this.

The fifth nurse, I don’t know how she did it, but she gets away with calling people “Bunny” just because it appeals to her J She’s always smiling, I think that’s why.

The sixth nurse is somewhat quiet, but if you stand close enough, you can hear her humming a tune while she works.

*You out there with the broken wing, I think…no… As of today, I’m sure, a certain doctor is holding back on business until your return.

The eighth coworker, she needs to be cloned. Everyone agrees.

And the ninth one, as long as you give her 100% and keep “slacker” out of your job description, she’s got your back and won’t let anyone take you for granted. Don’t let her size fool you!



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