Learned through nursing…



Here’s a few things I’m realizing that I’ve learned, either over time or recently, through nursing:

  1. How incredibly nice a person is will be directly proportional with how terminal their illness is. Yep, sad to say, some of the very nicest people you will ever meet are on the oncology floor….for the final time. I have nursing students in clinical right now on oncology and neurosurgery; it is an incredibly depressing clinical rotation for all.
  2. The more entitled patients are going to be the younger generation. Yep, 90% of the time the patient you flat out CAN’T please will be in their 40s. Or 30s. Or 20s. Or a retired nurse! 😉
  3. We have taught our younger generation to not be able to tolerate pain. At all. Yep, the 90 year old lady with rotator cuff surgery can last 12 hours off of 2 Tylenol. The 38 year old with a minimally invasive procedure needs Dilaudid every 3 hours and complains that it is not enough. People kind of need to realize that SOME pain is inevitable; but the expectation today is NO pain.
  4. You are always a psych nurse. It’s funny, when I left full-time psych nursing nearly 20 years ago, I thought that I’d “left” psych nursing. But no, you never leave psych nursing. Because sadly, the number of patients with a concomitant mental illness has exponentially increased. Whether because we are doing a better job of identifying these illnesses, or we’re over-diagnosing them, I can’t say.
  5. It’s all about the poop. Or pee. Or other bodily juice or fluid! Seriously, as nurses, we may not LOVE that stuff, but yeah, we want it out of you. In adequate quantities. Hopefully looking the way it’s supposed to. The only thing you can keep in ya is your blood. Please keep that to yourself. Or else my busy shift gets much busier…and quickly.
  6. Illness, injury and the stress of hospitalization can either exacerbate a person’s worst tendencies and characteristics….or bring out the greatest strength, patience and kindness imaginable. Both responses to stress need to be recognized, acknowledged, and dealt with in the same kind/respectful manner.
  7. I realize the need we as nurses have to distance ourselves from the stress and horror we deal with on a regular basis. I get it. Hell, even I do it from time to time, with my dark and twisted sense of humor. Whether it is the pitch black humor, or the stepping away from the person by calling the patient “room 203” or “the appy down the hall”. But GOD I hate that. That isn’t the “appy down the hall”. That is George, or Mr. Smith. That is your PATIENT, not a room number or diagnosis. While I understand how nurses do that, I freaking hate it. I have my black humor as a survival mechanism; but I won’t dehumanize my patients to desensitize myself to what they are going through. When I catch myself doing that, it’s time to go into office work or something.
  8. We, as nurses, are collectors. We are given the gift of collecting moments, and special interactions, that other people will never have the opportunity to have. My life is enriched by every person I share the universe with, whether it is a pleasant interaction or a challenging one. From everyone, I gain and learn; and the moments we gain as nurses working with patients are unlike any other moments we will share with people.
  9. Everyone has a story. That patient in that bed, that is NOT who that person is on a regular basis in their life. Find out who that PERSON is, not just who that patient is. And feel honored that you get to be a part of their story, even if it is only a small part.
  10. The amount of poo and it’s consistency will be in indirect proportion to the amount of help you have in cleaning it up! (and will be directly proportional with how tired you are and how late in the shift it is; yes, the awesome intense blowouts will often occur after 5:30)

It is challenging, and hard. I get drained and tired at times. But I know, truly, how blessed and lucky I am to be able to be a part of this profession. There is no more rewarding job on the planet than providing care, respect and dignity to those who momentarily have lost their own.

Sesame street swearing


I was talking to the spouse of a patient the other night, learning about their lives together, their marriage, how they’ve raised their children, what brought them to our state, etc. I swear, sometimes I feel like a “Criminal Minds” profiler, with all of the questions I ask patients and family members! But I do think, especially with patients having confusion, knowing something more personal about them can help. It can help with establishing/re-establishing rapport, can calm the patient, and give them something different (and more positive) to focus on. So, yep, I ask away.

Anyway, this lady and I were talking, and she said that they’d raised 6 children together. As we continued to talk, she said that she and her husband had a special way of dealing with their children’s squabbles. The children could yell at each other and (verbally) fight; but they would have to argue using Sesame Street voices. Imagine; fighting with your sibling over the computer as Bert and Ernie. Drawing swords over the last Eggo as Cookie Monster. Bathroom wars as Big Bird and Elmo. I asked her how bad their kids’ fights would get, or how long they would last; she laughed and said not long. Usually, all kids involved would be laughing within minutes.

I think this is brilliant! With all the difficulties and stressors of parenting, these two came up with such a creative and ingenious way to settle fights amongst the kids, and get them to the point where they could actually communicate with each other, and compromise, without anger. I think that this same tactic should be used in the adult world! Imagine debating politics, or arguing over a parking spot, as Kermit the frog and Miss. Piggy!

I am considering doing something similar in my own life. However, since I totally can NOT do any muppet voices, I’ll take it to an adult level, and throw random quotes from “Airplane”, Monty Python, or “Princess Bride” at you. Surely it will get the point across (and don’t call me Shirley). So if I approach you declaring myself to be Inigo Montoya, you know I’m cheesed off at you! Until then, “I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries…”


So, maybe I’m an idiot….


…..But, I don’t understand the need to belittle others in order to feel “big” or “right” or “important” yourself. Really? So, by insulting me and how I think, or look, or act, or dress, or WHATEVER, that makes you a better, brighter and more accomplished person? Wow, it’s such a great road trip, reverting to the age of 10! 😉

I guess, I just don’t understand this massive judgement that so many people have. I mean, it’s human, I have it also. If you are an idiot by choice, by deliberately narrowing your mindset and being unwelcoming to any alternate opinions/facts, then I think you are a waste of the good O2 that I could be sharing. But if I have to set my standard to being “I’m better/smarter than you because….” of what I wear, or the color of my skin, or whether my sexual organs are innies or outies, or who I’m attracted to, exactly how does any of that make me the better person? It’s lunacy in it’s very concept. Perhaps that is how the narrowminded think….but it’s not what I choose to believe is reality.

Today’s climate is sadly less civilized than prior generations. All it politicized, and where there be politics, there be anger, intolerance, and straight up hatred. It seems that we can’t escape it; and since it is inevitable, then it is up to each of us to decide how we are going to behave, and who we are going to be in this society.


I fully admit to being an idealist. I see nothing wrong with that, and if you do, well, I don’t care. I will show you kindness, I will show you patience, I will show you respect, acceptance and tolerance; until you show me your true colors that are the antithesis of these things. And then I will show you the door. Because life is too short, and really, to spend time arguing with these kinds of people is pointless; “never engage an idiot, because they will bring you down to their level and then beat you with experience”.

As Michelle Obama has said “when they go low, we go high”. YES. This is what being an idealist is about. Behaving in the IDEAL way that I would want from others. I can not force others to act this way, and I have no desire to. But I will NOT be pulled down to a level that beneath me. I’ve done that before, and trust me, the air is much cleaner on the high road. While others may talk about how strong, how right, how tolerant and how correct they and their behavior are…..show them the truth by showing them yours.

I am one person. But I can be an example. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.  In the past 5 years or so, I have changed exponentially for the better. I have fought to become who I am, and to maintain my idealism throughout the process. Like it or not, you’ve got to respect that.

Or there’s the door 😉