They Tell Me It's Nurses' Week

Photo entitled:  Hi MOM!
Photo entitled: Hi MOM!

"We go deep, and we don't get no sleep, cuz we stay up all night, 'til the early light."

--Janet Jackson "Go Deep"

"HAPPY NURSES' DAY, BABY!" My mother, who has yet to learn her time zones, has called me at still-dark o-clock, the day before Nurses' Day.

It is dark, I hate life, and my manners are brewing at Starbucks. "Several things, Marcella," I begin. "It is not Nurses' Day. I don't go to the hospital today, and it is still dark." I hate my Droid for ringing, myself for answering, and my mother for not acknowledging the west coast as being three hours behind the east coast--in no particular order.

"'s soon, though right? Anyway, I don't want anything, just go back to sleep."

Sure, because that's possible. "Birdie, you might as well continue, I'm up now."

Today it is about Alaska, and all the things she's sure I haven't done in preparation for a trip still three months in the future. But now that's she's brought up nursing, it has made me start to reminisce about going in to this occupation, and ponder what level of masochism it has taken to continue to walk this path. Reminiscing gives me something to do while she's talking.

I think of my very first patient that I ever had as a student nurse. She was an elderly Italian woman who cursed me out in three languages--English, Italian, and Dementia, for sleeping with her husband. She called me out of a group of four other girls with so much certainty and anger, it was beginning to sound like the truth, even to me. In my inexperience, I tried the fruitless effort of logic and truth. I cited the fact that we'd just met--her and I, and that I didn't know her husband. I considered bringing up my aversion to sleeping with dead guys, but I left that part out. She was seething.

Finally, I apologized for, in a weak moment, sleeping with her husband. It was just simpler that way. She calmed right down, and let me help her.

Later that day, she told me I was pretty, and that her husband would really like me. She licked her lips. I shook off the idea that I was being invited to a senior threesome, where the "third" was dead. The didactic portion of nursing school had definitely not covered how to handle this.

"Well, Ma, I gotta go. I have know what? I don't have the energy to lie right now so I'll just go with I don't feel like talking. Whaddya think? Are we at that level in our relationship?"

"You're terrible. You NEVER want to talk on the phone. And no, we are NOT at that level in our relationship! Call me later, kay?"

"Sure thing, Baby Jane." I hang up. It's been a rough work week. They are short at the hospital, it is my day off, and I'm going in anyway. Now I hate life, unborn children, myself, and my manners are still brewing at Starbucks. I make a mental note to change the hospital's ringtone to sound more like my co-worker Robin's. Her ringtone for the hospital is her own voice saying, "Girrrrrl, you better not pick up this phone. IT'S THE HOSPITAL!" She's a genius.

The following day is Nurses' Day, and I am on dayshift. I go in curious about what we would get this year to commemorate the occasion. Last year, we got jackets. This year, we get our butts handed to us--they didn't even gift wrap them. I have decided to blame the economy. I make a mental note to check and see if the United States government is looking for a new national anthem, because I will submit this one--MIA Paper Planes. The "all I wanna do is, BANG! BANG! BANG! reload, and take your money!" speaks to me as a citizen.

"Gods!" Debbie, my co-worker, exclaims. She is Pagan, and she's had a very rough day. She's thinking of her cauldron. "How is that some days the only good thing you can say about a shift is 'nobody died?'" She believes she will be charting for hours after the shift ends. She's right.

"Yeah, well you gotta admit--some days it really would be easier to just zip someone up in a bag." I reply. I'm Christian, and I'm thinking of shopping for a cauldron after today.

"Touche', SJ. Touche'," she says without looking up from her pile of papers.

It was a very difficult day that ended in a helicopter transport, but all of the patients were nice, and we didn't have to call the police on anyone's boyfriend. That will have to be enough.

My friend Joy is a pediatric intensive care nurse, who recently came to the area with her son to take a position in one of the most elite hospitals in the country. The problem with working in an elite hospital, is that their patient population is "elite" as well. Joy is a New Yorker, and I love that. Despite my gooey-goodness approach to life, I have a New York state of mind, and sometimes it shows. I feel an instant connection with her, because I love how forward New Yorkers are. Plus, their accent makes me giggle--on the inside. These are New Yorkers we're talking about, and I don't want them to hurt me. I've never actually fought. I just have a big mouth that I recruit others to back up. I delegate.

Our congregation had a big cleaning thing to do, I messed up and asked Joy, 'how's work?'

"You know how sick kids tear at your heart, and you just want to do everything you can for them?"

"Yes," I say. I really do get that.

"Well, not where I work, you don't. These brats think you're the help. You can't do enough for them, and their families think they can buy a kid back to health. They are impossible! I want out!"

"Wow...Joy, that's horrible." I messed up again and thought she was finished. I try to go back to cleaning.

"Like this one family. The family can't let go, so they've taken turns for the last year driving the staff crazy! The child is gone in every way, but they won't accept it," Joy's voice is starting to climb.

"Letting go can be really tough," I say.

"Yeah, well...they keep a revolving recording that is just yelling, 'I REBUKE YOU SATAN!' at the foot of the kid's bed...and it's directed at US!" Joy's eyes are bulging.

I am now laughing my face off, I can't help it. I hug her. She deserves it.

Afternoon has come, days after nurses' day, and the police have been called. I could sense the hot-tempered dad in my room was starting to lose it after a phone conversation his girlfriend had with the doctor. I find the nurse in charge, and we're making plans to find an under-handed way to smooth things over for everyone. Our scheme is nearly plotted out, when--let's call him Bob, the patient's boyfriend--storms the nurses' station.

"GET ME THAT (expletive removed) ON THE PHONE!" He screams. For the curious, the expletive involved an act hopefully no one would consider with their mother.

"WHO DOES THAT (expletive removed) THINK HE'S DEALING WITH?" (I think to myself, he's dealing with Bob the sideshow, but I have the good sense not to say this).

"I'll get him. Go back to your room, I'll transfer the call there." I also refrained from adding, "and have some more steroids while you wait."

The doctor and Bob's conversation is not going well, and threats are flying. Bob can be heard yelling all the way down the hallway. Some nurses are afraid. I am not one of them. I've been around him all day, and I believe he's blowing smoke. He's been nothing but nice to me.

The doctor calls me. "He's pissed, Doctor B. I told him to go walk it off, and he's listening for whatever reason. Your fighting days are over, Doc, his aren't. Just lay low for a while. He thinks you were rude to his girl, they're leaving AMA."

The doctor defends himself to me, I tell him it doesn't matter. Now I have a bunch of charting to do. And the police are here.

Happy Nurses Week to the Craziest Bunch of People I Know~


If you're mad, get mad.

Don't hold it all inside,

Come on and talk to me now.

Hey, what you got to hide?

I get angry too..

Well, I'm a lot like you.

When you're standing at the crossroads,

Don't know what path to choose,

Let me come along.

'Cause even if you're wrong...

I'll stand by you."

--The Pretenders

Comments 36 comments

SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 5 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Ahostagesituation, you are absolutely funny and I love your way with words, and I bet you are a great nurse. Thanks for a really good read.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thanks a lot, Subron7, for reading! Funny definitely helps in nursing. Thanks again.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Great! Dementia is so sad isn't it? I have just lost a dear aunt who suffered with it for the last several years of her life. There seems to be so little really known about the brain and its decline. This is a funny hub, I bet you are a breath of fresh air in the ward...either that, or you finish 'em off! Keep the hubs coming...think of one as you run the half-marathon!!! Bob

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Dementia? The worst--the person you love is right there...but not. I do think I am the entertainment on our unit sometimes. I also have a knack for attracting the worst possible situation. They started a "You know you're giving report to Shannon if..." at this hospital and that list is hilarious! Half-marathon--ugh, my stomach just turned. Run it for me?? I'll pay you in livestock!! Not looking forward to it. Thanks for reading, Bob, and great to hear from you!

Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Hey, Ahostagesituation! Hilarious! I bet you are a treasure to work around. Great! Great! Great!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thank you, Dexter! My allergies are bothering me enough that I'm just happy it's coherent. Yesterday I had a headache sat at the computer and was like, "here comes some nonsense, I can feel it" and just started writing. Thanks for reading!

cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

happy belated nurses' day anyway.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Shannon, You never cease to amaze me with your wit. I know you are a nurse, but you're a wonderful gifted writter too... I'm still cracking up over, ' I REBUKE you satan ' Thank's for a really enjoyable story.


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Cathylynn--thanks! And actually my friend fractured her wrist catching a 202 pound 10-year-old (gotta love America), who was falling off an exam table that day. My "Nurse's Day" went way better than that for sure.

Ruby! Thanks so much. Really though, when you've lived a life as ficticious as mine you really don't need any special talent to report it. Who could make this stuff up? I laughed really hard at the "REBUKE!" also. Hilarious, and my friend was so serious and angry when she was telling me. So funny. In her defense, I have a a Pediatrician friend who did her residency at Joy's hospital and she said she'd rather have 10 complex cardiac defect kids than just ONE of their kids with bronchitis. They are impossible. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Right Black profile image

Right Black 5 years ago from Huntington Beach, California

When I read the title I thought, "Why do nurses get a week when presidents only get a day?" After reading this I'm not sure if nurses need a month or a year. And you do this gig because you want too? More power to ya.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Right Black, great to hear from you!! LOL! Believe me, more people in my life noticed it was Nurse's Week than I did--it really seems more like Nurse Sacrifice Week. Also, I had to keep this relatively short, I could go on...and on. But, I really do love my gig, all things considered. So pathetic. I just won't give it up, and I could. I don't want to. Thanks a lot for reading!

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

Too awesome of a story...gotta say...I love your mom! Sorry if I missed Nurses' here's a belated YOU ROCK! Voted up and awesome and funny, as always. Have a great week and stay out of that cauldron...leave that up to me, lady. :)

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

"cursed me out in three languages--English, Italian, and Dementia..." I love this line. Wonderful read. Lynda

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Yay, Kitty! So great to hear from you, and thanks, I love my mom too. I have a friend who tells me my telling stories about my mom is her cardio. My mom's actually great to people, truth be told. And I'm snickering at the cauldron line, and yes I should leave them alone, I'd likely be too good with one ;-). Thanks for reading, and I'm checking out anything new you have later this afternoon.

Thanks, Lynda! Dementia is the language we can't seem to get anyone to step up and be a translator for. Fortunately Dementia patients will sometimes use "sign language" as well ;-). Thanks for reading!

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

...Huh? What sort of "livestock," randy nurses? Rx

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Hi, Bob! I've got no livestock, but I wouldn't have told you that until after the race. The trouble with "randy nurses" as compensation is all that excessive sexuality usually comes with a fair amount of mouthiness. You win some, you lose some. I can't speak for the rest, but I really do try to use my powers of insubordination and insolence for good. Best with that one though :-).

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, I laughed so loud at this! really funny! I will send you the cauldron just in case you do convert! what a great sense of humour for a nurse, I suppose thats the only thing that keeps you sane in a very damanding job, and I think that if any hospital had you they would be very lucky! thanks for the laugh, cheers nell

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Ha! Nell, I forgot you were Pagan. My ADD is way too bad to answer to multiple gods--that's a psych admission waiting to happen in my case, so I think I should stay cauldron-free for now. I am a clown, but I'm best known at the hospital for patient advocacy. I am completely insane, and everyone knows it. This job taught me how strongly you can feel about the well-being of a stranger. I mean, I don't know these people from Adam, but I will fight to the bitter, bloody end for them, and most of us in healthcare feel pretty similarly.

I have a wonderful team at this facility--we are a twisted, dysfunctional family with the right motives in what we do. We have a lot of fun...and that doc from this story bought me breakfast after this. I saw the dad outside the hospital earlier this week, and I mentioned to him that he looked far less criminal that day. He laughed. Life goes on. Thanks so much, Nell! Cheers! --SJ

Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 5 years ago

I need to come and work there! I work with some of the most uninteresting and b----y nurses ever. Time for a change. Thanks for sharing you have a great sense of humor.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Please come over and work in England! lol we could do with you and your friends over here!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Tammy--Yes! Come work with us! I've definitely met nurses who make you wonder what in the world prompted them to pick this job...and why continue? Definitely sounds like a change is in order. Recommending a book--Peggy Anderson's "Nurse"--nonfiction account of a head nurse of a stepdown unit in NY. The writing is a little 'boiled baked potato,' she could use a creativity spotter, but the stories are interesting. Thanks for reading!

Nell--Lol...that would be awesome! They are a great set of nurses. I'd trust them with my baby, and I'd trust them with my..."judy." ;-). Thanks for the comment.

neakin profile image

neakin 5 years ago

From one nurse to another, THAT WAS AWESOME!! You are the best. I look forward to a great friendship!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Hi, neakin, thanks for're a nurse too?? I swear I am growing nurses lately. Then you can identify with this and then some right? What type of nurse are you? Looks like you haven't been on hubpages very long, so welcome!! And Belated Happy Nurses' day!...although if you're like me that well wishing just makes me laugh. It's like 'Happy Gas Chamber Day!'


Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

You are a fantastic writer! I enjoyed your share about nursing. You have an awesome career - a couple friends of mind returned to school to get Nursing Degrees and they are working as Nurses.

Nurses are truly wonderful people - I believe you fit that category too! You are funny too!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thanks so much, Treasursofheaven, and I really like your screen name. I have loved being a nurse, and know that will always be part of who I am. Being funny keeps me off psych meds I think, :-). Thanks for reading and commenting!

teamrn profile image

teamrn 5 years ago from Chicago

You really have a way with expressing words so that I really felt I was in the middle of the scene. That's a gift; That and your humor. Nurse's Day? How could I forget it was nurse's week; after all, the hospital where I worked bestowed upon me a gift: a pen for keeping them afloat!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Teamrn-- Hi there and thanks! Humor helps me a ton. Speaking of which I hope your humor-meter is working well after getting such a thoughtful nurses week gift! Thanks for reading!

teamrn profile image

teamrn 5 years ago from Chicago

No longer practicing as an RN, each year i remember feeling insulted that all that the hospitals and other institutions could muster up was a pen or a pen holder. "Hey, keep that money and buy a box of Dunkin Donuts for each floor!"

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Oh ok, got it... I just read your profile. Super-interesting! I'm kinda wondering about all those specialties in nsg you worked in. I hope to get to read some of your work tomorrow.

parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz

Just, well, awesome.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Parrster, thank you!!!

teamrn profile image

teamrn 5 years ago from Chicago

I love the title, "THEY TELL ME IT'S NURSES WEEK'! Have you gotten your pen this week?

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Haha!! I think we're getting paper clips this year. Or those leftover holes from the hole puncher. ;-).

teamrn profile image

teamrn 5 years ago from Chicago

At least with the paper clips you can make something unique like a necklace-like with beer tabs! But, I don't know of any use for the paper holes.

Then again, for doing the work we love, we shouldn't need any acknowledgement. But if the establishment is going to go as far as to say that there IS a Nurse's Week, they should DO something about it and CELEBRATE nurses. Much like I'm sure teachers are NOT celebrated.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Agreed, nursing is certainly not the only under-appreciated professon, there are tons. Teachers are wonderful, I know several, and no one gets how hard they work unless they do it. I didn't know how difficult being a nurse was until I was one, and I was pretty tough before I even went into nursing. I swear it just seemed like they carried medicine and lollipops when I was visiting the hospital as a kid. Turns out that while we're trying to avoid committing manslaughter (involuntarily or voluntarily) everyday, we also have to remember that if pt so and so gets water with ice they'll puke it all over the place and swear no one cares about them. And, most importantly, we must write things down. Which reminds me, hopefully we get pens this upcoming year!

teamrn profile image

teamrn 5 years ago from Chicago

But, getting those pens helps when it comes to WRITING down that your patient did have one too many lollipop and PUKED!

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