Happy Nurses Week!

8 May

National Nurses Week is an annual week in recognition of nurses everywhere in our country & the wonderful contributions they make in the world of medicine. Nurses are recognized as the backbone of the American healthcare system.

National Nurses Week begins on May 6 & goes through May 12 in recognition of the May 12 birthday of Florence Nightingale; the founder of modern nursing. I imagine Ms. Nightingale would be amazed at how far her dream of nursing has come & the extent to which it has evolved.

This really isn’t going to be a “history of nursing” blog entry but I did want to give readers an idea of what & why National Nurses Week is. And I DO thank everyone who has been kind enough to wish me a Happy Nurses Week.

Even though I took an early retirement & am no longer employed as a nurse, I think once you’ve been one, you always WILL be one. As proof of that, just ask any nurse’s spouse or child who has been rushed off to the ER in the middle of the night for some catastrophic ailment (perceived by the nurse parent or spouse) that turns out to be a very minor condition that could have been handled at home with an aspirin & a Band-Aid. Nurses are geared towards critical thinking & we KNOW it’s best to err on the side of “critical” than to ignore something that just might be a symptom that has the potential to turn into a horror story. Better safe than sorry …

Long before we had spouses or children to inflict our diagnoses upon & long before we even had a “License to Practice…”, we were student nurses; a category in & of itself.

For Nurses Week I noticed that some of my nurse friends were posting photos of themselves on Facebook when they were student nurses, which was cool. So I dug out a student nurse photo of my own & posted it on Facebook, too; me in my freshman year of nursing school wearing my new cap.

I got many responses; from Happy Nurses Week… to how important nurses are… to comments about my hair-do “back in the day” of the picture. That led me to respond to someone that maybe I should have been a hair dresser instead of a nurse because hair dressers seldom have to give enemas or empty bedpans (Seldom? Well, almost never, I’m guessing, unless one goes to a “full service” salon).

I also got private responses from some of my nurse friends about our student nurse days & every one of those made me laugh. Sometimes memories shared with friends can be the best part of your day.

A non-nurse friend said my cap reminded her of the Pope’s cap & that made me think about the significance of that cap. Just as I was mulling that over in my mind another friend said how she really missed nurses wearing caps, even though they could be a hassle to work in. My response was to agree about missing seeing caps on nurses but I also remembered how much we looked forward to getting those caps back in our “pre-clinical” days.

Until we received our caps we were just “kid nurses;” a name one of my early patients called me in the days before my cap. Having that cap on our head somehow transformed us … MADE us nurses. And by the time we were actually “capped” we were sophisticated enough to no longer buy that “wolf ticket” sold to us earlier by senior student nurses; the one that sent us running off to Central Supply to fetch a fallopian tube.

I remembered a student in my class forcing a patient to take the pills she found in a medicine cup beside his bed. She wouldn’t leave until he took them so he finally did, all the while protesting that they were saccharin left over from his dinner. Since she didn’t know what saccharin was, she made him swallow them with water anyway.

The whole Facebook thing about National Nurses Week made me think about how far a nursing career can take us. We start out as kids running off to Central Supply looking for that elusive fallopian tube & at the end of our careers, mine, anyway, I was spending nights, weekends & holidays “in charge” of the Operating Room & skillfully handling gunshot wounds of the head in the middle of the night.

We study, we train, we experience … we evolve.

I also started thinking about missing it … the nursing thing. What I don’t miss is being “on call” & working nights, weekends & holidays or working ALL of those things on the same day. But I miss the technology; the Smart Rooms, the robotic surgery. I miss the adrenalin rush that’s always just a heartbeat away & working with a team of people during an emergency when everyone knows their job & everything works out just right. I miss the comradery & the people. It’s a career like absolutely no other & I’m glad I was a part of that.

My favorite student nurse story was told to me by a friend who graduated from our nursing school several years ahead of me. She said while working nights as a student nurse, her job was giving medicines. There was a patient who was on medication around the clock, which meant waking him every few hours to give him his pills. During the change of shift report, the evening nurse passed along that this particular patient was somewhat confused.

My friend dutifully woke the man every 2 hours & gave him his medicine with a glass of water from the pitcher at his bedside, which he took without a problem. However, after each glass of water he said, “Tastes like piss.” This went on throughout the night & he repeated the same complaint after each glass of water.

In the morning after my friend gave the man his medicine & he repeated the complaint about the water, she decided to refill his water pitcher before going off duty. To her surprise she found that he had been using his water pitcher as a urinal all through the night & his complaint about the water had nothing to do with his confusion.

Student nurses … if you survive them; you’ve got to love them.

And after we survived those years “in training,” most of us turned out to be pretty exceptional nurses.

Happy Nurses Week!


Now where was that fallopian tube?


student nurse Linda


5 Responses to “Happy Nurses Week!”

  1. Tony " ) May 8, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    LOL Linda.. That was too Funny… Glad you survived all those years as a Nurse..!!! 🙂


  2. Tony " ) May 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    PS> Happy Nurses Week !!! : )


    • heimdalco May 8, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks, for reading, Tony. Sometimes it WAS a matter of survival but I enjoyed the ride … LOL


  3. Willy (the husband) May 8, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    I miss the nurses with caps … it sort of set them apart from others. I was too young to really appreciate the rest of the “body armor” nurses wore other than they didn’t have a wrinkle in the clothes, but I was scared of the old nurses because the moved so fast while doing several things at once
    I thought your hair was cool and it’s a shame the uniform succumbed to years of “closet shrinkage” because I have all sorts of ideas of how you could use it. Maybe the cap still fits?
    And finally, it is true that I don’t even mention an illness around Linda for fear of having her spout something incurable or something I’ve never heard of unless I’m sure it’s about to fall off or already missing. With everything else she already knows that something’s not right and goes into Nurse Mode, so I shouldn’t complain.


    • heimdalco May 8, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

      Too funny, Willy! I forget sometimes that you LIVE parts of this blog entry. Oh, the things I did to you & the doctor’s offices I drug you to until you stopped telling me when you feel ill.

      Thanks for reading this & for your wonderful, very funny comment.

      Did I hear you sneezing this morning??????????????????


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