It’s not what you think. It’s not my actual mortality.
It’s that emotional death.
Of being a nurse.
If you’ve never been a nurse. Then you will never know.
It’s that’s giving of yourself: heart and soul.
Constantly and forever.
It’s not being with your family for Easter or Thanksgiving or Christmas.
It’s not being able to go to the bathroom or even take a 30-minute break in 12 to 13 hours.
It’s being surrounded by bully nurses who degrade you, who discount you, who don’t help you during an emergency or help you turn that very large patient.
It’s working side by side with traveler nurses, knowing they make $100 per hour while you may make an extra $5 an hour.
It’s knowing your CEO makes millions per year, not including bonus perks.
It’s your management turning their back on you and leaving you dangerously understaffed, with an unsafe nurse-patient ratio.
It’s that month of May, the month to honor nurses every year and receive the obligatory pizza and leftovers for nightshift and those small skittles and lifesavers with cute sayings like “thank you for being a lifesaver” when all along knowing the physicians receive steak and lobster and fine glasses of wine.
It’s that degradation and disrespect for us nurses who have college degrees, incredible professional experience dealing constantly with life and death, performing CPR and code blues and assisting in intubating patients and titrating vasopressors and dialysis and balloon pumps and ECMO.
It’s that mandatory contract with management, with the hospital system, with that ICU or ER or critical care unit that you never knew
would control your life.
Don’t think that I’m all gloom and doom.
I can’t tell you the everyday thrill of working in ER and in ICU. The pure love and thirst for intensive care nursing. The intricate hemodynamics of the body falling apart and shutting down and working with dynamic and wonderful nurses and physicians.
Being the reason for that patient pulling through the odds. The patient that was supposed to die.
Or holding the hand of that sweet little lady whose dying words are “thank you” as a tear slowly falls down her cheek.
As I tremble inside and shed my own tears wishing her a peaceful hereafter.
Of the magnificent heroic selfless nurses and physicians and technicians and respiratory therapists who intricately weave this thing called life or death.
I am thankful, but I am done.
45 years of this dedicated life and profession.
I see you Hawaii and Paris, and relentlessly watching the waves at the beach roll in and roll out, the sunset, the snuggle with my pups, the waking up to no agenda but a coffee pot brewing just for me.
Debbie Moore-Black is a nurse who blogs at Do Not Resuscitate.
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