Her son went to visit her at her house of 52 years. The sound in the bathroom indicated that the faucet in the tub was running and overflowing onto the floor. A series of events piled one on top of the other. A totaled car, candles burning in the house haphazardly, repetitive questions mentioned five minutes apart. The same questions over and over again. Hugging her granddaughter but not remembering ...

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The emergency department. A haven for cardiac arrests and gunshot wounds and respiratory distress and overdoses and auto accidents and children’s sniffles and fever and coughs that won’t go away. The ED was easy access to many. And at times, it was an easy fix not to pay the bill upfront or to be anonymous with your problem. As much as I loved emergency nursing, it was always the children that left ...

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I was an assistant nurse manager (ANM) in a 24 bed ICU in my younger, energetic years. Before that, I was a manager in a very small emergency department. I must say, I loved it. I loved the thrill and the challenge. I was able to work with the Joint Commission; I ordered EKG monitors and defibrillators, any equipment needed for the emergency department. I worked with the health department ...

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As I take the pups on their daily walk around the neighborhood. I come upon eight adults outside their houses, near the street, laughing and coughing and sneezing and smoking their cigarettes and huddled up close together. They didn’t say hello to me, nor did I to them. But I listened: “I ain’t gettin' the COVID vaccine, I ain’t going to the hospital. If I get the COVID, I’m staying at home ...

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I knocked on his door. It was 8:30 pm—medication time. Jerome slowly opened his door. He was easily over 6 feet tall. Towering over my 4' 11.5" self. Naked. Eye to eye with his penis. He chanted, “You ain’t a bitch. You ain’t a ho ... you my wife.” OK Jerome, take your medicine. I’ve entered a new dimension of nursing. After 30 plus years as an ICU nurse, I thought I’d ride out behavioral ...

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He was a healthy 36-year-old paramedic with a loving wife and an adorable little boy. Jim loved his job. The rush, the adrenaline, the blaring lights through downtown hurrying to get to the major hospital. Cardiac arrests, gunshot wounds, tragic auto accidents, respiratory arrests, CPR, compressions, starting IVs. Speaking to the ER physician en route to the hospital to give stat meds for V-tach, SVT, delivering a baby. Anything and everything. ...

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After 33 years as an ICU RN, I had finally decided I couldn’t do this anymore. It was my last nightshift. The last shift convinced me I had made the right decision. The CNA and I went door to door to turn each ICU patient that was not capable of turning themselves. ICU-06:  Mrs. Thelma was 86 years old. She laid in her bed, slightly restless. Restrained. On a ventilator. NG tube ...

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I enter the hospital to work again. I must work as I have three small children and a husband presently out of work because of COVID. He is “non-essential.” A violinist is playing at the employee entrance. I know they do this to lift our spirits. But it’s a slow, sad string that reminds me of the titanic. And yes, every day I clock in, I feel as if it’s a ...

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I’d like to preface this story by saying that the majority of the intensivists I have worked with have been exceptional, caring, and professional. We had all established a good camaraderie, and we had mutual respect for each other. We worked well together. But there always seemed to be one that was the exception. And as I drive some long miles on a recent getaway to the mountains, the flashback came back ...

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1986. I graduated from LPN to RN. And I was immediately offered a new job. Manager of a six-bed ER. This hospital had three surgical suites — 50 inpatient beds and 2 L&D suites. This was a private Catholic hospital run by the nuns. The computer system was new and a foreign object. Sister Ursula* (name changed) of medical records was so overwhelmed by the volume of paper charts that she hid ...

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I never have a problem going to sleep. In fact, after I work a night shift, I easily go into a semi-coma. But tonight is different. 2 days off from work, with a regular sleep schedule at night, but my mind is twirling. I can't sleep. So at 3 a.m., I took a shower. Took an ibuprofen with some ginger ale. And I started to drift back to Catholic elementary school. ...

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I had to earn my “stripes” in ICU. After I graduated from nursing school, the “big” hospitals wouldn’t take me into the ICU, as I had no experience as an ICU nurse. Back in the early 1980s, there was no such thing as an internship program. I desperately wanted to become an ICU nurse. So a small-town county hospital took me in. It was a six-bed “ICU,” and I slowly learned ...

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She was naked in her seclusion room — a padded cell — with her gown on the floor and drenched in her urine. I was her nurse. I gave her lithium. She put the pill in her mouth and then spit it at me in my face. Then her tirade began: "I'm Jesus. The FBI is watching us. The computer chip in my head said to kill, kill, kill you. They're watching me. They're watching ...

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They scream and holler and march. Open up the U.S. This is a hoax. Coronavirus is deadly. Invisible as the virus makes its trek across our U.S. Across the universe. Nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists are being named heroes. Signs and banners and free meals and cookies and doughnuts and loads of adoration come our way. But we don’t want to be named a hero. We are doing our job, our profession, our ...

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Our 23 bed ICU has been converted to COVID-19 patients. All of them. I want to tell myself this is science fiction, but it’s not. It’s real. And we are scared. As I enter the unit to start my night shift, we have a huddle of the off-going and oncoming nurses. We are committed to fighting this invisible monster. After a brief update of all of our patients, we bow our heads and say ...

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No break for 12 hours. We beg to go to the bathroom just for a nano-second. You know, in between not skipping a beat to hang life-saving IV drips, assisting with central line insertions and arterial lines and intubations of the sickest. We pretty much just go door to door literally saving lives. Code blues, and chest compressions and emergent intubations and rapid response team screams out overhead, as we are responsible for ...

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We were told to wear masks before entering this patient’s ICU room. Entering his room, you could smell his rotting flesh. He was 92 years old. His skin would slough off if you dared to bathe him. His decubitus ulcers were raging with infection. As long as I’ve been an ICU nurse, this was the worst — the smell, the neglect, the disrespect for this man. He was VIP status. I always had a problem ...

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She was new to this ICU. She was young, smart, funny, and considered one of the “cool” nurses. Before we could really get to know her, she exposed her wonderful, fantastic, perfect life all over social media. Their perfect two-story brick house, their two little, perfect angel daughters — the perfect life in the perfect town. But what was most important was her perfect, handsome husband. He was bound to be a self-employed ...

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The brother I never knew. He was buried in an unmarked grave with other dead babies. 1960. I am now the age my mother died. She was 64 years old: colon cancer. She was a vacant, negligent mother. During one of my psychology classes in nursing school, we learned about the baby monkey experiment (the Harlow experiment), where a baby monkey was laid against a mother made of wires. It was an inanimate object ...

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I walk out my front door today to do my obligatory walk around the block with my pups. Two police cars with blue lights flashing, lead a caravan of over 100 motorcyclists to a funeral for one of their fallen brothers. They revved up their motors in the procession, I guess, as a sign of love, of brotherhood, of kindred spirits in the motorcycle world. I choked up. I was ready to ...

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