Monday, May 21, 2012

29 years and counting

As of yesterday, I have been a nurse for 29 years.  At the age of 20, I was turned loose to take care of patients in the critical care unit.  After hanging in there for three years of college, I endured another couple of months of  orientation to learn how to suction tracheotomies, read EKGs, pound on a chest, and a lot more.  I felt like I was pretty hot stuff, if truth be told, but was also scared out of my boots, realizing how little I knew.  My, how time flies.  And the same thing is true now:  some days I'm scared outta my boots, and others, I realize I know absolutely nothing.

In 29 years, I've been there when babies were born, and when the elderly died.  I've been there to watch parents hold their baby for the first time, when they said goodbye to a baby who was being adopted out, and when they first laid eyes on the baby they were adopting.  I was there to watch an adoptive mom breastfeed her new baby, and when another mother had second thoughts about the adoption. I even saw one couple who had the doctor hold the prospective adoptive baby up to the window, only to tell the doctor they didn't want him because he had red hair.  (The doctor, incidentally, no longer has a license, and I hope the couple doesn't have a child.  They don't deserve one.)

I've been vomited on, peed on, pooped on,hit, and spit on.  I've seen vomit hit the ceiling and the walls, and saw bright red chunks the size of my hand spew out of a patient like he was Vesuvius.  I had a patient ask me once for an ashtray, only to have him vomit on me, from my head to my toes.  As our respiratory therapist said, "next time you should give the man an ashtray."  And baby puke.............if I had a nickel for every baby who spit up on me, I'd be rich.

I had a patient tell me once that the angels were coming for him, and they did.  I had another tell me that if I didn't let him out of the bed, he was going to die -- and he did.  I've had more than one woman tell me "THE BABY IS COMING" and it did.  I had a woman who had shot herself in the head wake up blind, only to asak me if she was in heaven.  I've watch mothers pass out when their child took a turn for the worse, and even had one time where a family had (I swear) a contest to see how many of them could pass out and go to the ER in the most dramatic way, after the father died.

Yes, it's been a wild ride.

I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember, and I've loved it mt dosays.  I've worked more weekends than not, worked most of the holidays, worked night shifts, doubles, and even got snowed in at the hospital once.  I've had patients who hated me, who loved me, and who couldn't care less about me.  And after all of it, I wouldn't change a thing.  I'm a nurse. It's part of me.  It's who I am.  And I love it.  What else could a person ask for, but to have a job that teaches, amazes, engages, and challenges them every day?  I know I can't ask for anything more.