Friday, May 25, 2007

the truth about angels and saints

So they say to be merely a nurse is to help. Help sick people, poor people, dirty-faced little kids in need of hugs, and of course, to help doctors cure people. We are helping angels. We are saints. We are warmth in a cold, tiled hallway. We wear white dresses with white stockings, white shoes and usually white faces, too. Even after that chemo patient threw up on you and that drinker vomited blood all over the room, you still somehow remained white.

Nurses don't talk back. That surgeon who said you were ripe for the picking, like a nice, round, red cherry....he didn't really mean anything by it. They are just that way. When you felt the power drain from your body, and then when you felt powerless for not being able to keep from feeling powerless, it was just your feelings.

Everybody knows caring is not as good as curing. Everybody knows that talking with, monitoring, watching out for and teaching can't halt a killing blood clot in its path toward a feckless brain or image an athlete's torn meniscus with micron-sized resolution. Everybody knows nurses do what we are told, and things go just fine.

No one ever promised you wouldn't get backaches and heel spurs and bad dreams and reasons to burst out crying driving to the grocery store on Saturday morning. Yes, you may know the anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, psychology, theology and technology - but you are famous for smiling and doing what you're told so use that and nothing else, dear.

$33.75 an hour regardless of your graduate degree and 24 years of experience- every other weekend's mandatory: that's the contract language. The least experienced all work the night shift; it's always been that way. You get 15 minutes' break every 4 hours; that's the law. Try not to work overtime; it costs the hospital so much. the way, we're short on Thursday and Friday - could you come in? It's unappealing for saints to negotiate, assert, determine, diagnose, advocate, act up, speak up and even save a few lives. Just don't talk about that part, okay? Clock out and go home, make dinner, put the kids to bed and kiss your husband, and when he is asleep, then think and grieve.

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