Have You Hugged Your ER Nurse Today?

Sunday

A few years ago I packed up my trauma shears, kelly clamps and community acquired antibodies to leave ER Nursing behind me. The separation was quick and clean and one of the toughest career decisions that I have ever made but knew it was healthiest for me to quit while I was still on top of my game and while I remained patient, competent and caring.

To me, the intrinsic beauty of ER Nursing was in the capacity to choose to be someone’s hero every day but believe me when I say that ER Nursing can suck the life out of you. If you let it.

So there you have it. A love/hate relationship if ever there was one.

During my twenty-odd years in ER Nursing I recall the token gifts of appreciation that were given to us by our nurse managers during Emergency Nurses Week…
  • an “ER Nurse’s Call The Shots” t-shirt
  • a  tote bag with matching pen
  • a battery-operated alarm clock 
Although I was thankful for the gesture, I couldn’t help but think that Emergency Nurses Week always fell a little flat.

Why? I think I get it now.

How do you thank someone for…
  • Allowing themselves to be exposed to God-knows-what-kind of viruses, bacteria, air-borne and blood-borne pathogens on a daily basis?
  • Caring enough to incorporate extraordinary measures - just to make sure a patient can get a ride home?
  • Working for several hours without so much as a drink of water?
  • Bathing a homeless person - just because they needed it – all the while hoping you are adequately protected from the transmission of scabies and/or lice?
  • Participating in the life-saving efforts of a critically ill child..immediately followed by de-escalating someone who is angry because they "are waiting too long to be seen" by the doctor?
  • Reaching into their own pocket to help a patient or family member down on their luck?
  • Choosing to "rise above" and continue to professionally care for someone who just verbally, physically and/or emotionally assaulted you?
  • Risking personal injury by having to restrain someone who may hurt him or herself?
  • Rarely receiving a simple thank-you?
I could go on forever, but now I understand why the tote bag didn't cut it.
In my opinion, ER Nurses are not motivated by gratitude or money...but simply to the service of caring for human beings ...at their worst.
It's a thank-less job - but somebody has to do it. And I'm proud to say that I've been fortunate enough to have worked along-side some of the best.

What can I say?

Keep your chin up, your eyes open and know that you are 'in the trenches' for a reason.
You are there not only for your patients and family members. You are there for the docs, cops, firemen and co-workers that need you to be.

So, for all you intelligent, skilled, compassionate and funny ER Nurses out there…Thank You. And know that you are sincerely appreciated.

If only by an ex-ER Nurse.

PS: I miss you.

UAB "ER Rap"...

The NYC Subway System 1-2-3

Wednesday

At first, I found the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) or New York City Subway System to be somewhat daunting. We've all seen those movies where nothing good happens down there. So what would possess someone in their right mind to intentionally enter into the New York City underworld?

It's cheap and convenient.

So, you might be taking your life into your own hands by stepping down into the bowels of the city to save a few bucks but I'm here to tell you that not only did I survive but I actually enjoyed the experience. Police presence was evident, I met friendly, talkative NewYorkers along the way and eventually got to where I was going.

Did I get lost? You bet. Was it life-altering? Not at all.

Far from an expert in New York City transit, here's my advice...
  • get an MTA map or download an app on your smart phone (just shop for NYC Subway or MTA...there are several free apps). Route maps are not always in the train car.
  • familiarize yourself with North-South-East-West - this is non-negotiable in NYC and makes a difference in getting to your destination or having to change trains in The Bronx. Been there.
  • Color codes are your friends. Find the color of the line you want to be on and determine which way you are going. This helps. Walking down a set of stairs only to have to turn around and walk up the same set, all to cross the street and walk down another set gets old.
  • Don't count on hearing the next stop called by the train conductor. Totally unintelligible. I think they are just messing with you anyway. 

MetroCard:

- Subway fare is $2.75 each way. A MetroCard is a card that you can buy in the subway from a kiosk (credit cards/debit cards and cash - super easy to use). A 7-day unlimited ride pass = $33.00.

Metro Buses are cash or Metro card

If I were to do it again, I would have bought the 7 day unlimited pass.

Although I was only in NYC for 4 days, memories of climbing and descending those subway stairs amounted to way more than 12 times. Choosing the 7-day option surely would have saved me a few dollars.

Don't get me wrong, riding the NYC Subway is not for the faint of heart. But after spotting a rat the size of a domestic house cat on the subway tracks one morning, I embraced the NYC experience and felt like a New Yorker - warts and all.


What to wear in NYC...in summer

Saturday

This Public Service Announcement is for those who may be wondering about what to wear in New York City in the summer.

A few weeks ago, in preparing for a four-day weekend in Manhattan, I had to decide on what I needed to pack. My trip was going to be a "touristy". Yankee Stadium for a baseball game, shopping, attending a storytellers event in a bookstore, low key dinners. A dress and heels were not necessary.


I googled ..."What to wear in NYC in summer/NYC Fashions/What to pack for NYC summer". My ultimate goal was to not look like a tourist. The results?

I ended up looking like a tourist.

I've since made peace with that.

Know that if you are visiting New York City, you will be doing a lot of walking and that the subways are (ahem) dusty. In my opinion, high heels and white pants really shouldn't make it into your suitcase but if you must...you must. Also - I've never been one for flats (not enough arch support) but they are great and easy to pack if you are comfortable in them.

A few of my packing rules...
  • Everything must fit into a carry-on bag
  • A pre-determined color pallette (ie: black/white) cuts down on dragging along several pair of shoes etc. 
  • Stack clothing then roll.
  • Only take very comfortable shoes.
My basic list for long-weekend travel-packing anywhere includes...
  • Sneakers
  • Jeans
  • 3 blouses
  • underwear
  • 2 black T-shirts
  • 1 black pair of pants
  • comfortable wedge-heeled sandals
  • sleepwear
  • 3 pr thick socks
  • black plain yoga pants
  • lightweight backpack
  • over-the-shoulder handbag
  • umbrella 
Another tip? Get a professional to blow dry your hair the day before you leave. Use a dry shampoo while you are in the city and your 'do' should last the weekend.

There you have it. I did end up buying a pair of shorts as the heat and humidity was unexpected but overall, I was outfitted.

All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning in Times Square, armed with my "Top 10 New York" guidebook in hand, camera poised, wearing a backpack and sneakers really said it all.


The Train

Thursday


Recently, I was reminded of Mr. Something's 
allegorical way of looking at life...

"My life is a lot like a train trip and I've been lucky enough to get the window seat in a comfortable car. Undoubtedly, there will be a few bumps and curves along the way, but the train will stop at destinations that are colorful, fun and terrific as well as other destinations that are grey and difficult to navigate. But, neither lasts and I will eventually re-board and continue on. One day, I will reach my final destination and know that by and large, life has been a great ride in a comfortable window seat." 

How cool is that? His view is comforting to me and speaks to my soul. I can't help but add another aspect to the train-ride of life. It concerns family and friendship...

We will meet fellow passengers that board the train. We will laugh and talk, eat and drink together. We will comfort and support one another during arduous journeys and celebrate our successful trips together. We will love each other. Some of us have been travel-buddies since the beginning of life, some of us have traveled together for years, some we would prefer not to travel with, some have to depart for different destinations and sadly, some will reach their final stop. We will miss them. But, never-the-less, our train ride continues. 


I was privileged to have met a kindred spirit, a traveler who shared my car with me twenty-six years ago. Our journeys eventually veered into different directions but last week, she climbed back onto my train car, or did I board hers? It really is neither here nor there as the conversation began where it left off.

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