Now reaching my 34th year in the nursing profession I am experiencing some humorous, interesting and distasteful situations where comments have been made that honestly offended me to the quick of my being. "Back in the day" as the older generation often refer to their era these situatons would never have occurred. There was a whole different level of respect for old nurses who were revered/feared at times by patients, doctors, and staff members alike.
Reflecting back on my much younger years 1975 when first graduating as a fledgling nurse who came out of school well trained, required to wear our hair up off our collars (mine in a pony tail) so tight my eyes were slanted), tiny earrings (if any at all), nursing caps, and only clear nail polish on short cut fingernails. White uniforms, mostly dresses, with white support hose and white shoes. Finally someone came to the realization that maybe it was not a good idea for nurses to wear dresses possibly when they came across a rather large boned chunky nurse with a large buttocks bent over a hospital bed doing CPR with the tops of her panty hose, and print underwear showing, being all she could be. Maybe some scenario played out in the ER where they had to resume some kind of awkward positoin not suitable/remotely lady like position when one is wearing a dress.This time frame made me think of many older gray/white haired mentors-old nurses who wore their nursing caps iwth pride, on a good day did not "eat the young one's" as the expression goes, and taught us the right way to be a "real" nurse. Teaching/using the best techniques/policies (some long since outdated) of the time, so we would go on to be all we could be in our future careers in nursing. Many of the faces come to mind with names lost in my memory bank. Yes, some were scary in their demeanor, dingy (a few months short of retirement at the ripe age of 75) and some who had managed to maintain a sense of humor. Never was there any doubt who the professional in charge nurses were who did not have to demand respect it was given.
Presently my looks consist of a pleasant round face, blessed wih good genes, with very few wrinkles, but my hair is a snow white in color. Once a red head, I have chemotherapy induced coloring, but not complaining because in this case
bald was not beautiful, so glad to even have hair. Blessed to be a 20 year survior of breast cancer. Granted I do limp on occasion (from a totally different scenario involving an 1800 pound horse ) but do not deserve some of the blatant comments made to me recently about being an "old nurse" that I truly found offensive.
My first example was one evening a very serious incident involving two residents that required me to call administration and 911 for police intervention is the most memorable one. First to arrive was a detective with a demeanor of total professionalism, matter of fact and who immediately began the intitial paper work necessary for a situation of this kind. A short time later a yery young looking (looked like he was 12) sheriff's deputy came in to assist. After introducing myself to him as the head nurse the first words to part his lips floored me. "Mam, aren't you to old to still be working as a nurse?"
Totally stunned, it took me a minute to regroup but my quick wit soon surfaced with a trite reply "Young man, obviously your mother never taught you any manners!!" Turning to walk away I noticed a look of total disbelief on the face of the lead detective. Upon my return to the nurses station a short time later a demure, quiet deputy was sitting behind the desk with his head down not uttering a sound (maybe a slight whimper could be heard) diligently working on his paperwork.
When my Director of Nurses arrived, who happened to be five years older than me, was given this little tidbit of information she was livid. Close to retirement age herself, but just the main fact their was such a total blatant disrespect of one of her nurses.
My second example of someones mouth overriding their brain was a comment made by a family member one evening on a 3-11 shift. It had been a rough week, four days in a row of leaving late, returning home with "cankles" (your ankles/legs are all one) larger than usual for the simple fact a full moon phase brings out the best/worst in a long term care setting. A proven fact that the confusion level of some residents causes them to "fly" (fall) more and numerous 911 situations with medical emergencies seem more common.
Hobbling up the hallway (my horse injured leg was screaming "elevate me NOW-no more walking!!" I was holding on to the hand rail for support. Even a little relief to take off some of the pressure even for a few seconds was much appreciated. Looking up I saw a male visitor whom in his moment of great wisdom, possibly trying to be funny, made this
comment "Gee old nurse?-maybe you should just check in." At that very moment I am pulling from my inestinal fortitude because my brain is racing with bad words to spew-but thank heavens nothing parts my lips. A glance, my set jaw,
and lack of response should have been a clue I was less than amused. Granted my sense of humor was a tad absent
but come on I do work in LONG TERM CARE! A few days later revenge was mine, this same family member was wheeling his Dad down the hall, he made him stop when he saw me informing him "That is the best nurse here, I love her, she checks on me all the time!" Standing there red faced, stammering he managed to say "That is great Dad."
NURSE ROCK!-Young and old we are health professionals who give care from our hearts. Most of us whould not give up our chosen career for anything. Well, maybe not today?????