A Christmas Message
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Right smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, my son’s girlfriend Graduated from Nursing School. Be sure to congratulate Susie in the comments section below. There were parties, pinnings, graduation ceremonies and countless other festive events associated with the latest class of nurses from Our Lady of the Lake nursing school.
With all that nursing hoopla in the air, I started noticing things that have been around since I have been a nurse but stood out in the wake of graduation. I hardly watch television at all but twice in the last week, there have been commercials on TV celebrating nurses. Do you ever see commercials singing the praises of lawyers or accountants? Does the whole word receive primetime messages about how the world is a better place because there is one more computer programmer in the world?
I can’t speak for you but I do believe there is something incredibly special about nurses. I work with them every day and they have touched my life.
When I was first out of nursing school, it was the coldest winter on record in South Louisiana. And Exxon blew up. And it was the worst flu season in decades. The CICU where I was working was understaffed and patients were waiting for beds. My son was four that year. All he wanted for Christmas was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they were sold out everywhere. I was not a happy camper and made no secret of it.
Carmen Thorn was a hard ass nurse. That’s the most lady like way I can put it. She rode new nurses like circus ponies and we were all afraid of her. Her patients were well cared for and when she was in charge, she held all of us to the same high standards but without a lot of compassion for our inexperience. Frankly, I thought she was a bitch from hell.
Now, eight degrees is cold pretty much anywhere in the world. In South Louisiana, it is unimaginable. But that was the low on Christmas Eve day that year and it never got above freezing. It was damp and humid and impossible to get warm. Pipes were bursting, cars weren’t working. Everything was a freezing mess.
Like me, Carmen had some unfinished Christmas shopping for her own people so she went to the local ToysRUs store a good drive away from the hospital. While she was there, a store manager came out from the back with a box full of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Carmen bought one of each – for my son. Then she drove miles out of her way to the hospital in the freezing cold, parked as close as she could and could have froze walking into the hospital. She made her way to CICU and dropped off the action figures for me. She didn’t stick around for accolades or gratitude. Carmen was just taking care of a fellow nurse the same way she took care of patients.
I am not sure who got the better present that year; my four year old or me.
So this Christmas, even if you have to work give thanks to a nurse. And as I get to watch Susie move from the world of school to the world of being a new nurse, I am reminded of how it felt to be a new nurse. Let’s all take a minute to remember and reach out to our new December graduates. And for those of us who are nurses, remember to give thanks to yourself for going the distance to make that possible.