I took a week off.
No school and no work meant lots of time to see people I love, fill up my tank with joy, and do nothing. The feeling of having no obligations or assignments in the back of my head – an empty skull, if you will – was fabulous.
During my time away, I threw a party at my home for all of my friends. We celebrated life and giving and creativity by eating a million gallons of hummus, climbing out my apartment window to the garden, and feeling sweaty together.
Many of my friends are nurses – in my opinion, the very best kind of people to have as friends. I wanted to throw this party to celebrate them and their fabulousness – to thank them for keeping me afloat in my nursing life, everyday, every shift. My fabulous (non-nurse, but we won’t hold it against her) and talented friend Lindsey Jones styled this shot of some of my fabulous nurse friends celebrating each other. Kos Parran, who has a very special nurse in his life, photographed.
So few people know what nurses do each and every day, everywhere. They don’t know what talented, intelligent, quick-witted and fun people we are. They don’t know half of the thoughts and decisions and words and ideas that run through our brains in seconds, like strategic wildfire, for our patients. I surely didn’t, even when I was studying to become one.
Tons of reasons exist that daily lead to this absence of understanding – culture, tradition, discrimination. These things will not change overnight, and are very difficult, maybe even futile to attempt to alter.
But a big problem exists that I think we can change: we nurses just don’t speak up. We don’t identify ourselves enough. We don’t talk about the things we do – at work and away from work. We’re not proud of being nurses. We don’t take credit for our nursing care.
In a review of the recently published book, I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, a compilation of nurses stories, by nurses, NYT’s Jane Gross, whose mother was a nurse, showcases the sad invisibility of nurses from the author, Lee Gutkind’s personal experience:
Though it is the doctors who are considered “deities,” he writes, it was the “irreplaceable” nurses who were a source of comfort and security during his family’s multiple trials. And yet by his own admission he took them for granted — “I cannot not tell you what any of the nurses looked like, what their names were, where they came from” — which is exactly the state of affairs my mother described 65 years ago.
And that’s a damn shame. Because #RNsarefabulous. Start telling the world about what you do and who you are, my nurse-friends.