We Listened But Did You Hear Us?

I don’t normally blog back to back like this but I felt a follow-up was needed to my last post about being “just a nurse” (which blew my mind that it got shared so much!  I am overwhelmed by that!  You all rock!).  The View, in response to the uproar on social media about what the ladies said about nurses, decided to issue an “apology” of sorts to the millions of nurses on national tv.  I put this in quotations because to be honest…it was not that.  It was, rather, an even bigger insult to nurses around the world.  I saw the clip posted over and over in nursing groups on Facebook and the message was clear :  Nurses didn’t listen.  Millions of healthcare professionals apparently took something out of context and blew it out of proportion.  We didn’t listen.  Whoopi Goldberg said it herself “You didn’t listen.”  I beg to differ Whoopi.  We listened but did you hear us?

I listened to the entire clip several times over for 3 simple words …”We are sorry”.  Not once did I hear those words to nurses or to Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson for the mean and unkind words you spoke about her.  I listened to you all try to talk over each other, getting louder and louder.  I listened to you call nurses “adorable”, “funny”, and that you were at “the mercy of nurses so we have to like them” but not once did I hear you call us “respectable”, “brave”, “compassionate”, “caring” or “knowledgeable”.  I listened.  Want to know why?  Because as a nurse, we are trained to do just that….listen.  We take classes in listening to be better at it with our patients, our co-workers and our families.  Listening is what we do.  While you were all trying to talk over each other to prove a point (which I never really got btw) and NOT listening to each other, let me tell you what I listened to this week at my job.

As a nurse, listening is key in our jobs.  So many things can be learned just by listening.  This week, I listened to a 2-year-old struggle to breathe….without my “doctor’s” stethoscope.  I listened to him wheeze and knew it was time to call the respiratory therapist to give him a breathing treatment.  I listened then to him settle down, his breathing eased by the medication, and snores begin to come for the first time all night.  I listened to a newborn’s cry as we had to start an IV to give her fluids to keep her hydrated.  I also listened to her mother comfort her with soft cooing sounds all the while tears running silently down her face.    As I walked down the hall, I listened to a school age child play video games to distract himself in the middle of the night so that he didn’t have to think about missing playing with his friends.  Earlier in the week, I sat and listened to a physician tell a teenager his chances of a football scholarship were over with such a huge break in his leg at the beginning of the football season.  I watched as his face fall, his dreams of going to college shattered, his mother softly reassuring him they would find another way.  I listened while a mother didn’t understand why her baby had to be on oxygen and I went over it with her until she did.  While you ladies were bashing Miss Colorado and what nurses do for a living, I had to listen to the keening and wailing of a family watching their 17-year-old son slip away from them because of inoperable brain cancer.  I had to hold and listen to a grown man cry at the loss of his son.  While you were listening to each other talk, I was listening to raw grief.

See…nurses listen.  We hear more than your narrow minds will ever hear.  We listen.  We listen to heartbeats slowly fade away.  We listen to monitors alarming that something is critically wrong with our patients and we rush to fix it.  We listen to doctors barking orders at us fast and loud in a crisis. We listen to patients when they say they don’t understand and we stay and explain.  We listen to the first and last breaths someone takes.  We listen to your prayers.  We listen to your fears.  We listen to your secrets.  Nurses listen.  What we won’t listen to anymore is the ladies on The View because they didn’t hear us.  They didn’t hear the 3.3 million strong men and women who are nurses stand up and say we are not “just a nurse”.  They didn’t hear us say how dedicated we are to our jobs….our patients….our pride in our skills and degrees we have achieved.  They didn’t hear all the ancillary healthcare professionals, including doctors, who stood up overnight and said nurses are the backbones of healthcare….that nurses matter.  Our long hours, our blood sweat and tears, our lives that we sacrifice to take care of you and yours…these are all things we knew going into the job.  We don’t expect to be patted on the back and told we did a good job.  We expect to be respected and we expect to be heard.  We want you to know we listen, we care, we love our patients.  It is more than a “talent” or a career….it is a calling.  Ladies at The View…we don’t want to listen to you anymore.  We want you to listen.  We want you to hear us.  We are a mighty force and you have poked the bear.  We want an apology.  We want you to know that it takes hard work, our job is stressful and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Take the time and go personally thank a nurse today….and listen.  Nurses are humans too.  We just want to be heard.  We deserve that.  We listened to you and heard what you have to say…now it is your turn to listen.  And hear.

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I did, however, listen.  I am Fat Girl who know how to listen and challenges The View to do the same Running.  The experiment continues…..

I Am Not “Just A Nurse”

I am sure you might have heard a small ripple in social media over the last 24 hours about the Miss America pageant and Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, who beautifully gave a monologue about being “just a nurse”.  I am also quite sure you may have heard a bigger ripple caused by the ladies on The View for making fun of her and putting down the 3.3 million men and women who call nursing their profession….I am one of them.  And I am not “just a nurse”.

I applaud Miss Johnson in coming out on a beauty pageant stage, dressed in scrubs, to talk about her talent.  While the ladies on The View might not see this as a talent, being a nurse does take quite a lot of talent.  It takes talent to put a urinary catheter in a patient that is combative…to find a vein in a chunky baby….to know what to say to a family that is losing a person close to them.  All of these things take talent.  And it took bravery for Miss Johnson to say so.  You see, we are not just nurses.  We are the people who give up weekends, holidays, birthdays, kids events at school and even sleep to be with you when you need us the most.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.  We gladly sacrifice these things to do our job.  We are the ones who are in your hospital room probably more than you would like and we often come home feeling like we need Silkwood showers to disinfect ourselves.  While you ladies on The View are sitting around, drinking coffee, getting paid millions to be on TV with your uneducated viewpoints, nurses are getting paid to get puked on, slip in blood during a trauma, witness things that most people would feel are the horrors of the world, and hold people’s hands while they die so they know they are not alone.  I, personally, have never seen your show because I work nights.  That is right.  While you are sleeping, I am working from 7pm to 7am keeping children alive.  Some nights I don’t even have time to go potty, let alone get a cup of coffee, but that is ok by me.  Some nights the docs don’t even come on the unit, so guess who is here with all the sick kids?  The nurses. Yup.  Do you work almost 13 hours only to come back again every day? I think not.  Nurses do.  Every damn day.

I love being a nurse.  Absolutely love it.  I salute all people who want to become a nurse.  It is the hardest profession you will ever love.  You get yelled at, swore at, swung at and even spit on.  As for wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope”, well that is a tool of the trade my friends…and not just one doctor’s use.  They are used by nurses, respiratory therapists, techs, EMT’s, paramedics and doctors.  I don’t know how many doctors I have heard come into the unit and ask to borrow someone’s “ears” meaning the nurse’s stethescope because they don’t have one with them.   You might think of scrubs as a “costume” but I can guarantee you that none of us look like the Halloween version of our profession.  We are NOT “naughty nurses”.  We don’t wear shirts showing our cleavage or high-heeled shoes.  These costumes are also insulting to me.  We wear scrubs so we can squat down to empty a catheter bag full of urine and so we can sweat our butts off doing chest compressions to save a person’s life.  Nursing involves a lot of sweat.  Lifting a 300 lb person to turn them is no easy feat.  Some nights running to the ED to save a child’s life makes me sweat more than I do when I am working out.  Why?  Because my adrenaline is pumping, my heart is racing and I am praying I don’t have to hold a parent as their child dies tonight.  These are all thoughts that race through my mind as I sweat in my scrubs….my “costume” that keeps me cool as I am just a nurse. And as for wearing high heels…well one night slipping in blood, puke or feces and you would rethinking your choice of footwear rather quickly.  TV shows don’t even do our jobs justice.  Grey’s Anatomy shows all these doctor’s doing things the in reality nurses do….quit trying to steal our shit!  Quit degrading nurses and what they do.  We don’t just wipe butts and pass meds.  You know how the doctor miraculously shows up when you are having a medical crisis?  That is because the NURSE called the doc.  For reals.  Let’s quit trying to pretend it is the docs at the bedside 24/7 because it isn’t true….so TV land, try to get it right one of these days would ya?

Nurses are amazing people.  We keep our emotions in check to do our jobs.  You might not know it, but when your child dies and I am their nurse, I hurt too.  You might not ever see my tears.  They flow usually in the bathroom, my car driving home and most frequently in the shower.  Want to know why?  Because I need to be there for the family who just lost their child.  I need to hold their hands, hug them and help them decide on hard decisions like funeral homes and organ donation.  To put down a whole profession of some of the most amazing caring people I have ever known is disgusting. But I am not “just a nurse”.   As a PICU nurse, I am a singer (and not always on key) to distract an IV being placed, a comedienne to cheer up a chronically ill child, a counselor to listen to a teenager tell me why they tried to commit suicide, a cheerleader when a patient is able to take a step for the first time on their own after a major trauma, and sometimes a superhero to a 4-year-old because I can hear their “heart beeps” with my stethoscope.  These are all of what I am.  THIS is what nursing is about.  THIS is what nurses do.  If this is what you call being “just a nurse”, then I am proud to be just that….a nurse.  Fellow nurses, #showmeyourstethoscope!  We are nurses…what is your superpower?

So ladies at The View….I challenge you to follow in a nurse’s footsteps for one 12 hour shift and see what it is we really do.  I am sure then you could do it too since it isn’t a talent.  Oh wait…you need a college degree to do what we do.  My bad.

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I felt the need to defend my profession but I didn’t die.  I am Fat Girl proud to be “just a nurse” Running.  The experiment continues…