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My Abortion Story

I am a seventy-year-old Jewish grandma and a retired women’s health nurse and educator. I’ve enjoyed many blessings.

And I had an abortion in 1974.

Three months ago, the constitutional right to abortion was reversed. Reflecting on that Supreme Court decision led me to share my own experience. I hope my story will help other women considering an abortion to know that they are not alone.

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How Poetry Broke My Heart

On June 2, 2010, I was giving a poetry reading at the faculty club at Columbia University Medical Center in New York as part of their “Literature & Medicine” series. I still have the list of poems I read that day, poems that spoke of my work as a nurse practitioner. One poem described my examination of an abused woman; another recounted the experience of a young teen, raped by her sister’s boyfriend. Other poems concerned

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When Worlds Collide

Malcolm sat in the ICU bed, propped up on pillows to ease his breathing. At seventy-five, he had suffered respiratory complications after open-heart surgery. He’d been on a ventilator for several weeks before gradually being weaned from it.

Malcolm’s blue golf cap hid a bald pate surrounded by a fringe of silver hair. He always seemed to be smiling, comfortable with himself and what life had thrown his way. His smile had grown even warmer

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Caught in the Middle

One day several decades ago, after morning rounds, Dr. Prescott slipped into the ER where I was the cardiac nurse. She did something a doctor would never do: She placed her leather medical bag on a stretcher instead of on the desk. Her eyes locked onto mine.

“I’m having a heart attack,” she said calmly.

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Not What I Expected

Not What I Expected

As I struggled my way through nursing school, I never expected my first job as a nurse to feel like this; I was too busy dreaming of the day when I could hold the title of Registered Nurse.

I never expected to come home crying. I never expected that, at times, I’d mumble the words “I hate my job.” I never expected many of the challenges I face daily–but here I am, six weeks

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Birth of a Midwife

Birth of a Midwife

As a nurse, I was brand new to labor and delivery–and I was on my third night shift in a row. Walking back from a quick break, I was called over by the charge nurse.
“You have the next admit from triage,” she told me. “She’s a live one–and so is her family. They’re carnies.”
“What’s that?” I asked, bewildered.
“You know, the people who do the circus and carnival circuit–gypsies,” she said, innocently using

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Shock of Recognition

Lying in a hospital bed while awaiting heart surgery, I looked at my teen daughter and my parents, then smugly pointed out the irregular slashes on the cardiac monitor.

“See these?” I said. “They’re called PVCs. My doctor is going to fix them. Make them all go away.”

The asymmetrical rhythm, a frequent and annoying pattern of multiple skipped heartbeats, had plagued me for the last three years, despite my swearing off caffeine

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Dear Nurse

I was an RN for more than forty years and am now retired. As a recent hospital patient, I documented my experiences. This resulted in a letter to nurses everywhere.
 
Dear Nurse,

Please be kind to me. I am frightened, alone and in pain. I am way out of my comfort zone and need every bit of encouragement you have to offer.

I arrived at the emergency room a short while ago,

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Fighting the Odds

Evelyn Lai ~

Monday

I walk into your room in the pediatric intensive-care unit as two nurses are repositioning you. Your parents stand nearby–your dad in his frayed baseball cap and khaki cargo shorts; your mom, her baggy jeans wrinkled with the same worry as the lines near her eyes. Your little sister sits near the window with a blue hospital mask over her mouth, hugging her knees; Grandma sits snug beside her, back

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Out of the Blue

Marianna Crane ~

As I sit in the exam room waiting for my first patient of the afternoon, the phone rings. It rings four more times before I realize that Amanda Ringwald, our eighty-year-old receptionist, hasn’t come back from taking a rare lunch break.

I pick up the phone and say, “VA Hospital. Marianna Crane.” Oops, I’m not back at the VA anymore. “Senior Clinic,” I quickly add.

“Hello, my friend.”

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Simple Acts

Dianne Avey ~

One night on my nursing shift in the cardiac intensive-care unit, I received a new patient from the operating room: an eighty-eight-year-old woman who had suffered a major heart attack and had just undergone emergency coronary-artery bypass surgery.

Her bed was wheeled into the room along with the usual accoutrements: six different IV drips, a ventilator, an aortic balloon pump and various other lines and monitoring devices. Her name, I

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Who Would Want to Do This?

Kristin Beard ~

“Get the patient on the monitor.”

“How long has he been down? Someone get on the chest!”

“Keep ventilating. He’s in v-fib. Defibrillate at 200.”

“Charging, everybody clear?…Shock delivered.”

“Resume compressions. Push one of epinephrine…Hold compressions. What rhythm is he in?”

“He’s asystole, resume compressions.”

We repeat the process a hundred times over. The medic said they started coding the patient an hour ago. The

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