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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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The Last Heartbeat

Cortney Davis

The minutes dragged. She worked at it–
sweat pooling in her frown, her lungs

bellowed in and out as if the air were oil.
Her expression never changed.

Beneath the light,
my mother’s skin looked violet.

I squeezed her hand,
pressed her fingertips, stroked the branching veins,

but…nothing. And so, good nurse,
I held her wrist between my fingertips and counted

one, two,

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What a Honeymoon!

 
I finally remarried.
The day came and went quickly, though I had been having bouts of nausea and vomitting throughout the day. Just figured it was nerves. After the reception, we went to the hotel room and I felt better. Next morning off to Jamaica.
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Afflicted

Kristin Laurel

It is the night shift, and most of Minneapolis does not know
that tonight a drunk man rolled onto the broken ice
and fell through the Mississippi.
He lies sheltered and warm in the morgue, unidentified.

Behind a dumpster by the Metrodome
a mother blows smoke up to the stars;
she flicks sparks with a lighter
and inside her pipe, a rock of crack glows

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The Center of Everything

The call came at midnight. “He died,” the voice on the other end said. No emotion.

“How are you, Alice?” I asked.

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