It has begun
I’ve been posting mostly calm, no-nonsense stuff about the current realm of unreality we are inhabiting.
Because I’m more nurse than writer. And I just can’t fucking help myself — that’s what we do.
In my current job — as an oncology nurse navigator (think case manager), I literally talk patients and their families off the ledge. Daily. On a really bad day — more than one patient and more than one family.
It’s our superpower. Nurses.
We ARE the calm in the storm.
We hold it together. All. The. Things.
Patients. Families — theirs and ours. Doctors. Each other. Whatever The It might be.
It’s our training. Nursing school not only teaches you how to give a shot. It teaches you how to absorb them too. It morphs us and bonds us. It turns us into someone else. Someone society calls “A Nurse”.
Nursing school is a lot like boot camp — only with meaner instructors. We make life-long friends in that world. Nurses we carry forth with us for the rest of our lives.
Yesterday, someone I know lost a someone they carried with them.
From that shared hell. In this shared hell.
She won’t be the last.
For my entire career, nursing has been THE most trusted profession on whatever survey they give Humans about that stuff. And we have earned this trust because of what is about to happen. What is happening in other places all around the globe.
Every nurse — everywhere knew the fight was coming. With the first deaths of our own being recorded, we are wading into the fray with heavy hearts. And fears of our own. For ourselves, our families, our friends.
But this thing that is happening to us is also healing us. Nurses are teaching us what they have always known. Illness and death come to all. And because of this reality — nurses care for all. Everyone. Just in the same way.
Nurses do not see race, religion, ethnicity, social status, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or any label society places upon a Human. Nurses only respond to The Need.
Every single one of our patients are equal — are simply Humans in our sight.
There is no such thing as “Other” in a nurse’s world.
Nurses understand death perhaps better than anyone else on the face of the planet. We know when it is your day to die — you die. Be it with COVID-19 or breast cancer or crossing a street on the way into work — no one cheats Azrael. But on the other side of that same coin, we also know that until this day comes — we will LIVE. No one lives fuller, embraces life more fiercely, parties with more joy — than those who attend Death.
No tomorrow is ever guaranteed. It never was. Nurses know this to our core.
It will be the most difficult thing for us. When our co-workers — our friends, become our patients. When we stand helplessly by as Azrael comes for too many of us. But even in this — these moments of unbearable heartache — we will be there. Holding it all together.
For any patient. For every patient. And should we become The Patient — our sister and brother nurses will step up and be there for us. For our families. For our patients. For each other.
Until their Day To Die when Azrael comes to call.
“I’m an ex-convict. I have AIDS. I’m a prostitute. I’m poor. I’m old. I’m a lesbian. I aborted my baby. I’m a teenage mom. I’m a victim of rape. I’m a drug addict. I’m an alcoholic. I’m a beggar. I have cancer. I have a contagious disease…but the nurse said — I’ll take care of you.” — Anonymous
Dedicated with love to all The Nurses everywhere. Please — If you really care about nurses — do this one thing. #staythefuckhome. The life you save might be mine. Or my best friend’s. Or the nurse I’ve worked with for twenty-five years. Stay home. Save a nurse.