And it’s happened again.
This time it’s a state Senator in Washington, Maureen Walsh (R) commenting on a profession, nay, vocation, about which she quite obviously knows nothing. I have three words to say to Senator Walsh.
How. Dare. You.
How dare you be so flippant and ignorant of the nursing profession and the duties of our jobs when the entire body of the nursing profession in the US is still shocked and reeling from the tragic loss of one of our own at the hands of her patient in Louisiana. While a nurse right now in South Carolina is fighting for his life after being shot while on duty. How dare you be so arrogant!
How can you be so obtuse to the needs of those who put other’s needs before their own, more often than not, as evidenced by those prior examples, to their own detriment. What have you done today to make a difference in the lives of others? When was the last time YOU held a sobbing mother in your arms as she watched her only child wheeled through the OR doors to harvest his organs because he was brain-dead? Exactly when have you ever worked so long and tirelessly that your legs literally tremble beneath you from exhaustion and your bladder is in spasm because it’s been 12 or more hours since you’ve had a minute to go to the bathroom? When is the last time you comforted the lost, the broken, the homeless, the addicted, the grieving…looked into eyes filled with fear and dread and offered up pieces of yourself time and time again, until at the end of your day there is nothing left. How many times, I want to know, have you sat in the confines of your car or your bedroom at home and wept inconsolably because even though every single day you give your everything, some days that’s just not enough. No? You have never experienced these things? Then again I say, how dare you.
And here’s the thing, Senator Walsh, even though you’ve insulted not only the nurses in your state, but all nurses everywhere, if you were to become ill today and needed the skill and comfort of a nurse, you would be afforded that comfort and care. That’s who we are. It’s not just our jobs, or initials behind our names…it’s WHO WE ARE. All of us. Now granted, your remarks have generated some of the most hilarious social media memes in the history of memes, but bottom line is when you need us, we are there. We are tired. We are emotionally and mentally drained. But always, we are there.
One thing you don’t understand, nor probably care to I can only assume, is that every day those nurses on the frontlines of healthcare are at war. There’s a reason we call it the frontlines. Nurses everywhere, every day are being verbally and physically attacked. And you’ve shown us, you’re really no different. You haven’t the slightest understanding of what we really do, the immense amount of training, skill and expertise it takes to do our jobs, nor do you seem to care. Unlike yourself, who gained your position by the retirement of an incumbent Senator and ran unopposed, nurses have to actually earn their positions by hard work, constant training, and nearly continuous education related to our respective fields or specialties. I don’t know a single nurse who just walked into a job, sat down and said well, that was easy.
I know that it must be exhausting for you to waddle from your car to your office and then to the floor of the Legislature. And oh geez, sometimes you have to stand up and make a speech for a few minutes before you sit back down. Oh, how DO you endure it?! The physicality required to be a nurse is equivalent to that of a dockworker. Not a suggestion, an actual requirement. Nurses working in direct patient care at the bedside routinely and repeatedly lift patients twice and sometimes 3 or 4 times their size. So yeah when we “talk out of both sides our mouths” and say we’re tired, that means we are tired. You should try it sometime and see how jovial you are at the end of the day. Add to that the responsibility of accurately completing a mountain of documentation and the ever-increasing demands put upon us by administrators, regulatory agencies and insurance companies and you have a recipe for total mental and physical exhaustion. Daily.
Have one of your assistants or aides or interns Google the name Lynn Truxillo for you. Look at her face. Say her name out loud. She was battered by a patient and finished her shift. FINISHED WORKING HER SHIFT and later succumbed to injuries that caused a blood clot to travel to her lung and ultimately killed her. Have somebody look up Alex Wubbles for you. She was a nurse just doing her job and was arrested and manhandled in her own ER for simply advocating for her unconscious patient. Do your research, Senator. Educate yourself about the role of nurses in the irreparably broken healthcare system in this country and then explain why you find it so inconceivable that we should be tired.
“They play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” How. Dare. You.