Thursday, January 28, 2010


Not like I didn't know it back when I was saving lives as a cardiac nurse, but, life is fragile.  That is all there is to it.  People live and die everyday and very few of us have a damn thing to say about it.....unless, of course, you are an idiot and choose to do stupid things like ride motorcycles without helmets or do cocaine.  As far as I am concerned, Darwin takes care of those.

So, one might wonder what prompts my very cliche statement about life being fragile.  It's easy.  My first professional mentor is dying.  I found out this week and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I haven't talked to her in years and had absolutely no idea that she was 'sick'.  By the way, sick is word you use for the flu, your puny cold, or your random GI upset, you don't use it for someone that is dying.  However, people misuse the word according to my specs every day.

She's 49.  She has a brain tumor.  She will see her 50th birthday, she probably will not see Thanksgiving.  There is absolutely nothing ok about her not continuing to make valuable contributions to society everyday.

She hired me in 2002 as a nursing assistant on her unit.  At the time, I was destined to 'wash ass' as I liked to call it, take vital signs, give bed baths, bring pudding cups, and get ogled by old men.  And, most of the time, I liked the job.  I liked my job because alot of us liked our jobs.  And, we liked our jobs because our boss was good to us.  She gave you a hug when you needed it, kept kleenex in her office for our meltdowns, and made fun of you when you deserved it.  She also wore the same perfume as my Mom did so that was destined to indicate that she had great taste.  She and my grandmother had the same birthday.

She hired me into a place I would grow to love.

Over the years, she continued to move up and I continued to move around.  She became over worked and over programmed.  That's what happens when you are really good at what you do, everyone has to have you do something for them and be on their committees.  Don't even get me started on committees.  That's a dissertation for a whole other time.

Before she left KU, I have no idea how she really felt about me anymore.  We rarely talked.  But, that was a consequence of an asshole manager that I had.  I liked to call him on the carpet for being a schmuck and knowing very little about how to take good care of patients.  He grew to despise me.  I didn't care.  But, he liked to complain to my mentor about what a problem child I was.  Nope, I wasn't a problem child.  I just believed very passionately that everyone deserved good care.  And, that, if you weren't capable of providing that, you had no business working in an industry that took care of people.  I am still pissed at him for sabotaging that relationship.  However, I sang from the rooftops the day that he resigned (got his ass canned) as the manager of my old unit.  He pushes paper now....and I hope he gets paper cuts.

I am so thankful for my mentor for so many reasons.  She hired me into the best place for me.  I grew to love KU and everything that place stood for...even on a rotten day.  She held my hand through my first year as a nurse.  For those of you that think your office jobs are bad at's a cake walk for you.  People died where I worked and I was supposed to prevent that.  And, that is alot of pressure on the mind of an over analytical 23 year old.  She helped me through the death of my first patient.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was hysterical...and convinced I couldn't be a nurse because I just couldn't handle it.  She taught me how to deal with it.  She also taught me how to laugh at myself.  I used to/still do get really worked up and  she pointed out the idiocy of the stuff I sometimes got worked up about.  She saved me from a very scary roommate situation.  I still thank God that she told me not to move in with that psycho.  She also had a really good relationship with her Mom, and I loved that about her.

The world is going to lose a good nurse.  And, it makes me sick.

But, the good thing is, she is going to know how thankful I am for her.  I am drafting my thanks now.

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