“‘Til I Drop Dead” (A Nurse’s Manifesto)

“Just home from an extra shift extension because of so many nursing staff testing positive,” she said. “I have written to you about what it means to be a happy and fulfilled long term care nurse in case you are interested. Call it my manifesto to new and enduring nurses. Hope you like it, Rachael.”

“I’d call it your manifesto that needs to be heard by all so we can better understand, appreciate, and support nurses.” I replied to my friend.

With her permission, I’m sharing excerpts drawn from a few emails this beautiful nurse sent me. I pray her heart and wisdom inspires us to action in the work God calls each of us to:

My aides are so great, calling me their littlest big boss woman. I say I am not your boss; we are a team.

And I am not little, just look at my biceps from hauling in firewood, so do not mess with me, I tell them. They say okay, we know you live in a tree in the woods on a hill and we are really scared of you! 😂🤣

You asked about prayers, Rachael. Getting tired, so if you want to pray, maybe for me and my co-workers to maintain strength and a happy attitude with our patients while we get through this staffing shortage and try to cover extra shifts while maintaining our sanity and humor, just because we must do our best for our beloved patients.

Working relationships speak louder than words.

The other day, one of my nurse’s aides asked if he could go down to the lobby and get the takeout supper he had ordered. I said, “Of course, go. Please know that you do not need my permission for whatever you need to do. Just give me a heads up so I know what staff are on the floor, okay?” He is a nurse’s aide, so I am his boss.

He told me that’s great, but I am a different breed. — I’ll take it! I think I like being a different breed! 

All of my wonderful aides and I get along beautifully with mutual respect, so he will catch on to that soon. Not sure how it is on other floors, but on my floor I am less a boss and more a helper, consultant and diagnostician. I appreciate all the info my aides give me about their observations.

Funny too that new aides on my floor stand in the hall waiting for help from another aide for a two person assist. 

“What do you need? Ask me, I am right here!” I tell them. “Yes, I am busy, but so are you.” 

Until they get used to me, they don’t ask, thinking I am above it or some dumb thing because I am the big RN boss. 

“No, no kids. I will get down and dirty with you and carry my share of the laundry to the bin. No rank here; we are a team! In this all together for patient care. And if you need a break to clear your mind after a difficult situation, just tell me. Sometimes I need that too, and I will tell you.”

So that is how we work together, and it is delightful, and we have many fun exchanges with our patients because we work well together. 

It can be hard to express how I feel about my work, since we are always short staffed and demands are high and I get sick of being asked to do extra hours. But know that I love my work, as I have expressed here.

Also hard because of the nursing shortage nationwide. We have traveling LPNs who are making two to three times my RN pay! So that is discouraging, to say the least—we dedicated local nurses make so much less. Think I will ask for a raise!

Workplace gave us a celebratory candy bar yesterday, and I loaded up on chocolate. Of course, always coffee too, but I must be a bit careful not to be too caffeine jittery when sticking needles into folks or tending wounds or, goodness, replacing urinary catheters! So I go easy through the shift, then drink a nice fresh cup on the drive home at about midnight, then I am up way too late for a movie on TV with the kitties. Oh well, so be.

We keep the humor going with patients and with each other. I love my job! It keeps my attitude young and refreshed. Who could ask for more than that? Thanks be to God.

Think I will just do it ‘til I drop dead, since every time I mention maybe retiring my wonderful aides say, “No! We need you here!”

Anyway, what follows are my humble hints for being a long-term care nurse. Hopefully, they inspire in a small way.

A Nurse’s Manifesto (by a special nurse who wishes to remain anonymous.)

+ Kindle and release your sense of humor. So important! It will revitalize you and your patients. Keep laughing about whatever goes down and just have fun!

+ Lend choices whenever possible and foster autonomy. Patients have reduced control over their lives, so afford and honor whatever choices are available.

~ Listen. Just listen with empathy. Patients sometimes feel isolated and forgotten. Offer to help them call family. Assure them you care and so enjoy having them here.

~ Let them do something for you. One patient does not like soup and always gives me hers from supper. She loves to give it to me and always asks to be sure I got it.

~ Another saves all the newspaper crossword puzzles for me. She knows I love them and do them nightly before bed. Tonight she gave me three. I told her it was a jackpot!

~ Play music from their era and dance around like a fool. They sing along and love the antics.

~ Put hands on. A little back rub, a stroke of the hair, a foot massage, a hand held. A few moments of human physical contact go a long way.

~ Smile with direct eye contact. Connection says “I am here for you.”

~ Be patient and calm and reassuring. Only takes a few extra moments during a busy workday.

~ Compliments like “You look great today! What a lovely blouse!” They feel good.

~ Encourage social interactions and participation in activities. Belonging is important.

~ Hydrate patients and self!

~ Sometimes just sit still and quiet and be with, and tread softly and slowly, even when time-stressed, because those moments mean so much.

~ Comfort the dying as they travel home. Assuage pain and anxiety. Support the family in any way possible. Cry with them in their grief, give them a big hug, and assure them that their loved one passed comfortably without pain with your help.

~ Support your staff; they are invaluable and so informative about patient concerns. Maintain a sense of humor with them also, and spring for a pizza now and then.

~ Be committed, but know your limits. Staffing is often short, but saying no is okay to take care of one’s self and to rest and renew.

~ Go home knowing that you have done your best to give great care and comfort and spread a bit of joy and humor. Have faith and be thankful that you have done well today. 

~ Then come back tomorrow and do it all again—joyfully!

Love you, Rachael. Going to bed now!

Love you too, friend. I appreciate you. Happy Nurses Appreciation Day to all the nurses out there. You are invaluable. 

+ The annual week-long celebration of Nurse Appreciation Week culminates with International Nurse’s Day on British nurse Florence Nightingale‘s birthday, May 12th. Florence Nightingale, recognized as the founder of modern nursing, was also known as the Lady with the Lamp as the wounded soldiers she tended during the Crimean War named her.

“If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing. I have worked hard, very hard, that is all; and I have never refused God anything.”  ― Florence Nightingale

But what if we made appreciating those who serve a daily habit?

NATIONAL POLICE WEEK is observed the week of MAY 15TH! Check out my recently launched ongoing series of interviews featuring law enforcement officers from every state HERE:

NATIONAL FIRST RESPONDERS WEEK/ EMS WEEK is now observed the third full week in May. (May 15th- 23rd for 2022.)

Did you know that in 1999 the United States Congress designated May as NATIONAL MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH? ― Check out my interviews with our military HERE.

My articles The Measure of a Mom and Piece of My Heart are not just for MOTHER'S DAY. 

How about TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK during the first week in May?
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)

Amazing words from another favorite nurse in this 2020 video interview HERE with Robin Farnsworth, speaker, award-winning author of The Greater Weight of Glory, along with two of her sons.

The Greater Weight of Glory, by Robin Farnsworth

“That’s my son!” said Robin an ER nurse on duty as she moved to attended to the 21 year old murder victim. From the depths of unfathomable sorrow, Robin’s voice soars as her faith takes flight and crescendos as grief meets grace and she is comforted by The Creator—and with that comfort she comforts others. The Greater Weight of Glory is a  powerful, convicting, beautifully written memoir.


ROBIN'S BLOG: SpencersMom.com

ARTICLE: Alarm Fatigue, by Robin Farnsworth in The Journal of Christian Nurses magazine 

COVER REVEAL! The Courage to Write: 62 Devotions to Encourage Your Writing Journey.

Blessed to be a contributor to this collaboration of the Renew – spiritual retreat for writers & speakers community. Grateful to co-directors Lucinda Secrest McDowell and Rachel Britton for this opportunity. — Releases June 7th!

A NEW RELEASE FOR LADIES!

Faith-Pump: A 40-Day Devotional 

Seven award-winning authors offer a dose of real sure to elicit belly laughs, tears, and some soul searching, while sharing their lives lived out in light of God's Word. 

Infused with scripture throughout, each chapter of this devotional includes engaging stories and lessons learned, followed by thought provoking questions and calls to action to encourage a closer walk with Jesus and bolster faith in God's love and faithful ever present help in the day-to-day. 

SUBSCRIBE to my Tattoo it on Your Heart Newsletter for notifications of new blog posts and occasional offers and FREEBIES like this: CLICK HERE for Good News in a Sea of Bad News! FREE downloadable Gospel tract .

Resources

*I’ve recently updated my RESOURCES PAGE and am continuing to add a variety of inspiring resources to it. It includes books and other resources on faith, family, and more. Hope you’ll check it out!

ARTICLE: Alarm Fatigue, by Robin Farnsworth in The Journal of Christian Nurses magazine 

Need some wise counsel, a listening ear? Contact Focus on the Family HERE for a free one-time counseling consultation or HERE for their referrals to licensed Christian counselors in your area, or by calling 1-855-771-HELP (4357).

A must read for all! One of the most powerful essays I’ve ever read. Share it with your church, at work, with your family: Porch Swing Mother’s Day by adoptive parent, Becky Antkowiak on Focus on the Family’s website. (Congratulations, Becky! <3)

Looking for answers in these turbulent times? Wondering what in the world is going on? I pulled these scriptures together last year for my post Peace in Pandemic and Pandemonium. Their truth cries ever louder. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MY FREE COMPILATION OF BIBLE VERSES TO ENCOURAGE AND EQUIP (INCLUDES SCRIPTURES ON THE LAST DAYS).

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association  24 hour Prayer Line: (888) 388-2683

PRIOR POSTS

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association  24 hour Prayer Line: (888) 388-2683

© 2022 Rachael M Colby | Tattoo It On your Heart

Author: Rachael M. Colby

Born and raised in Jamaica, award-winning writer Rachael M. Colby resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Wife, mom, beach bum, artist, work in progress, avid Tweeter—#HealthyFaithChat leader, Rachael writes to glorify God, encourage believers, and reach the lost. She connects culture’s questions with Christianity’s answers, inspires faith, and motivates through articles, devotions, poetry, and interviews. She has a heart for racial reconciliation and to uplift those who serve in tough places. Her work has appeared on Southern Ohio Christian Voice, Inkspirations Online, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog, in the compilation books Creative Writing Journal: Faith Inspired Writing Prompts & Hope-Filled Poetry, The Courage to Write: 62 devotions to Encourage your Writing Journey, and Defining Moments: Memorable and Inspiring Stories from Outstanding Leaders, and the Oak Ridger newspaper. She runs on copious amounts of coffee and chocolate and a whole lot of "Help me, Jesus." Her WIPS include a compilation of her family’s and others’ stories of their work as civil rights activists (adult and children’s books), and a devotional for writers. You can connect with Rachael on her website, TattooItOnYourHeart.com—a place for seekers, followers, and writers, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

2 thoughts on ““‘Til I Drop Dead” (A Nurse’s Manifesto)”

  1. After my recent hospital stay, I got to know several of the nursing staff who took great care of me. I am so appreciative of their commitment to work such long hours and under a lot of stress. My heart goes out to all of the Dr’s, PA’s, Nursing Staff, House Keeping, and Food & Nutrition staff.
    Thanks for posting on their behalf Rachael!

    Like

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