the people that you meet each day

As a NICU nurse, nothing gives me more joy than seeing “my babies” grow and thrive and grow up outside of the NICU. Actually that is kind of a universal joy felt by all NICU nurses, respiratory therapists, unit coordinators and neonatologists. Moments like this:

OMG! I’m crying again. Seriously.

After over 25 years and more patients than I can keep count, I can tell you there are the ones I will never, ever forget…ever. And some I have remained close to through the years because sometimes you do become much more than just the nurse and patient and patient’s family. Hurray for Facebook (after my tiny human patients are officially discharged) for that. Truly.

Then there are the moments when you are in your neighborhood at the mall, the movie theater, the local farmers’ market, the grocery store, or even while at play at a Pumpkin Fair Carnival and you find that you are being stared at…literally. I check to make sure nothing is amiss…spinach stuck in my teeth, a bra strap showing, or worse…and then I smile, perhaps a little awkwardly because what if they are not smiling at me? What if they are smiling at the old man behind me; or perhaps the kid flying down the Giant Slide ride before my kid.

Excuse me, is your name Laura?

She looks familiar to me, but Im not sure why or from where. But she has a stroller with a sleeping toddler so maybe…

I nod my head yes and confess that she looks very familiar but I’m not sure where we have met.

You were my baby’s nurse.

Oh! That’s where I met you, lovely lady with the most striking, velvet dark eyes. I peek at her sleeping little one and honestly I don’t remember him at all. Then again, he was oh so much smaller as mom catches me up on life this first year after leaving the NICU.  It’s clear that it hasn’t always been easy.

I recall a late night conversation in the NICU where I promised her that it wouldn’t always be easy after the NICU…speaking as a NICU mom myself.

I nod my head, understanding. Understanding much too well.

It’s then that my son comes running up to me breathless after flying down the giant slide ride for the umpteenth time. I introduce her to my very excited and eager to take on the next carnival ride, thirteen year old son.

Wait! He was a 24 weaker too! Right?

She reaches out to shake his hand. Daniel, graciously, yet shyly, shakes her hand as he flashes his brace-faced, dimpled smile  before he heads back up to the giant slide ride because he tells us that it is actually that amazing.

Thank you, son!

I peek one more time at her sleeping toddler and I hug her good-bye as I quietly tell her:

It’s hard work but you are doing great mama! 

We both wipe away tears as we say goodbye until we meet again here in our neighborhood.

so about that apology

There is this old saying that goes apologizing doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your egoIn my heart of hearts, I believe that to be true. I also try to live that. If I insult someone or hurt their feelings or even take offense to something stupid and offensive they might say, do or post online and they are hurt enough to call me out on it, I will, more often than not, choose to apologize…if I value that friendship or relationship.

Try being the key word here.

I learned a long time ago that the best apology is to simply say I’m sorry, I apologize, forgive me. No buts needed…or defensive arguments…or lectures about needing to listen. Anything else just falls flat and isn’t really an apology. The irony over who actually taught this to me is never lost on me. But that’s another story.

Today there was this.


I for one, one out of over 3 million practitioners, say okay, fine. Thank you. But that’s just me. Then again, I know that I am not alone. Last night I had the opportunity to take part in a very long conversation with some very smart Registered Nurses and one physician about what we jokingly refer to as the stethoscope incident. For us, we were at the point in this story to acknowledge that nurses united and showing our stethoscopes has made our voices heard in a big way. Johnson & Johnson, one of The View’s major advertiser had paused their ads on that show which meant revenue lost. Eggland’s Best, another advertiser also had pulled their ads…in support of the nursing profession. That’s powerful and we could not help but take note of that. Our conversation last night was what can we do with this loud voice of ours to educate the public, and knock down such stereotypes as the idea that nurses are wannabe doctors, doctors’ helpers, overpaid waitresses, maids and babysitters. Perhaps we can make known that while we are the most trusted, respected profession, we are often maligned just as much as other service related professions. Think of anytime something goes wrong or is less than one’s expectations when you or a loved one is hospitalized. Whomever is most at the bedside is more often than not blamed. We could use this opportunity to address patient safety as in nurse to patients ratios, short staffing and work hours. It would be a good time to discuss the ongoing nursing shortage and the low salaries of qualified nursing educators to educate and train nursing students. It’s also an opportunity to address the violence in the workplace nurses must deal with. My very first patient, when I was a nursing student punched me in the face…literally. I have twice in my career been threatened with bodily harm by an angry, distraught parent. My colleagues in the ER, adult floors and psych units are sometimes kicked, punched and physically threatened by those whom they are trying to care for. All of this was considered last night in our conversation about what shall we now do as 3+ million strong do with our voice.

So when the nearly six minute apology segment aired on The View today, I decided to accept it.

Of course they were pandering to the advertisers. Anyone could see that. But they did say I’m sorry, we apologize. They also gave an opportunity for our voice to be heard with what it is we do, the education and training we must have along with the skill, heart and physical and emotional endurance to do what we do. I’ll take it.

Now can I stop watching segments of The View because I am not a fan and have not really watched since Lisa Ling left the show…2002 in case anyone didn’t know. I sure hope so.

I understand for some nurses this apology is not enough. The nurses who appeared on the show are regarded as traitors. I imagine for some nothing will be enough. It’s hard to put down those torches and pitchforks once they are picked up I guess. But what, if anything, will right this wrong for them? The blood of the ladies of The View? Is that who we are as nurses? As educated, skilled, respected healthcare professionals?

I like to believe that we can move on. Joy, Michelle, Whoopi, Paula, and even Raven with her eye-rolling and I-can’t-believe-we-have-to-do-this-segment body language never should worry that they and their loved ones won’t receive the very best of care the next time they need a nurse because they will. It’s what we do. It’s part of the oath we have taken. As a nurse, over the last 25+ years, I have cared for the babies of Olympic athletes, professional athletes, musicians, politicians, television personalities, farm workers, prostitutes, the homeless, child molesters, clergy, doctors, drug dealers, convicts, gang members, illegal immigrants and just hard-working-everyday kind of people. At the bedside no one patient and their family was more important than another because ultimately my responsibility has been to provide the very best nursing care. I have been compelled to. It’s what I do. It’s what we all, as nurses, do.

Future RN? I don’t know. A Mima can dream. – Hazel Faye 2010

I, for one, believe that it is time that we nurses don our stethoscopes proudly, stand tall together and move on. But we should not be quiet. What has happened in the social media landscape shows just how powerful our voice is. People ARE listening. Who knows? Perhaps some of them will finally come to understand that we did not choose nursing because we were’t smart enough or too lazy to become doctors. Perhaps they finally will understand we do so much more than pass out medications and food trays. Maybe, just maybe they will begin to recognize that we are indeed one of the most vital part of the healthcare that they receive whether it is at the beginning, the middle or the end of their lives.

Oh and because my Dad asked, Kelley Johnson, RN, aka Miss Colorado was second runner up in the Miss America pageant so no, she did not win. But today she is the one contestant from the pageant whom we all are still talking about.

and now I shall assemble my entourage

So early this morning, before I took Daniel to school, I answered a tweet from a reporter in New York City. The next thing I knew I was putting on makeup, fixing my hair and trying to find the right place to sit and casually FaceTime with the same reporter talking about the ladies of The View.

Laundry be damned!

Meanwhile, on The View an apology was offered…sort of…kind of.

Honestly my kids offered better sorry, not sorry apologies when they were little kids. But thank you for telling us how much you loves all the nurses. Thank you also for telling our bosses we deserve all the raises. Thank you also for hostsplaining all of this to us…especially the part where you explained that we need to listen because we weren’t listening. Thanks for that ladies of The View.

Meanwhile this happened right here under The Big Top

…with my kids photobombing behind me. I learned how important what is in the background is while being interviewed for a nationally syndicated news/entertainment show. Shelves with pictures of your kids perhaps too distracting. Dry, dying backyard landscape view because it’s a serious drought here in California from a dirty window definitely worse. So kids get to be in the shot.


But enough with the view…you see what I did there…let’s get down with what I had to say.

Why were nurses so mad, did we not understand that their discussion was poking fun at the ridiculousness of beauty pageants and their talent portion? Of course we did. Some of us likely were joking along with them. Remember when I mentioned the bad karaoke, crazy beauty queen smile while dancing to a very emotional song or a ballerina that couldn’t relevé to the point of dance mom distraction? Literally this is the kind of stuff that reminds us how vapid beauty pageants can be. Perhaps Miss Colorado’s talent wasn’t the best performance of the night. I would agree. But hers also was not the worst either. What I liked about it, besides the obvious celebration of the best job ever, was it was original. It was not the usual insipid beauty queen talent. Here was a very beautiful woman articulating her thoughts and passion in a very intelligent manner…also a refreshing step away from the ridiculousness that is the interview portion of pageants. The hosts on The View wanted to mock the silliness of this pageant so naturally they choose the one who stepped out of the vacuous beauty pageant box. Makes perfect sense! No, not really. But the audience did get what you were trying to joke about because we wee actually listening.

Nurses united because in mocking the Just A Nurse monologue the ladies of The View came off as dismissive of the passion that Kelley Johnson so effectively articulated. Year after year after year, Gallup polls come out with nurses on top as the most respected, trusted profession. We know that we are a key part of a healthcare team and we are very proud of that. Nurses are most definitely not demure handmaidens to doctors ever ready to do their bidding. We also are not empty-headed, buxom, sexy nurses in tight white dresses and high heels. Remember those Gallup polls? We are the most trusted and respected profession. We are because we are well educated, driven, tireless, creative, talented, quick-thinking, non-judgmental caregivers who are always there for our patients literally 24/7…especially after the physicians have made their rounds, written their orders and have gone home. Kelley Johnson’s monologue expressed all of that and more. Perhaps a woman in hospital scrubs, sensible shoes with a stethoscope draped around her neck isn’t so glamorous. Then again, Kelley Johnson indeed was beautiful from the inside out up on that stage representing nurses everywhere.

All that and more I shared with the Inside Edition reporter who interviewed me this morning. I congratulated myself for not freaking out seeing my face while FaceTiming with her. Does anyone look attractive when FaceTiming? Really? I also patted myself on the back because my voice did not shake, I did not curse and I thought I  expressed myself in a thoughtful, coherent manner. Hurray for me!

And here is the piece with my interview.

Literally five seconds of kind of famous. Definitely going to need an entourage when I report to work tomorrow night…and dark glasses…and someone to hold my stethoscope.


Not to brag or anything, but I am a pretty talented person. It’s not bragging when I repeat  back what people have told me over the years. I can sing. I take great pictures. I have beautiful handwriting. I’m a good writer. Oh, and I am a nurse.

Wait, nursing is not a talent?

True, Miss Colorado did not sing or dance or twirl a baton with fire or play a musical instrument. Still her monologue was quite moving; moving enough to be selected in the top ten of the Miss America Pageant.

Yes, I watched it. I was on call Sunday night and just trying to pass the time so why not? I got paid to do it being on call. Again, why not?

Perhaps Kelley Johnson’s talent wasn’t the most talented. Then again, some of the vocalists made bad karaoke at Torii’s sound great…and don’t get me started on the crazy smile while dancing to Bridge Over Troubled Water or the pointe dancer who couldn’t even relevé because once a dance mom always a dance mom. Original, yes. Spoken with a lot of heart and soul. But, yes, perhaps not the best talent performance. The ladies of The View seemed to think so.

Oh Dear Ladies of The View…are y’all enjoying the blow up today on social media? I sure hope so. Please allow me to educate you on a few things because that is one of the many things nurses do…we educate. We even have to document when we educate.

First of all, that is not a costume that we wear. We wear scrubs. We wear scrubs because they are designed to move with us as we go about our duties caring for our patients for 12 or more hours a day or night. They also provide a barrier from blood, poop, vomit and all kinds of body fluids. Kind of. Sort of. They are designed to clean up pretty easily because they are laundered a lot…A LOT…because of blood, poop, vomit and all kinds of body fluids.

Now about that stethoscope…

This is not a doctor’s stethoscope. This one in particular is a nurse’s. Nurses don’t wear them. We USE them. We use them to auscultate or listen….listen to all kinds of things: heart rates and rhythms, clicks and whooshes that might indicate problems with the valves in the heart, air flow that indicates the lungs are working or the endotracheal tube to help a patient breathe is in the right place along with wheezes and crackles that might indicate problems with a patient’s lung function, blood flow through arteries like the carotid, renal, iliac, femoral and the aorta, bowel sounds or perhaps the absence of bowel sounds. We use them as a percussion instrument when measuring the span of the liver. They also can help to check reflexes and can be used as a hearing aid in a pinch. In the NICU we most definitely don’t wear our stethoscopes. We don’t even carry them as each of our tiny patients have their own at their bedside because of infection…so that means it is not a doctor’s stethoscope or a nurse’s or a respiratory therapist’s, it’s the BABY’S!

Being a nurse requires a lot of education (which never does end), skill, intelligence, patience, civility, wisdom, guts, a very strong stomach and talent. It is something that a lot of people can not do…much like some people can’t sing…or perhaps should not sing…ever…just saying.

I won’t lie, I was a little pissed off at the dismissive, mocking tone the ladies of The View had regarding Ms Johnson sharing her passion which was no different than other contestants sharing their passions in the talent portion of the pageant. Okay, fine. I was a lot pissed off. What Ms Johnson does, what any nurse does every day (or night), what I do is amazing. We save lives…each and every day.

Today is National Neonatal Nurses Day and I was reminded all day today by families of some of my most favorite patients of that truth…and how damn lucky I am to be a part of their lives…lives I cared for.

To the ladies of The View, like Miss Colorado, and like the more than 19.3 million women and men all across the globe, my talent is nursing.

I save the lives of tiny humans for a living…and what is it you do?

Beyoncé’s status secured

How was your day, Mom?

He asks me that every day as he climbs into the car at the end of the school day. He cares, he really cares that son of mine.

After a long busy 12 hour night shift in the NICU, the mad drive home in go-to-work rush hour traffic followed by staying awake for just a couple hours more in order to take him to school and then enjoying the decadent pleasure of a 2 hour nap before picking him up from school, I can tell him with all the confidence that my day so far is pretty good. In fact, I tell him that it is great because I woke up like this.

I don’t get it, Mom.

Epic bed head, no makeup…I’m flawless, son.

I still don’t get it.

Fair warning to Queen Bey, Blue Ivy will someday soon be a teenager and she just might not see you as flawless anymore as our teenaged children often do. Enjoy these times now, Bey.

For now I am humbled and Beyoncé is indeed flawless.