Last night the Academy Awards rolled out the red carpet, and the stars unfurled their loquacious tongues showering praise upon themselves, rivaled only by the hubris of Narcissus. While most people will be focused on the Best Picture mix-up between ‘La La Land’, and ‘Moonlight’, I was left breathless by this quote,
“I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” Viola Davis
My breathlessness was not one of awe and beauty at the arrangements of those 24 simple words, but more the gasping tightness of bronchiole constriction in desperate need of albuterol. Did she just say that? Are artists the only people who celebrate what it means to live a life?
This of course forced me to look back on my 30-year career and wonder if my profession celebrates what it means to live a life? Maybe without awards we lack the clarity to understand what it truly means to live a life. I thought perhaps we could review, and award what I consider the true meaning of living a life by the only standards I am familiar with.
To begin at the beginning of life seems appropriate to me, even though this beginning is not my profession, but my observation during the birth of my 3rd child. My nurse coincidentally was the same nurse I had for the birth of my 2nd child, and although we work at the same hospital, we are not friends, and we are worlds apart in our professions. I am a critical care nurse, she is a labor and delivery nurse, a profession I learned early on in my training, I couldn’t stomach. We started her shift together at 7a.m. I was induced, given an epidural, and despite the fact that this was my third baby, I was, IMHO, progressing slowly. 12 hours later I was finally ready to give birth, and my nurse was ready to go home. I wasn’t her only patient, but we had a great rapport. She had a family to go home to, and a long commute, but after she finished her shift report, she came back into my room to see me through my delivery. I felt honored that this nurse would work past her 12-hour day to help me deliver my baby. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.
When I worked in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of a big city hospital I worked with a very special group of nurses. One in particular stood out to me on Thanksgiving Day when I ran into her in the hallway. I knew it was her day off. I was surprised and asked her what she was doing there. I found out she was bringing a 19 year old boy and his family Thanksgiving dinner. Remember it was her day off. That was the last Thanksgiving dinner this family shared together. The 19-year-old boy died the next day. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.
How many souls have I helped pass quietly onto the other side, and how many did I, not so quietly, fight to keep on this side? I have watched colleagues hold hands, shed tears, give hugs, grieve with family, and continue to walk tall, smile, and stay strong, carrying heavily the burdens of others piggybacked onto their own souls. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.
I’ve worked in many units including ICU, CCU, PACU, MICU, E.D., Med/Surg., Research, Burn Unit, and there are many that I have never stepped foot in like the PICU, SICU, NICU, TRAUMA, CTICU, and L&D, but we nurses have more that unite us than divide us no matter where we work. One common thread that gets us all through is our indelible sense of humor. Some would say it’s a sick sense of humor, I say it’s medicine for our souls. It carries us through when any other emotion would be crippling. We know when and how to use humor to protect ourselves, but also to protect our patients and their worried families to relieve anxiety. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.
So in honor of nurses and all healthcare professionals everywhere who don’t have grandiose award ceremonies, but do have a good sense of humor, I have decided to give out my own Nursing Oscars called The Nightingale Awards:
Our first category is best Costume Design. The Nominees are:
- Grey’s Anatomy
And the Nightingale goes to…Grey’s Anatomy. By far the most comfortable, diverse, and true to life costume that defines healthcare wear for the modern age. And they don’t make my butt look fat.
The next category is Best Sound Mixing that will drive you crazy. The Nominees are:
And the best sound mixing that will drive you crazy Nightingale goes to…The Bedside Monitor. The plethora of alarm sounds generated from one machine can actually be heard in your dreams, while in a coma, after a 12-hour night shift, and even when you’re on vacation…amazing!
The Next Category is Best Nurse Impersonator. The Nominees are:
- Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in ‘Misery’
- Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’
- Ben Stiller as Gaylord Focker in ‘Meet the Parents’
- Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser in the series ‘Outlander’
And the winner of the Best Nurse Impersonator Nightingale goes to…Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in ‘Misery’, because lets face it sometimes a sledgehammer does work better than 5mg of Ambien.
The Next Category is Best Original Nurse Story. The Nominees are:
- Big City Nurse by Albert L. Quandt
- Nurses are People by Lucy Agnes Hancock
- Terror Stalks the Night Nurse by Blanche Y. Mosler
- Sinners in White by Mike Avallone
The winner for Best Original Story Nightingale is…Sinners in White, by Mike Avallone. Why? Because you know who you are…
The Next Category is Best Team Member in a Supporting Role. The Nominees are:
And the Nightingale for The Winner for Best Team Member in a Supporting Role goes to…All of the Above…We know these supporting roles are imperative to helping us do our job, plus lets face it if they go it’s just one more thing administration will ask nursing to do!
The Next Category is People we have to deal with in the Hospital in a Leading Role. The Nominees are:
- That patient always on the call bell
- The Supervisor who tells you you’re floating to the ED
- The CEO quoted as saying, “Safe Staffing ratios is Fake News!”
- All one million doctors working with us here in the USA.
The Nightingale for People we have to deal with in the Hospital in a Leading Role is…Yes of course it’s the one million doctors, sometimes we love them, sometimes we hate them, but we can’t take a verbal order without them! Did you really think I would pick anybody else…the patient constantly on the call bell?…yes definitely a close second!
The Next Category is Best Device in a Supporting Role. The Nominees are:
In the category of Best Device in a Supporting Role, the Nightingale goes to…The Ventilator! Airway is always first, and the Ventilator does a magnificent job supporting those who cannot support themselves.
The Next Category is The Most Helpful People in the Hospital in a Leading Role. The Nominees are:
- The family member who insists their google search diagnosis is the correct one
- The Pet Therapy Dog
- Nurses…all 3 million of us (I’m including all my male nurse friends here too)
- The Person who steals your lunch out of the break room refrigerator
The Nightingale for The Most Helpful People in the Hospital in a Leading Role proudly goes to…Yes of course all 3 million nurses! For their tireless dedication to patient care, long hours, weekend, night, and holiday work, tolerance of abusive administration, full bladders, empty stomachs, ability to drive in any weather condition, ability to work sick, ability to multitask while working sick, ability to lift weight beyond what was thought physically possible, ability to deal with completely mental people not including patients and families, and last but not least the ability to field phone calls from home from spouses who cannot find their underwear or the cat, and aren’t sure what they should cook for dinner. God Bless Nurses! And God Bless all the people Nurses work with!
Last but not least the Final Category is Best Picture: You Choose…try not to mess it up!
Oh and when it comes to making mistakes, Hollywood gets to blame theirs on someone else, we however take full credit for our mistakes…then we lose our jobs, get sued, and commit suicide! So yes once again we are so aware, and fully cognizant of how to celebrate what it means to live a life!
Congratulations to all the Nightingale Award Winners!!