Most people choose to major in Nursing because they know wholeheartedly that it’s exactly what they are meant to do with their life. For me, it wasn’t like that. My plan was to go to a 4 year college, major in fashion or design, and live the artistic life of fulfillment. But that didn’t happen (although I am living a pretty dag on fulfilled artist life now 🙂 ). You see, I had a beautiful baby girl at the age of 18. Reality set in quite quickly and I was forced to look at the future head on. What kind of degree could I get where I could make good money and support myself and this baby? Nursing was it. So after a bajillion index cards, studying my butt off with a tiny toddler at my feet, I graduated nursing school. Like all things, I know without a doubt that even though it wasn’t the path I would have initially picked for myself, it was a total God thing. You know that saying, “You wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans”? Well this was that kind of moment.

After 7 years of nursing (two of them being Medical Surgical Nursing and five of them being Emergency Room Nursing), it’s been one interesting and ever evolving journey. One that I can say afforded me the cushion to buy a house solo at 23 years old, provide for my baby girl as a single parent, and all these years later, buy the photography gear that fuels my passion and photography business. It has been a huge blessing in my life. There have been moments that I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried, moments when I wanted to adopt a few babies, moments when I’ve held hands as people have passed on, moments when I wasn’t sure what to do or what to say, moments when smells were so bad I had to gag in the hallway…..Those moments…….and the Nursing profession has molded me into the person I am today. Here are some of my lessons learned, confessions and pure craziness……

Society in general MAY know what their “private parts” are supposed to be called but they rarely say the correct words when describing their problem. I’ve heard things like “My taco has been itching for a hot minute” and “My pocket book is bleeding”. Because of this, teaching my three kids the appropriate body part words has always been a necessity but has seriously bit me in the ass a time or two. Especially when you’re pushing your 3 year old down the deodorant aisle in Wal-Mart and she starts yelling “MAMA….MY VAGINA ITCHES”. I died. Right there.

Hearing “I have terrible veins”, is probably THE phrase we hear the most as nurses. Sometimes they are right and most times they are not. But either way, if I had a dollar for each time I heard that, I would be rich. And it goes without saying that we truly do oogle and check out veins in the most random places. Sitting at the airport somewhere up north, I blurt out, “OMG Megan, Look at that guys veins over there, I’d really like to stick a big needle in his arm”. Her head whipped around and looked at me with horror and then busted out laughing. Vein oogler. That’s a nurse for ya.

No topic is off the table when it comes to dinner time.  My poor husband has learned that. If you have a weak stomach, you don’t want to have a dinner conversation with a nurse.  And we eat pretty dang fast. You see, we eat fast because we have to. We are used to shoving food down and running out to give the next medicine, give an enema, answer a call bell ringing or put a foley in. And then running back to get a sip of drink because we forgot to. All in a days work. That’s what nursing is all about.

Oh…and did I mention that…..It takes A LOT to get a nurse excited. (and I don’t mean in a good way)  If by chance, you get a nurse excited, you’ve got a BIG problem. Because that means blood must be spurting, something crazy is happening that we’ve never seen before and we are kicking into overdrive to figure out what to do. AND if you happen to be our family or our babies and you get hurt (at least for me), the nurse goes out the window for a few split seconds and then it all kicks back in. But there is always that moment of panic when it’s my own.

This is a must know…..Nurses choose humor as their coping mechanism. Because sometimes that’s all we have. It may be alarming to a bystander to hear us up at the nursing station “carrying on and laughing” but until you walk a mile in our shoes, please don’t judge. It’s very likely that we just held the hand of an elderly lady as she took her last breaths or that we worked feverously together as a team to try and save the patient brought in with a funky heart rhythm who didn’t make it. Sometimes we are laughing to keep from crying. Other times we’re just laughing because laughing is good for the soul. Either way. It’s just what we do. 

And because you’ve just worked 12 hours….You might say some pretty crazy things. You see, you form a pretty close relationship with the people you work with. They are your family. People you see just about as much if not more than you see your own family. For this reason, you might just tell the EMT after getting a phone report, “Love you, bye”. Yep. This happened. We get might cooky after working long 12 hour shifts. Instead of answering the call bell with “How can I help you?”, I once answered the call bell with “Can you help me?”. Clearly subconsciously, I  was the one who needed help that day. It made for one hell of a laugh.

And it should go without saying…but I’m going to say it anyway…..Nurses have a pretty RAD sense of smell. We can detect Strep, C. Diff, a UTI, and DKA just by catching a whiff of our patient. And even though we get exposed to smells that are SO bad it could “knock the buzzard off a shit wagon” (yes…THAT bad)… we still have to take care of those patients with loving compassion, bathe them, and care for them like they didn’t smell. Because that’s what nurses do. We treat each patient with dignity and respect because they are human beings and they deserve it. 

I’ve learned that….Dementia is a terrible thing. The worst. It makes you fully aware just how fragile the human mind is. And no patient is ever the same. They can be the sweetest little memaw ever one minute and then be spitting and cussing the next. I’ve almost been football tackled by a little old lady trying to run out of her room holding her basin of toiletry supplies. Then there’s been times where we’ve gathered around and sung “Jesus loves me” to calm a patient down while starting an IV. She had a cross around her neck and it was the only thing we could think of. And guess what….it worked. At the root of the person, there are still small glimpses of who they used to be that show ever so often. And when it does, it makes you ache for them. It’s always heartbreaking.

Being a Nurse, I’ve learned that life is fleeting, unpredictable and that every.single.person has an expiration date. Sometimes there are no second chances or warning signs. YES, I know that you know this….but do you really?

So love the hell out of the people you love. Kiss them. Hug them and do it often.

With all the craziness, emotional roller coasters and silliness that can go on over a 12 hour shift, one things for sure…….Nurses are some of the most compassionate, crazy and loving people there are. I’ve seen nurses that I work with go above and beyond for their patients and for their own.  Here’s to all the fabulous nurses I’ve been blessed to work beside, learn under and admire…. Happy 2016! PS….If you know a nurse….give them a big ole hug, bake ’em some cookies and tell them how much you appreciate them.

And I leave you with my most favorite and realistic quote on nursing below…….

It truly hits the nail on the head. xoxo! 

(P.S….. the images above were taken during the birth of my baby niece, Kinsley, last year. You can view that session, here)……. And also, it must be noted that these are my views and not the views of any of the hospitals that I’ve worked at or currently work at. 


Ramblings of an Emergency Room Nurse-NC & OBX Photographer-Katie Myrick Photography




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