It's hard to remember a time when I wasn't a nurse. I mean, I was a nurse before I was a wife, a nurse before I was a mother, a nurse before I was a blonde . . . whoops. Anyway, lots of memories, lots of years joggin' down those ER corridors, climbin' into the back of ambulances, pressing a stethoscope to patients' chests. In honor of that, here are a few random tidbits from Nurse Candy:
Favorite scrubs: Home-sewn chili-pepper print vs. Iguana print. So hard to choose . . .
Surprise gift from a patient: Naming their baby "Candy."
Memorable cases: family of seven upchucking venison stew into vintage Tupperware vs. Snakebite Victim . . . who brought the live snake to the ER in a box. (Let's make Mikey do it.)
Most memorable case: Me, as a patient in my own ER. After the equestrian accident that launched me into the dirt, broke more than a few bones (including my neck), changed my life--and restored my faith. (The subject of my first published work: "By Accident," an inspirational essay in NYT bestselling Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul).
Best line from child patient (pointing at my hard-earned nurse's cap) "Why do you wear that pirate hat, lady?"
Shifts worked: All. Day, PM, Nights . . . 12 hour shifts, double shifts (16 hours), overtime shifts, shifts with no sleep, waddling shifts while 8 months pregnant, shifts hobbling on broken toes, and (far more painful) all those shifts struggling with a broken heart and a failing spirit.
Holidays worked: All. New Years, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving . . . and everything in between. (Pass the re-heated hospital cafeteria turkey roll STAT)
Memorable on the job sport: "Basin Ball"--played like badminton, with nurses batting emesis basins at a surgical glove balloon. (Enjoyed best when sleep deprived. )
Best prank on an ER doc: When all the female staff had glittery tee-shirts stenciled with the logo "Norm's Angels" (after Charlie's Angels) and wore them to work on his shift.
Memorable High and Low: Discovering the diamond missing from my engagement ring at the end of a grueling shift--then having it found by a respiratory therapist passing through the department. (Baked him a "Carat Cake" the next day)
Biggest Myth: That nurses protect their hearts by keeping "professional distance." Bunch of hooey--we cry, we bleed (sometimes literally if we don't dodge a bite or a right hook), we CARE. Bet your LIFE on it.
Because nurses are nurses, heart-deep.
And even though I'm "Inactive," as far as my California Nursing License is concerned, you can betcha I'm still actively reaching out to touch lives via my writing. Especially with my new "Shift in Faith" medical drama series for Tyndale House. It's such a great opportunity to give readers an "inside" glimpse into the world of medicine--and a way to honor my fellow nurses still out there in the "trenches."
Which reminds me that the nurse in the image above looks a lot like my heroine Claire Avery in The Healer's Heart--right down to the pink scrubs. It's been great fun creating her character, using the ups and downs of my long career to make her come "alive" on the pages. Trust me, she knows grueling shifts and challenges. I didn't cut her any slack.
But she did find her happy ending. And I'm guessing that a couple of decades from now--whether Claire's still practicing her career or not--she'll still be a nurse, heart-deep. It's far more than the stethoscope around our necks.
So, if I dig out my iguana scrubs . . . anyone up for a little Basin Ball? Your serve.