Playing Cards

I played cards as a nurse.

I’ve been a nurse for 14 years. I started thinking about Sen Walsh’s speech and what it meant to me as a nurse.

Degrading. To lead people to assume that my career of saving lives has been a leisurely 12 hours of frequent rest breaks and card playing blows my mind.

Then I started thinking more….cards.

I’ve played “cards” in my career. Like the PALS card. When my infant patient began to code and no matter how many times you recite, test and speak how many compressions or which meds to push in their tiny bodies to keep their heart beating – that adrenaline gets the best of you and you quickly become thankful for that card.

What about the FACES/PAIN card. Y’all know that one right? The one with sad faces and smileys and a number line for us to assess your post surgical pain, or pain in your head after you’ve been thrown through a windshield and can’t speak. Or the faces that the little four year old points to – in order to show you what his “owie” is after his bilateral feet have been mowed off in a tragic accident, by his father.

Or what about actual cards….UNO or Go-Fish, that you luckily find from Child-Life to sit down and play with a sibling whose parents are with the Chaplin and physician who are telling them that their other child isn’t going to live and discuss the idea of organ donation.

….or the “card” in the shape of a tag. The tag that goes on, after we have tried every thing we have and fought, and cried, but it just wasn’t enough. The “card” that identifies a child, a sibling, a grandchild…… who is now tied in a body bag – that we place them in after we wash their sweet bodies in silence, print off a strip of the heart rhythm for their parents to have their heart beat with them even when it has stopped, made handprints and footprints which they will forever cherish. Forgoing our breakfasts, lunch breaks, working well past dinner time with our own families – and MAYBE sneak off to the bathroom to fix our smudged eye liner which we’ve worn for 12 hours but has started to smear as we’ve wiped our tears.

Those are the cards I’ve played in my nursing career. Yes, Senator, maybe I am “talking out of both sides of my mouth” when I say I’m exhausted after a 12 hour shift, yet needed those days off in order to collect myself and hug my family a little tighter because I have learned through this “nurse life” that life is precious. So so precious.

Senator, you’d be LUCKY, after your ignorant argument if you had any nurse care for you with the cards mentioned above.

Truth is, you will though, be lucky. Because we nurses, are professional, caring, empathetic… we, even in our anger – will care for those who don’t deserve it, those who are guilty of crimes or those who are guilty of insulting us – just like we would our own family members. That’s how we roll. Or should I say, that’s how we play.

……playing cards.


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