Two Choices


Around the corner, I heard a soft, but labored, panting.

Curious, I walked into my patient’s room to find him breathing rapidly.  I took his vital signs: blood pressure was a little high, pulse ok, temperature ok.  His respirations were fast, but his oxygen saturation was 100%.

Normally, when I call a doctor to report a patient’s worsening condition, I’m ahead of the game.  If my patient’s short of breath, I hook them up to oxygen.  If they have ‘as needed’ medications available, I give them. If he’s aspirating (choking on fluids), I raise the
head of the bed, I shove a yankauer in their mouth and suction the crap

But this time, I was empty handed.  Continue reading

Flinging Gloves


Remembering & Looking Forward. (Hong Kong, 2013)

After hearing some news today, I felt like flinging my gloves in the trash.

Not in an angry manner, but in a different way…


~ ~  ~

August 4, 2005

“I can’t find a pulse…” he said, with urgency in his voice.  The nurse was scrambling around the bedside trying to get the patient to respond.

“YOU NEED TO START CPR, it doesn’t matter Continue reading

Locked. Unleashed. Leaving.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, reposting an old blog post that includes a vignette of one of my patients.

For all those who have served our country.. a sincerest thank you.

~ ~ ~

April 9, 2010

He glanced out the window, then looked at me. “I’m 92. I’ve been through a lot.”

He began to story tell. “It was winter time, and I was stationed in Europe during World War II. At night, we wore all of our gear and slept in the trenches. They were these deep, buried holes in the Earth. I thought it was going to be cold, but that first night, it was rather warm. Then in the morning, I emerged from my trench, and Continue reading

You Call that an Apology?

My sister sent my friends and I a video on facebook recently, and she said, “Look, it’s my sister!”

Of course I’m not Miss Colorado, but her voice, her monologue… that could have been me. She’s a nurse, in a pony tail and sneakers (my signature look 24/7) and she shared about one defining moment in her career that reminded her of why she became a nurse.

Watching this video made me beam with pride and joy. Because sometimes, when I come home after getting yelled at by patients, when my feet hurt from hard hospital floors all day, when my scrubs, shoes, glasses, face are soiled with all kinds of body fluids, when my heart is heavy because I did everything I could but my patient is still dying or their family is dying, when my mind is burdened by a diagnosis I just can’t figure out, when I’m at a loss for words about how to cope with all the heavy cases I embraced today and how do I bounce back and face the challenges again tomorrow…then to watch one of my fellow nurse colleagues on stage, in front of America, deliver a speech like that- it reminds me…

yes, this, indeed, is why I’m a nurse. (If I didn’t love my job, I wouldn’t have dedicated a whole blog to it…)

To my dismay, I later read online about how “The View,” an ABC talk show, mocked Miss Colorado and by doing so, mocked all nurses (and other allied health professionals) by saying “why is she wearing a doctor’s stethoscope?” and “after she read her monologue…I mean.. that’s not talent.”

My jaw dropped. I was appalled. Continue reading

Six Precious Words

you never know what comes through that door... (photo from Italy, 2014)

you never know what will come through that door…
(photo from Italy, 2014)

A knock on the door interrupted my lunch.

“Soapie? They’re calling downstairs. Someone can’t breathe.”

Standing up, I swallowed my last bite then flew down the stairs.

Sweat dripped down his pale face. His chest heaved up and down, as if he were struggling to carry a boulder in his arms. Continue reading

Groceries and Grief

Two bags of egg noodles, frozen shrimp, and a head of garlic.

At the local Asian market, my feet tapped impatiently. It was getting late, and I still needed to cook.

While the cashier rang up my items, I noticed some fliers by the register. One flier, printed in black and white, caught my eye.

I squinted to focus on a woman’s photo, printed at the top.

Those sad eyes…

where had I seen her before? Continue reading

Thawing at the Moon’s Feet

A frozen Charles River, thawing at the moon's feet...

A frozen Charles River

The city skyline twinkled in the deep, dark night. Its light reflected upon the icy waters of the Atlantic.

En route to work, my car scurried around snowbanks from February’s fury. I rushed into the hospital to receive handoff from the off going nurse.

“He’s very fascinating, if you get a chance to chat with him,” my co-nurse reported during shift change. “But the main thing is to watch his breathing. And his wound.”

I scribbled notes and stuffed them into my pocket. “Got it.”

~ ~ ~

His gray hair seemed like it had just been combed. He leaned against a stack of pillows. His skin and lips were pink; his breathing fine. He gave a gentle nod. “Hello.”

I checked his vital signs. “How are you feeling? Any pain?”

“Actually…” he hesitated. Continue reading

Fresh Fridays: Great Expectations

“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked, my eyes focused on the vaccine and supplies in my hands.

“An R.N.” he replied, without hesitation.

I paused and looked up.

The 14 year old stared back at me, just waiting.

“An RN?” I asked (as if I needed clarification). I felt guilty for expecting him to answer a football player.  Usually when I asked teen boys what their plans were after high school, they almost always said they wanted to play football.

Because they assume it’s their only ticket out of poverty. Living in the ghetto and attending failing schools, no one else has told them otherwise. Continue reading