Release that Dam

Photo by Artur Roman on

Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh

Hearing the baby’s heartbeat from outside the door, I stepped into the exam room to check the patient on the monitor.

Hola, soy Soapie, una enfermera (Hello I’m Soapie, a nurse),” I introduced myself, while looking at the curvy lines on the gridded paper.

“AHH!!!!! Soy yo! (It’s me!)” she exclaimed. Her eyes widened above her mask and grinned in the corners.

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Departures and Reunions


Riding his bike, an elderly man approached the intersection. His military green cadet hat and faded jacket looked familiar.

Pbu! Jum reap sua! (Uncle! Hello!)” I crossed the street to meet him, placed my palms together, under my chin, and bowed my head. In Khmer, we call our friends, and our patients, family.

But he didn’t always feel the same way about me.

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A Beautifully Painful Mess


The Ruins of Rome. Summer 2014.

Strange. The door was ajar, a moment ago. I knocked, then pushed it open.

I had expected my patient to be on the phone. Instead, she sat on the exam table, her young daughter standing at her side. The little girl’s left hand wrapped the blood pressure cuff over her mom’s arm, and the other hand squeezed the inflation bulb.  Startled by my interruption, she hurriedly put the cuff away.

“When you grow up, do you want to be a doctor or nurse?” I smiled, reaching for a pair of gloves.

“A nurse,” she replied. Continue reading

When Little Buds Bloom


Bern, Switzerland ~ May 2015

“Is it going to hurt?” she asked.

“Mmm… it is a needle,” I answered. I like to keep things real, especially when it comes to pain. “But you can think of others things.”

“Like Hawaii,” her little sister pitched, as she watched me near her big sister on the exam table.

“Ahh.. yesss.. like Hawaii,” I affirmed. Funny how she’d suggest that, while we were in the dead of winter. I lifted her sleeve to get ready to give the vaccine.

“You’ve been to Hawaii,” she chipped in.

I gasped. Continue reading

Fresh Fridays: Is it the Scrubs?

a ridiculous post dedicated to my uniform.
©2008-2015 Graffiti2DMyHeart

February 9, 2008

I tossed out my old scrubs and bought brand new ones because a new policy at work required all the nurses to wear the same color.  Ever since, the comments haven’t stopped…

(Day 1 of wearing new scrubs)

secretary: Dang Soapie! Look at you! Those scrubs look good on you! You look like you’re a REAL nurse!
me: Huh?
secretary: Like you come in here to get your sh*t done! You look older, more mature, like a REAL nurse!
me: What’re you saying?! I didn’t look like a ‘real nurse’ these past 2 years then?
secretary: *laughs*  yeah!

(Day 2)

co-nurse: Hey Soapie! Those scrubs look good on you.
me: Oh thanks!
co-nurse: Yea. Too bad you still look like a kid!

(Day 3)

charge nurse: Whoa! Look’s like you ACTUALLY found some scrubs that fit you!
me: Hey!

(The following week)

nurse tech: Team G! [we were known as Team GANGSTA =P] Those scrubs look good on you.
me: Oh no.. here we go again. (I retell her what the 3 previous coworkers said).
nurse tech: HA! And you STILL look funny!

(And last night)

nurse tech #2:  Hey Soapie Soapie! Are you charge nurse today?
me: Huh? No.
nurse tech: Are you sure? But you look like YOU are in charge!
me: Is it the scrubs?

~ ~ ~

Now, 7 years later… Continue reading

It’s Not About Chivalry

My hands were full.

Clutching a syringe, alcohol swabs, bandaids, and loose leaf papers, I approached the double doors with my filled fist towards my sternum, and my right arm angled outwards, ready to push the lever forward with my forearm and elbow.

Then, through the glass, an older man started towards the entrance, on the opposite side.

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Keep on Dancin’

Toes tapped and heads bobbed to the groove of electric guitar, keyboard, and drums. The lead vocalist serenaded the audience. As he sang, I searched the tables for familiar faces.

Wrapped in her black coat, she sat quietly, hands folded in her lap.

Jum reap sua (hello),” I pressed my palms together, raised them to my nose, and bowed my head in a formal Khmer greeting.

She hesitated.

Maybe she didn’t recognize me without the scrubs. Or maybe she couldn’t hear me, with the Khmer rock band blasting on the stage. The band was the highlight of the fundraising dinner for the Khmer community.

“Oh, it’s you!” her stoic expression transformed into a toothy grin. She patted my hand.

How far we have come… 

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Fresh Fridays: Tremendous

July 2008

All my nights here are really depressing…  I’ve completed 4 shifts so far orienting at my new job.  And so far, it’s pretty sad.

Night #1: My patient was really sick.  As it turns out, he didn’t have any family so we didn’t even know who to notify that he probably didn’t have much time left.

Night #2: Family feud… felt like a soap opera.

Night #3: “Till death do us part.”  My patient was hospitalized on their wedding day.  =(

Night #4.  A young patient who met tragedy all too soon…

But he did much better than anyone expected. I stayed at his bedside all night, and watched him go from “tragedy” to “tremendous.” Originally he was on a breathing machine, then he started to breathe on his own without the machine.  By morning, he started to wake up and communicated with me by writing.

Imagine a square hospital room with a bed in the middle, and two nurses standing on either side of it.
It looked something like this:

(me on left side)                               patient in bed                          (preceptor on right side)

Patient hands us a piece of paper and it reads:
(in shaky letters since his wrists were filled with IV’s, tubing, and soft restraints)



~ ~ ~

Reading this article, “A Patient’s Eye View of Nurses,” reminded me of my ICU experience, inspiring this repost.

What’s the Best Part About…

“the prettiest thing you’ll ever see…”

I’m gonna sing this song
To let you know that you’re not alone
And if you’re like me
You need hope, coffee, and melody

So sit back down
Let the world keep spinning ‘round
For yesterday’s gone and today is
waiting on you to show your face

“…being a nurse?” my patient’s husband asked me.

I hesitated. Continue reading