For all of us.

Human rights violations happen daily to nurses and front line staff. “Suck it up, buttercup- you signed up for it.” That’s the general consensus.

We signed up to give. We didn’t sign up to be sucked dry and abused by the same system that is supposed to help the community. Am I not also part of the community I give to daily? Apparently not when I’m in scrubs.

If I kicked a coworker or spit on them or threw poop, pee, blood, or vomit, called them bitches and whores, backed them into a corner, threatened and said “give me what I want or I’ll slam your effing face into the wall!!” I’m pretty sure I’d get fired and possibly arrested for assault or intimidation. SO WHY IS THIS ALLOWED ON A DAILY BASIS IN ERS AND HOSPITAL FLOORS IN EVERY FREAKING HOSPITAL IN THIS COUNTRY?! The last guy who threaten to punch me in the face? I took my glasses off and said “do it. I need a workers comp vacation.” I meant it, too. How the fuck do I get out of this hell hole without losing a body part or my sanity?

That was the beginning of the break of willfully standing in harms way and thinking its NORMAL or ACCEPTABLE to be abused. You can only be bent so far until you are broken. There is an alternative option to being a victim or volunteer. It’s not suicide-although that can look pretty damn viable when it’s easier to wash off the c-diff than the hopelessness

Walk.away. If all we know is abuse, then anything else is easy. I guarantee you, you will never regret not fearing for your sanity, your safety, or your soul, again. I don’t know how long it will take me to stop cringing when I hear my name called by management. I still assess a room the minute I enter it to scan for danger zones and safe escapes. I am working on my eye contact w other humans on my days off. I have fewer heart racing 3 am wake ups in a sweaty oh shit I forgot to do 3 of those 394759667 million tasks i was told to do or fear for my job panic. I don’t cry every day from exhaustion or dread of another shift exercising my complete futility in a system that makes caregivers simply givers…or the sheer scariness of feeling nothing at all.

We save the world-who saves us? No one. That’s the most soul wrenching painful realization. Who will give everything to save ME, like I do to save others? Who will lose sleep if I don’t make it? No one. They’ll only notice if I miss my shift.

Except my kids. My husband. My widowed mother. My sisters. But no one I have handed my blood sweat and tears, my best youthful years, my back, my spirit, my naivety, my life spark, my love of humanity, my need to make a difference-not one of those mother fuckers will stop and assess my pain and make a plan of care to save me.

Am I really contemplating increasing my life insurance so my husband can have a better nest egg before I off myself w a bottle full of prescription meds that I have received as consolation prizes for leaving the best parts of me in the wrong places? I want to die because I’ve given too much of me away!?

I can’t unsee or unfeel or unknow all I have witnessed in this profession. I can not have back the pieces of my heart I have willingly given to my patients. (Nor do I want them back-those were freely given, not taken.) What I can do is refuse abuse of my battered heart. My aching feet. My weary head. My sorry soul.

Part of nursing is saying no. No you can’t eat cake with a blood sugar of 500. No you cannot have sex in your bed with your boyfriend in a semi private room in the hospital. No you can’t lay in bed for days after surgery. No you can’t get up to go to the bathroom after you’ve had a heart catheterization and are at risk for popping in artery and bleeding out.

Sometimes saying no is saying yes. Yes you deserve better. yes you are worthy. Yes you can live. Just as surgeons pull out tumors and dying tissue, so must we stop allowing the cancerous culture of a predatory system from metastasizing. No you don’t have to take it. No you aren’t weak for saying you are hurt.
No. It is not okay.

We are so good at being patient advocates. Why is it so hard for us to advocate for ourselves? We are in doctrinated to believe that giving is selfless and taking is selfish, saying yes to ourself is selfish. It’s hard to say “I’ve had enough.” It’s easier to say it when it means taking a stand for others. So stand for the nurse on the other side of the bed helping you. Take a stand for the nurse in front of you at the Pyxis machine. Take a stand for that mother friend and all-around good person that resides within you. You are worthy. You are an excellent nurse. You deserve better. Bend but don’t be broken. Be the nurse you need. For you. For your family. For that patient in the bed who isn’t trying to bash your head in. (Security can deal w that other mofo.)
There is more to this nursing then just taking orders and chart checks and calculation titrations and IV drip double checks and charting in triplicate. You’re not a robot. You’re not supposed to be a robot. Bend but don’t be broken.

Do not let them tell you this is all there is. Thieves, addicts and patients lie. So do hospital administrators. Say no so you can say yes. You matter. You are not replaceable. You are needed and loved. You deserve to be the nurse you set out to be.