March 13, 2006, 1:01 pm

Bartender, Make Mine A Double

I wish I had Photoshop.

The line for this ad should be, “Are YOU A Registered Nurse?”

This is me after two twelve-hour shifts in a row and five within 6 days.

Actually, this was me after Grand Rounds…

Except I’m in sweats and, hopefully, not drooling.

I am, however, according to some family members, snoring.

The last movie I “dragged” myself through was “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” Managed to “drag” myself to that one three times. In one day.

My family has given up a lot more than one evening a week.

Because I live a Nurse Day Life.


“Hey Bartender, I’ll take a double.”

“Pretty strong stuff you’re askin’ for, little lady.”

“Sure is. Been handling it for twenty eight years. Sometimes on the rocks, sometimes straight up, but I wake up to it every day.”


You see, the nursing life doesn’t come without sacrifices.

I’ve been the first on the scene of a code and saved a life with the push of a button.

  • I’ve missed the chance for memories of many holiday dinners with family members who are no longer here, because I had to work.

I’ve had a patient tell me that I’m the first person who has actually listened to them.

  • I returned to my job five weeks after my son was born by C-section, because I had used up all my “sick time” leading up to his birth because I was sick for two months prior to his arrival.

I’ve been thanked by the homeless for a warm blanket and a meal.

  • I slept through my daughter’s Confirmation because I had been up for 36 hours, working twelve-hour nights and unable to sleep the day before.

I’ve hugged the parents of a young woman who died unexpectedly after spending 8 hours working to save her.

  • My daughter told me years later that the smell of one particular cologne made her sad to this day because it used to mean I was going to work.

I’ve helped first time parents gain confidence in working through their child’s first illness.

  • My husband and I have worked opposite hours for 26 years so that someone would be home with and available for the kids.

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the stories of the elderly who weren’t oriented to place but could describe their participation in World War II in vivid, fascinating detail.

  • I’ve missed family vacations because I could not get the time off.

I’ve held the hand of an intubated, post-arrest patient and had them squeeze when I asked if they could hear me.

  • I’ve missed seeing my daughter’s basketball games and cross-country runs because they were scheduled on my weekend to work.

I was meant to be a nurse.

  • I give so much energy to it that twice I’ve suffered from depressive burn-out without my patients ever knowing.

There have been times when I have been exhilarated with nursing and times when I would give anything to be doing something else.

But somehow, when God handed out the gifts, mine was the ability to care for the sick.

Not the ability to play guitar in a rock band or sing like Ann Wilson, or play the violin in a world-class orchestra.

Didn’t even get a voice good enough to be slammed by Simon Cowell.

I think He was trying to tell me something.

Given the sacrifices, frustrations and impact that nursing has made on my life, would I choose to do it all again?



  • Rita Schwab - MSSPNexus

    March 13, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    Bless you Nurse Kim. We need more like you.

    But don’t forget that you count too, so take care of yourself.

  • tk

    March 13, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    In addition to your gift for nursing, you are a gifted writer. Great job with Grand Rounds.

  • Dr. Deborah Serani

    March 13, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    You are such an inspiration

  • dribear

    March 13, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    You just helped me re-realize why I became a doctor. Thank you.

  • pammiecakes

    March 13, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    Kim, just wanted to say thanks for this. Reading it touched my heart.

  • Moof

    March 13, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    Kim, that was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Mama Mia

    March 13, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    Exactly. What she said. Thanks Kim.

  • Third Degree Nurse

    March 14, 2006 at 6:22 am

    Somehow, I have a feeling that your family doesn’t resent the sacrifices they’ve made or you’ve made. We are all connected; may the gifts you give to others come back to bless you and your family 10-fold.

  • Abel PharmBoy

    March 14, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    Fabulous inspiration, Kim. I’m positive that when you daughter thinks of where she learned compassion and how to love, she’ll always think of you!

  • pixelrn

    March 15, 2006 at 5:29 am

    Kim, you rock. Esp. the part about your daughter and the cologne. That one sentence says so much. Am going to bookmark this and read it next time I am feeling positively burned-out.

  • Miranda

    March 17, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Smiles…this is my first visit to your blog, its very nice, thanks for sharing.

  • unsinkablemb

    March 19, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    Kim – Fantastic post! You really are GIFTED. So what if you’re not a rock star or Isac Perlman (sp?)! You’re a wonderful nurse AND a terrific writer.

    About your daughter… As the daughter of a busy healthcare professional (my mom’s a doc), I never felt that she loved me any less even though much of her time was spent working. I’m sure your daughter feels the same way about you. It’s the love that counts. 🙂

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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