My occupational memoir reveals one nurse’s bedside observations on where nurses come from, how we are educated, treated in the workplace and how we learn to do what can never be taught in a curriculum. When a patient vomits explosively onto your chest how you may unexpectedly vomit right back. How to explain to a deaf patient where a suppository goes while an audience of staff and visitors listen in from the hallway. How to collect your thoughts and make a plan when you arrive for a home care visit to find your elderly confused patient has ingested a full bottle of liquid laxative and left evidence of those results all over the walls, floor and Barco lounger in the home. It is where medical science meets nursing artistry. Where technology meets humanity. Where hearts open and wounds heal.
Through selected vignettes, I recognize modern nurses’ courage to lean into discomfort and hard emotions. I acknowledge the power they hold in their healing hands and throw forward a lifeline of hope to renew their faith and joy in their vocation.
And to my many non-nurse readers, come experience a nurse’s day; what we see, feel, hear and touch. Have a peek behind the bedside curtain.
Susan Turnage is an RN, E-RYT200, RYT500, and a CYN- Certified YogaNurse®. She has clinical nursing experience in pediatric oncology, pediatric head injury, corrections, home health and case management. She teaches weekly healing mat and chair yoga classes in her local communities of New Kent and Charles City, Virginia, to a multiethnic population of all abilities.
Susan also works as an art conservation technician, is a volunteer for the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences as a game fish tagger, is an instructor in a yoga teacher training program, creates one of a kind, themed jewelry, is a driftwood sculptor and a writer. Her husband is an artist who creates porcelain pottery and is also a gardening guru and fishing enthusiast. She has 2 treasured sons and an elderly German Shepherd.