People always ask ER nurses, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?” That is such a crazy question in itself. We see so much shit as ER nurses, how could I ever nail it down to one thing? Over the last few years, I have come to realize the craziest thing I have ever seen are the women I work with every night.
Debriefing after a pediatric arrest? There is no time, the night keeps rolling. Stocking, cleaning, IV starts, charting, and catching the next ambulance coming. We get yelled at, spit at, kicked, and full out hit on some nights. So much stress and tension builds in your body, you don’t always realize it right away. The pressure is high, especially when you’ve had two ICU (intensive care unit) patients, on top of your two regular acute care patients, in your four rooms...for 12 hours.
Don’t let me bring you all down with the awful nitty gritty from work. There is still hope to be found in an emergency department. When a sick kid gives you snuggles as you carry them to their room, that feels great. When a family member cries and thanks you for the hard work you gave for their family member, that sticks with you forever.
It is so easy to become jaded when you are a nurse. Let me explain, after working 12 hours in triage, hearing complaint after complaint, that can take quite a toll on your soul.
Working for a public hospital in one of the most violent cities in America is harsh. The acuity of patients we see are so high, that special operations combat medics train at our facility.
But we come back every day, and we make each other better. We stand tall together. We come from a profession of a long line of women who have sacrificed so much. Women in World War II who served as flight nurses have no record of any of their patients dying during any transfer. Nurses have given their bodies and minds to their profession, and I am proud to be a part of that legacy.
I wanted to share with the world some of the women I work with on a daily basis who deeply inspire me. In these pictures you will see Jodie, Carmen, Amy, and Tera. (I also snuck a picture of our registered respiratory therapist Char!) I hoped to capture the bond we have at work in a few pictures, and then go on to tell some of their unique & diverse stories outside of work.
I will never forget watching a 9-month pregnant nurse I work with run a gunshot wound victim up to the operating room without a single complaint. That is wild. That is the craziest thing I have ever seen.
Women who sacrifice so much at work, but are still able to go home and take care of their children, their baby cows, and their families with so much softness and tenderness...That’s beautiful to me.
I hope these pictures inspire you, and are a reminder that you are a beautiful & inspirational woman.
Their stories. Her stories. Our stories. We are all Kathy.
Written and Photographed by Jenifer Veloso