Dear State Senator Maureen Walsh,
I normally write about life and photography and occasionally cocktails, but I just watched your speech on the floor of the Washington Senate, arguing why a bill that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses should be excluded from smaller, rural hospitals, and after I watched it, all these thoughts flooded my brain and when that happens, well, I write about it.
You said, and I quote:
“I understand…making sure that we have rest breaks and things like that, but I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost. I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”
I’ll be honest, State Senator Walsh, I watched that video a couple times just to make sure I was hearing you correctly. After all, my daughter is currently in nursing school and it isn’t easy. It’s hard, hard work. It taxes the mind and the body. She has to know EVERYTHING. That is, when she isn’t playing a wicked game of Gin Rummy. I think she learns “Card Playing” in her third semester.
And then I looked at you, State Senator Walsh, and I wondered what it is you do. So I perused your Facebook page and I saw some stuff: I saw you smiling while you were campaigning; I saw you wearing a hard hat and holding a shovel at a groundbreaking ceremony; I saw you posed in a group shot at a reception held by the Chamber of Commerce; I saw lots of photos of you in a suit with a microphone in your hand, but you know what I didn’t see?
I didn’t see any photos of you dressed in scrubs, scrubs splattered with blood and bodily fluids, weariness tugging at your eyes
I didn’t see photos of you arriving at work before the sun has risen, and leaving after it’s set
I didn’t see you making life and death decisions in the blink of an eye
I didn’t see you quickly shoving whatever food you can find in your mouth to curb your hunger because there simply wasn’t time to sit down and eat a proper meal
I didn’t see you engaged in a juggling act of managing care for multiple patients at a time: medications, treatments, wound care, radiology, PT, OT
I didn’t watch as you received the wrath of a physician for the one thing you forgot while never commending you for the thousand things you remembered
I didn’t see you crying in the bathroom from the fatigue born of overwork and worry
I didn’t see you embracing the family who just lost their whole world
No, I didn’t see any of that.
Nor did I expect to, because that’s what NURSES do, not politicians.
Nurses. You know, the dedicated and compassionate human beings whose hands are too busy holding their patients’ lives to even think about holding playing cards.
(PS. I sure hope you don’t need a nurse any time soon. Although being the professionals they are, I have no doubt they would look beyond your disrespectful statement and give you excellent care. ‘Cause that’s what nurses do.
I, however, would make up reasons to stick you ten times during a blood draw.)