Public overdoses and my friend is a lifesaving superhero at a all-day-breakfast restaurant.

What were you up to at 3AM? Oh, just looking for an article about the increase in public overdoses of opioids and what that says about the power of addiction, the danger of the fentanyl-laced drug, and the will of people to, despite their dire state, be saved.

I couldn’t find the specific article, but I promise it exists and this is not an academic publication so sue me. The NYT article below about availability of Narcan as a health and safety measure like CPR training and AEDs in public places is good, too. I’m for it because I’m for life saving.

I’m going to tell someone else’s story; I’ve asked permission. This happened recently. Of the six of you who read this five probably know her. To know her is to love her, get ready to love this too, especially if you’re nursey and can do that thing we do where we care about people to a degree that we dedicate our lives to them but at our core lies a daaaark and morbid sense of humor.

So our friend is a recent PhD in nursing. A person who commiserated with me in when I was walking in the valley of clinical care is scary gross by saying “I knew it wasn’t for me the first time I emptied a peritoneal dialysis bag.” She’s an empath to the nth degree. Terrifically gifted in the field of psychology. Destined to be great to innumerable patients and, if there is justice, the wider field of psych/nursing/medicine. She is however not into emergency or critical care.

She’s in a medium sized city in the south, enjoying her favorite breakfast-all-day chain restaurant with her man, just having given their orders to their waiter who looks exactly like you would expect a breakfast-all-day chain restaurant waiter to look. The youngish ones. In the kitchen there is a commotion being made. Staff is peeling away from the dining room, forming a crowd. SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING is hollered. Our friend, the gifted psych nurse, is getting a look from her man (also a doctor of not medicine).



She’s getting the go get ‘em tiger from her fella. She rises, whispers to the backs of the crowd “I’m a nurse.”

SHE’S A NURSE” Hollers her dude with the authoritative bass of a public lecturer. The sea of people parts.

It’s their waiter, passed out on the floor of the breakfast-all-day restaurant kitchen. She is hella smart, so clinical person or not she can handle an OD. She activates that emergency response system (call 911, damn it), asks for an AED (there is none–what?!), checks that carotid pulse for not more than ten seconds (absent), and starts high quality chest compressions times thirty at a rate of not less than one hundred per minute with two rescue breaths between cycles.

Woman saved a life, people. SHE SAVED A LIFE.

EMS comes in narcannons blazing and brings the victim back. Poof. Death-be-gone.

Sigh. So that is our girl. My girl. My nurse friend and mentor. It feels good to know someone this gangster.

In summation: the opioid crisis is real, everyone must learn CPR, Narcan should be in first aid kits, and let’s address institutional cycle of poverty creating helplessness and hopelessness in economically depressed areas such as the stripped-bare resource colonies of the southeast leading to physical manifestations of what might be at the root existential disability and the introduction of opioids.

Good Lord “Mercy Street”

I’m obsessed with our image. On a scale of 1 to Gray’s Anatomy (1 being no pain, Grey’s Anatomy being the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your life), most portrayals of nurses on TV and in the movies land in the 7 region. The faces pain scale really works for this:
Pain scale

A few years ago PBS began airing the BBC period nursing drama Call the Midwife, a darling and coherent if sentimental portrayal of post-war era midwives working from a convent in East End London. I like this one even if later episodes did risk giving me cavities. Maybe it reads as authentic because it it drawn directly from the not fictional nursing memoirs of Jennifer Worth, who lends her stories and her name to the main character. Nursing is a real thing in this series.

I guess it was inevitable that in the wake of its success America would give nurses a stab with the new PBS series Mercy Street, about a Union Civil War Hospital set in (my hometown) Alexandria, Virginia. Oh my hopes were high! This show is, so far, unforgivable. It hurts worst. I could feign indifference when it came to the laughable accents, the absurd and awkwardly drama-less rape scene in the first half of the second episode (give me time to love the characters if you’d like to break my heart!), but the characterization of the only actual nurse as the mean and heartless foil for our two sweet and well meaning hero nurses is so disgusting that it can not stand, man.

The uptight bitch nurse is to be hated because she trained with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War and is suuuuch an expert at things like sanitation and wound care. She is so bossy about telling new nurses how to do things in a safe and evidence based way! The lady knows what she is doing professionally and seeks to better her field and improve the health outcomes and safety of the soldiers in the hospital’s care. What a B. I bet she hasn’t had sex in forever, she’s such an ice queen. Nope. In the second episode we see her sleeping with her boss, the corrupt doctor! So that’s how she got the gig.

Our two heroes are nurses who have no training or experience, but never you mind. They have the calling to serve their fellow man. To provide comfort in times of need. They have tender feminine hearts and strong womanly wills and as god as their witness they shall never let a boy die without a soft hand to hold! They will try to get some food for these soldiers too!

I said I could overlook the accents, they have nothing to do with nursing, but let me just tell you that the southern hero nurse is a native Alexandrian (a city two miles from DC) but makes sounds like her cotton plantation just caught on fire. Robert E. Lee did not sound like Blanche DuBois. Or Blanche Devereaux. But this woman does.

So. I’m sure our hero rookie nurses will use their female intuition and woman-in-a-man’s-world grit to become invaluable assistants to the doctors they work with. But I won’t be around to watch.

I’m going to watch Nurse Jackie.

PS- I tried to find the script writers on IMDB to no avail–but there were about 1200 costume consultants. The costumes are fantastic. The script? What script.

Big Hero 6, starring a nurse, tears of sad and tears of happy.


I don’t advise anyone to have children (period, cause that’s none of my business) but if I did my first pro argument would be the super children’s movies out there. This week we took my son to see Big Hero 6. It was the greatest. Baymax the robot, main character, IS A NURSE and the best thing to happen to nursing since Flo hit the Crimea. That might be an exaggeration. Baymax assesses his patient, provides excellent pain control, recommends evidence based treatment, does education, and is unable to deactivate until his patient states that they are satisfied with their care. He also wields the defibrillator with his own two stubs (no hands), a tip off that it’s your RN and not your MD who is most likely to analyze your cardiac arrest and defibrillate.

The writers make Baymax a nurse and not a doctor. Not what we’re used to seeing, right? The movie takes place in futuristic San Fransokyo where there is a melding of American and Pan-Asian culture (similar to Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story). Over the years I’ve heard of the looming caregiver shortage in Japan. I dug up this 2009 NPR piece about robot caregivers for the elderly. So, naturally, I’m thinking this movie with it Manga-ish style about robot caregivers has got to have roots in Japan. This is the best I could come up with on my internet search: the movie is “loosely based” on a Japanese comic strip of the same name. By way of Marvel, by way of Disney. I looked into Japanese nursing to see what they might be doing differently to achieve a public image that is more congruent with the work we do than anything we see in American media. From my cursory glance it appears the title of nurse requires more education (for RN min two years in America, min 3-4 in Japan). Also, public health nurses and midwives have much more defined roles and are a feature of the daily lives of citizens. Nurses are decoupled from the elbows of doctors–true in American practice as well, but not as visible.

If we want to be Eeyores about it, we can see this movie as another in a long line where jobs of less value are relegated to robots (WALL-E, Star Wars, help me out nerds…). Okay, maybe. BUT in his last act which I will not spoil because if you have a heart in your chest it will make you cry, I would argue that Baymax is sentient, nulling that sad hypothesis. He is a nurse super hero movie star. AND THE PEOPLE (well, just me) IN THE MOVIE THEATER REJOICED!

This was a great movie to see with my kid for 10,000 reasons. So have kids or not but see this movie. Then you better recognize that this nurse right here is an autonomous and patient-centered ass-kicking machine.