When anyone wishes me a "happy Nurse Week", I feel about the same way as I do whenever someone who finds out about my military time says "Thanks for your service."
Which is, specifically, that I think, "Yeah, whatever."
I know the vast majority of them mean it in both instances out of sincerity and a desire to say thank you for a couple of largely thankless professions. So I respect them for making the effort, and I know their hearts are in the right place.
1) I knew the jobs were tough when I took them;
2) I was (fairly) well-compensated for both of them, and I was just doing my job;
3) Random thanks don't cost anything, especially as they largely come from the sort of people who probably say thanks to their actual nurse when it actually matters.
But in my heart of hearts, what I'd rather have a cup full of, rather that the wheelbarrow of thanks from people I didn't likely do anything special for is this:
1) Pay your goddamned hospital bill, and on time, so my employers won't be such penny-pinching cheesedicks when it's time to hire enough staff to do the jobs
2) When you have to wait for any sort of care, write a letter to those MoFos, for not properly staffing everything from the registration desk, to the OR, to the recovery ward, to the outpatient clinic, which is why your dog or cat gets better care faster than you do (and cheaper!) for the same injury and level of care.
3) When you're in the hospital, stop pulling the kind of crap and general assholery that would get you punched in the dick with brass knuckles if you tried it at the supermarket or the mall.
4) Go back and read #3 again, and then go back and read it one more time. Then make your spouse/relative/friend/coworker who was probably a big @$$hole the last time they were in the hospital read it too. Or, punch them in the dick.
5) Tell your congressman/woman to kill Obamacare, before it kills all of you and the entire medical care sector, replacing it forever with care that will make the VA look good by comparison, before it gets even worse than that.
Those things would mean more to me than another mountain of cutesy Nurse Week cupcakes in the break room, and more than all the "thank yous" do from people who I've never directly cared for ever will, regardless of how well-intended both are.
Part of my bittersweet outlook on Nurse Week is the fact that every year since forever, it seems I get $#!^ on the hardest during Nurse Week. And not just figuratively, as I've related in an earlier post.
This year has set a new personal world record, although it's nothing so clinically related, and nothing I can share at this point in time; maybe I can at some point down the road. Maybe.
At any rate, I'm pretty sure getting craped on from great height during Nurse Week is in the contract somewhere, kind of like when the SAS holds selection, and the trucks pull away just before the guys trying out finish their 20 mile march can get to them, and have to march another 10 miles back to base.
That's pretty much every day in nursing, one way or the other. Those of us doing this gig shrug it off, but it takes a toll on our backs, and on our souls, even so.
So does the fact that my personal number ( a la a certain scene in The Guardian) is now 13.
Not my fault, but still my patients. And every once in a while they come back into memory for a bit, and it gets dusty if you think about it very long.
Some of my colleagues "fix" that with a bottle, or pills, or turning a blowtorch on the part of a person that makes us human. As Will Rogers said about the two theories on arguing with women, none of them work.
So I blog from time to time. And I try to spend a lot of time not thinking about work once I leave it.
I like what I do as a nurse very much.
But sometimes, being honest, if I had a good Plan B that'd pay the bills, I'd probably walk away from the entire profession without a second's hesitation or a backwards glance, and even odds I'd toss a lit Molotov cocktail over my shoulder as a parting gift.
And then I get a good night's sleep, wake up tomorrow, and go back to work again.
Even if it's Nurse Week.