Domestic Violence: May the circle be broken

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

My youngest daughter just got married to a fine young man. She was beautiful and radiant.

As I gave my daughter away when the minister told me to, I sat down next to a picture of my deceased husband. He passed away four years ago.

Lisa was our last child. Most likely, she saw the truth.

She saw the way my husband treated me after the other two children had gone off to college.

She always said, “I saw how daddy treated you.”

Though I was happy that my daughter was marrying a good man, I felt my inner sadness for not having a good man in my life at my side.

I should have known better.

I should have known that domestic violence didn’t qualify you as just being physically beaten up and attacked.

There were 30-plus years of mental anguish, intimidation, infidelity and lots of “business” trips.

Though I was happy that my daughter was marrying a good man, I felt my inner sadness for not having a good man in my life at my side.

I should have known better.

I should have known that domestic violence didn’t qualify you as just being physically beaten up and attacked.

There were 30-plus years of mental anguish, intimidation, infidelity and lots of “business” trips.

Though I was sad throughout our marriage and felt emotionally “beaten down.” I didn’t know that this was labeled domestic violence.

I was happy for my daughter.

But I didn’t want to sit next to him — that framed picture.

Even though he was dead. The picture of him in his younger years with our daughter at two years old stared at me.

I always felt trapped. I didn’t know how to move. I didn’t know how to break free of this man. I lived my life through my children.

I always knew my life with this man was null and void. I was naive at first and then just numb.

What a sad existence.

Finally, four years gives you plenty of time to think when you’re by yourself when everything is unwrapped. When the naked truth stands in front of you.

He was there for the children. The plays and concerts and birthday parties and football and chorus and proms and high school and college graduations. But he was never there for me.

I misunderstood what domestic violence was.

I misunderstood that working 60 hours a week as a nurse was domestic violence. I misunderstood that his infidelities followed by “I’m sorry” were meaningless gestures.

I didn’t want to sit next to his picture.

We had scattered his ashes on top of a mountain top — cancer. To his liver. His pancreas. His lungs. His lymph nodes.

He never had cancer before.

I almost wondered if it was karma that attacked him.

This wedding was bitter-sweet.

I wanted a husband with me but a husband that loved me as much as I loved him.

I wish I could scream from the mountain tops.

Domestic violence. Yes, it can be physical violence. A black eye, a fractured arm, a punch in the gut.

But it can also be mental abuse like isolation. Intimidation. Infidelity. Manipulation. Put-downs and constant ridicule.

I grieve my last 30 years to a man I should have never been with.

But the light is shining on my daughter.

A new day. A bright tomorrow. With a young man that respects her. That cherishes her. That loves her endlessly.

May that circle be broken. That circle of sadness, isolation, and unspoken grief.

And may they both live a happy life together full of love and respect.

Originally Published on KevinMD.com

A night in the life of a mental health crisis counselor

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN in collaboration with a licensed masters social worker, LMSW

It was my turn again to sit for the next 8 hours in the middle of the night at the mental health crisis center. Run by a team of therapists and social workers with the community mental health center. We regularly collaborated with the local police department and EMS for people who were experiencing a mental heath crisis.

We never knew what to expect and every day was something different. We were a good hardworking team, and we couldn’t do our job without law enforcement by our side.

This night was different. This call came from a grandfather. Scared and nervous, he called the mental health crisis call center. “My granddaughter Kiesha. She’s 24 years old. She stopped taking her medicine. She has a 3 month old baby she holds onto tightly. She hasn’t taken the baby or herself to the doctors for wellness checks. She’s screams at the TV. She slams doors, paces all night long. I have to tell her to change the babies diapers.”

“She tried feeding her baby 2 pieces of bread with toilet paper neatly folded in between!! She put it up to the babies lips, not realizing what she was doing”.

Her Grandfather continued: “She screams at me and her grandma that we are the FBI. She washes her hands continuously saying she defies the Rona (corona virus).”
“She’s out of control. Pulling the tv plugs out of the wall, saying it’s the FBI, Jesus is watching, the chip in your brain is the devil…she’s talking out her head”.

The grandfather was frantic. His granddaughter held on tightly to her baby. We had to help them. Stat.

My partner and I agreed to meet the grandfather at the home. We notified the police and asked them to accompany us for a mental health assessment. This may be a tricky situation.

We arrived at her grandparents house. Keisha was already in treatment but had stopped taking her medication once pregnant. We found out that Keisha lost her mom a year ago. Her boyfriend left her when he found out she was pregnant. She lost control due to the stress and trauma and isolation.

She moved in with her grandparents.
Diagnosed as schizoaffective bipolar type, in the past, she was compliant with her medications. This time she quit taking her medications saying she could “do it on her own”. And as she decompensated, the psychosis came out.

We knocked on the door. Gently talking to Keisha. Keisha stared at the tv, and didn’t even look our way when we walked into her room. Keisha had her baby snuggled up to her but she seemed in a daze. “How many radio channels in Florence county?”, she said to no one in particular. Keisha then laughed out loud. “So many cameras outside and inside, what does it have to do with me?” “They said I could do whatever I please so long as the custodians have already cleaned and withdrew on the mantle place” “hey officer, when was the last time you had to track down a stolen cat who ran away and ended up on the east side of Columbus, Ohio” “Haha!”

We asked Kiesha a series of questions. She wasn’t alert or oriented. Her speech was disorganized, tangential, nonsensical. And still, she held her sleeping baby close to her as any mother would.

We walked back outside to consult with the officer and our supervisor. “She needs to go to the hospital; she is very sick.” There was no doubt that she needed to be involuntarily committed, but how would we separate a mother from her newborn?

We went back inside and tried to engage with Keisha again asking if she would stand up and show us around some.

As I calmly talked to Keisha, a female officer swiftly and gently gathered the baby in her arms while another officer helped Keisha to her feet. The police officer took the baby from her. That’s when I quickly took the baby from the officer and went with my partner to the other room. My partner and I stared at this beautiful little boy knowing we were getting his mommy some help.

The officers let Keisha know they were taking her to the hospital and that she wasn’t in trouble or under arrest. She attempted to fight, but gave in. She was in such a state that she didn’t even acknowledge that her baby was no longer in her presence.

We handed off the baby to the grandfather and grandmother. They said they would care for the baby and keep this little one safe while their granddaughter got help. Keisha was escorted to an emergency department that had the best mental health care in the area. My colleague and I called to give a report to the ER charge nurse. We later found out a routine admit urine drug screen was completely negative.

After several weeks at the inpatient mental health facility, Keisha took her medications daily. She was compliant with medications again, started showering, eating, and going to group therapy during the day and got restful sleep at night.

With a clear head, she was taught that this was a lifelong diagnosis. Schizophrenia and bipolar. And she would need to diligently take her medications every day without fail. And continue with a therapist to gain coping skills, learn warning signs and know when to ask for help.
After one month, Keisha was able to go home to live with her grandparents and get back to raising her little boy. This was not a situation of abuse or neglect and DSS was not called. This was a mother with mental illness postpartum in need of mental health treatment.

Kiesha eventually finished her GED, enrolled in a technical college, and decided that one day she too may become a social worker, a policewoman, a nurse. The sky had no limit.

As I think back to this event, sometimes this job is filled with anxiety, and unpredictable events. But sometimes we have a success story, that makes it all worth my pledge of being the best social worker and crisis clinician I can be to help my community.

The Nurses Revolt

(Google photo stock)

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Where do I begin?
Maybe at the beginning.
Let’s start with the degradation and devaluation of nurses across this country.

For decades, I lived the devaluing of nurses. Daily huddles from our nurse managers, to the ER nurses, ICU nurses, even Behavioral Health nurses. Emails and huddles about downsizing. Nurse- patient ratios. Decreasing nursing staff and increasing patients. ICU nurses typically had a 2:1 ratio and depending on the acuity of the patient, a 1:1 ratio. But as years went by, we watched our nursing world become increasingly unsafe. Decreasing our staff because we were told “for the sake of the budget.”

We watched the much needed and valued CNA’s and technicians disappear. Our EKG/secretaries disappear with less than a 2 week notice.

The degradation and devaluation of nurses.
We also watched the increase in CEO salaries… in the $millions/year not including their perks. The secrecy of “bonus checks” to our managers. The hospital board members receiving their financial bonus perks also. Every upper management padding their pockets as they rode on the backs of us nurses.

While we worked to keep patients alive. 12-14 hours a day. Rarely a 30 minute break. And rarely even a 15 minute break. The “tripling up” assignments. The dangerously unsafe assignments. The badgering and micromanage of managers. No matter what we did, how long we worked, Tripling our assignments… we were bad and awful and had to do better…. Better ….. or else we would pay the consequences. The threats.

The degradation.
The devaluation. Of us.

And then Covid happened. And then Delta/Covid happened. And with the mass refusal of receiving Covid vaccinations across our country, our ER’s and ICU’s filled up. Overfilled. Massive admissions of unvaccinated Covid patients desperately seeking to breathe. Desperately seeking ER and ICU admission.

And throughout these next two years, our ICU beds became scarce. It has become a vicious cycle. No ICU beds. No ICU/ER nurses. Ambulances and medics and paramedics backed up. 4 hour waits for a 911 call. Our healthcare system has become clogged, and failing.
And along with this crisis comes the emerging need for ICU nurses. For ER nurses. For Respiratory Therapists. Suddenly we are valued. And needed. And in high demand.
Suddenly, an ICU/ER nurse can make $5000- $10,000/ week with a travel agency.
And throughout years of physical and verbal abuse trickled down from CEO’s to our managers…. We fled for higher ground.

The staff members that stayed on board with their hospitals (without going to travel nursing) have not been compensated.

And a new degradation has begun.
ICU or ER staff nurse making $30-$40/hour standing and working next to a travel nurse making $5000 or more per week.
And hospitals not honoring the nurses that stayed on board but rewarding the travel nurses.
Is there an end in sight?

When this Covid potentially winds down… will we teach CEO’s, board members, upper management that we demand respect?
That we are college educated professionals?
Will Covid change the face of nurses throughout our country?

Time will only tell if lessons will be learned.
The greed of CEO’s and upper management is catching up with them.
And nurses are realizing and demanding their worth.

And I stand tall for all of the nurses who demand their respect and their worth.

By now, you know

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

You know that if you don’t get vaccinated and you don’t wear a mask, you potentially will die.
You go to super spreader events, big groups at beaches, football games, baseball games… loads of people laughing and clapping and shoulder to shoulder.

Your refusal of the mask and Covid vaccination almost seems like a passage. Beating your chest. The survivor. It won’t happen to me.

Until you can’t breathe anymore. Delta, doesn’t care about your rights.
Delta could care less if you call the others “sheep”. Delta could care less that you refuse to wear what you call a “muzzle.”

Delta cares about you not having any vaccination protection and no masks and it jumps from one host to the next. Lodging in your lungs, heart, kidney and brain. Your lungs stop working. Delta throws clots to your lungs and heart, your brain.
It’s a virus. A deadly virus. It’s not a Republican and it’s not a Democrat.

So when you come gasping into any ER, begging to breathe because delta attacks your lungs first, we try to fix you if we have room in the ER or in the ICU. But now you’ve overcrowded ERs and ICU’s.
Now you’ve shut down elective surgeries even emergent surgeries because there’s no more room left in the hospitals.

You refuse a vaccine in your body. But when you come to the hospital everything will be forced into your body. An ETT (endotracheal tube), a central line, an arterial line, IV drips for low BP’s, a paralytic, steroids, Ativan drip and morphine.
A Nasal gastric tube through your nose and into your stomach. A sheath to introduce dialysis for your damaged non-functioning kidneys. Weeks to months on a ventilator and we can’t wean your oxygenation down.

You’ve seen the pictures. You see us nurses and doctors begging you all to social distance, wear a mask and get the vaccine.
But you refuse.
Is it your badge of honor to refuse the vaccine but choose to die?
You’ve refused the vaccination infecting your children and your children infecting other children.
Because of your self righteousness
You’ve played jeopardy on many lives.
No mask and no vaccinations

Picture what you’ll look like in a body bag.
Because this is your “the end.”

The COVID killing fields

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I go to the hospital cafeteria to unwind from this night — another unpredictable one with irrational patients that randomly attempt to assault the staff.

This time, they missed. Behavioral health. Land of the psychotics and schizophrenics. But an incredible staff to work with.
This song blares out. “Easy Like Sunday Morning.” And I know that nothing is “easy” anymore.

I’ve heard it all about COVID vaccinations:

“It’s my body.”

“It’s not FDA-approved.”

“I have natural God-given immunity.”

“I’m not putting toxins in my body.”

But the facts are there.

The numbers keep rising.

The unvaccinated, who knew it “couldn’t happen to them.”

Certain states are overcrowded with COVID, Delta variant — mutated.

There are waiting lists to get into an ER or an ICU. Or to get intubated.

To say: “I should have gotten the vaccine.”

To say: “He didn’t make it.”

To say: “Death.”

Beyond ICU beds being rare, so are experienced ICU nurses.

You can’t clone an experienced ICU nurse, physician or respiratory therapist.

You can’t reawaken the soul of an ER nurse, paramedic or ICU nurse.

There’s a rationalization for the nurses. It’s coming down to quitting their profession because they are burnt to a crisp. Because they are afraid for themselves and their family. Or they are flocking to travel nurse agencies that offer as high as $5,700 per week.

This all creates a huge vacancy and vacuum in the nursing profession.

This could have been preventable.

But because of doubters, cynicism, resiliency, hoax theorists — your numbers are rising.

Soon, the light will go off.

The killing fields.

Unlike Motel 6, we won’t be able to keep the light on.

……

Originally published at KevinMD.com

The memories of a nurse’s old car

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Today. Finally, a day off.

I could oversleep, roll out of bed, then make a pot of coffee — and prepare for a “do nothing” day.

But today is the day.

After dealing with more electrical problems on this 160,000-mile-plus car, I will say goodbye, turn in the keys, and walk away.

This car holds memories: Taking the kids to the beach. Driving to our last trip to the mountains. My best friend’s Miami wedding. Taking our kids back to college.

I’ll say goodbye to the other baggage, too: Watching my now-deceased husband back out of the driveway to anxiously go on another trip out of town to meet with his business partner/lover. Another speech to convince me, “it’s just business.” Another trip to the airport to watch him leave again to England to meet with health care officials to plan health care educational films with her.

And then there are the memories of pictures splashed across social media of the two of them snuggled up in the backseat of a taxi. Memories of the trip he took to Boston to meet his work crew. His business buddies. And her. And then more pictures of them toasting their glasses of wine at a restaurant.

Their smiles flashed before me as I worked my 60-hour week to afford nice clothes for our kids, nice vacations, and college for all three — to finally buy a lovely house and leave behind that dilapidated two-bedroom mobile home.

And then, there was that other trip he couldn’t wait to go on. Only he held onto a dark secret — excruciating abdominal pain. No one knew because he wanted to make that trip to see her. All in the name of “business.”

We all found out later that my husband suffered severe abdominal pain silently until he couldn’t take the pain anymore. We all found out later that he had liver and pancreatic cancer.

I drove him to the hospital over and over again in that car — for appointments to the surgeon, oncologists, pain control physicians, the hospital, and emergency rooms for his two heart attacks. I have the memories of “I’m not having a heart attack. Leave me alone and mind your own business,” to “Would you take me to the hospital … again?” to his funeral.

That trip was his final destination in the mountains. As the wind spread his ashes across the peaks, we all said the last goodbye.

This old car.

I tried to suppress the memories that it carried for me.

But today, I remove the anchor wrapped around my ankle that tried to sink me to the bottom of the ocean.

Today, I leave this car on the lot.

Today, I drive away — in a new car.

I open up the windows and breathe again.

………

Originally Published at KevinMD.com

The horror of keeping a loved one alive at all costs

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

He was in his ICU bed without movement or brain stem involvement. His weight was down to 90 pounds.

His six-foot frame and skeletal body made me gasp.

After countless sessions with the patient’s daughter to make her 92-year-old dad “comfort care,” the intensivist sadly hung his head down low.

The daughter insisted on doing everything for her daddy.

It was my night shift, and I knew what was to be expected. Another endless code. A futile event to please a family member.

I’ll never understand this.

He coded twice on this day. The ICU doctors called in the ethics committee. But that was a process, and we had run out of time.

He coded on me this night — his third code blue in 24 hours. We pushed the code blue button. The nurses, an intensivist, a virtual ICU MD, respiratory therapists, and CNAs to assist in CPR showed up promptly. We all had our roles.

He was already on the ventilator.

Unresponsive.

Central line.

Levophed, vasopressin, and bicarbonate drips infusing.

His heart stood still.

Asystole.

The daughter and her husband insisted on watching the code. They wanted to make sure that everything that could be done was done.

They said they would have their lawyer “after us” if we did not do everything.

They watched us do CPR. They listened to his frail body as we cracked his ribs. They watched me push epinephrine, and we announced each medication we gave IV push — epinephrine every three to five minutes.

The doctors begged the daughter to let us stop.

He said that this treatment, this code was futile. It was brutal.

Yet, she refused.

After 15 minutes of CPR and never regained a pulse, asystole was his only rhythm. He essentially had “died” 15 minutes earlier.

And the ICU doctor said: “Stop CPR.”

The doctor addressed the daughter.

“After 15 minutes of vigorous CPR, epinephrine IV push, your father has not responded. He is without a pulse. He died. There’s nothing more we can do.”

I watched the daughter as she shook her head. “Daddy, you almost made it to 100 years. We tried daddy. We tried.”

I was in disbelief. I could not comprehend the brutality in this, how this was so inhumane.

How sad that we can end our own pets’ lives when they are suffering and dying, but we can’t accept humans to die peacefully.
This scene tormented me for months.

That song, “How could you be so heartless,” rang in my head over and over again.

…….

Originally Published on Kevin MD.com

The moral crippling of ICU nurses during COVID 19

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Maybe we can take a deep breath. And breathe out slowly. Check our pulse. Go on that vacation far away or just visit a beach and watch the crashing waves. Listen to the seagulls, the breeze, the blue skies. And turn our cell phones off.

But as an ICU nurse who loved this speciality, Covid patients in the ICU was a war zone.
One ICU room would now carry 2 patients. Short staffed, our work load doubled, as we were also faced with lack of PPE’s.

The violins and trumpets and guitars blasting out at the employee entrance with big banners telling us we were heroes, when we knew it was just a smoke screen. The truth was lack of PPE’s. Put your N95 mask in a paper bag and wear it every day with every patient for one full week. Gown and glove, and face shields. Hurry and use the bathroom because you may not be able to visit the toilet for the next 12 hours.

As I interviewed several Frontline ICU nurses in the aftermath of Covid, I watched them talk to me, with their head hanging low. Monotone voice. And I heard the same replies.

Anxiety. Depression. Defeat. Death.
And it didn’t matter how many balloons or banners were at our front gate, we knew that we were working with the minimum. And we knew the outcome usually was death.

Camaraderie weakened and the need for critical care nurses grew exponentially throughout the USA. Some hospitals offering $5000-$6000 per week. And the ICU nurses knowing the chaos, the shortage of nurses, ran to other jobs for the money. And why not?
Leaving a huge gap with the ones left behind.
We isolated ourselves from our own family, fearful.

Fearful that we may be carrying the virus. Fearful of spreading it to our loved ones. There were no hugs and kisses and mommy/daddy…. We’re home from work. It was “don’t hug me, don’t touch me” as we took our decontamination shower and isolated ourselves.

We knew the drill. Bipap, then ventilator, central line, arterial line, IV pressors, steroids, plasma, dialysis. Prone position. Experimental drugs. Scrambling to see which one would work. Medically paralyzing the patient to get maximum oxygenation. Physicians and nurses and respiratory therapists working side by side.
A team of dwindling hope.

The patients not getting better. Nurses and physicians communicating via FaceTime with family members. Do everything. Crying, defeat.
The final goodbye as the nurse stood in for the family, holding the hand of a patient as they let out their last gasp. Watching a heart rate go from 140 to 40 in a split second.

And then the laypeople. The ones with no medical knowledge. The disrespect. The refusal to wear masks in public. The politics. The hoax theme. If they only knew. If they only were in our shoes in any ICU. If they only saw the battle of fighting for someone’s life and failing over and over again.

Depression, anxiety, helplessness, lack of sleep, fear, worry, empathy. And then came the physical signs of fatigue and defeat like headaches, nausea, exhaustion, breathlessness. Loss of appetite. And failure.

We didn’t need the music and the balloons and the banners clocking into the hospital. We didn’t need the “Hero status”. We didn’t need the pat on the backs.

What we needed were appropriate and plentiful PPE’s, safe nurse-patient ratio. Equipment that worked.

And day after day we knew after one patient we mechanically kept alive for 20 to 30 days and then pronounced their death and wrapped them up in a body bag, environmental services would hurry and clean and sanitize that bed for the next one. One after another. Only to know the outcome was death.

And now we can be thankful for those that stood in line and took the vaccine. We finally see the numbers go down. A sigh of relief.

A deep respect for this virus. A deep respect for science. For nurses and physicians and respiratory therapists. For the environmental services. For the educators that kept pounding away the message that this is real.

We bow our heads. And take that deep breath.
And I watch the waves crash into the sands.
And I empty my thoughts and can only hope and pray.

Never again.

Dearest mommie.

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

She lay listless in bed.
Agonal breathing.
Only 63 years old.

Before stage 4 colon cancer totally claimed my mother, she chose to come home. Her bedroom. And she’d stare for one more time out her window, at her dogwood trees. That symbolized to her the petals with the blood of Jesus. So they said.

A once vibrant Italian Catholic and mother of 4. She was the perfect wife of an IBM executive.

But it was all for show. The large house, the lake house with a matching boat. The private Catholic school. But we the children faced years and years of neglect, verbal abuse and demands.

“You’re dumb and stupid and fat”.
“You will be a nurse.” “You can not go off to college.” “You will stay in this house while in nursing school.”.

As I literally watched my daddy, lose his executive jobs, lose his lake house, while becoming a non-functional alcoholic. Bumping into the walls at night after he drank his daily gallon of wine, intermittently splashed with a case of beer. Once I got my driver’s license, I had to retrieve that for him. Every other day. The cases of beer. Humiliating.

Mother had the finest clothes. Designer clothes. She didn’t work. She had a housekeeper. And unless us children could sew an outfit for public school (after we graduated from our uniformed private Catholic school), we were doomed.

I couldn’t sew.
I was that laughing stock.
The big house showed wealth and prosper. The truth was inside. Dark, curtains drawn and constant ridicule.

Somehow, maybe through our guardian angels, we became a masters degree level teacher, a CRNA, a critical care nurse, and a civil engineer. But we silently carried our wounds of childhood throughout our adult life.

We took turns taking care of our dying mother. It was my turn. And my 2 year old daughter would stand next to me as she watched me reposition my mother in bed. Clean my mother’s bowel movement in bed. Her urinated sheets, in bed.

I felt some type of obligation as a daughter. But any type of love for mother was gone.
I was just a functioning zombie.
Cleaning her bowel movements over and over again and revisiting in my mind, the neglect and ridicule and the constant degradation of my fragile ego.

Mother’s best friend came to visit her often. She was given permission to give mother the “last rites”. She slowly placed a half dollar size host in my mother’s mouth.

My one sister yelled, “Don’t do it, she’ll aspirate on the communion host!” But mom’s friend felt obligated to fulfill this ritual. So she gave mom, “the body of Christ”

And as predicted, mom coughed, and gagged and aspirated and spit out some of the host that lay on the sheets. Now…what do you do with the remainder of the host? The splattered out “body of Christ” spit out over the sheets.

Rituals.

The hospice nurse stood by.
Administering minute doses of subcutaneous morphine. Enough that would never be enough.
But my secret hero, my sister-like friend told mom, “you can’t die tomorrow. Tomorrow is Friday 13th. That’s bad luck. And you can’t die on Sunday, because that’s Easter Sunday and the Catholic Church won’t bury you on Easter Sunday. So if you don’t die today, Thursday, they’ll have to keep you in a refrigerated morgue until Monday.”

Rituals.

Therefore, today, is the day you’ll have to die. Which happened to be mom’s daughter’s birthday. The twins.

Rituals.

And so with the protest from the hospice nurse, mother was criss- crossed with Fentanyl patches. Because the subq morphine did nothing.

Her breathing became shallow and agonal.
Her once plump body wasting away, as her wedding ring fell off her finger onto the hard wood floors.

A deafening sound.
A sound of surrender.
A sound of no more pain.
A sound of never again: negligence and torment and verbal abuse…..

But the echoes of abuse live on….
The extinction of our lifelong sadness… of a pretend fairytale life….comes back to all of us randomly…when we least expect it.

The Zoom Nursing Interview

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I have dedicated 35 years of my life as a nurse: in the ICU for 33 years and behavioral health/intensive management for the last two.

I thought it would be time to take a break from ICU nursing. Surely behavioral health would be a lot easier — kind of a slide into my near-future retirement.

I entered into the land of psychotics and schizophrenics, bipolar, homeless, dangerous patients from prison, like those serving time for killing people or assaulting them. Then there were the non-compliants that looked away from treatment, therapy and medications — the revolving door.

It wasn’t the Land of Oz. We weren’t in Kansas anymore.

I’ve enjoyed these quite interesting last two years. What an intriguing nursing profession. And I’ve learned a lot.

First: to be kind and gentle and listen and care. Your compassion for that person may be all that patient has received in a very long time.

Second: I also learned that I absolutely can’t tolerate nursing bullies. There always seems to be one cruel nurse in the bunch. I don’t do well with them. I avoid them. I definitely can’t confront them. They scare me, but they also make me angry. Because I know the fault is not in me but in them. I try to analyze this kind of nurse. Did she grow up with such anger, maybe neglect, and she’s acting out? And when management turns a blind eye to this behavior, the environment becomes toxic.

I valued my safety and the safety of the staff and the patients. And when management chose the budget over safety — even though they professed to be “the best” after seeing and hearing of dangerous incidents one after the other — I knew I’d have to look for a job yet again.

Maybe I’d go back to ICU at a smaller hospital with lower acuities. Maybe I’d find myself as an ER behavioral health professional who provided 24/7 public safety officers.

I applied to three different positions.

I’m 65 years old. And I have 10 months left before retirement.

I would think with my 33 years of ICU experience, my last few years in behavioral health/intensive management, that I’d be an easy “yes.”

But all three turned me down.

Was it because I only had 10 months left to retire?

Or was it because I lost my “filter”?

I lost the “right” things to say during an interview.

Question: “What are your long-term goals?”

My answer: To take a long, much-needed vacation to the Bahamas. I deserve it (chuckle).

Question: “What would you bring to the table here in the ER with all of your expertise?”

My answer: First, I’d buy you a brand new coffee pot! I have to have my coffee. And you all definitely need a better brand!

I thought they’d catch my humor?

Obviously, they did not.

I was honest, though. Sometimes they don’t want you to be honest.

But during this Zoom interview, I also added my years of experience, my current, and active certifications, that I was a killer at starting IVs and that the most important lesson to ever learn or carry out with patients is kindness and sincerity.

Both of these go a long way. And whether a patient is in the ICU, ER or behavioral health, they’ve all been injured, mentally, physically or both.

In my long years of being a nurse, kindness has to be at the top.

I was turned down, one after the other. I felt my self-worth had hit rock bottom. I use to be this “famous” ICU nurse, and now I’m this fading 65 year old.

So here I stand. 10 months to go. Maybe these other jobs just weren’t meant to be.

Maybe I can no longer filter out what they want to hear.

I’ve had 35 years of incredible memories, incredible nurses and physicians and respiratory therapists, all of us connecting the dots in life through work, through our “grits therapy breakfast,” and through our trauma and triumphs in nursing and our own lives.

I guess I’m just supposed to “stay put” until the winds blow me into my next journey in life.

……………

Originally published at KevinMD.com