When I was fifteen, I volunteered at a local hospital in the Mail and Flowers department.
A few times a week, I donned a blue gingham smock and would spend several hours delivering, well, mail and flowers to the patients and families. As I’d make my way through the hospital, the sights and sounds of the different patient units were fascinating to me. The fast paced frenzy of the ICU, the hustle and bustle of a medical surgical floor, and the cheerful atmosphere on the Labor and Delivery floor were intoxicating to me. It was that summer that I decided I wanted to be a registered nurse.
And that’s just what I did.
I graduated from nursing school in 1997 with my Bachelor’s of Science and Nursing and promptly got a job in an inner city hospital in Philadelphia. While my first year was spent earning my chops working night shift on a migraine headache unit (yes, that’s a thing and yes, it’s as bad as it sounds), I eventually landed a job cross covering the Cardiac ICU and related step down unit.
And I loved every minute of it.
I didn’t just love the adrenaline rush of running medical codes or the complexities of maintaining a patient on a ventilator, either. No, I loved the underbelly of nursing, too: sitting with families during their darkest hour, having the privilege of witnessing a patient’s last earthly breath and working with patients who were dealing with devastating health issues. I learned to advocate for my patients (read: stand up to arrogant doctors and their bullshit) and I learned that I had a bladder designed to go almost 12 hours without relief.
Over the course of the last twenty years, I have worked on countless medical surgical units and Emergency Departments. When my children arrived, I traded the frenetic pace of the ICU for the quiet simplicity of working as an associate school nurse in our school district. My friends know me as the nurse they can count on when their children are sick or hurt and I’ve stopped at my fair share of accident scenes when duty calls.
Though I make my living these days as a writer, being a nurse is who I am. Nursing in my blood and it’s what brings me the most joy in life.
So, when I heard that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN had a Blogging Ambassador program, I knew I had to apply. When I filled out my application last summer, I prayed that I would be the right fit for such an esteemed program. The opportunity to meld my writing world with my nursing soul is a dream come true. St. Jude Blogger Ambassadors assist the hospital with the very real need for contributions so that families who visit St. Jude in hopes of a cure don’t have to pay a dime while they stay.
I dare you to watch this video and not sob like a baby. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
When I received the email a few weeks ago that they’d accepted my application, I couldn’t stop crying.
You guys, I’m going to Graceland.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is flying me out to Memphis in a few weeks so that I can meet with patients, families and staff and tell you all about the amazing services they offer.
I’m going to join forces with other bloggers to raise awareness for the St. Jude fundraising efforts that help support the doctors and scientists who work tirelessly to find a cure to childhood cancer.
I’m going to get to meet the nurses and doctors who spend their days making sure their smallest patients feel safe and secure and reassure their parents that all is not going to be lost to cancer.
I’m going to get to see firsthand what hope looks like in action.
That’s a word we don’t hear of too often these days.
But, from what I hear, it’s alive and well in Memphis, TN.
And I’m gonna go investigate.
Because we all need a little hope in our lives.
And that Memphis BBQ that I’ll undoubtedly inhale is going to taste even sweeter with a side of hope and promise.