Morticia Addams, RN

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Some say that a nurse’s most important trait is having a spine. The next most important trait, of course, is having chutzpah.

The following is an excerpt from the chapter “Sisters of the Air” in A Nurse’s Story: Life, Death and In-Between in an Intensive Care Unit by Tilda Shalof.

I noticed that everyone was calling her by a new nickname and I asked why.

“It’s because of what happened the other night at work,” said Nicole. “Tell Tilda about it.”

Justine needed no prodding.

“Some lab technician calls to tell me that my patient’s potassium is 3.1 mmols. This guy hardly speaks a word of English—’verry creetee-cull reee-sult,’ he’s saying. I say to him, ‘Okay, it’s 3.1, gotcha. Goodbye.’ But then he asks my name. What right does he have to ask my name? ‘Why do you need my name?’ I ask. Some new policy about verification. Okey-dokey. I say, ‘My name is Pippi. Pippi Longstocking.’ A minute later his supervisor calls back to ask my real name. It’s his job, he says. This is serious business and he has no time for games. I say, ‘Pippi’—and slam the phone down.”

“Did she ever!” said Nicole.

“So the guy calls back and I say, ‘Okay, you’re right, I was kidding about Pippi. My name is Morticia. Morticia Addams.’ And he buys that!”

“We laughed about it all night,” said Tracy.

The name stuck. She became Morty.

The next night there was a sequel.

Never one to leave a prank well enough alone, Justine rummaged around in the refrigerator, which was always cluttered with Tupperware containers of old food and plastic bags filled with abandoned lunches. She found a Thermos with some sort of slimy substance in it, and slapped a big yellow sticker on it labeled “Biohazardous Material: Handle With Caution” and sent it off to the Microbiology lab, along with a requisition to identify the contents!

Later that day, Rosemary came over to Justine, who was working beside me that day.  She had a puzzled expression and held out a lab report to Justine. “Is this for you, by any chance?” she asked.

It was addressed, “Attention to Morticia Addams, Staff Nurse, Medical-Surgical ICU.”

“Microbiology Results: Identification of Thermos contents: Ravioli.”

Excerpted from A Nurse’s Story: Life, Death and In-Between in an Intensive Care Unit. Copyright © 2004 Tilda Shalof. Published by McClelland & Stewart Ltd. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

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Tilda Shalof

Tilda Shalof RN, BScN, CNCC (C) has been a staff nurse in the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Toronto General Hospital of the University Health Network, for the past twenty-four years. She is also the author of the bestseller, A Nurse’s Story and an outspoken patient advocate, passionate nurse leader, public speaker, and media commentator. She lives in Toronto with her husband, Ivan Lewis and their two sons, Harry and Max. Learn more about Tilda and her books at

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One Response to Morticia Addams, RN

  1. shortperson210 RN

    I tagged one of my beloved co-workers “Chester” the Molester – we are the same ht however she is rather well endowed; working on a busy post-surg floor we were often bumping into each other trying to get through the narc rm door. I looked at her and said stop molesting me w/your chest…and started calling her Chester. Well because of her endowment she often spills things on herself, one night reaching for something she leaned into a cup of coffee – so it soon picked up that now she was molesting beverages w/her chest. Chester is from Boston and still has a fairly thick accent, we work in the south, and while she was listening to a pts chest she said “you have nice breaths” – the pt (male) said rather confused, well no one ever told me that before as he started to blush, she then asked him what he thought she said – yup – “he has nice breasts” so now she was confirmed to have been “molesting” the pts – lol. Eventually, everyone, from nsg staff, lab, rad staff and mds started to call her “Chester” but the best one was when her daughter was cutting a clients hair and she mentioned she worked on our unit on nights, so the daughter says, you must know my mom – “Kathy M….”, she looked confused stating no, but the daughter persisted and said “you must have worked with her last night..” the client said no there was no Kathy working. The daughter says did you work w/”Chester” – lightbulb – oh yea I worked w/her – what her real name is Kathy??? Now even her close friends refer to her as Chester…