Break Room

5 things I’ll never do now that I’m a nurse

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Oh, heavens. When I look back on some of the crazy stuff I did as a young’un, I can’t catch my breath. Working in a hospital that specializes in neurocritical care has meant a big change in my perceptions of what’s smart and what’s not.

I wasn’t all that wild as a teenager and young adult, really. (Hi Mom!) There were just some things I did that I remember with awe.

Now that I’m a nurse, I would never:

1. Go car-surfing while a buddy of mine attempts to shoot me with a homemade bazooka that fires things tied to firecrackers.
You’d think this would be self-explanatory, wouldn’t you? It’s not.

2. Mix muscle relaxants, alcohol and Tylenol.
I shudder to think that I actually did this more than once, back when I was working in a college bookstore. Something about lifting three or four tons of books a day made it seem like a really good idea.

3. Ski.
If somebody came up to you and said, “Hey! I want you to hurl yourself down this steep hill while wearing a pair of fiberglass knife blades attached to your feet!” you’d look at him like he was cray to the cray to the zee. Yet, if the same person said, “Hey! Let’s go skiing!” you’d be all over it, wouldn’t you? I was, before I saw what running into a tree could do to a brain.

4. Assume that I know anything about anything.
People think that because you’re a nurse, you’ll know everything there is to know about everything from wound glue to chest tubes to newborns. It’s not true. You might have a good overview of things when you come out of school, but specialization rapidly deprives you of any knowledge you might’ve had outside of your field. I tell doctors all the time, “Don’t assume I know jack about what you’re doing, okay?” and it’s true.

5. Take my health or my ability to move for granted.
Any day spent on the right side of the ground is a good day. I am not kidding. If you can get up, move around, take care of yourself in a reasonable manner and communicate somehow, you’re way ahead of a whole bunch of people that I see every day. I have never been so thankful for what I’ve got, and so determined to keep it, as I was after seeing a few brain-injured people in a rehab facility.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at askauntieaggie@gmail.com.

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