Friday, November 25, 2016

Say goodnight, Gracie.

Ladies and germs, I have worked my last shift at Sunnydale Hospital (Healthcare for the Hellmouth)(Fully-owned and operated subsidiary of Giganto Research and Education Corp., Inc., LLP).

I start a few days from now at a very posh and very private surgical center, doing pre-op and post-op stuff. It was time. It was, honestly, past time.

In the past couple of years, Kitty and Bethie and I have busted our asses to get and then maintain certification. Sunnydale just got magnet status. We've earned five stars from whatever group it is that rates patient care that way. We've earned gold medals from the folks who figure out how many patients you have die, or come back, or otherwise not do well. We have, with our coworkers, rocked it. Our unit is the highest-rated unit in the system, in terms of safety and success and patient satisfaction.

And in return, we got staff cuts. Bethie got accused by a crazy family of abusing a patient and was left to dry in the sun by Manglement; she spent two days on her own dealing with detectives and forensics teams and lawyers and so on without a peep from her bosses. And when Kitty and I went to those bosses on her behalf, we got promises and no action.

So, yeah. It was time.

In a way, my fourteen years at Sunnydale remind me a lot of my marriage: Erstwhile Hub and I had a number of really good years, but then he began a slow slide into insanity. That culminated in something so bad, so unforgivable, so weird, that I had to walk away.

I've spent the last two weeks wondering how on earth I'm going to say goodbye to all these people. The people at my work got me through a divorce and took care of me after Dr. Heron cut the roof of my mouth out and sent it to Pathology. I've been the funeral of a coworker--it was possible because nurses from all over the hospital came in on their days off and moved down the hall in a flying wedge that allowed all of us to pass on care for a couple of hours. I've been to funerals for husbands and wives and daughters and sons. I've also gotten birth announcements and wedding invitations and innumerable emails and Facebook messages from patients and coworkers, letting me share in tiny good and tiny bad things. I've cooked Thanksgiving feasts and had a couple of surprise birthday parties.

You hear a lot of businesses say, "Our employees are family," but in this case it's true. Above my immediate manager is nobody I'd piss on if they were on fire, but below that? Lidia and Carolita and Edgar and James and Lisa and all those other folks are my family.

James made the comment the other day that he and I are the longest relationship he's ever had. He was the one who looked up my NCLEX score to see if I'd passed, back on the third day of our internship together, because I was too afraid to.

I spent days and days going to every department in turn, repeatedly, and I'm sure I still missed people. I'll visit, sure, but it won't be the same. And we're all pals on Facebook, but it won't be the same. Saying goodbye was hard.

And saying goodbye to you guys won't be any easier.

I'm shutting down HN. Let's be honest: "Preop-and-PACU-Nurse" just doesn't have the ring that "Head Nurse" does. I've done brains for so long that the thought of switching to something else is a little scary. Maybe someday later I'll have more stories to tell, those about healthy people getting elective surgeries and my taking care of them for two hours. For now, though, this is a good break. It's a period at the end of a long, amazing, convoluted sentence that any Restoration author would be proud of.

Because you know what you did? You, the idiots who keep checking in on HN, did this:

You kept me sane during times that I had nothing left. You got me through working nights, through having cancer, through a nasty breakup, through periods of self-doubt that encompassed not only my work but my self.

You emailed me with questions and criticisms and reflections that made me think hard about my life and sometimes go back and edit things here.

You bought two enormously expensive therapeutic jaw-stretcher dealios for people who couldn't afford them, thus allowing any number of people (because the devices were sanitized and passed around) to be able to do things like brush their teeth and eat after cancer surgery.

You contributed a thousand dollars to the Oral Cancer Foundation, because you cared about what I'd been through.

And you all, because you were generous enough to let me siphon off money you'd donated for a friend in need, made it possible for my friends Kevin and Sarah to stay in their apartment during the last weeks of Kevin's life. You paid their rent and electricity bills, and because of that, Kevin got to watch one last episode of "Doctor Who" with Sarah before the brain tumor he had rendered him unconscious.

Most of all, though, you responded to what I wrote here and made it better. There were a lot of times I thought I was writing into a void, and you told me that wasn't the case. I've said a lot of stupid shit and been called on it, and once in a while I've said something here that seemed to resonate with people, and that's made me think that maybe the world is pretty cool after all.

The money was great, because it accomplished tangible things.

The love and support and feedback and sometimes outright rage has been infinitely more valuable.

Thank you for wasting time here. May your pumps always have full batteries and your ventriculostomies always be level.


  1. All good wishes, and if you ever choose to blog again, I'm among those who will be very happy to learn what has been going on in your new life.

  2. It's a time of change all around. Best of everything to you and yours. I hope you will find it in you to write.
    Via Con Huevos!

  3. Oh my! I will miss you and your funny, touching, well worth the wait for blog posts. You're a roll model to me I started reading years ago when I was but a mature (maybe not so much) nursing student devouring all the interwebs and your talent and wit shines. You have provided me with many laughs and some tears so best wishes to you. You say we got you through so tough times well I remember your comments about us readers here in Christchurch after our Big earthquake in 2010, so right back at you. If you ever come to Christchurch.....
    may your next job be exactly what you hope.
    Jacqui Bennetts

  4. Nooooo, I will miss you so very much, even though I have never met you, I have felt you were a friend. I could relate to so many of your stories, and they made me feel like I wasn't alone or crazy when I was experiencing many of the same things. Have a wonderful and blessed break, I hope your new job brings you some happiness and less stress. I hope you come back, I will be waiting.
    P.S. if you DO come back how will we know? lol

  5. And thank YOU, Jo, for your delightful writing, snarky comments, and this wonderful blog! You helped this RN through some tough times too! I hope you find a new family and a much better workplace at your new job. Sunnydale doesn't know what it is missing...yet. Be well. Nora,a longtime lurker.

  6. Way back in the day, I too left critical care for the soothing bath that was OR. It made me sane again, and even though I no longer work in peri-op, I am so very grateful for the time I had there. I wish you all the best, and will miss your voice. If you ever come on back to blogging, I hope I run across are a singular individual. Take care :)

  7. Wishing you all the luck in the world. I am also planning my exit after getting 'feedback'. Healthcare is more about dollars and cents and no longer about people, sad.

  8. You will be missed, and i wish you all the best in your new job.

  9. Thanks for your writing. I'm sure going to miss reading your blog.

    But take good care, and have a great new job!

  10. Godspeed... I feel your pain and hope for a bright future for you. I have been a nurse for 34 yrs and have fought the same battles. I hope you get the bsn and carry on for a masters!

  11. It absolutely was not wasting time. Love you now and always. I would really like to stay in touch with another RW, so ping if you are interested.

  12. Gretchen6:23 PM

    I'm glad you had the opportunity to move on when it was time. Best of all possible wishes for your new role.

    I'll miss you.

  13. Your stories are very moving and inspired me to continue on with my foolish blog. I think any nurse that survives nursing school and spends years at the bedside has a lifetime of stories to tell. I am biased, but the most meaningful stories come from bedside nurses. I have yet to hear a heart warming story from a utilization review or computer nerd nurse. May you find peace and fulfillment at your new position. I would still love to her more of your stories. Beat wishes and hats off to you.

  14. Oh, Jo!! You will be much, much missed here in Bloglandia.

    I think you are right to leave Sunnydale, though ~ I've 'seen' your frustrations growing as you tried (and did) to provide the best care. {not the best English, but you know what I mean}
    I'm glad you are getting out before your were driven out, either by Manglement or by way of a breakdown.

    I have laughed with you, cried with you, rooted for you, and cheered you on. You are my sister in nursing.

    I wish for you all the very best in your new job. I went from open hearts to "Come & Go" too ~ I think you will find just as much humor and pathos!

    Like Anne above, please let us know if you ever come back to Bloglandia.

    All the best, and hugs, if I may ~


  15. Good luck to you! We'll miss you here. 😔

  16. I will miss you, Jo! I hope you'll be pleased to know that whenever I'm fiddling with something and it's not working, I say to myself, "If you have to jack with it, it's wrong." So thank you for that. Good luck at your new gig!

  17. I am incredibly sad to think we will all lose contact with you in blogland - I have followed you through a very large chunk of all of those memories. Quite understand the decision and wish you all the very best in the future - may you continue to grow and develop a wonderful new life. If you return to blogging, I hope you will put up a post to send us there. Kia Kaha xx

  18. Mick Anderson3:11 AM

    The achievements that you are (rightly) proud of, and the money that you raised is simply your reaping what you have sown. Good things should happen around good people; it was simply a demonstration of Karma.

    Here's wishing you all the luck and love that you'd hope for yourself.

  19. Congratulations and good luck on your move forward. Thank you for sharing your life stories (creatively edited though they may be).

  20. Thank you Jo for giving us insight about what it is like to be on both sides of the bed with openness and humor. I am glad you explained where and why you are moving on. It's so frustrating when a blogger just disappears without explanation and leaves us hanging. I hope you go on to enjoy good health and a good career. Thanks so much!

  21. Anonymous9:50 AM

    Damn it, Jo!! Thanks--for the laughter and the tears......and for sharing one hell of an amazing and personal perspective on the world around you.

  22. clairesmum10:02 AM

    Thanks, Jo, for sharing your life and your wonderful writing with those of us out here in Bloglandia.
    I'm a nurse in a dfferent part of the profession - gerontology, addiction/mental health, and now hospice.
    You have helped me understand your part of the profession and when I have a family member in acute/intensive care I pray their RNS are like Jo..and that when it is my turn in that bed, someone with your combination of skills, smarts, and spirit will be my nurse, too.
    Your cancer journey scared me and then showed me how to understand a little better and walk a little closer with patients, and to have faith in the power of the human spirit.
    I understand that when you come to the end of one chapter of life you sometimes need to let go of other parts as well...making enough space for the next chapter to blossom and fill with new adventures and experiences.
    May you have fair seas and following winds as you move forward in your life's journey....
    and thank you for sharing these past chapters with us. Be well.

  23. I am so proud of you, and happy for you. I do wish you would keep the blog going, just to keep everyone up-to-date on what's going on with you, what you gotta do.


  24. I'm a newbie nurse here, I've spent my whole 3 years of nursing on M/S. I'm transitioning to neuro ICU in just a few weeks! Happy to have a place I can commiserate and laugh when I need it. Best wishes in the pre-op world!

  25. As a long time lurker, I couldn't let you go without saying thank you. Your humor, honesty, and all around bad-assness was a bright spot and a place I looked to for guidance as I figured out my footing as a new pedi neuro NP. You'll be missed!

  26. Thank you for all you've shared here. I've rarely commented, but have read faithfully. Your blog saw me through a career change including nursing school at age 40, midwifery school, and a difficult launch into this new world. Your humor and practicality were good companions. I wish you all the best.

  27. Anonymous5:48 PM

    It's way too final for me to remove Head Nurse from my favorites list. I hope you come back with a different blog because what you say is always important. You have a good view of life that needs to be shared. Thank you for some great reads. Ann

  28. Anonymous4:09 AM

    Oh Jo, you will be SO missed, here (And on your floor I don't doubt). I can tell you, there will always, ALWAYS be something to write about/gain insight from. I do hope you post updates here and there. I have been an RN for 16 years, moved from L&D to a procedural area and thought it would be blissfully boring. Nope.
    I wish you all the very best in life and career. I know you'll bring an amazing nurse to every patient.
    May your consents always be signed and your patients REALLY be NPO

  29. Thank you. Just thank you.

  30. Good luck on your new venture. It's hard to walk away from a great work family. That's what keeps me at my current position. I've decided that management will always be clueless. I've been a nurse for 30 years, 10 of which have been as an NP. Nothing changes. Once a nurse, always a nurse.

    I'll miss your blog.

  31. Just had to take my glasses off , they seemed to have steamed up . ;-)
    As we say in the Uk - " Good on yer Girl and don`t let anyone crap on yer " .
    God Bless Love .
    Will miss reading your Blog .

  32. "Head Nurse" is just part of your history, former chapters. I wish you would continue documenting your story. I'm JUST starting to share mine and I really appreciate what you have done here. Feel free to reach out!


  33. Best of luck to you, and I hope you will write again someday. Great decision, you don't need the hassle and risk you have written about. And you will still get to make a difference in people's lives.

  34. Trick Douloureux10:22 AM

    Well, this makes me selfishly sad for myself but happy for you. I started reading you when I was a wee nursing student. You saw me through that, becoming a neuro nurse, becoming an ICU nurse, becoming an SCRN, becoming a CNRN, and now finishing my BSN at last. (All while right up the road from you in Bigtown.) I recognize your voice on some of the other online haunts you're on. You've been very important to a lot of us. I still share your new nurse advice post annually. Thank you for all of it.

  35. Congratulations, Jo. I'll miss reading your blog no end, but am seriously happy to hear about your switch. Wishing you the best.

  36. Your story literally left me with tears and I have a great hope May you have a bright future ahead.Nursing Dissertation Help

  37. Am glad that you are getting out of what has clearly become a horribly managed workplace but I will miss you and your take on the world. Best of luck with the new gig and all else.

  38. Anonymous6:48 AM

    I am so sad to see you go, and yet so happy for you to move on hopefully to something that will bring you joy and better work/life balance. All the love to you and you animals and family and friends. Thank you so much!

  39. Hey, Jo!
    Thanks for the ride! It was one hell of a trip. I hope you have a wonderful New Thing.

  40. Sorry to see you leaving the blog world. You were my favorite nursing blogger, and it wasn't even close.

    Best of luck to you in your new job!!!

  41. oh wow, will miss your blog. You are a gifted writer as well as a compassionate woman. I hope you decide to journal again. I would love to Facebook with you but not sure you want to go that route. Kelly from Canada

  42. Thanks for many years of thoughtful writing, I will miss your smart, no-BS take on life. I wish you well in your new job, and hope it provides a welcome respite from the stress and frustration of Sunnyvale. Do please let us know if you decide to take up blogging again some day. I would gladly read your take on just about anything!

  43. My dearest Jo,

    I originally found you through Crabby. I've greatly appreciated your "look behind the curtain" to nursing and all it's beauty and horror. Your openness about your experience with Cap'n Lumpy meant a great deal to me. Both subject matters have opened me to looking at my interactions with hospitals and health care staff in new ways.

    We may have never met or even exchanged an email, but I wish you all the best in your new adventure. Personally, I won't be removing Head Nurse from my Feedly list...maybe someday you'll be back. :)

    I have the honor to be your obedient servant...
    (Sorry. We're on a Hamilton kick over here. Couldn't resist.)

  44. Anonymous1:05 PM

    It's like losing someone you've been meeting for coffee and discussion for years, and suddenly they just don't show up anymore. Really sad but unfortunately inevitable.

    Seen so many good blogs, sadly, go this way, particularly this one; my wife is from a family of nurses, and through them I have spread the word of your blog to their nursing community.

    Thanks for all the unique insights and story's, the struggle for life you shared and tactics in the ongoing war with manglement; my wife is very familiar with the folly of the fools who manage to worm their way into positions of responsibility, only to demonstrate the again truth of the "Peter Principle."

    Be happy and find peace and sanity in your new position.


    Eugene In San Diego

  45. Anonymous3:01 PM

    All the best to you, Jo, and thank you for your humor, insight, and just plain decency. I will miss you terribly, and I hope that you will return to blogging someday.

    --Queen Anne's Lace

  46. I'll miss you. Your writing is fun to read, and the stories are always worth reading.

    (Followed you over from a board we both used to post on, and was glad to be able to keep up on your life, even though I only lurked here (and hi Penny too!))

  47. Cathy H-S6:44 PM

    Thank you for several years of inspiration and commiseration, not to mention the term
    manglement. FYI, I changed employers in September, at age 62, after manglement supreme laid me off after 24+ years, and I'm doing fine. And you will be too. Hugs & best wishes.

  48. I found your blog as a patient but kept reading because you write so well. Good luck and best wishes to you.

  49. Mick Anderson3:29 AM

    If you put a tip jar up for a week, we could buy you a goodbye drink ;-)

  50. Good luck Jo, all the very best.
    I shall miss your blog - all my favourite blogs are going one by one or changing so they are very different and more impersonal.
    My entire family have been/are in healthcare - what you've been through is being repeated all over the place and it stinks - and I doubt it will improve. Hope your new job is all you want it to be as long as you need it to be.

    Remember once, before cansuh, you were thinking of coming this way? We in the Old World are still waiting xxxxx

  51. I am another who will miss you. I follow very few blogs anymore. The best ones have a tendency to fade away, and I've had a feeling you'd be wrapping up soon. I do hope you find a reason to return, but either way, may peace and joy accompany you on your new adventures.

  52. Good night, Gracie. And thank you, Jo. I know you will be the best damn day surg nurse your patients deserve. I wish you the best

  53. I hope your move takes you somewhere with great people. I have really enjoyed reading your writing and I will miss you.

  54. Best of luck on your new adventures......

  55. Anonymous6:04 PM

    You have real heart and style as a writer. If you aren't blogging...maybe it's time for other kinds of writing? Thank you for sharing your stories with us!

  56. I will miss you. Your writing has been excellent through the years. Every piece has been a joy to read. I hope you like the new job. It does sound like a good time to leave the current job. Thanks for the window into your world.

  57. Oh no!!!!! (!)

    I understand the reasons and of course respect your right to say this is the end, but I can't tell you how much I'll miss reading your writing.

    I'm not a nurse, not even in the medical field, but you write of things in such a quirky, thoughtful manner with such wit and pathos and humor and honesty... I greatly enjoyed reading even when the subject was sad, or scary. You just have that kind of gift for storytelling and the rare ability to write enchantingly well. I feel such a sense of loss knowing there won't be more to come.

    I'm not a regular commenter (used to comment occasionally as Lala), but I've been a regular reader for years. Thank you so much for the time you felt comfortable sharing yourself with all of us. And the absolute best wishes for whatever your future holds for you. And I'll still be following here in case you do decide sometime in the future that there is more to write.

  58. Wayne D9:51 PM

    You have said a lot many times even when you think you said nothing, it all is worth the read, I have felt your good times,bad times and respect what you did. Going to miss you, and if you ever do another blog again, let us all know where to look. Good luck in new position.

  59. Cindy5:39 PM

    As a fellow RN I loved reading your blog. You are a great story teller and have a great way with words. I am glad that you are getting a break and hope it fulfills you. Happy trails!!

  60. yrsis9:30 AM

    I get to see you in real life and I'm still crying about the loss of HN. It's an extraordinary piece of your heart and it's become part of mine.

    yr sis

  61. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Aw. Longtime lurker and fellow neuro nurse. Have loved reading your blog and following your adventures. Good luck in PACU world!

  62. I'll miss you, Jo. "Head nurse" saw me go from being an editor, to a nursing student, to a neuro nurse, to a nurse educator. You're a source of inspiration and laughter.

  63. Will miss you. This all could have been different if there were unions in Texas, like we have in California. You did good good work.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.