Dear Joy Behar, A Thank You From a Nurse’s Child

Dear Joy Behar,

Thank you. No seriously, because no matter how wrong your comments about nurses are, at the very least, you have started a conversation and a movement of how amazing nurses are.

But first, I’m upset with you. I thought we learned way back in 2001 from the classic film, Miss Congeniality, that women can be smart, beautiful, and a host of other wonderful things, being in beauty pageants as one of them.

It bothers me that you decided to make fun of beauty pageants from this angle. Did you get tired of griping on the fact that women are paraded around in bathing suits or asked questions about world peace? Could you not think up a funny joke or witty comment about what one of the contestants said? I am all about satire and making observations that are a little off-beat or abrasive, especially if it works in support of feminism.

To be honest, I don’t care what you think or say about beauty pageants, but I have to think there was better comedic fodder coming from the latest GOP debate that would have been far more relevant. Pageant people expose themselves to comments by participating. That doesn’t suggest that we have to be mean, per se, but a beauty pageant is a public forum and there will be discussion. I just don’t understand why you had to make it about nurses.

Let me introduce you to the greatest, smartest, kindest, most wonderful human being I know, my mother, Marg.

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My mom is a spitfire. She’s sassy and quick to judge with an eye roll or side eye if someone bumps into her cart at the supermarket or a car slows too much turning at the corner. Last night when we played Cards Against Humanity, she won almost all of the rounds. She enjoys playing Spider Solitaire on her iPad and going out on date night with my dad every weekend because they are pretty much the cutest thing ever. She can be stubborn as hell, for example, when attempting to put the cover back on the pool, she will refuse to listen to anything she can’t envision in her mind, but most of the time, she is right anyways. She thinks photoshop is literally cutting and pasting. Her one detention in school was because my uncle wouldn’t stop talking to her and she still resents him to this day. Occasionally, she will text me from her bed to bring her a glass of wine or bag of potato chips. She is both a jacks (the game) champion and a huge fan of jax (the junk food). My mom has a holiday sweater for each and every holiday, Christmas being her favorite, and sports Easter Bunny earrings in her passport picture. She starts listening to Christmas music on November 1.

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She also happens to be a nurse.

My parents raised three children, a cat, and a dog, by both being working parents and dedicated to their jobs. She was a child of a single-mother, a pioneer of independence and love in her own right, who came from little money and took over the role of caregiver much younger than most. She is the person every single family member on both sides and her friends turn to when they are in need of support or guidance because they know she will approach the subject with an open-mind.

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My mother has eased the life and death of many of her and others’ loved ones. She does so because of who she is, but also because she is a nurse.

Nurses don’t play doctors. They aren’t lesser than doctors. They have their own stethoscopes and lab coats. They take blood pressure and draw blood. They get pissed on and bled on and vomited on and on and on, screamed and cursed at, beat and threatened.

Nurses are active participants in a person’s life or death. Whether that patient is a homeless heroin addict who overdosed for the third time that day or a child who was dead when he came in from SIDS, or anyone who falls on that spectrum, nurses care with the same approach and objective in mind. You have or will one day be in the hospital, Joy, or maybe a loved one of yours, and you will feel lucky and appreciative to have a nurse to take care of you. They wouldn’t blink an eye and they won’t ask for thanks.

Nurses are perpetual students. My mother is a 30+ year veteran of this profession and she has continually taken classes to better her practice since she was 18 years old when she started nursing school. Her first undergraduate course began after she had her third child and she would write papers with my brother sitting on her lap, early in the morning or late at night before or after a full day of work. All three of her children watched as she walked across the stage and accepted her diploma for her Master’s. She studies for tests to gain further certifications, attends conferences annually, and teaches an influx of new nursing students on the regular.

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My mother is one of the few who can say she is an expert in pain and mean it both literally and with self-deprecation. No one will watch medical shows with her because she scoffs and makes loud comments about how ridiculous everything is. In conversation, she casually drops medical terms that no one understands. When I was 15, she diagnosed me with Graves’ disease when my doctor assumed it was anxiety. She gets excited about procedures, such as drilling into people, for medical purposes and is constantly trying to recruit new nurses, for example, me.

I wish I could be half the woman my mother is, nurse included. I happen to not be able to stomach blood and I am definitely one of those people who throws up when someone even says the word “vomit.” I don’t even like to talk about poop.

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To summarize, nurses are not doctors, but doctors are not nurses. Both are necessary to medical care and both are noble professions, far more so than either you or I could brag. Whatever you have to say about nurses is irrelevant, unnecessary, and ignorant. You weren’t being funny or pretentious. So yes, thank you because at the very least, there is some good that has come from this. People will start standing up more for nurses. They’re finally getting a little bit of the appreciation they deserve.

When I come home from work and complain about how my tablecloth wouldn’t stay on the table or a customer yelled at me, my mom will mention how someone tried to die on her. She has saved countless lives, improved many more, and made many last moments as bearable as possible.

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My mother is a nurse and she is a hero.

That is a lot more than can be said about you, loud mouth.

Sincerely,

A Nurse’s Child

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