Thanksgiving, like most holidays, means something a little different to many nurses. Most of us will be working. We will probably miss the meal with our families, because even if we managed to get Thanksgiving day off, we probably couldn't get enough days off in a row over a holiday weekend to travel to see our loved ones.
So with minimal effort, we can come up with plenty of things to complain about. It is frustrating. We can feel left out. It isn't fair.
But that isn't what Thanksgiving is about, is it? This Thanksgiving, I wanted to make a list of some of the things I'm grateful for as a nurse.
1. I'm grateful for the potluck we are inevitably going to have at work. Yes, Carol is going to bring that creepy salad she always makes, and Pat is going to beg us all for gluten-free dishes that don't taste very good, but hopefully Bernadette will make her special curry. And while we all say we want to try different kinds of pie, I know I'm going to be sad when the chocolate pie everyone said was boring gets finished before I have a chance to get a piece.
But I'm grateful for this experience. The chance to share a laugh and some food with my coworkers who, let's face it, are practically like any other (dysfunctional) family. Years from now I'm going to remember these meals with great fondness.
2. I'm grateful for the meal the facility gives us. OK, ok, so it isn't going to taste anything like Mom makes. But as easy as it can sometimes be to complain about administration, I do appreciate the gesture.
3. I'm grateful for my coworkers. Yeah, some of them are brats and stinkers and make bad jokes and lose their temper and don't communicate as well as I wish. (Though to be fair they probably say the same thing about me sometimes.) For better or worse, I spend a significant amount of my life at work, and these are the people who I'm sharing it with, these are the people who are there to witness my good days and my bad days and everything in between. I see them more than some of my own family members. And when things get hard, I know who has my back. When a life is on the line, I know who is gonna be there helping me do what needs to be done. I'm grateful for that.
4. I'm grateful for my patients. Yes, some of them are brats and stinkers and make bad jokes and lose their temper and don't communicate as well as I wish. But when I get to hold someone's hand, when I get a whispered "thank you", when I know I saved a life even though the patient doesn't - it is all worth it.
5. I'm grateful that you are a nurse. Because odds are someday I will find myself in a hospital, and when I do I am quite certain I will rely on my nurses to take care of me. I sincerely hope that day is a long ways off, but when it comes, I hope I get taken care of by someone like you.
6. I'm grateful that I'm a nurse. This job is hard. My feet hurt, and my bladder is permanently distended, and I hear the IV pumps beeping in my sleep. I take the blame, I fix other people's mistakes, I go above and beyond, I mourn the patients I've lost, and I'm not told I'm appreciated nearly enough considering what I do.
And yet I'm still grateful. I had my choice of careers. Nursing wasn't the easy default option. No one accidentally becomes a nurse. I chose it on purpose, because I felt I could make a difference.
And even on my hardest day, even when we are understaffed and the computers crash and the patients are mean - I know that just by being there I am making a difference.
I matter. When I look at what I do, I know this to be true.
I am a helper.
Things would be worse if I wasn't there.
I take pride in that knowledge. And I am grateful I have the opportunity to help so many people.
I'd feel silly calling myself a hero. But I will say that I'm a badass. All nurses are.
It's Thanksgiving. What are you grateful for? Look around and start noticing. Are you grateful for the the degrees and credentials you have earned? Are you grateful for the opportunity to be part of the nation's most trusted profession? Heck, are you grateful for the paycheck and the 401(k)?
Are you grateful to be employed? Are you grateful for the employment options you have as a nurse? Are you grateful that your friends and family trust you so much they want to show you every time they get a rash?
Are you grateful that you know better than to check your blood sugar after you eat lunch? Are you grateful that you know you can't get the flu from the flu shot? Are you grateful that you get to be deliciously annoyed and self-righteous every time a character on TV shocks asystole?
Make your list, whatever it is. Appreciating and being grateful for what we have is a direct path to happiness. And you, my nurse friend, deserve to be happy.