ER nursing is an interesting beast. And I mean that in every aspect. One moment you have a patient who could easily have gone to their family doctor instead of the ER, one moment you have a patient who is in critical condition, one moment you have a patient who died unexpectedly, or far too young, and the next you have a patient with something in their anus that shouldn’t be there. It’s the full spectrum.
I’ve been an ER nurse for a little over two years now, and I have learned so many valuable lessons during that time, not only about medicine, but about life. The one that sticks out so prominently to me is that tomorrow is never guaranteed. I mean, I’ve always been told this growing up, but I think I’ve also always lived with the mindset that I have my whole life ahead of me and that dying young won’t happen to me. But friends, when you hold the hand of a patient after they are told they have cancer, or rush a patient who is bleeding out to the OR, or are attempting to resuscitate someone who was in a life-threatening car accident, or you pull a gun shot wound victim out of their car, or hear the shrieks of a mother when the time of death is called on their nine month old child, or watch a wife grieve after they are told their partner of 40 years is dead, something in you shifts. Something in you breaks. And for the first time, you genuinely start to believe that tomorrow is never guaranteed. That accidents can happen to everyone. That sickness doesn’t choose it’s victims. That health, vitality, and life itself are blessings, not things to take for granted.
I love my job. I love being able to help with the physical and emotional needs of people in their most critical, vulnerable moments in life. And I love all of the lessons my job has taught me about life, so I wanted to share this one lesson specifically because I think it is vitally important. Tomorrow is never guaranteed–if for nothing else, take it from an ER nurse. My job has taught me to hold my loved ones a little tighter, to linger a little longer, and to never leave something unsaid. And while these are lessons I’m still learning, and things I am still working on, I want to share them with you, in hopes that you live life a little differently too.
So not to be cliche, but please learn these lessons alongside me before it’s too late: Carpe Diem–seize the day. Don’t take today for granted. Live every day like it might be your last. Tell the people you love that you love them. Never leave something unsaid. Say what’s on your mind. Solve your problems with people. Be quick to apologize, and even faster to forgive. Don’t hold grudges. Love big. Chase your dreams passionately. And live like tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, because friends, it’s not.