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Top Ten Things Retired Nurses Can’t Let Go Of

I am selling my home. I just know that the anonymous buyers who will soon be parading through my bedroom will think that a peep at my clothes closet is fair game. Being a congenitally poor closet organizer, I decided that the best thing to do was to just strip the thing pretty bare before the parade started to pass by.

The Continued Stay Review on the nurse gear stockpile in that closet was tough.

The Dry Rot Test eliminated some 20+ year old stethoscopes, the lowest-hanging fruit.

The striped polyester uniforms from my student days were harder to let go. They remained on the keeper pile even after they failed the Would You Wear This into a Hospital Today test. Then they failed the Maybe Your Granddaughter Would Like to Get Married in This test, and I got shaky. When they failed the You Will Never be a Size Two Again Test, I desperately sought a way out, but realized that the only thing likely to take me down to a Size Two again was a terminal illness. I let the pantsuits go, but kept the half-dozen hospital gowns I had acquired by nefarious means.

Then there was the stretchy pair of vintage 90s white uniform pants. I gave them a pass on the Size Two Test because of the elastic waist. I reasoned that if I ever had a granddaughter and she wanted a quickie Vegas wedding, the white pants might come in handy. Paired with a scrub top, I reasoned, I could wear them into a hospital today if push came to shove. I kept a pair of the white granny panties we used to have to wear underneath them too, just in case.

Of course, you know I kept the cap. I put it right where all those buyers could see it. It never hurts to play the nurse card.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the Top Ten Things Retired Nurse Can’t Let Go Of:
#10 The antibiotic stash

Who cares if the Keflex is so old that it has probably morphed from an antibiotic into a whole new category of drug? If we’re feeling feverish, we’ll self-diagnose and take our chances.

#9 Emergency set of white undergarments and hosiery
If you’ve ever been caught wearing lime green panties under uniform whites like I have, no explanation is necessary.

#8 Manual sphygmomanometer
If there is ever a natural disaster or nuclear holocaust and batteries are hard to come by, we will still be ready, willing, and able to take blood pressures.

#7 Stethoscope
See #8 above. You just never know when you may have to auscultate again.

#6 Drug Company pen collection
Anyone who didn’t know us and saw our pen collection would assume that we were clinically depressed, hypertensive, diabetic, nasally congested, bald, constipated, and unable to get it up. And we don’t care. We’re not giving up a single pen.

#5 Nursing School textbooks
OK, so our original Taber’s predates the existence of HIV, insulin pumps, and HIPAA. We can still use it to look up how to say ‘what color is your stool’ in eight or nine foreign languages.

#4 Bulb syringe and graduated cylinder
Nothing like it for basting the Thanksgiving turkey.

#3 Bunches of latex gloves in laundry room, kitchen, garage, bathroom, car, tool box, glove compartment, wherever
Rust never sleeps. Neither do MRSA, VRSA, C. Dif, Staph, Strep, etc. They are like the Lex Luthors to our Superman. The world could come to an end if we let our guard down even for an instant.

#2 White bobby pins
They are hard to come by these days, and we wouldn’t want to be caught dead using the black ones to secure our nursing school cap in the event of a photo op.

And the number one thing retired nurse can’t let go of…

#1 Giveaways from Nurses’ Days gone by
Lanyards. Canvas bags. Key chains. Water Bottles. T shirts. The least a grateful institution could do. Why do we cling to them like we do? Are they, perhaps, ways to make tangible the appreciation that patients could only convey to us in fleeting words, glances, smiles, or tears…the appreciation that made it all worthwhile?

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