Married to a Nurse

Jim's Graduation Day in 1989. Jim, Me, Michelene, and John

Jim’s Graduation Day in 1989. Jim, Me, Michelene, and John

“You must never so much think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”
Clara Barton

The first nurse I ever remember reading about in school as a child was Clara Barton. Little did I know I would grow up to marry one.

My husband Jim has been a nurse now for almost twenty seven years. When I met him he was a triaxle dump truck driver, making good money hauling slag out of a large Pittsburgh mill. We married, began having children, and then the steel business dried up in our valley. It was as if the bottom fell out of his work.

It didn’t take long for Jim to make a decision. His sister was a nurse and he had been a volunteer EMT for a couple of years and loved it. Though there were very few male nurses at that time, he made a decision to go back to school in his mid- twenties. Jim had never excelled in high school; he went to vocational school and took welding. The hospital based nursing school accepted him but he was on probation for six months until he could prove he could maintain good grades.

I remember many a night at the kitchen table when Jim would want to throw in the towel. Nursing school is hard hard hard. He did the work and graduated as the only male student that year. The hospital featured him and our family in their nursing school informational packet. Our son was about three and our daughter was six when this was all going on. Jim, it turned out, was a non traditional student.

I thought he would start out nice and slow at the local hospital but no. Jim went straight downtown to the intensive care unit at one of the largest Pittsburgh hospitals. (I said, “Are you crazy?”) He wanted to learn and so he figured that was the best place to go. Over the years he’s done psych nursing, cardiology, radiology, and even worked part time in a prison. There are stories he tells that would raise the hair on your arms. Jim is a very good nurse in my opinion, compassionate but also focused and no bones about it honest with people.

What is it like being married to a nurse? Well, you get first hand medical advice when you have something going on. I trust his medical opinion on anything. And, he’s a teacher. When people say something to me about this or that, whatever they have going on, I sometimes say my thoughts based on what Jim has taught me.

For instance, I worked with a young woman who’s niece became very sick. Turned out she had very low iron levels and was then diagnosed with leukemia. We talked about it daily and shared information. My friend wondered what sent her to the hospital. I said, “bad headaches.” She checked with her niece and it turned out I was right.

When my mom was in the hospital (Jim’s hospital I might add), he watched her just about every day. He would bring her cups of coffee, sweetened, to sip on when she was eating just about nothing. I’m sure he monitored her situation constantly and mom knew it. She recovered and I credit Jim with helping us keep our sanity during mom’s long illness.

I have become used to many things over the years as a sacrifice of being married to a nurse who works shifts. Often Jim is not with us for holidays or parties. He currently works three, twelve hour shifts a week so if an event falls on a work day, I go alone or with my family. Only if we get a big head’s up can he try and switch. But that is rare.

I know that Jim has had an impact on his patients over the years. He never talks about his work due to privacy laws, but my church friends will come and tell me how he sat with them, or comforted them while in a procedure or the ER (where Jim currently works). They love him and tell me to thank him for making a difference in their scary situations.

I want to give a shout out to all nurses, who work in stressful situations, under tiring conditions, and devote themselves to the care of sick individuals. May you all be blessed in your work and realize how truly wonderful you really are.

Jim's Graduation Day- Can you find him?

Jim’s Graduation Day- Can you find him?

 

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21 thoughts on “Married to a Nurse

  1. Cathy McElhaney

    Jim is such a gentle person. Looking at him, you would never guess that. Ha ha. He looks like that steel working truck driver. I have never seen him in a professional manner, but I can believe that having him there would be comforting. He is so grounded and stable and I think would be great in scary situations.
    I learned very quickly that I am not cut out to be a nurse and I give lots of credit to those who have chosen that field! I have a cousin who is, but I certainly am not cut out for that! When my mom was sick, we hired a care taker to help us out because it was so difficult. Hospice nurses are the kindest most compassionate people I have ever met. I could not imagine caring for people you know are dying. My heart would break every day. I am so thankful that there are people that can do the job and remain compassionate. Thank him for me!

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Cathy, you are so right. Jim looks like a truck driver! But he is very comforting and I think, a very good nurse.
      I am not cut out to be one either. I think hospice nurses must be a very special breed with a unique calling.
      Love you,
      xo Joanne

      Reply
  2. Marianne

    What a lovely tribute, Joanne. Your husband sounds remarkable, and no, nursing certainly is not an easy feat…I wouldn’t and couldn’t do it. Don’t have the constitution for it.

    When I had my son in 1989 (interesting, the same year your Jim graduated), one of my nurses was a young male nurse in training. He was very kind, considerate, and precise. I have a very sweet story about it, which entails a good lesson about knocking first before entering a room. We both were surprised,he very apologetic, and I, being older than him, and just having a baby, got over any embarrassment quickly. It’s a fond memory, and I’m sure one that advanced him in his training.

    Thank you for sharing this insight into your dear life…I always enjoy reading your posts. Have a blessed weekend, friend.

    Marianne xox

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Jim would have loved to do maternity nursing but back then, it was a big no no. I don’t know what the rules are these days. I bet it is still a woman only thing.
      Thank you for sharing your story! I can just imagine what might have transpired in your room, having had two babies of my own. 😉
      xo Joanne

      Reply
  3. Linda Blaydes

    To this day I reqret not going to nursing school. But being a CNA was a rewarding job. I always wanted to work beside Jim because he is a excellent nurse. I would learn so much working with him. A wonderful tribute to him Love you both.

    Reply
  4. Marylin Warner

    Bravo, Jim! And clap!clap!clap! for the entire family for supporting him and being proud of his wonderful work.
    When our daughter was flown to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix for an experimental stint in the aneurysm in her tortuous carotid artery, two nurses held our hands, kept us posted and gave us hope for the five hours she was in surgery, and then stayed with her through the night. And while we waited, two more amazing nurses just passing saved an elderly man who had a heart attack in the waiting room while his grandchild was having surgery. A third nurse cared for his wife who had fainted in the waiting room and hit her head on the corner of a table.
    Our family has hearts filled with gratitude for nurses, Joanne, and your Jim is a role model, Joanne.
    Beautiful family picture.

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Oh Marylin, what wonderful stories of great nurses. It is true; they are magnificent instruments of God’s grace and love. They show up when you really need them and make such a difference.
      How beautiful your stories are. I will share them with my husband.
      Blessings,
      Joanne

      Reply
  5. Cindy

    Beautiful family picture Joanne and beautiful tribute to Jim. It is wonderful to hear about a man being passionate about their job, esp a job like nursing, that deals with people’s lives, their feelings, emotions, etc. Iam sure he does an amazing job! He looks like such a gentle man. I would love to hear him speak someday! Your family story is very inspirational. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      He is a good story teller Cindy and I hope you do get to hear him someday. 😉
      Thank you for your kind words. We are truly blessed.
      xo Joanne

      Reply
  6. Lorna (Parson) Woodhall

    What a beautiful tribute! I was in my 1st year at SVH when Jim graduated. I had the honor of working with him in EMS (Findlay – with Chris and Chuckie, too!). He taught me so much. I specifically recall taking a patient to OVGH ED and him explaining why I should use cold water to clean the blood off of a longboard instead of hot — that was almost THIRTY years ago! I can still hear that laugh! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Hi Lorna! He does have a distinctive laugh doesn’t he? 🙂 I will be sure and show him your comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and share your thoughts.
      xo Joanne

      Reply
  7. Gallivanta

    I am grateful to your special nurse for the work he does. I am grateful to all nurses. They are precious people. Did your Jim have to nurse a little boy with a broken arm on his graduation day? John seems to have a cast on his arm.

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      I was wondering if someone would notice that! Yes, our son had fallen a few weeks before and dislocated his elbow. He was in a cast for six weeks. You know how little boys are!
      xo Joanne

      Reply
      1. Gallivanta

        An elbow; ouch. My little boy didn’t break bones but he had a few tumbles which resulted in cuts above the eyebrow, under the chin, and on the back of his head. All areas that bleed copiously and are very alarming to see.

        Reply
        1. Joanne Cain Post author

          John was sitting on the top of the couch end (like he was riding a horse). His dad came home and he got so excited he fell off. Thankfully, Jim took him to the hospital and stayed with him while I was home with our daughter. I was never the good one with medical stuff. Thank goodness for Jim.

          Reply

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