The sun has finally come out.  What a relief!  The days have been so overcast lately, the clouds pressing down.  There was such a sense of impending doom suspended in the air.

Yesterday the siren of an ambulance wailed through the street when we were out for our walk.  The sound carried so much urgency and emergency.  My heart pounded, the greyness closing in on me.  I wondered how we can survive in this world.

It’s a good thing that I had Sheba with me, to keep me in the moment.  She was as happy as ever, trotting along, pausing now and again, to sniff, to paw the snow, to forge for some food.  All was well in the world, she said.

Later, I wondered if the sound of the siren triggered a kaleidoscope of memories and responses absorbed from work….the STATS, the CODE BLUES, the sound of running feet and the crash cart, the ringing call bells, the x-ray machines, ECG machines, the sound of patients falling on the floor, nurses calling out for help….

I like to think that I’ve left all that behind.  But who knows.  Our bodies betrays us sometimes.  They have a mind of their own and they speak when we are not expecting it.  I remember rushing back from coffee one time to a Code Blue.  I remember seeing everything in slow motion and in black and white…a true Kodak moment.  I remember marveling the moment.  WOW!

I am so happy to see the sun.  The weight of greyness have lifted and the world seems more expansive.  But I am sure there is a silver lining to the grey.  It makes me appreciate the sun more.  It has enabled me to pause and feel those feelings triggered by the sire of an ambulance.  Now, I understand better the anxieties that I have been feeling.

Understanding is the first step towards freedom.  The work has begun.  Today is the first day.  Isn’t it exciting?

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It’s the last day of 2013.  I’ve been neglecting this little blog of mine.  I thought I would have many stories, insight, and words of wisdom to impart.  But alas…NOT.

But what I know for sure, to steal Oprah’s phrase,  is that I am very happy not to have to get up in the dark of a cold winter morning and navigate on the slippery streets to work.  I am happy not to drive home on the same slippery busy streets after a 12 hour night shift.  I am happy to give up all the code blacks, blues, browns and reds of hospital life.  I am happy not to be tired all the time.

That’s not saying that I do not appreciate what that life has given me in return – a wage, a retirement income, an education in life and death, comradeship and many other unnameable things.  But there is a season for everything.  There is a time for every purpose under Heaven.  There is life outside the hospital corridors, the bedpan alleys.  This is the time for me.  That is what I know for sure.

It’s been 5 full months since ‘retirement’.  I have not been idle or bored.  There’s not enough time in the day for that.  There’s so much of ‘me’ to recover, revamp and rediscover.  Where have I been all my life?  It really is an adventure this thing call retirement.  It’s a renewal.  What a great time to recognize it – on the brink of a new year.

Happy New Year to all.

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After 4 months, I’ve finally removed my uniforms from the closet, folded them and put them away to take to Value Village or for some quilting project…someday.  I am ready to move out and on with the next stage.

I received an email from our licensing body that my license has expired a few days ago.  I thanked them happily for their concern but I have no need of a license anymore.  I can practice whatever I want.

“Dear Lily Leung;

Upon checking our database we note you held a practicing registration/licence last year.  Your 2013 licence to practise expired November 30, 2013.  If you have been practicing as a registered nurse since December 1st, 2013, I want to caution you that you may have been practicing unlawfully and that you must, in the future, make every effort to see that you are registered by the expiry date before practicing as a registered nurse.

Please check to make sure you are currently licenced by using our Online Verification Service (e-Register) available at  All current 2014 RN & RN(NP) licensures will show.

If you have been practicing without a licence, please discontinue practice immediately and contact SRNA toll free at 1-800-667-9945 or in Regina 306-359-4200. ”

It was so liberating, though maybe not necessary to let them know that I have retired.  Up to now I have felt somewhat frozen…not missing my career of over 30 years, not even remembering much of it.  Perhaps now that I am ridding the layers of my work self, like a snake shedding its skin, I will be able to thaw and feel again about what being a nurse meant to me.

I know for sure that I am not one who remains in a situation of no other meaning than monetary.  Of that I am absolutely sure.   I often like to quote Lao Tzu:  A journey of a thousand miles start with a single step.  It is not easy but the journey towards one’s heart and soul is worth the effort.  I have taken my first step.

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This retired nurse is nursing herself these days back to health. She is doing a pretty good job lately, not beating up on herself, being more kind, generous and compassionate. Can a nurse ever stop being a nurse?

We get sick for a reason. Not that I wish myself ill, but I am learning to embrace the times that I am not feeling well as a sign that I need to rest an/or do something different. I am learning to honour and appreciate this human body and being. I give thanks to myself for always trying my best.

This morning I found this thank you card when I was searching for more Kleenex for my sniffles. It was from a young patient from long ago, when we were still in the old part of the hospital. I remembered her coming up to the ward with the card and a box of chocolate mints. And they were just for me! I had not thought that I gave her any special care. It gave me a sense of wonder.

You never know how your actions can affect another person. I appreciate her effort and generosity for her gratitude for she had come back after being discharged. She put her gifts in my hands. And isn’t it a wonderful gift she gave me? I still remember it after all these years when I most needed the reminding.


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nursing paslFor all the years that I’ve worked as a nurse, I have few photo stories or memories of those days.  They exist only in the recesses of my mind and they are getting dimmer. Perhaps in the telling of some, the rest will show up.

Most everyone, almost, always remember first jobs, first day on the jobs, and jobs they’ve been fired from.  I’ve quit nursing before, but never been fired as one.  That story will come later.  I’ve been fired, too, once.  And if you know me, then you will know then what a horrific blow that was, not to my ego, but to my heart. That story maybe will show up – in another place.

For now, let me tell you about my first day as a nurse.

In those days, there was no orientation period, no buddy shifts.  You were a nurse.  School was over.  Time to put away the books and get to work.  I was shown my way around the ward – the patient rooms, 28 in all, the medication room, the dirty service room, etc.  Then I was given my assignment.  Then, go to it, girl!

The only thing I remember from that day was one patient in a private room.  She was a little confused.  She had diarrhea.  The only thing foremost in her mind was she had to get to the bathroom.  And she got there, but….not in time and she didn’t take her IV with her.  So there was this trail of blood and yellow diarrhea behind her.

And so, what the  f**k is the big deal? 🙂  I can say that now nonchalantly from the safe distance of 30+ years of mopping it up, wiping it up and sucking it, buttercup.  BUT in that first day, even though I was a mature woman  it WAS a big deal.

I was a very, very new, no experience whatsoever nurse.  I had been out of training for 6 months and couldn’t find a nursing job till then.  Did not know the ins and outs of nursing homes or hospitals.   I had never even changed a baby’s diaper.  Never knew anyone else’s wastes except mine own.

So I was aghast at the sight.  What do I do now?  I ran to my head nurse and told her of my plight.  She went and got a mop, then a band aide.  She handed them to me.  She and the CNA (certified nurse’s aide) smiled at each other and went for coffee!

Imagine my distress.  There was nothing much I could do except the best I could.  I must have stopped the bleeding from the IV site and put the band aide on.  I do remember mopping furiously and sobbing.  I remember the poor lady sitting on the bed and looking at me.  I remember her patting me, trying to comfort me, apologizing.

I always had the kindness of patients.

And some nurses do eat their young.

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After 34+ years of being a RN (Real Nurse), I’ve finally pulled the plug and called it quits.  After all, how long can a person punish herself with bedpan alleys and shift work?  Do I need to run to my own Code Blue?  I think not!

This little blog is about diffusing all the shit, excuse the pun, that has permeated into my being over these years.  I don’t mean to be negative.  There was a lot of perfume, too.  But you know how somehow the stink can be that much more overpowering.  I am trying to strike a balance.  I am learning how to live again.

What better way than story telling.  How did I come up with the name of the blog, So you call yourself a nurse?  Well, a long, long time ago, before I became actualized, when I was fresh out of nursing school, I was this little timid thing called a nurse.  One day, all her teammates were on their lunch break and she was left alone to hold down the fort.  She was running around tending to the patients, making sure they all got their lunches, helping them set up, etc. etc. etc.

The phone rang.  She answered.  It was the anesthesia department.  She didn’t know the answer to the doctor’s question.  She put him  on hold while she went to check.  Only in her busyness, she forgot and never got back to the doctor.  The phone rang again.  She realized her mistake.  She answered and got reprimanded.  She could hear the doctor saying loudly to another doctor in the background:  And she calls herself a nurse!  It was followed by laughter.

She has remembered this incidence after all these years.   I think she needs to put all this behind her in order to move ahead.  With tongue in cheek,  a healthy dash of humour, imagination and a little stretching the truth, she hopes to tell some entertaining stories behind the stethoscopes and bedpans.

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