As nurses, we have to occasionally wear a mask. No, it’s not always that awful paper inducer of claustrophobia that you find outside of isolation rooms. Nurses have to often mask our emotions for the good of our patients. It is never fair that the family of a dying patient has to console the nurse because she is crying the hardest. It is never right to put the burden of your personal troubles on your patient. It is never okay to retaliate against the family member who is verbally abusing you, no matter how white-hot your rage burns on the inside. We can’t laugh at the expense of our patients, no matter how weird their genitals look. We have to keep a good poker face, and it takes lots of practice. Early on, I discovered that if I could stay rock solid long enough to slip into the clean linen, that it would be alright. That room became my alter where I’d lay my heavy burdens. If I needed to, I’d drag a buddy in there with me. We’d vent, have a laugh or a cry, and regroup, and be on our way. It’s also a great place to devour that candy bar that’s been riding around in my pocket all day.
I’ve kicked packages of chux against the wall. I’ve spewed profanities into the linen cart. I’ve wiped snot and tears on the white towels. I’ve laughed to tears over severely inappropriate circumstances. I’ve even hidden from disgruntled coworkers and family members, cowering among the clutter. I think it is important to claim a safe place where you can fix your face and pull yourself together. I feel no shame for needing it. It helped me be strong for people who needed me. What better place to air your dirty laundry than the clean linen?
*Side note: Linen rooms, along with med rooms and supply closets are not appropriate places to hide and pass gas. It strictly goes against nurse etiquette.