Aging in the workplace. A.k.a. that “Use by…” date stamped on my ass.

American women often feel as though there’s an expiration date stamped on their ass.

Since I can’t really see my ass easily I don’t have to be reminded that my “Use by…” date and my “Best if used by…” date is long past as far as American standards go.

I’m an older nurse. I can’t help that…I just kept on living and working. But when I talk to someone in the business and my information is more than a year and half ago, then they move me into the expired, long-gone, invalid and not even really considered a nurse any longer category. By the look on their face, I can tell the younger nurses are thinking I’m telling silly, pathetic stories.

For example, a few weeks ago I shared my experience comparing new and older treatments for eliminating the pungent odor of decaying flesh. The patient knew from the look on her visitors face that they were having a hard time visiting her because of the lappable scent in the air. You know…the kind you can taste in the air. When I suggest classic, inexpensive treatments that worked very well for the odors, the nurses looked at me as if to say, “Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, can we get this speech over with? I need to order a $125.00 a day dressing and just want you to tell me which one.” Then I’m stuck knowing that something is just as good or better and just have to shut up. Nursing is all about shutting up and obeying the person who’s making the most money for the facility.

So, I listen to the banter, laugh with their stories of young children and dating and gluten-free, organic meals, baby monitors, thousand dollar strollers, breast pumps, support groups, baby-gyms, toddler apps, and the price of LuLu Lemon compared to other athletawear. They’re  very important, you know!

So far, I’ve had a glorious career and journeyed to fascinating places. I know my colleagues respect me, but want me to be quiet; be a nice old lady too “poor” to retire. I guess I’m their worst nightmare. Who knows?

But I know one thing to be true; I’m the nurse you want with you when your life is challenged, delicate, vulnerable. I know from years of navigating the system that it’s the confidence of experience that guides you through your patients’ challenges.

And no one can see my ass anyway. And I’m trying not to care.

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