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“It Hurt My Heart”

By: Debra King Ruck

It Hurt My Heart—The Heartbreaks of an ER Nurse is a compilation of my 40 years experience as an ER nurse and the lasting impact it had on me, even after retirement. The profession of nursing is not only satisfying and rewarding, but it is a profession that contributes so much to our patients and their families. After my retirement, I realized I missed those patient interactions and the ability to care for others, but I also realized how so many of those experiences impacted me. Regardless of your nursing specialty, you can relate to those experiences that have impacted patients and families and will continue to impact you as a nurse.

Excerpts from “It Hurt My Heart—The Heartbreaks of an ER Nurse:

  • It hurt my heart when that beautiful baby girl came in with a fever, and as I undressed her, I saw bruises on her back and legs. I held her little hand and held her close.
  • It hurt my heart when I saw a husband holding his wife’s hand as she was dying. They had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. I held his hand and hers.
  • It hurt my heart when a handsome 40-year-old man died from a heroin overdose after being addicted to opioids from a previous combat injury. I held his hand and cried because I knew it could have been my son.
  • It hurt my heart when I saw a young nurse crying in the back hallway after she lost her first patient. I held her hand, hugged her and told her I still cry.

Debra King Ruck lives in Tampa, Florida. You can learn more about her book at

The views and opinions expressed by Perspectives contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.

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