40-Year Veteran Nurse Reflects on a Career Spent Helping

40-Year Veteran Nurse Reflects on a Career Spent Helping

Montanjees found grounding when she abandoned her flight attendent dreams for nursing

Tom Barnidge | Contra Costa Times

December 22, 2009

When Nora Montanjees graduated from Carondelet High School in 1969, wanderlust in her heart, she envisioned herself seeing the world as a flight attendant.

“They were called stewardesses then,” she said.

Because, at 17, she was not old enough and because her mother, a nurse, had loftier visions, she instead was persuaded to attend nursing school.

Forty years later, 38 of them spent mostly in emergency rooms and intensive care units, Montanjees is an authority on the rewards and demands of the profession she came to love. She said it’s like riding a roller-coaster, long periods of quiet followed by frantic spikes of unimaginable pressure.

“You’re pulled in a lot of different directions,” she said. "One instant, your patient’s fine. The next, he’s in cardiac arrest. In ER, you can get two ambulances pulling up to the door at the same time. A lot of things can go wrong.

“But, it’s very rewarding when you do CPR and you get a pulse.”

The Martinez resident said the ER always seemed busier on holidays and weekends, but the worst often was Mother’s Day.

“Everybody gets together with mom, and maybe they’re not happy to be there, and there’s usually alcohol involved. That leads to fights,” she said, shaking her head.

Then, it’s off to the ER. Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

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