“Love Nurse” Painting by Jena Cardwell

Josephine had it all. She was young and beautiful, and all the men wanted to be with her. So, she put her attributes to good use. Josephine worked her way through nursing school as a call girl.

I heard about Jo’s checkered past my first day on the unit. The other nurses said she was a tramp, but Jo didn’t see it that way. She viewed herself as a venture capitalist. During our dinner break together, Jo wasn’t shy about setting the record straight. She said she wasn’t a whore. She was a class act. No pimp for her, she had worked for a madam. Her past clients included physicians, judges, and politicians. There were rumors around the hospital about some of the famous men she had been with. Someone said one of her clients had been a U.S. senator. She never divulged her client list, but said I would recognize many names. I surmised she had been good at her trade. She graduated from an elite university, and bought a townhouse in an exclusive neighborhood.

During shifts from hell, I’d wonder why Jo left “the life” to become a nurse. After listening to Jo’s stories, I thought call girls lead glamorous lives. She traveled to exotic place and was lavished with expensive gifts. She ate in fine restaurants and drove an expensive car given to her by a client. Finally, one night after a paranoid patient attacked us leaving us battered and bruised, I asked her why she chose to work as a nurse.

Jo laughed and said there is a downside to every job. She asked, “Do you know why I was called a call girl? It’s because I was on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. At least as a nurse I can ask for a set schedule and a few holidays off.” As her laughter subsided, she reminded me that beauty fades. Jo said she gave up the life because she was tired of men thinking she was a possession. After paying for her time, many thought they owned her mind, body, and soul. She wanted to get married. “A man is proud to introduce a nurse to his family,” she said. “When I worked as a call girl, no one took me home to meet Mother.”

A few years later, Jo met a nice young man. He didn’t care about her past, just about their future together. She had it all. She finally got to meet someone’s mother.