Cindy Steele

Teenagers are the best

A veteran nurse of over 30 years, Cindy talks about her time with teenagers who had cystic fibrosis and the shenanigans that they used to get in that brought her joy.

portrait of Cindy Steele, nurse at UC Davis Health


I started at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles in the adolescent unit, which was a fun, fun unit. I mean, teenagers, they just are my heart. They're challenging, but so honest, if you sit down and look at them eye to eye, I love working with teenagers. Most of them were chronically ill, so I was telling ...

I was actually telling one of the doctors the other day about some of the funny things when I worked there. So it was a brand new nurse, right? And so one of the things that I had been told was, "Go ahead and ask the kids about their disease, because they will tell you," and first you're thinking, "Well, I'm supposed to know all this," but it was one of the best pieces of advice. I learned a lot from my patients and it helped me not be afraid to ask people what they're feeling or tell me about this but the kids with cystic fibrosis, now they can't do this anymore because of one of the bacteria, but they used to be able, in the 80's, run in packs, I called them. You'd have all the kids in the cystic fibrosis in the same room and they were just like a pack of kids that they would get into trouble. But you look back on it that time you'd be so mad at him, but then it looked back on it and it's so funny.

There we were working night shift in adolescent medicine, and you get a call going, "We think your patients are on the roof."

"What? They're on the roof? What?" Go run up there, "What are you doing on the roof?"

"Oh, we were looking to see if we could see fireworks."

Then on Halloween, it was really quiet, they had all gone to bed, but we get a call. "Your patients are down here on the second floor. We think these are your patients."

"Our patients, what, what?" Somebody goes down to get them and it comes back they were, it's Halloween, and they're teenagers looking for the morgue.

I was like, "Oh my gosh." But it's this funny. It's just those kinds of things that kids are kids.