I can’t stop thinking about tails.

In case you missed it, Japanese researchers announced recently they had created a robotic tail prototype that attaches to the user’s waist. Why? Because when the user tilts, the tail can act as a pendulum, resulting in better balance. This may be able to help seniors, or those with injuries, improve their gait. 

Not Rogelio’s tail

Part of the reason it sounded like science fiction to me was due to a storyline on my beloved “Jane the Virgin,” which concluded its five-season run this summer. Rogelio, a soap opera actor, lands a role on a television show with a sci-fi twist, titled “This is Mars.” His character wears an animatronic tail. After the pilot is shot, a producer informs him that his lack of comfort with the tail means there will need to be reshoots. Which is why Rogelio starts wearing the tail night and day — if he doesn’t nail wearing the tail, his show likely will not air, leaving his dreams destroyed.

Later, when his wife is ready to quit studying for nursing school (probably some of you have been there), he calls her out on giving up. 

“It’s insulting, frankly,” he tells her. “I’ve been wearing the tail for God’s sakes. In public! I’ve scared children, knocked over tables and made many gentlemen uncomfortable at the urinal … I’m doing whatever needs to be done, no matter how hard it is.”

“Dreams don’t come easy,” he continues. “You have to work for them. So if nursing is what you really want to do, then it’s time you put your big girl pants on, strap on that tail, and work for it.” 

I’ve thought about that a lot recently, given how landing the job at McKnight’s in 2011 was a dream come true. It allowed me to write and edit complex healthcare stories, write a weekly column, learn a variety of new skills and launch an incredible McKnight’s Women of Distinction program this year. Most critically, it allowed me to work with a dynamite team. It’s hard to ask for a better mentor or editor than James M. Berklan.

But most importantly, it’s been a dream that McKnight’s has allowed me to meet all of you over the past eight years. My favorite part of this job has long been talking face-to-face with providers. As a reluctant extravert, I’d always return from conferences hosted by organizations such as LeadingAge, the American Health Care Association, NADONA and the American College of Health Care Administrators jazzed about what you all had told me. You shared what motivated you, what bothered you, and what McKnight’s could do to help.

Because at its core, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living wants to help you do your job better. We approach every story not as an exercise in cheap thrills to drive up page views or garner advertising dollars, but whether even sad stories can have a “teachable moment.” Our goal has been, and will always be, to be a resource for hard-working, underappreciated skilled nursing professionals. It’s been a privilege to be a part of that.

Friday will be my last day at McKnight’s. It’s hard to restrap on that tail, even if it’s in the pursuit of new dreams. But without being maudlin, I wanted to make sure I thanked you. For your willingness to talk to me, and often explain complex topics, not to mention how kind many of you have been over the years. Often you went out to congratulate me on an award or when I had a baby, or wrote me when there was a column or story you enjoyed. You’ve left me in awe of how you take care of our nation’s most vulnerable.  

It’s been a joy. Thanks for reading.

Elizabeth Newman is the outgoing Deputy Editor at McKnight’s. She can still be followed @TigerELN. Make sure to tweet her if you end up watching Jane the Virgin.