Let me start by saying that nurses are some of the hardest working people on the planet. The garbage you all see and put up with is a constant source of amazement to me. I’d like to wish each nurse and med tech out there, Happy Nurse’s Week; you all deserve some recognition.
I’d like to give a special nod to one particular nurse who cared for my father after his recent back surgery (a big middle finger to cancer, by the way). Her bedside manner was quite appropriate … if we were all three-year olds. Picture yourself talking to a puppy or kitten; this is a good approximation of how she acted around us, or I should say, around my dad. To the rest of us, she was just “normal.” She was trying to be nice, I get that, she had an awesome bedside manner, but she came off as just a wee bit condescending … or sarcastic which is even better. Now, she was dealing with my dad so she should probably be forgiven, but I will say this: it was hilarious to the rest of us.
In the recovery room where he had to lay flat for like a gazillion hours straight, my father told her his back hurt, and she nodded in rapt understanding. “Do you know why that is?” she asked. We all leaned in, holding our collective breath, waiting for the medical pearls of wisdom we were sure she was about to share with us. She touched my dad’s hand ever so comfortingly and looked so wise, and then she told him, “Because you had that procedure on your back this morning.” And then she nodded sagely with the sweetest smile on her face. At that moment I realized: I, too, could be a nurse … I’ve got the sarcastic bedside manner down pat if not any form of medical training whatsoever. I wonder if she uses that same soothing-seemingly-helpful-yet-in-reality-sarcastic-kindergarten-teacher-type voice with all her patients, and I wonder if she uses it on her coworkers or in general daily interactions. If so, I like her more and more.
As you all are aware, my mind tends to wander, and we all know how dangerous that can be. As I watched the nurses scurry back and forth under the crushing demands of patients and doctors, I thought of ways I could brighten their day. Or, drive them crazy. Here is a short list of fun ideas I had.
Page fictional nurses and doctors: Nurse Ratchet, Dr. Who, Florence Nightingale, Dr. Doolittle…you get the idea.
Bring empty beer cans and stash them all over the room: Look innocent when the staff questions you.
Start doing a stand-up comedy routine on the overhead system: “What’s the deal with hospital food?”
Grab a set of scrubs and a clipboard and wander the hallway looking concerned: Added plus for muttering phrases like “That leech treatment sure didn’t work, I’m not sure what could’ve went wrong, they were fresh leeches” or “We never covered vampire bites in medical school.” Even more points if you tell a nurse to order a “Wingdang KPT frontal scan of the terrapin flimflam on Mrs. Smith. STAT!” Extra extra points if you stop a visitor, make up a disease and ask them what they think of your treatment plan for your patient.
Call fictional codes in areas of the hospital that don’t exist: Code purple pinstripe, rumpus room. Repeat, code purple pinstripe, rumpus room.
Clip a positive pregnancy test to a male patient’s chart: Yeah, this one’s just fun across the board.
Attach a page of Egyptian hieroglyphics to charts: It actually may be easier for them to read than the doctor’s hand writing.
Every time the overhead speaker is used, run to the nurse’s station: “Was that for me!? I missed it.”
Or, whenever the overhead speaker is used, act terrified: “The voices! They told me I wouldn’t hear the voices anymore!” or “God? Is that you?”
Stand backwards in the elevator: Loudly proclaim to all who enter that it is the longest elevator ride you have ever been on and you’ve been waiting for the doors to open for an hour.
Secretly replace all the names on the white board with celebrity names: The nurses get to take care of Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé all in the same shift! OR, better yet, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po.
Attach sheets together to make a rope, put one end in the toilet, and hide under the bed: Listen to your nurse try to explain what happened to you to Security.
In all seriousness, though, I have this to say to all the nurses out there: YOU ALL ROCK! It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. I sure don’t envy you your jobs, BUT I do appreciate that you are there, helping people. Every. Damn. Day. From the family members sitting next to our loved ones, anxious and afraid, Thank You for all you do. We need you, and we love you all.
Happy Nurse’s Week!