Nurse’s Week: A Little Fun with Nurses

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!

Restoration of Faith

I can’t even talk about the very serious ways in which our world, or at least my country, is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s disconcerting to say the least. But I will say this – my faith was somewhat restored this afternoon by what was likely considered a small thing by those involved, but which, to this observer at least, indicated in a huge way that compassion is not dead and people (at least some of them) are good.

Our neighborhood Walgreens is across a median strip and two lanes from the McDonald’s.  You can get to each store from the other by driving directly across, or you can go to our grocery store by pulling down one of the lanes dividing the two stores. That probably didn’t help you envision the lay of the land, but hey, I tried.

Having left the Walgreens with a much-needed upgrade on migraine medication, I was sitting in my car before pulling out of the parking spot when I saw a car in one of the driving lanes by the median strip with a young, very awkward, very thin but presentable looking white man (maybe 18 or 20) trying to push his car into the McDonald’s or into the Walgreens, just anywhere but where it was. There was a person in the driver’s seat doing the steering, although they seemed confused as to what to do, which didn’t help matters.

The young boy’s shoe fell off while he was ineffectively pushing his car, and as he struggled to put it back on – while making sure the car did not back over him – it was revealed that he had some kind of a splint on his leg…it had come off with his shoe. So here he is, desperately trying to push his car…with all of the embarrassment I’m sure, that goes along with a broken-down car, while having issues with his leg or foot. I felt badly and quite helpless given I am completely useless, and my heart went out to him over his predicament.

Then came the first hero of the day in the form of a black man, in his 40’s maybe, obviously dressed for an office job (slacks, button down shirt, tie, nice jacket) who had been walking from his car into the McDonald’s.  He rushed, and by that I mean he RAN, over to the boy, said a few words, then leaned into the car and said a few words, and then took his place at the back of the car and the two started to heave against it…this time in a direct line for the McDonald’s. There’s an incline there, so they were still having a hard time getting the car to go…when lo and behold, our second hero of the day made an appearance.

This one was slightly more surprising given my rural area, as he was a “hipster” in full “hipster” garb from his well thought out haircut to his lumberjack beard, right down to his cuffed jeans and black boots. He SPRINTED from the adjoining grocery store parking lot to join in pushing the car – and with his help, the three were successful in getting it out of the way and actually into a parking space.  All’s well that ends well as they say. And I was glad.

I was glad to see the boy helped out of a mortifying and difficult situation, and it was indeed heartening to see those two men come to his aid so quickly and with such eagerness to assist – when clearly no-one else was going to and no-one else did.

Oh, I still have a cynical outlook on our society as a whole and especially those leading it. But today…well, today showed me there is hope after all. Hope is surely a good thing.

Feed Me

The overwrought parent. It’s an ageless and timeless trope that has been milked for easy jokes on dozens if not hundreds of sitcoms for decades now. The kids come home from college and the mom immediately rushes up to her son or daughter, clawing at their clothing while wailing about how they’re nothing but skin and bones. The mom then makes it her duty to whip up a hearty dinner of meat stew and potatoes to try to fatten her kids up before sending them back off to that barren wasteland known as University.

How many times have I rolled my eyes whenever I saw a mother portrayed that way? I’d think to myself, The kids are fine. Settle down. They’re 20 years old; they know how to find food for the love of God! Little did I know that I was bound for the same fate; my course having been set even before I was born, and now I have finally arrived at that echelon of motherhood teeming with irrational anxiety that for some reason my kids have lost any ability to live independently and will die without my assistance.  Whew. Okay. Breathe.

My grandmother used to always push food on us like we had been locked in the Oliver Twist orphanage for decades on end. The funny thing is that she didn’t do this to us when we were kids, only when we were full-fledged grown-ups coming to visit. I guess that as a child she figured my mom would ensure we were fed. Maybe she thought the older I got, the less likely I would be lucky enough to find someone willing to give me food (because for some reason I don’t have the ability to do it myself). So, me as an adult, I’d come by to say hello and she’d cook for me (always) and even insist that I take food home with me.

I remember she did the same thing to my mother.   A sandwich for the road…biscuits for later…a piece of that fine ham she had for dinner.  It was simply impossible to leave the house without something wrapped in foil or stuffed in Tupperware.

Then it was my mom’s turn. I don’t know when exactly it happened, but she hit a certain age and boom, she fell right in step. Sometimes when I leave her house after a visit it’s like I was just at the Whole Foods store. Balanced in my arms are loaves of bread, canned goods, sweets, and frozen meat (yes, frozen meat). Bless her heart.

Ridiculous, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought.  But the virus has taken over my brain too! My poor son. He’s 22 — a man in the eyes of the law—and has moved into his own place, but he’s still in that “new adult” stage; scraping for cash, trying to get on his own two feet. When he comes to visit I feel that it is my maternal obligation to fill his belly with as much food as I can. I constantly tell him to ransack the place, rummage through the cupboards, take anything. I’m pushing food on him like the generations of mad women before me.

Except now I understand that it’s not that we don’t have faith that our kids can live on their own…it’s just that if we know they’re fed…if we can do that one small thing for them… then we figure they can handle the rest of life on their own. And really, money does play a part in it. I would rather my son ransack my cabinets than live on only Ramen for the week. I know my mom feels the same way about me and that’s why she lets me grocery shop in her cupboards.

We can’t solve all of their problems and we can’t “fix” everything no matter how much we want to. But we can feed them. We can make sure that one primary need is filled. So we can worry about them a little less. Knowing that makes me feel a little less crazy. A little.