The nurse
Wednesday February 07th 2007, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

My camera and my computer are not currently on speaking terms, so I’m afraid knitting pictures are temporarily on hold.

I got an email yesterday, one of those things that gets forwarded around the Internet, a poem from a “Crabby Old Man” that had been found in the man’s pocket after he’d died in a hospital in Florida, rebuking the nurses for only seeing an uncooperative patient who didn’t want to eat that food–because he still wanted to be able to make choices. Who didn’t comply over various other things, either, wanting to be seen as a human being, and warning them that they, too, would be old someday. I read it, understood why the nurses were touched and passed it around, but thought, oh, but he could have had such a different experience!

One more story about that trip to Urgent Care last summer: the IV that a young nurse put in was done painfully (okay, so they never exactly feel wonderful.) I had two IVs running at a time for eight days, with many a blown vein, before I got a central line installed while I was at Stanford in ’03, and feel I know a bit on the subject now. But hey; this nurse had tried her best. I wanted to introduce her to Rachel Remen, because Dr. Remen writes of the time she, while in training, was basically handed needles and told to go draw blood out of a hospital ward full of patients. She had no idea what she was doing, and she knew she had no idea what she was doing. Finally, a large gruff patient on the ward who totally intimidated her exclaimed, “Don’t they teach these kids anything!?” And he took her around, patient to patient, showing her how to draw blood out of any kind of vein, easy or hard, with such finesse that she says that she as a professor has now taught thousands what he taught her that day–and that there have been times where that skill has saved a life.

Her story has a powerful surprise ending that I won’t spoil; go read her “My Grandfather’s Blessings” and “Kitchen Table Wisdom” books, they’re powerful reading.

So. There I was, with that IV in Urgent Care, and a couple of hours later another nurse goes to check it. He’s big, he’s gruff, and he shoots a glance towards the other medical personnel across the ward, grumbling, “Don’t they teach these kids anything? Look at that IV!” Grr… and he goes to fix it as best he can, annoyed at it, annoyed at himself for grumbling out loud, annoyed at everything, it seemed to me.

And I looked up at him, and thought, You have never seen me before in your life. You are unhappy because you don’t want me to be suffering any more than I have to. You are acting gruff because I, a stranger, matter to you, and you don’t want me to be in any pain I don’t have to be in.

I managed to voice a quiet “Thank you” that surprised him, and he looked at me, then. And saw me looking into his eyes hoping that he would see how much I meant that thank you. How much I hoped that he, too, would be in less pain.

He saw. A look of wonder passed his face. He instantly softened, and he let the gruffness go. He saw. I wonder now how he is, and I hope he sees all the time now.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Even if he saw for only a moment, it meant the world. I’m sure it’s a moment he holds close when the world is darker than normal.

Comment by Kristine 02.07.07 @ 3:00 pm

Oh, I hope so! And I owe a thank you to Patrice: I did mail off a copy of last Friday’s post to the director of the Urgent Care Clinic about the X-ray technician. Perhaps, then, that nurse will somehow get to see this, too; I hope so.

Comment by AlisonH 02.07.07 @ 3:13 pm

[…] was, abruptly and unexpectedly, a blender-hair day.  I got to see this guy and this guy (okay, Google, where’s the X-ray tech’s […]

Pingback by SpinDyeKnit 01.10.08 @ 2:54 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>