Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Spice of Life

In the hospital, not much changes from day to day.  I choose my food from the same menu that I've now perused for more than seventy of my most recent meals.  There's no humidity, no wind, no warming rays of sunshine, and the temperature is always 67 degrees.  The shades go up and the shades go down, but any time past ten in the morning, the overhead lighting needs to come on.  My vitamins come right after breakfast and supper, my anti-contraction meds come every four hours 'round the clock, my shower follows the fetal monitoring, blood draws are an every-three-days treat.  Each day is a reasonable facsimile of the last.

But the staff members.  Oh, the staff members.  They provide the spice of life around here.

Perhaps my favorite is the Go-Getter.  She's young and fun, but she is motivated.  Go-Getter is planning a path to nurse practitioner, and she jumps for any opportunity to do something cool.  When the first nurse blows your vein trying to get in an IV, she calls another nurse who looks over your veins with uncertainty, and then that nurse calls Go-Getter.  Who slides that IV in no fuss, no muss.  Boom.  And then she raves about your juicy veins.  Gross?  Maybe, but all is forgiven in the world of IV successes.

SuperTech is a lot like Go-Getter, except she's a nurse technician.  A nurse technician who does the best blood draw in the tri-state area, is ever-vigilant to keep your water jug full, waits to change your sheets until after your crumby little children have visited, and just generally makes life pleasant.  She pumps up your air mattress pad on the regular, and you never hesitate to ask her to open or close your blinds, because she's just great that way.

The Chatty Night Nurse is lovely and so totally European.  She's more thorough than any of the other nurses, the only one that ever pulls out a stethoscope or checks the pulse in your feet.  Chatty Night Nurse wears shoes that squeak across the floors in the night, but it doesn't really matter, because she's got you up talking, anyway.  Whether it's the disorder she discovers in the bedside supply drawer or the incomplete information displayed on the dry-erase board, she's always got something to cluck about, something to tend to.  Chatty Night Nurse has a tendency to ask for a verbal response to her midnight bed checks and to require weigh-ins and blood draws in the pre-6AM hours.  With someone else, you might tire of that, but she makes you feel united with her in the drive for order and efficiency.  You mean that IV was flushed twice within a 12-hour period?  Hoo-rah!

The Bubbly Fellow finds herself working on the Fourth of July and a sparkler.  Because, you know, some people might not get to see any that night.  Her words.  Head to toe black, with silver sequins exploding across her chest and shoulders, topped off with a hair adornment that sparkles and shimmies while she assesses your blood loss and orders magnesium.  She's the one you seek out when your back hurts after a couple weeks of bed rest, when you're wondering about a change in medicine, when you just want one more detail of the surgery plan explained more thoroughly.  She relates, she sympathizes, she problem-solves, and she has seriously impressive accessories.

The Bubbly Fellow has a counterpart in nursing, the Bubbly Nurse.  Bubbly Nurse wears hot pink clogs and also ascribes to your big hair beliefs.  She monitors your baby bedside and for twenty minutes, gives a running commentary about him lacing up his Nikes a little tighter this morning and being an athlete, an over-achiever, showing off for his mommy.  She calls his heart rate decelerations dipsy-do's and when she's not satisfied with the brand-new resident's assessment of the dipsy-do's, she runs the results down to the attending doctor, just to be sure.

The Circumspect Resident comes on a little more slowly.  She spends the first three weeks of bed rest showing up at your bedside every morning at 6:15, prodding your tummy with ice-cold fingers, inspecting your legs, running through a rote list of questions--all of which you regularly answer in the negative-- and then leaving without so much as a good-bye.  But after a couple days off, she shows up and tells you she's been thinking about you all weekend, hoping that things were still going ok.  And that just might bring a little sting to your eye.  After that, she never leaves without saying goodbye.

The Menu Planner works for food service, delivering the meal trays.  She seems to favor meat-heavy meals, or else she's got something against cheese.  Jury's still out on that one.  But if one day you dream up a way to divert from the ordinary menu and order macaroni and cheese as your entree, she will let you know--in a jolly way--that she thoroughly disapproves.  She thinks it's something her son might order, but you--YOU!--should not.  And if she happens to be the one dropping off your lunch of grilled cheese a couple days later, oh! woe to you.  Never have you seen a head shake so gravely.

Giggles is the housekeeper.  She comes giggling in each morning, greeting you with a giggle, replying with a giggle to your inquiries about how she's doing, giggling that she's just here to take the trash.  And then again in the afternoon, a knock at the door is followed by a giggled announcement that it's time to sanitize the room.  More giggles about the dirty lunch tray and any towels that might be in the linen deposit, and then a last peal of giggles as she wipes down the bed rails with rubbing alcohol and giggles herself into the hallway.

Nurse Matter-of-Fact is all business for the first couple of days she cares for you.  Perfectly friendly, but no personal stories, no inquiries about your life outside.  Just medicine and monitoring and routine checks, right on schedule.  But one day, she finds you in a mess of tears over a proposed medical plan involving a good bit of pain and discomfort, and she immediately tells you that that plan will need to be "reassessed."  And then she goes to bat for you with the doctors and the head nurse, and you overhear her describing you as "extremely reliable," "careful," "trustworthy."  And by the time she comes back, the plan has been changed to one that achieves practically the same result and involves no pain or discomfort, but more work for your nurses.  You cry in amazement and she wins a forever fan.  She also calls you "doodlebug" from there on out.


A salute to all you hospital staff members out there!  You make a difference in each patient's day.  And when a patient spends a while inside, YOU are their spice of life!


Thank you so much for all the prayers being said for our family, for all the kind and encouraging words you have offered.  We are truly overwhelmed by the love that has been shown our many fun visits with friends, mail deliveries, play dates for the children, meals for the home crew.  So much love.  Thank you!  I hope to do the same for each of you one day.


Jeanmarie Collins said...

Darling, Elizabeth,
It is always entertaining to read your posts.
I'm glad to hear you are well taken care of.
Sending you much love.

Malacy said...

Thanks for sharing a bright and hilarious light on hospital staff...they are a unique breed! I know you are a joy to care for.

Lydia Avant said...

You are a wonderful writer, Elizabeth. You really should have your own motherhood column. Keeping you and yours in my prayers.

Cyndy Uncapher said...

Love your blog! I love your family stories and your take on everyday life is amazing. Praying for your fam and that baby boy!!

Jenna Ramone said...

I also enjoyed your writing. It certainly sounds like an animated team of nurses are taking care of you!

Katherine {eggton} said...

I found myself wishing there were 40 more people taking care of you, just so I could read about them all! But then, I suppose you'd *really* never sleep. :)