Friday, April 22, 2011

Being on the Other Side

I have been quite healthy most of my life. I have never spent the night in the hospital, never broken a bone, and until just last year, never even had an IV started on me (except for new nurses to practice).

I think I'm a good nurse, but deep down sick people have always bewildered me. Why are they so needy? Why are these family members constantly panicking even when grandma is fine? Where do these people get off being so sick?

Well, even without being truly "sick" per se, Isaac and I together have spent a lot of time being patients this last month for various surgeries, tests, and procedures. I have had a month off of work for a weight-lifting restriction. I spent an afternoon on bedrest and wanted to shoot myself. I have woken up loopy and irrational from sedation and been too woozy to walk on my own. I have been dependent on nurses for pain and nausea medicine, for warm blankets and sips of water. I have subjected myself to embarrassing procedures and those "one size fits no one" hospital gowns. I have even experienced the eternal thirst that accompanies a fluid restriction, thinking with new sympathy about all my dialysis patients.
Isaac the Patient

Worst of all, I have been the overly-anxious family member. When Isaac is involved, all semblance of rational thought flees my mind. When he had a fever of 100.0 and some chills? I just knew he was going into septic shock, probably from an overwhelming staph infection, and would be dead by morning. I could see the whole funeral playing out in my mind and thought tearfully about my upcoming life as a widow.

He was fine.

But best of all, every one of our nurses rose to the occasion. They were attentive, compassionate, patient, and just the right amount of motherly. Yes, the doctors were there too--for about 2 seconds--and did their jobs well, but they didn't bring me morphine or give me a hug when I left or feed Isaac homemade cranberry bread.

Through it all, I've found new meaning in my job and new-found compassion for how helpless my patients must feel. Now I've walked in their shoes a little.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Warning: This blog post is not for the weak at heart. Read on at your own risk!

I have my own evil eye.

I had an eye injury 16 years ago and ever since then my left eye won't constrict as much as the other. So the pupil is forever a little bigger than it should be.

Most people don't notice. But sometimes, when I want to experience that delicious thrill of being just a little scared, I step close to the mirror. All alone in the bathroom, I take a good look at that big pupil, and a wonderful little shudder runs through my spine.

Furthering the weirdness, the medical term for the left eye is "oculus sinister". Sinister! My eye is so aptly named that that creeps me out too.

A few days ago, I had surgery on old Sinister, and my eye was accordingly dilated beyond imagination. For two days I had one blue eye and one very literally black eye.

I have banned myself from the bathroom.

On the plus side, surgery wasn't that bad. Is my hat sexy or what?

They didn't let me keep it.