Back in University the nursing students were cool AF. As I rotated between sociology and anthropology lectures (not cool as anything) I admired them. They were good at science and not afraid of blood, needles or germs. Other than nursing a few hangovers, and “Nightingaling” my kids over the years, a career in nursing was never in the cards for me. Though nurturing by nature hospital smells have been known to make me faint. Plus science is like, really hard.
Thank god for nurses—qualified, kind-hearted, non-fainting souls—who have cared for my family over the years.
As the parent of a child with disabilities, I’ve had my share of interactions with nurses—mostly positive. There were a few Nurse Ratchets, but I get why they’d be snappy at the end of a long shift dealing with needy sick people.
There are three nurses in particular who have made a lasting impression on me. They are all skilled professionally, but their secret medicine, humour, makes them exceptional.
Maternity Mayhem Nurse
No disrespect to doctors, doulas and midwives—you folks know your way around a dilated cervix. But huge props go out to the amazing nurse who looked after us after the rather horrific birth of our son. Our giant melon headed baby who was born sunny-side up and sideways caused some significant damage to my undercarriage.
She checked in on me like any other nurse would. She dosed out pain meds and brought me frozen maxi pads which isn’t anything above and beyond. But when she noticed the pool of water under my backside (I didn’t know you were supposed replace the pad when it started to thaw) she laughed. Not at me, but with me. She saw the humour and she made me laugh about it, despite my soggy nethers.
That same nurse, Judy, could see I was struggling to breastfeed. She encouraged me by gently talking me through it, making jokes about the whole awkward process. We connected and I trusted her so I was able to relax into it because of her. (Little did I know that my baby boy was tongue-tied and breast-feeding would be a complete disaster once I got home… but that’s a story for another time).
During the birth I sustained what can best described as “Texas Chainsaw Crotch Massacre” tears. I was in horrible pain and feared something had come loose. I panicked and asked my husband to take a look. Being the supportive husband he is, he grabbed a flashlight (I have no idea why we had one in our hospital room) and with me on all fours he went in head first to assess the situation. Imagine how that must have looked to poor nurse Judy as she stumbled upon this gruesome display.
When she burst into hysterical laughter, I knew she was a kindred spirit. Which in turn, raised my spirits.
My husband and I ran into Judy a few months later at the grocery store. We hugged hello and laughed all over again at the “Crotch Spelunking” incident. What could have been awful and embarrassing was transformed into a funny family story. Because of Judy.
Sidenote: Judy and her husband found out right around the time we met that they couldn’t have children of their own. Imagine working as a pediatric nurse, swaddling babies, knowing you’d never give birth to your own. And yet she carried on, making us feel safe and looked after. Exceptional.
Diagnosis Day Nurse
Nurse Angela was there the day my husband and I got our second baby’s diagnosis. My daughter and I were living in hospital at the time while she was being treated for Failure to Thrive. The geneticist visited our room with news. Not the good kind. The diagnosis, though not totally unexpected, came as a horrible shock.
I don’t remember a lot from those few months in the hospital. I was numb, going through the motions. But I do remember Angela holding my hand. Literally. She held my hand one night as I cried like a baby about my baby. She told me I could do it and that Avery would be okay. Truthfully, that didn’t make me feel much better. I just cried harder and felt foolish for indulging in such a pitiful pity party. But when we started talking about how my husband offered to stay home with Avery—since one parent would have to leave their job to stay home full-time—we joked about what special kind of hell our house would be if left to the devices of a gym teacher. No offence to my husband (I mean, any man who still loves his partner after witnessing the horror I mentioned above, is a very good man) but really…. leaving two small children in his care would be a scene from the movie “Meatballs.” We laughed about that and I started to feel better.
See? Humour. If only they could bottle it and dose it out on the daily. By the way Angela, Avery is okay. In fact, she’s more than okay. 🙂
Allergy Ally Nurse
And last but certainly not least, Nurse Cindy. Not only is she my favourite nurse, she’s one of my favourite people in the gen pop. She vaccinated both my kids when they were little and my son still remembers the crazy chicken hat she wore to distract them. Always friendly with a ready smile, she makes my life easier and I’m always happy to see her—which is a very good thing since I’ll be seeing her once a week for the next two years. So that’s like 204 visits, right? My science skills are bad, but my math is worse.
My seasonal allergies have gotten so unbearable that I’ve started weekly immunotherapy shots so I can eventually live like a normal, breathing, non-hivey person.
The only thing I hate more than needles (and I really, really hate them) is weekly appointments of any sort. It’s way too time consuming for my busy self! However, Cindy makes it bearable. She makes me laugh every time I walk through the door into her office. She greets me with a song and dance, purely to make me laugh. And when I’m not laughing, like the time I reacted to one of the shots and had heart palpitations that made me think I was going to die, she took me seriously. She didn’t make me feel silly or melodramatic. She took care of me, as nurses do. And then once I’d calmed down, she made me laugh. Which a) relaxed me b) made me feel like less of a giant loser.
Thank you Nurse Cindy and all the excellent nurses out there, for your warmth, humour and basic humanity which is sadly lacking these days. I’m sure people in the medical field are aware that most patients, myself included, do not enjoy medical settings. It makes us jittery.
When you moonwalk over to greet me or laugh at something silly I said as I nervously eye the needle in your hand, you put me at ease. Your humour is contagious (in a non-germy way) and your easy rapport is noticed and appreciated by many.
Laughter really is the best medicine which means you’re dispensing something pretty powerful there, Nurse Bunny Teeth. 😉
Addendum: Shorty after I wrote this, I met a fourth nurse, Heather. Thank you Nurse Heather for taking such incredible care of me. When I had that severe allergic reaction, you made everything better. You’re a life-saver. Literally. xo