Thursday, June 17, 2010

Calling Nurse Betty

My brother’s wife has had several operations in recent years...

and my brother has done such a wonderful job of taking of her that they tease him about being Nurse Betty.

I am thinking that I need a Nurse Bettys. How wonderful would be if there were a wormhole between here and Lakewood, where they live, and my brother could just hop on over here and help me take care of our boy, or I could bundle Nat up and ship him off to Uncle Andy.

He was doing quite well after the operation, but then staph infections developed in the calves of both of his legs. It hurts to walk, so he has been mostly camped out on the couch for a couple of days and we—and the doctor—are watching him like a hawk and feeding him horse-pill-sized antibiotics.

Back in our high school days, my two friends—Sue and Rhonda—and I joined the Candy Striper program at Harbor General Hospital (now Harbor-UCLA Medical Center), a large county hospital and research facility nearby. We thought we might like being nurses. I have a photograph of the three of us lined up in our red-and-white striped jumpers, but I can’t find it at the moment.

Candy Stripers were volunteers who did nonmedical things to help the nurses out. I learned a bit: I learned how to disinfect a mattress, and do tight, square “hospital” corners with the bottom sheet. I learned how to carry samples of poop to the laboratory for analysis, and descend into the bowels of the hospital to pick up surgical packs for bedside procedures, and run medical records from the emergency department to admitting.

None of us became nurses when we grew up. I don’t know how long Sue and Rhonda stayed with the program, but I quickly found out I did not really have the gift of being a nurse.  I was able to transfer to the research laboratory and I began doing odd jobs for a medical team that was pioneering the techniques of liver transplantation in a dog model. I loved working there. I cleaned the equipment they used in the operations before it was sterilized, and I did other odd jobs for them. They even let me scrub in on the operations to watch and help suture the incisions on the donor animal.

We have all been so remarkably healthy over the years that there have only been a few occasions where I have had to play Nurse Betty. Our boy is really a very good patient -- I can see now why the nurses in the neuro ICU were so kind in their care of him.  I am trying to do the best job I can. I can see that this is just the beginning. I am thankful God is going to give me the grace I need so that I “can do all things” as they come along.


Far Side of Fifty said...

You will be the best Nurse Betty that you can be..I will share with you that even the best caregivers need a break every once in awhile...I hope that you find someone to give you a break occasionally:)

Oklahoma Granny said...

I was a Candy Striper back in the day too but the nursing profession was not for me. Both of my sisters had that talent.

One thing that you have that no other nurse could give your son - a mother's love. I'm sure you're doing a wonderful job.

BTW - I could sure tell that was your brother in the photo, even before I started to read your post.