Nurse Dee

It has been a long time since my daughter has needed my help. So when I discovered that she was going to need knee surgery, wild horses couldn’t stop me from volunteering to come down to help her during her initial recovery period. Now I’m not the best person in a medical situation. My moments of squeamishness are legendary amongst my children like the time my son had stitches on an arm injury and I ended up on my knees beside his gurney, forehead resting on the gurney’s side, babbling on about all the ice cream we were going to eat when it was over. The doctor finally interrupted my monologue to say, “It’s over, Mrs. Porterfield. You can stop now.”

“It is?”, I asked, startled to see how low I had sunk, literally. “Um, I was just trying to distract him,” I tried to explain.

“Well, I don’t know if you did or not,” the doctor said, “but you sure made me hungry.”

Or there was the time that I had to interrupt a nurse’s instructions after my son had his wisdom teeth removed so that I could leave the recovery room and go sit in the bathroom with my head between my legs. In my defense, I would just like to say that I was doing fine until the heart monitor that Jason was hooked up to suddenly beeped and flatlined. “Oops, guess I’m dead,” my son said cheerily, grinning at me with pieces of bloody gauze sticking out of his mouth.

But for arthoscopic surgery, I figured all I would probably have to do would be change bandaids, make tea, drive her back from the hospital, plump pillows, feed her, and offer lots of sympathy. Surely I could do that much. And for the most part, I was right.

Driving in the big city to the hospital was no problem because my daughter did the driving. I just tried to pay attention to the route, in case she was too groggy to navigate me back to her apartment after the surgery. Once we checked into the hospital, she was soon called back into the inner sanctum. After about 40 minutes, a nurse came out and paged me. I followed her back into the hushed area where half-pulled curtains surrounded patients on gurneys who were hooked up to various devices. I looked around for Laura and soon spotted her. She was sitting up in bed and looked downright perky. In fact, her coloring was good and she was smiling. “Piece of cake,” I thought. “This shouldn’t be so bad.”

I sat down beside her bed and we talked about various things. I asked if I could do anything to make her knee more comfortable and she declined my offer. While I debated pulling out my knitting, wondering how much longer she would be kept in recovery, a nurse showed up with chart in hand. “Time to start your IV,” she said.

“IV?” I was confused. “Why does she need one now? Isn’t she finished with the surgery?”

“Heavens, no. She hasn’t even had it yet. We’re just prepping her,” the nurse responded. My daughter rolled her eyes and started to laugh.

And so began the ordeal of the IV which of course went sour with the first attempt. Seems my daughter’s veins take after mine, which are miniscule. The big difference is that my daughter is a real trooper and took it all in stride. I, on the other hand, would have been half way out the door, hospital gown or no gown, if it had been my veins that were being assaulted. The look on my face must have reminded Laura of all my past medical shortfalls which she proceeded to tell the nurse.

“You going to be OK?” asked the nurse.

“Sure, don’t worry about me. I’m just fine. I’m PUMPED for this,” I said.

“She’s pumped,” the nurse cackled. She seemed to find that pretty funny and she continued to laugh as she pulled out another needle, retightened the tourniquet and started slapping Laura’s arm, looking for another vein.

“You know, I always sing when they have to draw blood from me,” I told noone in particular.

“I’m not going to sing, Mom!” Laura insisted.

“You going to sing for us?” the nurse asked, looking at me amused. Then a vein caught her attention. Whamp! “Now here’s a good one, Honey. We shouldn’t have any trouble getting an IV started in this vein.”

“Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day. I got a beautiful feeling…..everything’s going my way!” I warbled loudly to the amazement of nurses and patients around the room.

Ah yes, there’s nothing like a little mother-daughter bonding over the strains of “Oklahoma” in a presurgical suite. And I call that “making memories.”

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