On Wednesday, we were all up at 4 a.m. Truthfully, I never went to sleep. I went through a period of almost getting a human amount of sleep. Does three hours count? That period seems to be over, at the moment anyway. But up we were, three tired souls stumbling around making coffee, grabbing breakfast and trying to find the “good” in “good morning.”
My daughter’s school planned a college visit and we had to drop her off at 6 a.m. There was NO way I’d make her late! Because we ALL know that I’m chronically late.
When we left our apartment, it was dark out. No one was around. My daughter joked about it being like a nightmare, a horror movie. But it put me in mind of my time in nursing school.
During my training, we had clinical days. I had to wake up at around 4:30, leave my apartment between 5-5:30, all to get to the hospital by 7:30. During the winter, it was dark and cold. I hated leaving that early. Thankfully, I’m married to a great guy who traveled with me, every clinical day. He’d go to a diner and write before heading to work. I was, and still am, grateful that he did that.
On those stressful training days, working alongside real nurses and medical professionals.Taking care of real patients. No pressure, right? We rotated through the various departments in the hospital, wearing our bright white uniforms. Some areas were better than others. It was during these rotations that I became enamored with the maternity department. Labor and delivery, post-partum care? Yes! Sign me up. Teaching new parents to care for their new babies, it was heaven. One day, I was on the team planning to deliver a set of triplets! When they were born, their bassinets were labeled “A,” “B” and “C.” Randomly assigned to baby “B,” I asked the parents if they’d decided on names for their beautiful baby girls. The mother asked me what my name was. After I answered, she said, “that’s it! Her name will be Becky.” It was an overwhelmingly emotional moment for everyone. They cried when I started crying. Baby Becky’s parents made the experience even more extraordinary for this young nurse.
I had an elderly professor, Nurse P. She wasn’t the friendliest person. Barking at us that we were “doing that wrong!” Or “STOP! What’s wrong with you?” I remember one afternoon in the nursing lab, the place where we trained on mannequins. Practicing IV placement, catheterizations, wound care, all procedures that nurses need to be proficient in. It was my turn to “place” an IV. I’d barely begun when Nurse P. raced across the room screaming at me. “What’s WRONG with you?” My legs just about turned to jelly. When she arrived at the bedside of my “patient,” she saw that I’d followed the directions and hadn’t made a mistake. She just looked and said, “Oh….keep going.” Well, at that point nothing was going to be right. I shook, trying to place that darn IV. Having Nurse P. glaring at me, even the memory makes me shudder.
In later years, when I trained new nurses, I made them train on ME. I detest needles of any kind. If they could calm me with a professional demeanor and careful technique? Then, and only then, were they allowed to touch my patients. Extreme, but I don’t like seeing anyone in pain. Especially unnecessary pain inflicted by careless medical professionals.
We had to write long, detailed care plans for each of our patients, pages and pages of details for every aspect of their care. That professor would read them and return them covered in green ink, as if the pen had exploded on each page. I’m not joking. I never had a care plan returned to me that wasn’t completely overrun with green writing. It was discouraging but I learned to write better. Nurse P. did me a favor. Having a tough critic made me a tough critic, in the best possible way. She was a great nurse! It was obvious. And I am grateful.
So as we walked on, my daughter and I, on that cold dark morning. I told her the story of having to leave before the sun came up, trying to catch the right train, so I wouldn’t be late getting to the hospital. It was nice going down memory lane. Those years seem like another life. Almost like someone else’s life. But it was mine. There are moments, looking back, that I feel like I’ve lived three lives. Isn’t that how it feels for everyone? At least sometimes?
I am fortunate enough to have had those experiences. It made me a better nurse, a better writer. And I’ll say it again, I’m grateful. 😊
Be kind to each other.
Peace & painlessness,