Monday, July 27, 2009

Scrubs

At the hospital, there are 3 different shifts and 3 different nurses taking care of Alan each day. On Wednesday he will have been in the hospital for a total of 7 weeks, which means he will have gone through 147 shift changes. There are repeat nurses from time to time, so he won't have had 147 distinct nurses, of course, but the count comes close. The nurses are as wild and varied as the scrubs they wear. (And in case you are lucky enough to have never been inside a hospital, let me tell you, they come in every print, color, trim and size ever imaginable!)

Once, right after surgery, a nursing assistant saved his life. He got up out of bed too fast and too soon and nearly fell, but she caught him, this nurse. Her scrub top had a Strawberry Shortcake print on it and the next day when he saw her, he smiled and said, "Strawberry Shortcake!" She was wearing a different top that day, one with bowls of fruit on it, bowls spilling over with strawberries and bananas and grapes -- so much spillage it almost seemed indecent. But she understood what he meant and she grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

Since then, he's associated scrubs with Strawberry Shortcake-like prints on them with people who are good nurses, the ones that check in on him, that ask how he is doing, the ones that know how to properly pack a wound. Last week, a nurse came in wearing a Little Twin Stars top and he poked her stomach, pointing at one of the Twins. "Strawberry Shortcake!" he said. She smiled down at him with eyes that said Poor, crazy fool. I grew up semi-obsessed over Sanrio and I knew those were no Twin Stars. I didn't correct him though, because honestly, his guess was as good as mine. Would this nurse be a good one? One that would help him if he needed it? I didn't know, so I didn't say anything when he decided she would be his new Strawberry Shortcake.

Each shift we have to make the assessment on who the Strawberry Shortcakes are and who aren't. When I come in the room, I check his whiteboard to see who the current nurse is. Please let it be Tina. Please let it be Tina. But it often won't be Tina, it will be someone completely new, someone we've never seen before, and I just can't help but wonder how many nurses does this hospital have?

Tina is one of our new favorite nurses. Tina says Alan should stay away from soda, but when he explains how much he loves it so and how he's missed it, she says she knows. She loves soda too, it is her favorite drink! Sadly, she had to give it up because it (the caffeine) gave her stomach problems. But recently she was at a restaurant and noticed they had caffeine-free soda, which made her really happy and gave her the good idea of getting some of that for herself. She worries about Alan keeping hydrated. She tells him to drink more water, and then, a second later, makes a face and says she knows it's hard, what with water not tasting like soda and all.

Later, she might come in to check in on him (after he's already been checked on by someone else), and she will see us all canoodled up on his bed watching a movie on his tiny Netbook. She'll come right over, take a peek at the screen and ask what we're watching. It is almost like we are at home (except Alan is wearing that same gown he's been wearing for weeks now, and there is all that beeping going on around us) and Tina is a family friend who stops by now and again to drop off a bag of lemons from her backyard tree.

Tina is just the best. She wears diamond cluster earrings with the diamonds clustered into the shape of an ice cream cone. And then she explains the purpose of his wet-to-dry wound packing, which makes so much sense! She is so wise and full of knowledge. I hope Alan gets Tina for the next 9 shifts.

But today, he did not have Tina. He had someone new, someone who took forever to come check on him. Someone who did not talk about her soda consumption or about the reasons behind the things they do while taking care of Alan. Instead, after I had settled into a nice spot on his bed, she came in and scolded me for it. It was just so incredibly un-Tina-like, and something none of the nurses have ever mentioned, that I decided that Tinkerbell scrubs, her choice print of the day, would forever be associated with bad nurses.

11 comments:

MrsP said...

Sounds like Tinkerbell could do with a sprinkling or two of faerie dust... Hang in there! Its only 9 more shifts! My best of wishes to you and Alan xxx

arukind said...

I work at a hospital (Radiation Therapist)and have to admit we get very excited about the great big world of scrubs out there. I recently went to the hospital to have a minor surgery and was amazed at how many different nurses I had for that one small surgery. After 7 weeks I'm sure you must feel like you've met a gazillion medical staff (and I'm sorry they weren't all nice). I have to laugh about your defining their personalities by their scrubs, I will never think of a nurse in Tinkerbell scrubs the same way again : ) Thanks for sharing, and hang in there Allen -- this will soon be distant blur of memories & you can focus on the many joys of recovery that lie ahead. We'll be cheering for you!

Brea

Rainysoul said...

I like all the new scrubs. They used to all be dull and boring. I haven't had to spend a lot of time as a patient, but we have 4 girls, and all were C-sections, so I've visited a lot! I too also found it weird that one nurse would have some thing that she told you not to do (be up on the bed), when it didn't bother anyone else.

Maybe you should pick you up a t-shirt or something with Strawberry Shortcake on it, for when he comes home! :)

Glitter Scrubs said...

Hey I just stumbled across your blog and I have to say I really enjoy it! Also, as a nursing student I have made a mental note to not purchase any Tinkerbell scrubs lol. Hopefully Tinkerbell was just having an off day and treats you guys better next time!

I'm Kim, by the way said...

If you read the original Peter Pan story, Tinker Bell was kind of a bee-yotch. ;)

All the best to you both.

Kerree said...

Hi. I've just come across your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is 1:44am here in Australia and way past my bedtime for a Tuesday night so you can see how enthralled I was. I'm sorry you and Alan are going through such a hard time at the moment. You both sound lovely. (Did I just use the word 'lovely'? So you do turn into your mother as you get older :) )

superchance said...

Hospitals can really SUCK. Thank God you guys have a Tina; as for Tinkerbell, well i hope she never has to be on the other side... she may not get treated so hot. It;s not that hard to treat people as you would want to be treated is it? I think we learned that in what? Kindergarten? O, ya it's the Golden Rule!!! I'm really pulling for you guys.

ThankYou said...

Tinkerbell, if one remembers, was actually a spoiled selfish brat. She didn't want to share Peter Pan, she used sabotage, and she was not kind at all. Not exactly the image I'd want idolized on my top, my tattoo, or anywhere on me.
Good call on the tinkerbell scrubs. You may find it applies to tattoos and other avenues of life as well.

Katie said...

*wipes tears* I hope you two get a break from the hospital soon. It must be really exhausting. :(

Too bad more people aren't like Tina, actually loving their job and the people they are taking care of. Examples to live by...

Sobrina Tung said...

I didn't know Tinkerbell was such a brat! I'll have to read that story over again. It's all about Strawberry Shortcake!

2busy said...

It just goes to show you that a little bedside manner goes a long way in at least the patient attitude and happiness during a difficult situation.

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