When you are a nurse, working around a medical environment, you develop a shield that sort of enables you to tolerate the sights, smells, and circumstances of various states of injury and illness. You start developing it while in training, and over time, while working in the atmosphere of these things, you slip on this shield without any consciousness of it, or, in fact wear it all the time like some prosthetic device you have become so accustomed to that it seems a part of you.
Conversely, when you are a nurse who has retired from the field and have not been around all of that for a while, you may be surprised to discover that you start to lose (or maybe just put away) that de-sensitization. Today when we went to hubby’s follow-up appointment to remove the staples (from where he had his laproscopic bowel anastamosis and removal of that tumor), we discovered that part of one of the incisisions (the largest of the 3) had not been healing up quite on schedule. It wasn’t so much the serosanguinous discharge that got me, (that’s good, no pus) but when the doctor dipped the cotton-swab stick a good 2 and a half to 3 inches into the wound, I just about passed out! The thing is, I still have that shield, I just didn’t come in there wearing it (as a nurse). I came in there as the “other half” of the patient, and I’m telling you I felt every inch of that q-tip going into that abdominal wound. I pulled myself together but I could not have stood up for several minutes had the doctor asked me to. When you have narcolepsy with cataplexy, it is good to avoid “shock” as it induces cataplexy and compounds the problem. So there I was, a former nurse with plenty of experience with cleaning and debriding much nastier wounds than this, fighting to remain conscious while the doctor prattled on in that bantering way they do, describing what he was doing and what I’d need to do twice a day when he went home. He even looked at me and said “well, you seem fine with all this” (little did he know, lol), and I managed to say “yep, I’ve done it before”. Ah, good times!
I think that the reality of all that has happened just pierced my armor in that instant. This is my husband. His body is broken, it’s open, he is ill, it’s cancer! It wasn’t just the wound. Everything has gone so smoothly and I think just the glitch of realizing he wasn’t healing as expected, sort of combined with the graphic demonstration of just how “not healed” it was, just sort of became the teensie dart that found the chink and penetrated my defenses. It is funny how God designed us to absorb things gradually, even when they happen rather suddenly, you know? Two weeks ago we were going along, status quo, and then one trip to the doctor for an assumed tummy bug, and now this whole other scenario has over-shadowed our life.
I am 49 and have dealt with illness since I was 30 so I have felt “old before my time” for quite some time. Only in recent years was my husband showing signs of slowing down. Then this. I said as we got on the elvator at the doctor’s office, “well, babe, I guess we have reached that age”. Doctors appointments, prescriptions, insurance, medical bills. Yipee. Lol. We were looking forward to growing old together, but not so soon. I guess there is never a convenient time for that, though, is there?
But it’s all good. I had to drive over to the next town to find a pharmacy that still carries some of the things we needed for his wound care. In the end I was glad of it, though. The drive was nice, and the pharmacy was like a visit back to the 40s or 50’s. They had all these old linaments and potions and things my grandma used to use, that I didn’t know anyone still carried. Corn huskers lotion? Prid? Grandma’s Lye Soap? Wow. Not only did they carry these items for sale, but they had a display case of actual vintage stuff. Lots of things in tins. I just wanted to linger there. The fellow who helped me was an older guy. The pharmacy name is Kirkpatricks and I got the feeling this older guy was probably the second generation who took over from his father, and that the pharmacist behind the counter, late 30’s was probably the current owner and 3rd generation. The older fellow seemed pleased that I recognized the old brands and appreciated that they were still available. He spoke with pride as he presented each one of the items I had come seeking. Iodoform gauze, gloves, long cotton-tip swabs. Personable, friendly, passing the time of day in conversation, back like it was in the days when everyone wasn’t in such an “all-fired-hurry”. It’s official. I’m an old fuddy-duddy.
As a nurse, and even as a kid when I was a candy-striper, I always liked old folks. I didn’t aspire to be one, mind you, but there always seemed to be a certain patience and straight-forward nature to elderly people. When you have lived a good “fifty to a hunnerd” years, I guess you have learned a thing or two about what is worth getting worked up over and what isn’t. I am learning that a little earlier than most people, but then again, the good Lord knows when He handed out patience, I didn’t get a full serving the first go-round. Patience has never been my strong suit.
Well, anyway, there is your “candid shot” for today: We’ll call it Part 1 “Nurse wimps out”, and Part 2 a “Mayberry moment at an old-time mom and pop pharmacy”. Hows that?
I even remember Woolworths. Now, here in VA the Woolworths I remember was much like the dollar stores of today. But the one back in the mountains of West Virginia where my family is from, was the real deal with the lunch counter and everything. Actually I think I recall one in Richmond that had the lunch counter too. Don’t you miss those days? Even the Roses Department store in our town used to have a lunch counter. And lay-away. Does it make me wierd that I’m not even 50 yet and I love things like Reminisce Magazine? I was like that even as a kid, though. I had an appreciation for what was good and an awareness of what was fading and going by the wayside.
It is a good day when you venture out and have new things to write about. There are stories everywhere, if you look for them. Got a digital camera for Christmas, so I hope to incorporate some photography in here at some point. Don’t worry, though, I’ll leave off wound pictures. Althought he doctor gave us some great shots of my husband’s liver and colon…..