I feel like I have been a bit of a slacker this month with my blog and my writing in general. I can't believe sometimes how troubles suck the life right out of a person. Since my first year of full time nursing job, I knew nursing, as in the caring part, can truly do a number on the inner self. The pull between work and home, even before I had children, created tension in me.
I was about fourteen, when the guidance department started giving us tests to see where our strengths were. A time for reflection, introspection and pressure to declare what I really want to be when I grew up based on aptitude. Actually, I believe this was the spring of eighth grade as we had to fill out schedules to fit our career choice.
Science was not a strong pull, but I wasn't horrible at it. If I studied better, I could have been good at anything. I felt nursing was a practical way to serve God. I could do a bit of every thing, teaching, counseling and the hands on of caring.
My dad had spent a long time in hospitals with his whip lash. We joked that he was buying a wing of St. Elizabeth's hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. He was there when I joined the church.That spring, I sat on his bed, the bleach so strong, my eyes watered. I don't remember too much about nursing activity while visiting these hospitals. They seemed quiet and orderly. Dad never complained, except one time they put his name down as George. Doctor asked him why he was sullen.
"Well," my dad answered, "wouldn't you be upset if everyone called you George and your name is Gerald?"
Doctor had to agree.
Hospitals promoted a pristine, sterile environment. Nurses wore all white, from cap to shoes. No pants then either, dresses with white stockings. A navy blue sweater broke the whiteness, only.
I worked later at the one hospital where Dad spent much time. In the mid eighties and early nineties, we still gave H.S. care. H.S. stood for hour of sleep. And the care involved back rubs, changing the draw sheets(the middle sheet on a bed), emptying the trash cans, vital signs and basically seeing if everything was OK with our patients. Now, I'm not sure if any hospital does H.S. care.
When my mom had surgery a few years later during one of the coldest Januaries, the hospital was also doing construction. The frigid air blew through the cracks of the windows. The nurse sat at a desk in the middle front of a room of four beds. It was somewhat of a surgical ICU. She wore the clean white with a cap, writing in the dim, quiet room, while we visited.
I think from these experiences, I had a skewed idea of nursing. Later in high school, as part of growing in the Candy Striper's, they had a future nurses' program for the juniors and seniors. Mostly making beds, stuffing charts, but occasionally little patient care. One time passing meal trays, a man cried in bed, pulling his urinary catheter, asking me, in my red and white striped pinafore and cap, with a white blouse, to help him take it out. I felt very inadequate.
Still I felt knowledge and experience would enable me to do this job. Mom encouraged by saying it was a good job, part time, for a mother. A neighbor down the street was a nurse and she left for work after her husband came home to be with the children. Things sure changed by the nineties.
For thirty years as a registered nurse, plus those volunteer years, nurse's aid at Clepper's and nursing school, a diploma school, I have learned much. I care for the people I have encountered, relishing all the stories and love. I have always worked by the golden rule, treating my patients as I would want myself or my parents to be treated.