Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's a GREAT thing that I'm not a nurse.

While waiting in a tiny room the other day for the doctor to come and tell me that my son is ill with some random virus/bacteria/anthrax/creeping crud, I once again decided that I am happy that I am not employed as a nurse. If I am completely honest with myself, the rest of humanity is probably very happy about my career choice as well.

Both of my parents went to nursing school. That was where they met. I should have been a shoe-in for nursing with that background. The very first book I remember wanting to read was Gray's Anatomy. Growing up with the usual bumps, bruises, and virulent cooties of childhood, my parents never freaked out or overreacted. (Which was good--kids take their cue as to how to react from their parents. If the parents freak, you have hysterical children, and nobody wants that.)

While I could handle all the book learning just fine, I just don't have a very good bedside manner. If you're REALLY sick, that's one thing, but if you're just bellyaching or malingering, you will find me less than sympathetic, if not downright rude. My mother-In-Law often suffers convenient(for her) attacks of the "vapors"(for lack of a better word), where she will end up on the couch with a wet washcloth on her forehead and a wastebasket next to her. She remains on display until she knows for sure that she doesn't have to do whatever it was she is trying to avoid. She has done this so many times that I just stopped even acknowledging her when I walked by on my way to the kitchen. I'm not a big fan of drama. And what do you say to that after the 42nd time, anyway?

"Hey! I really like how you have that arm thrown up over your eyes--it really brings out the angst in your pretend illness!" (In the interest of marital bliss, I usually don't say anything at all.) When I am working with my middle school students, and they complain about being "sick", my usual response is probably not going to win me any humanitarian awards.

"Are you bleeding from an eyeball? No? Then you're fine." I am better with the younger kids, I do the standard Mom thing and put my hand on their forehead. If they feel warmer than expected, they go to the nurse, because a fever means that whatever they have is contagious.

Another reason I would not be a good nurse: if anyone around me projectile vomits, I'm outta there. I do NOT handle that vomit smell very well; it in fact encourages an immediate gag reflex that almost never ends well. If I can remember to breathe through my mouth, instead of my nose, I can sometimes manage without adding to the mess. But you don't usually see the nurses sharing a wastebasket with their patients.

A third reason I would not be a good nurse is my unfortunate tendency to react inappropriately to unexpected developments. If I kind of know what is going on or what is going to happen, I'm calm. If there is any sort of monkey wrench thrown into the mix, it's a crapshoot how I will react. It's quite terrible, actually. When my husband, who is terrified of needles, passed out during one of his chemo treatments, I just sat there and watched and laughed as he slid out of the chair. It was hysterical laughter, but still inappropriate.

The last reason that I would make a terrible nurse is my needle phobia. The idea of jabbing someone in the arm or trying to take their blood just gives me the heebies. If I were a nurse, I would have to take Xanax just to contemplate giving someone a shot. Then I would have to keep my eyes closed while I gave the shot. This would lead to some less than optimal needle sticks, and some angry patients. If I had to actually take someone's blood or put in an IV, I would be so icked out by the idea of the needle going into the vein, I would likely faint dead away.

So I would be the kind of nurse who rolls my eyes at you because I think you're bellyaching, who tells you to 'suck it up' when you're sick, who runs from the room when you barf, and who faints when I have to stick a needle in you. That's pretty sad, but realistic! Aren't you glad I'm not a nurse?


  1. Yeah, you better stick to teaching. Good call in career choices! You know, I get a little squeamish, too, when I see needles. I try to act all bad, like "Oh that's nothing." In truth, I flint and shrivel up every time I see a needle and that's from watching someone else get jabbed. If the shoe is on the other foot and I'm the receiving party, I have to close my eyes and retreat to my quiet little place in my mind, as I say, "It's going to be alright. It's going to be alright." or, "Just breathe, Cathy!" I'm pretty sure breathing is a good thing to do, but if I did faint then I'd be in a place where someone would know precisely what to do.

    Enjoyed the post!

    ~Cathy Kennedy, Children's Author
    The Tale of Ole Green Eyes

  2. LOL. I'm not very sympathetic either when it comes to stuff like that. Unless it's really, really bad and then I go straight to crying probably. Anyway! Following you from a bloghop!


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