Sunday, July 08, 2007

helloooo nurse!

Episode the First

I'm in the middle of settling a new post-operative patient in his room. My phone rings...I s'pose I should first explain that at work I have the privilege of carrying this *beautiful* bright yellow Spectralink phones that rings and displays my patient's room number when a patient uses their nurse-call button, rings when a doctor calls, displays important messages like "Stat orders" or "Staff emergency & room number". So while in general the phone is a very useful, time-saving device, it also registers high on the annoyance register and interruption to work-flow. I can't tell you how many times the darn thing rings when I've been in the middle of handling unnameable goop, having a sensitive discussion with a patient, or the battery dies suddenly just as I need to make one of those all-important "my patient is crashing give me orders for these things NOW doctor please" type of call.

So, back to the beginning, which was "My phone rings..."

I briefly glanced at the number--it look like my home phone number, and Andrew (my husband) knows sometimes I can't answer my phone right away so he usually calls back later. Since at this moment I've got 3 other staff members in the room ready to heave this gigantic Mr Big Boy onto his bed from the stretcher, I ignore the call. We heave and ho away, and Mr Big Boy starts to look a bit more comfy on a regular bed.
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I'm listening to Mr. Big Boy's breath sounds when my cheery yellow phone chirps again--looks like our home number, so I whip the stethoscope out of my ears, briefly answer the phone saying "Hi honey, I can't really talk right now, I'll call you back in a few minutes." all in one breath.

There's no response and he hangs up. I'm still waiting a resident to return my page because Mr I Haven't Yet Passed Gas in the next room is very uncomfortable, and I haven't properly assessed Mr Big Boy. Even though I'm a little concerned that Andrew is calling about something urgent, I still have a few more things to take care of before I can return his call. I also thought it was odd that he didn't say anything when I answered.

Suddenly a light bulb flashed me out of my bustling nursey duties...I realized that while the first five digits of the home phone number displayed on the phone were spot on but I hadn't really visualized the last two...uh oh. Just as I have this thought, a voice blares through the PA system "Rae you have a call park on 157, call waiting on 157."

Dammit. The seemingly innocuous light bulb instantly morphed into a fricking blinking neon explosion. That was the RESIDENT returning my call from HIS home phone, not Andrew. Oopsies. Just my luck that the number displayed was a few digits different from ours.

And to top it all off, I had called the resident "honey". I knew that I was really going to get an earful when I took this call. So I took a deep breath, stepped out of the room, and dialed the call park number.

The 4th year resident Dr. Urology could barely contain his laughter when I picked up his call. He started off with a joke about not knowing that we were married and then said he wanted me as his OR nurse so I could hang up on all his unnecessary calls (in your dreams--I like patients that are not intubated whom I can talk to and receive answers! And we floor nurses hate it when those overprotective OR nurses deny access us to the docs when we *really* need them) I'm certain he probably also thinks I've got Andrew all hen-pecked, which as anyone can tell is simply not true. It's more like Andrew is bewitched by my feminine and wifely charms.

In the end, after Dr. Urology had his chuckle and I'm certain I turned a few shades of rosey beet-red, my dear readers will be relieved to know that Mr I Haven't Passed Gas Yet was satisfactorily flatulent after everybody's favorite remedy: a dulcolax suppository.

Episode the Second

While everybody loves scrubs for their ability to wash out and hide any icky substance imaginable and easy-breezy cottony comfort, they register very low on the sexy scale. Those days of the nurse bending over and revealing a peek at wispy white stockings? That's long over... I'm not quite sure it even existed, or what the fetish is about the sexy nurse... Add multiple body fluids, sweaty patients, icky dressing changes, blood, guts, and more gore to the everyday health-care personnel...and I have no idea how it is that patients manage to still point out the physically attractive qualities of their caregivers--nurses, doctors, and other health-care team members.

And how they do point them out! At no age is sexuality irrelevant, from age 18 to 92. I think I've heard (and in some cases, unfortunately seen) it all. I've had countless patients comment on how pretty the nurses were, and couldn't I please take them off that (insert expletive of choice here) nasal cannula that was needlessly tying them down so they could follow so-and-so down the hall and ask her name, (what's more important in this situation--being properly oxygenated and NOT fainting dead away or causing the next code--or giving into your hormonal urges?). I've had prim and proper ladies admit the only reason she volunteered for the medical student interview was to 'meet all the nice, handsome young doctors'. When I first started working we had a physical therapist that was just darling--he was Latino, very polite and caring, soft spoken... and those little old ladies who would not get out of bed for me would just beam with delight and practically hop out of bed for Mr. Hottie Pants.

So what was I saying? back to my story...

At the end of a looong 12 hr shift, I was beginning the process of discharging Chantel (not the patient's real name, of course!) who is a vibrant, funny, young lady who is very active in the trans-gendered-bi-lesbian community. A petite, Asian friend of Chantel's was waiting for me to bring the patient's prescriptions so she could fill them at a pharmacy outside the hospital in preparation for Chantel's discharge. Chantel was one of those unlucky frequent flyer patients whose insurance company didn't agree with our hosptial pharmacy. Like Chantel, her friend appeared young and trendy with one of those fashionable pixie-like haircuts only a truely urban chic sort of girl can pull off. So I walk in, introduce myself to her friend, shake her hand, give her the prescriptions and leave.

I return to Chantel's room a short time later to take her vital signs and she's clearly quite amused. While smiling broadly and shaking her head, she proceeds to say, "Oh man...I really shouldn't tell you this but I have to, it's so friend thinks you're HOT. But I mean, I told her no man, don't even try it, she's married, but still..." And here she breaks up laughing again, as do I.

Here I am sweaty, with my glasses askew and feeling quite *anything* but attractive in my lovely drab blue scrubs and no-waist. After laughing a bit, I told Chantel that while I certainly wasn't feeling very "HOT" at the moment, I'll appreciate a compliment that's offered freely.

Maybe these scrubs are sexier than I thought.


Jen said...

Rae, it's your natural beauty shining through the sweat, the fatigue, and whatever bodily fluids happen to be on your sexy scrubs at the moment. :)

Deanna said...

Great stories! Thanks for giving this gal a good laugh.