I spent most of today at the hospital in the same day surgery suite. Not for me this time, thankfully. But for my Sweetheart who had some shoulder renovations done. Although not quite bionic in nature, the pins, screws and patches that replace what’s been worn away should get him back to near perfect by the time the golf course opens in the spring.
Entering the building in the darkness this morning, it hit me. I miss it. Even though it’s been over 20 years, I always get a small pang in my chest akin to homesickness whenever I walk down a hospital hallway. Waxing nostalgic for the days when I wore white (yes, even a cap now and then) and bustled about with needles, medicine, bed pans and pillows, I remember the good old days – when healthcare was fun (and I was thinner). And, the pillows. Lots of them. Usually larger than the pillow case we had to stuff them into and located on the highest shelf in the cabinet. We used them to situate, separate, seat and soothe body types and parts of all sizes and shapes. Ice bags were filled by hand, leaked often and moved about in the bed like hamsters. But somehow, it worked.
“Back in the day” patients stayed for several days – sometimes for weeks. Not like today when you are discharged as you emerge from anesthesia. Many of those long ago bed-bound, tethered down by ice bags (and sand bags when necessary) became part of a special family to those of us who bustled. I still remember many of them. Fondly.
Thinking of the tall, lanky surgeon today, I recall that the doctors didn’t seem quite as young as they do now, but were still handsome and always to be obeyed. Back then, patients were allowed to smoke, as long as they sat in a chair, and the nurses smoked in the bathroom next to the nurses’ station. Perhaps the habit was what kept our patient census high and kept us employed. Today, it’s hard to know whether the nice person in colorful scrubs is a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant or a nurse’s aide – and only the respiratory therapists smoke. But I don’t mind, as there seems to be a certain camaraderie in the halls now. And I like it. I like the colorful uniforms and they way we are made to feel at home. And they still bustle. They really bustle. The airlines would do well to pay attention. I also know that I could never go back to nursing. The technology, fast pace and ever increasing paperwork would make it a good day job for me; meaning I’d last about a day.
Back to Sweetheart. He is doing well. He’s wearing his fancy electric, velcroed, state of the art ice bag and I’ve got him all settled in with pillows (of course) and his TV remote. Obviously, going home within hours of a surgery would never have happened in the old days. Today, even being recliner-bound will be short lived as physical therapy begins in a couple of days. So we start the new year in the recovery mode. Not such a bad thing. He might keep me busy with the pillows, but at least he’s still handsome.
Happy New Year. May it be healthy and full of all good things.