I waited tables and bartended to pay my way through nursing school. I remember thinking, during particularly busy dinner shifts with customers who were high maintenance or angry or demanding or just determined to be unsatisfied, that things would become SO much better when I graduated from nursing school and became a real nurse. NOBODY would order me around, treat me like a servant, talk down to me, attempt to make me feel inferior or repeatedly send me back to the supply area for extra condiments. NOBODY! I would be the EXPERT! I would have POWER! (that I would wield responsibly of course…)
Surprise! Ten years later…I get ordered around, treated like a servant, talked down to, attempted to be made to feel inferior, and repeatedly sent back to the supply room for extra condiments. Except the condiments are drugs. Lots of ’em.
If you had a paper cut, would you ask for a slice of lemon to rub on it?
If you had just burned your mouth on scalding pizza cheese, would you quickly grab a swig of hot coffee?
If you had a fresh blister from a new pair of heels, would you put them back on right after it popped and exposed the raw skin?
If your butt smells like something crawled up there and died, would you fart on an elevator?
Then why would you order chicken strips right after you’ve just asked me for a dose of phenergan to take away your ‘nausea’?
Oh yeah…because you’re not really nauseated. And because phenergan makes you feel good. And I must look like I graduated from nursing school this morning before shift change.
Gravity. We love it & hate it all at once. It keeps us nicely grounded here on earth so we don’t go spiraling up into the cold nothingness of space (or into a giant spinning fan á la Charlie Bucket and Grandpa George after stealing Fizzy Lifting Drink!!) Yet we fight it for all we’re worth when it comes to our bodies; our breasts, buttocks, jowls, skin, etc.
I’ve had some interesting experiences with said gravity in my line of work. Take, for example, the 45 year old morbidly obese woman I admitted when I was just a fresh nurse. I can’t recall what she was admitted for. Maybe a COPD exacerbation. What I can recall with almost photographic clarity is the image of her breasts that is burned into my retinas. She had the largest breasts I’ve ever seen in my entire life, however, at the time I didn’t know they were her breasts.
When we admit someone, we make sure all their personal belongings find their way into the closet for safe keeping until they are discharged. It’s not uncommon, however, for little old ladies to clutch their purses close at hand in case they need their checkbooks, lipstick or address book. The purses get in the way, and I usually offer to put them in safe keeping while they sleep. Every once in awhile they fight me on it, so I indulge them. A little indulgence goes a long way.
So I was going through the routine admission process with this woman, and as I finished I asked her if there was anything that she would like to have placed in the closet for safekeeping. She was sitting peacefully in the bed with her arms crossed over her chest and I noticed a giant lump down by her right hip under the blankets. Assuming this was either illegal contraband or her purse, without thinking, I whipped the blankets off the giant lump by her hip and for a brief moment in time thought, “now that’s a funny looking buckle on her light brown leather purse”. No buckle. Or purse, for that matter. Breast. Giant breast. Down by her hip. It was as if someone had put a giant, country fair award winning watermelon inside a thigh high nylon and then sewn the top seam of the nylon to her chest and let gravity take care of the rest. I can’t even remember what I said after this. I’m sure I quickly replaced the covers, embarrassed, and mumbled some apology. She didn’t care. It didn’t even phase her, bless her heart. But for the rest of my 12 hour shift it pained me to imagine those things hanging when she stood up. Curse that gravity!