Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

Biting My Tongue

on January 27, 2015

My only thought was to get in and out of work as fast as possible.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning. Not a great day to be on call.

When I saw the age of the patient (17) and the reason for the D&C (dilation and curettage), my focus changed.  What a tough thing to go through, and she was so young. I miscarried my first pregnancy, but I was twenty-four and married. What I mean is that I was in a different place in life— that being basically, years out of high school and with a ring on my left hand which magically transformed social critique into initial rounds of congratulations followed by heartfelt sympathies.

I met the mother in the ER when I went to pick up the patient and I tell you, I don’t think the frown on her face was because she was disappointed at the lost chance to be called Grandma. She declined my offer to stay with her daughter in the pre-op area, mentioning she’d be either in the waiting room or going downstairs for coffee. I watched her wobble away on three inch heels and tugging at the cotton t- shirt that kept riding up her waist.

When Anesthesia came to talk, the mom could not be found. Thankfully she’d signed the consent in the ER. Otherwise, I was uncertain how long things would be delayed

Due to OB cases, the Gyn couldn’t come immediately.

My little girl, all 112 pounds of her lay bundled under three layers of blankets and made idle chit- chat with me until her phone rang. I could tell by her affections that she was talking to her boyfriend. I tried to focus on my charting, but what I was hearing was stressing me out.

“We can leave next week hon, stay at my friend’s in Georgia. The legal age for us is sixteen. With both of us working, we’ll be fine.”

Now I’m a sucker for good love story, but my head was about to bust open. And it went on.

“People’ll give us stuff, cus you know, us being together…anyway, yeah, uh huh…I hate her. We don’t need her or much of anyone else for that matter. The stuff they gave me, yeah, it helped the cramps. That girl, she’s not still calling you is she? Uh huh, o.k. I love you.”   


Stifling the mom instinct is hard, real hard.

11 responses to “Biting My Tongue

  1. Me, too. 112 pounds would be impossible. You have an iron control.

  2. Victo Dolore says:

    Oh, see… I’d have jumped right in there. Wouldn’t have been able to control myself. Gah!

  3. It wouldn’t have one little bit of difference if you’d have said something. She was likely so entrenched in her world that any other possibility would seem like another planet.

  4. mreedmccall says:

    I see situations like this quite frequently as a HS teacher – not the medical moments, of course, but some of the negative emotional choices that often lead to those…watching them make bad emotional and sometimes physical choices, followed by the hurt and damage you can see coming a mile away but that the teen believes they are “mature enough” to manage and that is the path they want and NEED. It’s heartbreaking.

    Over the past four years especially I keep facing repeats of the same the very valuable lesson (valuable for me, at least, so I don’t end up balled in a corner somewhere) that I’m not in control (much as I’d like to be!) and that I can’t change other people. I can try to guide, help, influence, and support, but ultimately, I can’t change others’ choices or the consequences they may suffer as a result of those choices. As a mom to two older teens and a teacher/pseudo-mom to hundreds of others each day (and nearing 3000 total now in my teaching career), it’s been one of the most difficult lessons I’ve ever had to try to learn. But I keep trying.

    Bless you for the work you do and your steady support of people young and old through the medical crises that are sometimes brought on by their own flawed decisions and actions.

  5. Oh gosh. I really could go on about this, but I’ll just say what I always say which is, “Have these girls never read a book or watched a Lifetime afternoon movie?” I can’t fathom. Ignoring the mom instinct is perhaps one of life’s crueler challenges. Not that she’d listen to anyone anyway!

    • Susan says:

      I am late to notice pended comments – please forgive me. It was the most bizarre eavesdropping experience of my life so far. You can bet I shared it with my daughter!

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