Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

The Mask

on August 17, 2017

She came in for a port.

It’s a small round device, hard polyethelene rubber center, with a catheter centered at the bottom base. It’s placed under the skin close to a large vein, typically on the outer edge of the left or right chest.

The most common reason for getting a port is to begin chemotherapy.

She had wide set eyes, thick wavy  brunette hair that grazed her shoulders, and, what I thought unusual – pale blue eyes. Not your combination of traits. Blonds and redheads always get the blue eyes. Us brown haired girls, hazel, green, or brown eyes – freckles in them if your lucky.  The man next to her stood a foot taller than her. He wore his Polo un-tucked and on his feet the most broken in deck shoes I’d ever seen.

When I met the two, they had just  walked through the doors to our department. Together they stood hand in hand outside the curtained area while I confirmed her demographic sheet and spelling of her name.

Attentive to the explanation of my role and the limited space in the pre op rooms, the husband stepped over to the waiting area in our department for the short time it took me to get her ready.

She  hadn’t slept well and admitted to being anxious. Making sure all consents were signed, I got an order to give her some Versed to help relax her. I called her husband back over to sit with her then went and pulled the medicine from the Accudose system.

Within minutes after the medicine hit her vein, her eyelids began to flutter, her jaw slackened and she drifted in and out of sleep.

His face changed too.

The smile became a grim set expression and his forehead creased with worry. I don’t think he blinked while she slept. With his chair wedged close to her stretcher and his elbows on the rail, he watched her sleep. I watched him watch her sleep and wondered how he kept all his emotions from bursting from his body.

Their love was apparent. When he stroked her face, I turned the wall mounted computer so it wasn’t facing them and I could keep working. Their moment of intimacy needed to be respected.

The arrival of the surgeon and the OR team lifted some of the heaviness in the air.

And I’d swear that when she went off to surgery, he’d aged a year.

13 responses to “The Mask

  1. Nurse Kelly says:

    Beautiful, Susan. It really is amazing what we see, such moments of humanity, so intimate. 😊

    • Susan says:

      Thank you. So ironic that the simplest case for me to prepare was the one that pulled at my heart the most.

      • Nurse Kelly says:

        And I’m sure you’ll never forget it. I have memories like that too that are so special.

      • Susan says:

        One of the reason’s I like your blog so much is because I hear vulnerability, compassion, and a gentleness in so many of your posts.
        Some nurses don’t get it . To them the work is just a paycheck.
        You get it.

      • Nurse Kelly says:

        I just saw this comment, so sorry for the late response. That is so sweet of you to say.
        I am easily overwhelmed by the profession (by most things, actually!) and find solace in writing as I’m sure you do.
        I’m on the road a lot, but will try to keep up with your posts more often, really enjoy your writing, Susan. xo

  2. Boss luffy says:

    Wow…that was tearing…i am sure…you must be overwhelmed by all this…brave post.

  3. Christy says:

    Beautifully written. Brought tears to my eyes just thinking about he must of been feeling 😦

  4. Jim says:

    wow. very moving. hope you’re feeling better. 🙂

  5. Touching and so well written. Thank you. So much emotion in so little prose. I felt as if I were standing there witnessing that touching moment. Awesome.

  6. Becky Platt says:

    We are so privileged as nurses to see these intimate moments, to witness people at their most vulnerable, to be invited into their lives in a way that few others are.

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