Surgery is a very serious place, but it can have some amusing times too that can make for meaningful memories. Such as one morning when a colleague and I were taking an adorable talkative little 4 year-old blonde haired, blue-eyed boy to surgery to have a myringotomy (tubes in his ears). He suddenly sat up on the stretcher and said, “Whoa, wait a minute! You all ain’t a fixin’ to do something that I need to be crying about, are you?” Of course, we quickly assured him we were not going to hurt him. He calmly lay back down and continued to chat and laugh with us.
Working many years with small children I found it to be a challenge to gain not only their confidence, but their parent’s confidence, as well. One very sleepy little girl about 3 years-old patted me on the back as she laid her little head upon my shoulder and said, “You are a nice lady. You’ll make a good grandmother someday.” I told her I already had 5 grandsons, but I didn’t tell her they were almost grown. She smiled and said, “That’s nice. Maybe I can play with them and you can fix us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Kool-aid.” Since she was NPO for surgery the child was probably hungry. She was very sleepy too, so she rested her little head upon my shoulder and was asleep before we got to the surgery suite.
I carried many children in my arms to the OR. Some were so tall their feet almost touched the floor. They seemed to feel more secure in my arms than on a surgical gurney. Many times I held them as they went to sleep with anesthesia. That’s when I felt I was where God wanted me to be. It was very hard seeing folks go into surgery knowing that their prognosis was not a favorable one. I suppose that’s why the children and the patients who just needed my hand to hold kept me grounded and feeling that this was the job for me. I worked at it for 21 years!
I had been a nurse for about five years and worked on the afternoon shift in MICU. We had a patient who had severe peripheral artery disease who had an occlusion in his left leg. He had been having treatment and medication to try to open the area but it was getting worse and looked like he was going to lose his leg. He was angry and adamant that he would not have surgery and was determined to keep his leg.
I worked many days without a break and was due to go on my first really big vacation…two weeks in Hawaii?? Shortly before I was to leave on vacation his situation became worse and he began to get septic from the leg. Surgery was no longer an option. I had gotten attached to this patient and knew he was having such a rough time with the decision to have surgery. He had the surgery shortly after I left to go on vacation.
From time to time in Hawaii I would wonder about him and how he was doing. Just before coming home I was at the airport in Honolulu and found that I could order a box of pineapples to take home on the plane! I had ordered two cases and they were waiting for me at the Atlanta airport (and they weren’t fun to lug home to Dalton…)!
They were the sweetest pineapples I had ever tasted. I was determined to take one to my patient to let him know I had been thinking of him. I took one to work with me on my first day back. I went to check on him and there he was, depressed and despondent, not interested in getting back to any kind of life. I pulled that sweet pineapple from behind my back and told him it was his new medicine. He started to cry and hugged me and was persuaded to eat some of that beautiful yellow, sweet succulent fruit. I told him about my trip and he fussed about his surgery but he started doing things again and worked with physical therapy. He slowly began to get better and he claims it was all because of that new “pineapple medication!"