Doctors and nurses

doctors and nurses

I have not since my birth overnighted in a hospital, until this last November. Then my white-cell count crashed and I became neutropenic (no dirty jokes, thank you), and I had to spend seven nights in a nice local hospital.

It really wasn’t so bad. I was often sedated, naturally. The noises at night can be a little unearthly, all kinds of hoots and hollers and cries, but if you think of it as an indoor camping trip, you won’t be too far from the mark.

I learned a lot. I learned that morphine makes me see handwriting on the wall where there is none, and faces where there are none. I learned that only a qualified medical professional can tie and untie a hospital johnny from the back.
Most interestingly, I learned a lot about the difference between doctors and nurses.
If you want to continue the camping metaphor, you might think of the nurses as the flowers on the forest floor, and the doctors as the trees. Nurses are far more colorful; they can and do wear whatever colors they like. Doctors are monochrome – usually white. Nurses are everywhere; doctors sprout up only here and there. Nurses tend to be bright and cheerful (with a few exceptions); doctors are a little on the stiff-and-somber side.
Nurses fall silent when doctors enter the room. We all of us, patients and nurses and guests, wait for the eighty-five-dollar-a-word advice to fall, pearl by limpid pearl, from those doctors’ lips. Nurses try their best not to impede the grave to-and-fro passage of the doctors from ward to ward, floor to floor, room to room. (Questions are met by: “I know they’ve begun rounds. I’m sure they’ll be here shortly.” The nurses try very hard not to get your hopes up; they can do just about everything, but they can’t say the magic words that will pronounce you cured and get you into a speeding wheelchair headed for the exit.)

I was lucky, in that about every single one of my nurses and doctors was wonderful (with a few tiny aberrations, which you generally have to chalk up to being human). I did see one doctor come close to telling off a nurse for something – I think for using an alternate drug protocol; to be fair, I knew the nurse and know that she would never do anything to endanger the life of a patient, and the doctor looked young and sniffy and full of inferiority complex, so we will leave it at that. I know who I was rooting for.
At any rate, during my week in the hospital, I learned enough about medicine to pass some kind of premed exam.
Too bad I can’t stand the sight of blood ‘n guts. Otherwise I’d be a whiz of a medical professional.


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