My last post celebrated the wonderful people in hospitals and surgeries who are the backbone of the health system and almost all of whom have been amongst the nicest of all people I have met. I have always – well, almost always – found that nurses have a robust and earthy sense of humour and they appreciate a patient who is cheerful and jocular – and I don’t mean sleazy. I’m funny, not crude.
But there was one. I am sure she was nice most of the time. I am sure she had a sense of humour. She must have. She was a nurse!
But. It may have been something I said (it was).
The year was 1991. Our younger daughter was a toddler. June had not had an easy time having our two girls, in fact it was a bit touch and go both times. So we agreed it would be sensible and safer for her if we had no more. The risks are fewer for a man to have a vasectomy than for a woman to have her tubes tied and besides, June had already done her fair share of going under the knife, so it was agreed I would have the operation.
It all went according to plan, keyhole surgery, a single stitch at each site and sent home with instructions to return the following day to have the stitches taken out.
Tomorrow? Yes, cell division is quite fast down there. You will be healed enough to have them out. Fair enough.
I was driven home by my friend Jeff, and limped into the house to recover.
Next day I returned alone and after a short wait was taken into the surgery where once again I sat in the strange chair with my feet in stirrups and my tackle dangling in the breeze.
A middle aged spinsterly looking nurse came in. She had assisted with the operation the day before. I had got the impression she was single, and that she was very devoted to her surgeon.
She examined the site and was clearly pleased with the healing process, or perhaps she admired the fine work of her surgeon.
In any case she breathed “Ah, that’s beautiful!”
You know me, or you should by now.
I responded “Thanks. But I’m sorry, it is already spoken for!”
I thought that was pretty funny. A little humour to ease the embarrassment of the position I was in.
She stormed out of the surgery.
It was quite some time before she returned with a pair of nasty medical-looking plier implements in her hand. Without a word, she quickly clipped then yanked out the stitches. Not at all gently. Then she stormed out again.
Clearly I had offended her. I needed to apologise and point out it had been a joke.
Also, I had been told to expect to be given some post op instructions and a little jar that I would have to fill after a certain time in order to be sure the procedure had worked. So.
I waited patiently.
About 20 minutes passed as I sat there. I didn’t even know if I should get out of the stirrups and dress. Did I need anything else done before I covered up?
Eventually she poked her head round the door.
“Are you still here? You can go.” She disappeared again.
I dressed and left.
Months later I received a phone call from her, still sounding grumpy, demanding why I hadn’t followed instructions and brought in a sample bottle for a sperm count. I told her I had not been given the instructions and the bottle, but I did not remind her why. Best forgotten. So I had to make another run to collect them.
And that is the only nurse I remember who did not think I was a fun patient.