Helping out in a room, along with two other nurses, Anesthesiologist rolled patient in, burly, very black guy, and he tells us about his dream.
"I had this dream, surrounded by white folks with blue hair and blue eyes. And I said, 'I'm in the wrong dream!'"
We all looked at each other, and laughed with him. Yup, mostly blue hatted, all white, a few with blue eyes.
I told him that sounded more like a premonition. He agreed. Made us all laugh. A relief, sometimes, to have the unspoken assumptions punctured outright, brought out and giggled at.
I really can't imagine any nurse I've ever known to treat anyone differently because of the color of their skin, or the gender of their partner*. Smokers or the obese, the hopelessly stupid or hostile, are so much more of an issue. Not to mention the obstructively crazy.
I remember once, working PACU for a day surgery OR, a woman had her boyfriend as her support person, and she was having a complete come-apart. Had a nerve block done for the surgical pain in her arm, and was utterly freaking out that she could not feel her arm†. Nothing to be done at that point, there is no reversing local anesthetic injected around the nerve plexus, but she would not be reasoned with, crying and screaming. And the poor guy was holding himself there, being a decent human being, determined to see his commitment through. Obviously realizing how much crazy he'd been dating. We all figured he would take care of her through the first 24 hours, then make a graceful but permanent exit. That all those charming quirks of hers were being seen in a fresh light.
I've mentioned this before, that the idea that men are babies when they are sick is just not real. I've seen all kinds of variations in how people deal with pain, nausea, drugs, without ever noticing any correlation between whininess and gender. Smokers are worse, needing far more drugs, and getting far less relief. Women having gynecological procedures are apt to be nauseated, young men and Asians are more sensitive to anesthetics, but women are not more or less stoic, as a group, than are men. Bunk. D is very brave and considerate when ill or hurting.
Favorite OR joke, guy coming in for further amputation for cancerous bone. Chatting with me, tells me, "Measure once, cut twice. Damn! It's still too short!"
Burst the bubble, tell the truth, have a laugh.
*Odd for a moment the first time a woman referred to her "wife" in Boston, but then it seemed so easy, shorthand that explained all I needed to know without the coyness of "partner" or "friend."
†Admittedly a weird sensation, like having your whole arm completely asleep, but that persists for hours. Patient's lose their sense of where their arm is in space, feeling like it is floating up, when it's obviously not. A disembodying sensation, so I'm told. But pain free, which is the point.
Labels: gender, surgery, work