“Where were you the day that Kennedy died?” my dinner guest asked me recently. I wondered why she wanted to know, but, as most of us who were alive then, I could remember exactly. “Sitting at my sister’s kitchen table, ” I said.
“I know you weren’t at work that night. And I missed you.”
My guest was a former staff nurse with me at our training hospital, Blodgett Memorial Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We’d not seen each other in about 45 years, and she happened to be visiting Chicago. An annual class letter of the School of Nursing, Class of 1962, keeps us up-to-date on each others’ careers and now retirement years. With my blanket invitation to stop in if you come to Chicago, it’s been great fun to have old friends pop up now and then.
Baffled, I asked, “Why do you remember that shift so well?”
“I was working East 2 and the nurse working West didn’t know how to start IVs. I had to start all your IVs. You can imagine what an upheaval was going on that evening with the patients and families, and I didn’t need to have the added work of starting the IVs on your end.”
Wow. Old memories. Old friends. Nothing like it. And I used to love starting IVs. I was good! I could get that #25 scalp vein in the top of the hand on the first try. This was years before we had an IV team to start all the IVs.
After much more reminiscing, I went to bed last night enveloped with warm fuzzies, remembering the hallway joining West 2 with East 2.
The photo above shows that hallway last fall when I attended a nursing reunion and snuck up to my old Hall Two. I found it a ghost town, recently vacated to move into a new hospital addition.
I stood outside my old nurses’ station and took the photo below. After graduation, I’d worked there for three years–a year of nights, then a year of PMs, and then a year as head nurse. As I clicked the photo, I imagined myself sitting there, noting page after page of doctors’ orders, head bent over the desk, wearing my starched white boxy cap that sported a chic wide black velvet stripe. Now, that old yellowed cap sits on the top shelf of my study’s closet. But I still look at people’s hands and think, O-o-oh, I’d love to stick a needle into those veins!
Anne Nowlin said:
Lois, I still size up those veins, too! More seriously, I don’t think there’s a nurse ‘out there’ who doesn’t reminisce about past accomplishments, or something about the past. Whether or not the’ll admit to it os a different thingl
You’re so right, Annie, and when we “old” nurses get together, we love to talk about these things.
Anne Nowlin said:
Lois, as I was re-reading this post, I said to myself that, “She should write a book about all of these experiences!” Then I caught myself and realized, “SHE DID WRITE A BOOK!”
When you’re a nurse you have a wealth of information; not just clinical, but perfunctory and day to day knowledge to impart to patients and coworkers. I look forward to reading your book.
Lois Roelofs said:
Thanks! Just think if a lot of us would write books on our experiences. We (nurses) have a powerful opportunity to let others know how we think, how we feel, and what we do. Our creative nonfiction writing could work toward eradicating stereotypes held by the lay public that they often see portrayed in the media.