Two days in the hospital gave me plenty of opportunity for conversations with people I might never have known otherwise. See, narcotics and I don't get along well. In fact, while they make most people sleepy, for me, they act like those oft-advertised '5-hour' energy drinks, only I think five hours is putting it mildly. Give me a narcotic--of any class--and you've doomed me to wakefulness. WIDE-awakefulness.
And, because this wasn't my first time around this surgery block, I knew it going in. Talked to my surgeon well ahead of time, and we agreed that I'd avoid narcotics. However, somehow, that message didn't filter down to the nurses who were actually responsible for giving me the medication. And I wasn't quite with it enough to stand up for myself.
Hence, I didn't sleep. AND I learned why it is that I can't stand narcotics. A shot of morphine (so I could get out of bed and walk the loop around the surgical floor!) in my IV was the most horrible sensation I can imagine. I can't even tell you.
However, the (lone) perk about all the not-sleeping was the opportunity I had for conversations with nurses, CNAs, OTs, PTs, and techs during those two days. At 11:30PM, or 2 AM, there isn't much going on on a surgical floor so even overworked nurses have time to share their stories a bit. And needless to say, I had plenty of time to listen. I heard talked with a nurse who loves horses, rides every morning before her swing-shift. She has gorgeous white hair that only true Scandinavians can accomplish without chemicals, is independent as they come, doesn't worry about her grown-up sons but her 'critters' if she moves to California to be near her sister as she'd like to. I talked to a younger woman who's working her way through school by being a Certified Nursing Assistant, wants to become a Physician's Assistant, and stopped being embarrassed of bodily functions of patients by the second day on the job (such things that embarrassed me to be doing in front of total strangers!). And I talked with an OT, who has small children, has a tender, sensitive son (much like our J) and worries that such qualities MIGHT mean he'll be picked on in middle school. I couldn't help her with that. But I listened.
I listened to all of them.
Even though pain clouded my ability to hear clearly, to answer cogently, it wasn't like I had any place else to go. If there was football to talk about at 2 AM, sure, I could do that. And unfinished holiday plans at 5:30--I could listen to that, too.
It made me think that most of these people who serve and serve and serve in such settings don't have the chance to be heard. They're there to answer when the red light goes on, to aid and abet whatever a patient needs from bathroom to bed movements. But there was something good about just listening to them. I didn't feel great, of course. I definitely NEEDED the help I'd pushed the button to get from them, but it didn't cost anything to ask about them. And I hope it made their day a little brighter, a little easier.
Before we left the hospital yesterday, three different nurses came by to tell me how much they'd enjoyed our conversations. And that, my friends, was a very sweet gift of a not very easy time. Worth the price of admission, I'd have to say.
Making connections with people, even when I'm most hurting--this is what I live for. This is what HE lives for. It was evening and it was morning--and He calls it good.