Nurses and Small Town Love

Yesterday was a wild ride for me. I was meeting a new friend in St. Joseph. He had been introduced through our mutual friend Bernie, and I couldn’t wait to talk to him.

As I went to rouse myself to get ready to go, I couldn’t get out of bed. It was as if my eyeballs were numbers in a slot machine. They just spun and spun and spun. I thought I might be dreaming.

But no. There was an accompaniment of queasiness akin to getting off the tilt-a-wheel at the fair. Something was wrong. After texting Fred, I gingerly got up.

The whole day came in stops and starts. Is this a medical emergency? Should I go to the hospital?

We whisked off to the Immediate Care about 4 pm. Al decided Watervliet could accept us faster. A voice inside my head said,” you gotta be kidding me!”, but I held my “in case” bag tighter as we sped down the highway.

Kalamazoo has always been my place. Bronson Hospital is my hospital. What was I going to find in this tiny town that had only a 10 minute wait?

You know what I found?

Quick and efficient professionals. Folks who triaged me right into the E.R at their hospital. It seems my symptoms were those of a stroke and since we had just been through all this with my mom, I was petrified.

A medical student and a doctor explained what may be going on. It probably wasn’t a stroke, but more likely a type of vertigo. But the ER nurse came forward and asked me what I had done in the past 24 hours. She listened very carefully. She looked at my ears and said she wanted to irrigate them to make sure it wasn’t just an easy fix. She took over. I was putty in her hands.

She was so wonderful. I wanted to take her home with me! She was nurturing and kept calling me : “Hon”. My blood pressure went down 15 points just having her there. Although this procedure made my already faulty hearing more difficult (I still can’t hear out of my left ear this morning), we chatted about things as you would in a dentist chair.

She had seen my name and said she knew it from Illinois. I asked her who she might know. Well, she knew my cousin Peter, his group of friends, had gone to a dance with Mark, another friend from their high school, Marion in Chicago Heights, whom I met at WMU in the dorm….What a small world! We clicked as strangers but were bonded by something familiar.

I have many nurse friends. They are those nurturers that I turn to when I want to feel a little love. Their role is often undermined by the surgeons or doctors. But that one nurse in Watervliet Lakeland Hospital was the epitome of what I needed in a nurse yesterday.

Smaller town living is definitely an adjustment. Things do operate at a slower pace. You need to plan your trips into “town” so you aren’t stuck without something. But as I gaze out at the snow covered river this morning, there is a cardinal on my feeder. I contemplate the richness of my life. I am thankful for the everyday. The getting up and laying down of the routine.

As much as we may hate our ruts, disruption and road blocks make it suck so much more. I am on the mend. Some kind of vertigo to conquer; a reminder of my humanness and vulnerability. Special thanks to all those small town nurturers and all nurses everywhere. You throw out the life ring when people feel helpless.

Thanks for listening.

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