Just about three years ago when I let my nursing license expire, I knew I was at the end of the profession I’d practiced for forty-two years. It was time, and I was ready, having spent increasing amounts of time and focus on writing for the last two of those four decades. Since then, though, I’ve learned there’s truth to the expression –
So much has changed in health care since I entered the field, that I can’t say, “I know too much,” but there’s a certain amount of base knowledge about the body and its systems that has stayed with me. It’s that background my son wanted to tap when he learned he would have to have surgery to repair a severed tendon in his big toe.
“Mom, could you come stay with us for a while when I have the surgery?” he asked the day the doctor set the schedule for the operation. “Come stay” means Chicago, with Matthew, his wife Jenn, and their one-year-old, Maggie. “Might be nice to have someone here with a medical background.”
Last week, I spent two days trying to get to O’Hare International Airport; flights were canceled and delayed due to ice. I finally arrived at the kids’ apartment just about an hour before they returned from the hospital. Matthew hopped into the living room on his left foot, the right one swaddled in white gauze and protected by a knee-high boot.
It’s now five days post-op, and the patient (and family) are doing well. I dusted off old skills of checking the surgery site for swelling, redness, and drainage; recommended a circuit for Matthew to crutch around the apartment to avoid a blood clot in the leg; monitored his pain; helped prop his foot above heart level; and delivered antibiotic, probiotic, baby aspirin, and pain medication to his bedside. It feels good to provide this care—especially when my adult son asked me to make him a “PB & J sandwich.”
In between the nursing care, there’s meal prep, cleanup, and best of all, care of Maggie to help this young family manage with a laid-up dad and husband. One friend suggested there needs to be a “Grandma Action Figure,” and another sent me a photo. That feels good, too.
Tomorrow I’ll take my son to an appointment with the surgeon (assuming we don’t get snowed or frozen in – tomorrow’s forecast is for temperatures around 2 degrees during the day).
We’ll see how well this nurse with the expired license has done helping Matthew’s healing.