Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Florence Nightingale, Take 2

You may remember the post about my feeble attempt to channel Florence Nightingale. Well, here's an update: I haven't gotten any better at it.

I'm a school secretary. In the case of my particular place of employment, that also makes me the school nurse.

I like to think I'm pretty good at being compassionate. I can be very nurturing when Johnny comes in with a cut on his finger and needs a band-aid. I like to give hugs to crying little boys and girls and tell them it will be OK. I've taken numerous temperatures, doled out countless band-aids, and even cleaned up puke on the very first day of school. Vomit does not typically bother me, unless it's coming out of me - then it's rather unpleasant. But I truly don't mind helping little Susie clean the chunks off her dress.

I would say that I don't even mind blood. I mean I've seen lots of skinned knees and paper cuts, and even a few gruesome pencil lead stabbings. But I was still caught off guard by today's events.

Little Joey came into the office, escorted by the 4th grade teacher who was holding a wad of bloody paper towel on the boy's head. My co-worker started cleaning up the blood while I finished up a phone call. Then I threw on my gloves and dove right in. My partner said to me, "Take a look at this and see what you think." So, I gently removed the paper towel to reveal a nice clean gash right along the little guy's eyebrow. Surprisingly, there wasn't nearly as much blood as I would have expected, but the cut most likely would need stitches. I put the towel wad back on and held it there firmly. At this point, the little guy started to cry and say, "I want my mom." I don't know if it was the look on my face, but this was also the point where I was starting to feel a bit queasy. I told him to keep holding paper towel there and I went into the back room to the First Aid kit to retrieve a few butterfly bandages. That's when the sweating started. First the hot flash, and then the cold sweat. By the time I made it back into the office, I had to sit down right next to the boy because I could hear the ringing in my ears and everything was going a little dark. I put my head down on the table. I feared that I would faint right there in front of him and freak him out further, but I didn't dare walk back to the teacher's lounge for fear that I might pass out on the way. Luckily another teacher walked in and saw me and said, "Are you OK?" Then she said, "I can take over." (My partner was on the phone all this time, trying to contact Junior's mom.) So, I carefully made my way out to the teachers' lounge and laid down on the floor in a very careful fashion so as not to expose anyone to my undergarments.

I lay there for several minutes, hoping and praying to God that no one would walk in because I felt just a little foolish lying on the floor. Finally my co-worker came in to find me, and she was just a little surprised. "Are you OK???" She asked. I was making my way up off the floor and heading for a drink of water. I was fine but a little embarrassed that I had almost lost it in a moment of crisis.

I got the boy a drink of water as well and was able to go back and comfort him until his mom came.

What I am trying desperately to figure out is this: What exactly bothered me about that scenario? Blood, by itself, dripping out of a nose, or leaking from a scraped knee does NOT bother me at all. So, why did that little cut on the forehead set me swooning? Is it perhaps that I just don't like to see anything that is supposed to be on the inside of the body? Or is it just the excitement of the moment that gets to me? I actually find it a bit irritating that I couldn't keep it together, but I am extremely curious about why I found that situation so disturbing.

In any case, I'm fairly certain that being a nurse was not my calling.

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