Words & Eccentricities

A Sairy Gamp’s Metamorphosis: How I’ve Come to Love Nursing, Every Amber-Stained, Stinking Step of the Way…

It started with a choice: to serve Humanity or to write broken sonnets for the rest of my life. Guess what? I found myself, all 4 feet and 11 inches, standing next to a measuring tape on a wall at Franklin Hall. With just this final requirement as entry to the College of Nursing, I found myself wishing I was 4 feet and 10 inches instead. Then, I would be free to enroll in AB English and write sonnets and be broke for the rest of my life (did I just jumble all those up?). But as fate would have it, I was 4 feet and 11 inches tall enough. And I had to end my love affair with sonnets and Liam.

After 4 years of cuban heels, it’s great to wake up in the morning, feel my carotid pulse and realize that yes, I’m still alive. To say “it hasn’t been easy”, is an understatement I dare not make. I admit to days when I wish I stuck with sonnet-writing instead.

During brief lucid intervals, I can still recall wearing my school uniform with a full sense of paranoia. Back in 2002, pencil skirts were nowhere near fashionable and the main reasons why people stared would either be because of your printed polka dot panties or your need for a good shave. But now, like a trained poodle, I can walk (or run if the class starts at 7 sharp) with perfect balance and absolute precision over man-holes and wet-tiled floors without impairing my skin integrity. Although I admit, with or without the cuban heels, I still arrive late.

I remember my very first skin test, it was half-way between an IM and a subcu…but how was I to know? I  was simply thankful for the classmate who consented to be my brave guinea pig for that day. She forgave me, but she eventually got even during the TSB. Don’t ask how. At times when I think I have already mastered the art of juggling Rizal and the medical sciences, I get a wake-up call from my test results in Pharmacology. And I’m back to wishing I were sonnet-writing again. Can’t we all just take Paracetamol for every imaginable ailment on earth?

My first IV follow-up resulted to a magnificent display of bubbles. It was then that I learned the art of “pitik-pitik” (a term which unfortunately doesn’t have an English equivalent). Its a very primitive yet effective tactic when you want to save yourself from the legal liabilities of yet another incident report.

After 3 years of Related Learning Experience (RLE), I still catch myself wondering what an osteorized tube feeding would taste like, whether breast milk would taste better if it came in different flavors and if it would be ethically acceptable to ask for that leftover cookie on my patient’s tray. Of course I never voiced those thoughts out loud. Instead I continued to diligently count the borborygmic sounds of another frustrated stomach who has been sentenced to “second batch”.

I must admit, after my first post-mortem care, 3rd enema, fifth catheter insertion and seventh recopy episode, I intermittently considered other career options like call center and Korean tutorial services. Only two things kept me from quitting: coffee and dreams of californication.

Yet, despite these mishaps, it’s sometimes surprising to miss the smell of Lysol, the rythmic sounds of S1’s and S2’s, and the feel of life pulsating beneath my fingers. I found myself embracing nursing, with all its smells and sights. Yes, folks. What may seem quite exciting for the average guy may look utterly boring for those on DR duty. That’s probably the main reason why some of my male classmates decided to “convert” right after college.

Horror of horrors and miracle of all miracles, I have come full circle! In a way I began to see Nursing in a different light. Looking beyond the profession as a one-way ticket to the stars, I began my own metamorphosis. From a caterpillar who abhored pencil skirts to a butterfly who still abhors pencil skirts but is somehow willing to go the distance despite the vasoconstricted waistline. Time is a wonderful thing. It teaches us to be patient, to endure…and ultimately, to love.

So, how do I love Nursing…? Let me count the ways…

I love it with every urobag I empty, with each diaper I change, with every single cord I clamp…

I love it with every breath I count, every pulse I feel, every heart I hear…

I love it to the depths of my incisions, with every possible complication and beyond all phantom pain…

And after 4 years of cuban heels, in pure Shakesperean fashion I say, “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Nope, come to think of it. Nursing…? You are far beyond compare.

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