I had a scheduled, non-emergency medical procedure this week. That term “procedure” is so nice, non-threatening and all-encompassing. It could mean anything from a boob job to a colonoscopy. This was neither. Since this is a blog predominantly about and for women, I will honestly say I had a D&C. If you are a woman, especially of post-menopausal age, you know exactly what that is. If you are a man, you may have a rough idea and really don’t want to know any details. And while I could now regale you with my newfound knowledge of teeny tiny cameras and vacuum cleaners, I won’t for two reasons: a., you might be trying to eat your breakfast while reading this, and b., it’s not what this post is about. This post is about heroes in blue.
That phrase usually connotes police officers. In this case, the fabulous blue people are medical professionals. I spent about 5 hours in the Day Surgery building of my local preferred hospital/medical complex. And in that building, at least on that floor, every medical professional wears blue. Blue scrubs, blue or white masks, blue caps. The only differentiation from what I could tell was in their various colors and preferred styles of Dansko’s on their feet, and their designations on their ID’s around their necks. I’m sure they all know immediately who’s a Dr., a nurse, an aesthetician, a student resident…but to me they were all the same level of skilled blue humans.
Because this was not the ER (which is a whole ‘nother level of medical organized chaos), there was no sense of rushing, no signs of stress, no scariness. Yet they all moved like a well-timed play, with various characters taking their cues and showing up exactly when it was their turn to be introduced. Since some regulations have relaxed, my husband was able to come in and wait with me in pre-op, which helped pass the time (then he had to leave the hospital and was called when it was time to come back and fetch me, and had to meet me at the door. Some guidelines are still confusing). We commented on the one blue woman who must have done 5 laps past my doorway, each time carrying linens or moving a bed. I’m guessing she gets a whole lot of steps in every day.
We had a bit of time with the first nurse who came in to get me settled and checked in. We learned her name and the fact that she had been there for 28 years. When she found out that my husband was a big fan of Chicago Med and that he has memorized the drug names from TV ads during the morning news, she joked that they may want to hire him. At one point she had to step away for a few minutes, and when she returned she apologized and explained her child’s school nurse had called.
And there it is. The reality that no matter what professional role we play, real life and real situations happen. We had learned that she had met and married her husband through work, and he was also a nurse somewhere in the hospital. Yet it was she who took the call from school, and she who found another nurse to step in so she could leave to take care of her child in need. #weareallthesame.
Once I was checked in and IV’d, there was a bit of a wait until we got closer to curtain call on the performance. Like clockwork, one by one each person who would be part of my pit crew in the OR came in to introduce themselves, explain their role, and ask if I had any questions. There were additional nurses, the anesthesiologist, and of course, my doctor. I realize that each person who stopped by meant more $$ on the bill, but each and every one was kind, calm and comforting. I knew darn well that as soon as I was wheeled in, situated, and put into slumber town, I’d not see any of them again. But it was nice to know they would all be there taking care of me.
And guess what. Every single blue person taking care of me that day was a woman. And it’s not just because of the variety of procedure I was having done. I think I only saw in passing maybe two men in blue on that floor that day. I have met some fabulous male medical professionals over the years. But to me, women are just made for these roles. They are masters of multi-tasking, handlers of stress, have immense coping skills, and above all else, are queens at empathy. Bedside manners come naturally. They get it. They are efficient, don’t get frustrated by questions, and understand what it feels like to be the patient. They manage to keep their sense of humor when it helps put people at ease. And nothing rattles them or embarrasses them. They’ve seen it all, dealt with it all, and just keep rollin’.
Especially given the past couple of years, I am in awe of people like our nurse who are 20+ years in and are still pleasant, still calm, still… there. It takes a certain kind of person to not only get through all of the schooling and training required to do the amazing things they do, but survive all of the craziness of a pandemic, and still be just plain nice. We could hear the questions and discussions going on in the pre-op section next to me, the patient was clearly an elderly gentleman with health issues and some memory challenges, and the blue people working with him were calm and respectful. It reminded me of the many, many, times I would accompany my handicapped brother to multiple health care appointments and hospital stays – and how grateful I was for the professionals who understood his limitations, took the extra time and care he needed, and treated him with dignity.
For so many people, hospital stays can be scary and confusing. Besides having their health needs met, the most important thing is simple yet vital: to feel cared for. And that’s what those blue people are there to do. The best ones not only say “we are going to take care of you” but mean it, and do it. They may wear funky rubber clogs instead of capes, but they are heroes…and I’ll happily have them be my pit crew any day.