Friday, August 28, 2009
My neighbor, the nurse
So, the day before I started my new job was quite an injurious day for my son.
It began with an unsuspecting fall off the back of the couch. He likes to balance up there, his tiny bum perched on the cushy part where one would normally rest one's head. There he was, telling me some big animated tale, and the next thing I knew his feet were ascending and he was tipping over backward. A large thud later, there were many tears but thankfully nothing more serious than a sore noggin.
Then it was the bike. He and his dad went for a spin, and I checked in on them after a few minutes. He was riding gleefully, little helmet on, showing off for us and anyone else who'd watch, when he cut a turn a tad too sharply—the evil machine went over in a fraction of a second. Bike hit the pavement, boy simultaneously hit the pavement, and more tears flowed in addition to some blood—and as you know, the presence of blood always constitutes a "serious" injury. Add to the drama some lovely grey pieces of cinder inside the scratches, and you have a pretty nasty knee-and-hand combination.
The third event happened when I was inside after the bike wreck—an inexplicable fall down a couple of steps on our back patio. I missed the whole thing and heard about it later as we sat by the fire pit. (I was actually happy and relieved upon hearing it, because then I knew we were safe and my boy wouldn't plummet into the midst of the burning blaze. You know this stuff always happens in 3s; after that third mishap, we could relax because the third event had come and he was still standing. Whew.)
But even before the boy's evening bath, my husband and I were attempting to administer the necessary bacteria-killing agents to the mangled knee in our tiny, cramped bathroom. Blood-curdling screams burst forth from my son, who flailed every limb with extraordinary agility; we had just resorted to shutting the window (to squelch the sound, thus avoiding a visit from Children's Services) and holding his arms and legs immobile, when my neighbor knocked at our door with her customary "Yoo hoo!"
She wanted me to go for a walk with her, she'd heard the screams from the porch, she'd assumed some injury and figured she'd offer her expert services while encouraging me to get off my behind. Todd let her in, telling her what had happened, and she followed him to the bathroom—easy to find, thanks to the shrieks and sobs emanating from within. She popped in her head—"Hey, do you still have your leg? Did they cut it off? Let me see!" The screams stopped and my son actually permitted her to examine the skinned knee. Then she told him to wash it off in the bath and it would heal, good as new. And she tickled him, as is customary—and he laughed!!!
"Why do you calm down for Susan?" asked Todd, a tiny bit disgruntled at the sudden change in kid demeanor.
"Because she's a nurse!" answered my son, as if that explained everything.
Later, as we took our walk, I chuckled with Susan about the brief but revealing exchange she'd had with my boy. "My dad does it, too," she said. "My mom can't get him to use his walker the right way, he complains he can't get up by himself, makes a fuss, and then the therapist visits and suddenly he's hoofing around and standing on his own. And he gets furious when my mom complains to the therapist that he won't do that for her!" We giggled. "And he's 90!"
Why do we put on the brave face for healthcare folks, but resort to murderous yelps for our own family? What is the magic of a nurse, even when she's in street clothes and a very familiar face to boot? How are we able to be strong for one person but feeble for a team of others? It's silly, and I do believe the deception is far more rampant in men. Is it the male bravado? The need to put up the facade for the sake of the man's image in public? Would studies reveal it to be more prevalent in male patient/female healthcare worker situations?
Either way, the kid stopped crying... so I guess the whole brave face is a good thing. But I do suspect it's a silly boy/man thing.