The First Unkind Word
This morning Ana was getting the dressing over her biopsy site removed by one of the surgical residents. He was being very patient and letting her use a solvent called unisolve which dissolves the glue and makes any kind of tape removal less painful, but it is still a slow process. The night nurse came in before they were done removing the dressing and saw Ana being kind of short with the surgeon (he was very patient and wonderful). Then when the surgeon left, the nurse tried to finish removing the dressing herself. She came towards Ana and said, “Do you want some help with that?” Ana said, “No! I can do it!” (she is very annoyed with people, including me, constantly asking if they can help – she is fiercely independent).
The nurse’s response was to tell Ana that she was being extremely nasty to everyone. She took in a breath to say more but I didn’t let her finish. I explained that Ana had not been nasty with everyone at all, that she was doing just fine, and that removing the dressing was painful. I then told her to get out of the room, followed her out and told her she was not to come near my child again. She sort of apologized for saying that to Ana, but then said that it was my behavior that was making it worse! I wasn’t actually sure what she meant, since I’d been sitting quietly while the surgeon worked with Ana to remove the bandage.
I’m not sure exactly what I said to the nurse after that, but I sort of let her have it. I explained (loudly) that Ana was sick, scared and in pain. She was doing the best she could and she is also very shy and slow to let people in. Oh, and by the way she is a child who has just recently found out she has cancer. I then suggested to the nurse that she take a deep breath (she’d been telling that to Ana all night long).
There are certain words that stay with us forever, and I told the nurse that this thoughtless comment from a tired nurse at the end of her shift would remain in my child’s memory for a long time. It could take me weeks to get her to trust another nurse (okay, I might be a bit of a drama queen). I walked away before she could respond.
I know my child – she already blames herself when she can’t do what the nurses say. She didn’t need that. Maybe I went a little overboard. The nurse didn’t come back in the room (lord help her if she had). Ana was way more calm about it than me. She told me that it didn’t mean anything – it was just one grumpy nurse that she didn’t like very much anyway.
…No biopsy results yet…