One for the History Books

I do things for friends that sometimes fall out of bounds of the normal, but we are pals after all and it is part of the close relationship to put yourself out and see things through to the bitter end. Not every selfless act for a friend is pleasant, but in retrospect it has some meaning. I am thinking of the time I had to take someone to the ER for a case of emergency food poisoning. My friend could have gotten badly dehydrated if he had not received immediate fluids. Meanwhile he was throwing up all over the floor and the poor ER nurse’s shoes. As a dedicated healthcare provider, she did not utter a word. I don’t know who felt worse about it: my friend or I. Nurses pride themselves on their cleanly appearance and I knew we had ruined her plan for the day. You can’t clean shoes with a little soap and water and hope to get out the fragments or the smell. She was going to have to do a major scrub job and then rush to her car for another pair. How many times in her career has she had to do this? Maybe this one was for the history book and it was the only time. Maybe when you see a vomiting patient, you learn how fast you have to turn away.

My friend was admitted that night and spent hours of discomfort waiting for the food poisoning to pass. It wasn’t until the next day that we both came up simultaneously with the great idea of replacing her nursing shoes with a new pair. We felt guilty that they had gotten ruined and the only way to assuage this guilt was to do a bit of shopping. This was also one for the history books. How many nurses get gifts from former patients? Not many we would bet. We found a store that carried medical clothing and footwear and searched for the size we were told that she wore. A fellow nurse was only too willing to help us out in our quest.

We selected a light blue woven fabric sneaker that matched the nurse’s uniform. Blue we were told is the color used in the ER on weekdays. We actually had enough sense about us to take notice. The shoe had a cushioned thick sole and we wanted the identical item. It was a slip on style with added laces for tightening to achieve the right degree of fit. We didn’t even care about the price. My friend was so embarrassed about the fiasco that he would spend anything to make amends.

Seeing the nurse’s face when we brought over the string-tied box was enough to alleviate any guilt or concern. She was surprised and quite pleased at our gesture. Upon opening the box, she exclaimed that we had found her favorite kind and that they were the most comfortable for work. “It wasn’t necessary by any means,” she cooed. But you could tell she was very content. Here was a patient scenario she would never forget.