She arrived into PACU via stretcher. Two hearing aids, one in each ear. Stirring a little when she first arrived and then settling into a snooze after I covered her in warm blankets. I slid the paper hat off revealing white gray hair. Permed. Her skin was in good condition. As a youth she must not have been in the sun too much.
About an hour passed. I tried to rouse her. She looked at me with her 90 year old blue-grey eyes. Without saying a word she sized me up as if she were asking, “who are you and where am I?” Remembering she feel back asleep.
I invited her husband into PACU to sit at her bedside. Two grown men came with him. The man with dark hair was pushing the husband in a wheel chair. The other man, a blonde-white haired man was trailing close behind. Both large men in their 50’s. All of this activity woke my patient up which was what I was hoping for.
Looking more alert now she sipped some water. I proceeded to go over her discharge instructions. “What? What did she say?” she’d ask her husband or one of her sons. The combination of anesthesia plus poor hearing made communicating tough. The plan was for me to get her ready to go home. One son left to get the car. The hubby and the other son moved to moved into another area of PACU while I helped her dress.
It’s always important to develop a rapport with someone before you help them get dressed. Just take my word on this one. We were chatting.
She told me about her first husband….. how he had died in a car accident. She remarried and had the second son. “He’s a towhead,” she said.
My eyes lit up. “My brother was a towhead too! We always told him that the milkman was his father.” I haven’t heard “towhead” for years. It’s most likely not politically correct now. It brought back memories.
Our conversation was flowing now. I took her IV out, held pressure and put a nice clean dressing over it. She said, “I have small hands. I worked 48 years in a white room.”
“White room? What’s that,” I asked.
“It’s a room where no dust or particles can get in the product that we were making. We had to wear white suits over our clothes. Everything had to be very clean.”, she explained. ” I have very small hands. I could get into small spaces. I loved the work. I looked forward to going to work every day. New girls would come and go. Of course, I liked some of them and some others I didn’t care for. Some of them would bleed the company to death. They would say that they developed “that carpel tunnel”. Then they’d have to have surgery. Some of them would only work 3-4 weeks before they were saying they had “that carpal tunnel. Terrible.” She said as she shook her head.
“Have you had any trouble with your hands? Any arthritis?” I asked.
“Oh no. I always exercised my hands when I was going to the lady’s room,” she answered opening and closing her hands.
“Try to keep your hands still right now because I just took your IV out.” I requested of her. Her hands were moving a mile a minute.
She was still sitting in the bed while I started to help her dress. Undies on first. They kept getting twisted. Pants were next. Doing all of this maintaining a Foley catheter in place. Not an easy task, but doable. Now we’re ready for her to stand at the edge of the stretcher and pull undies and pants up. This is when the shit hit the fan. Her feet didn’t seem able to kept contact with the floor. “Sit back on the edge of the bed”, I pleaded. Little fretful noises from her before she got situated on the bed.
She kept talking oblivious to the fact that I was struggling. “Then one day I’d had enough. I told my supervisor that I was leaving. The supervisor asked me if I was sick. I said no. I’m done working. The supervisor said go home and rest. I had not missed one day of work in 48 years. Not one. I told her I was not sick. I was done working and I was leaving.”
That’s when I noticed her IV site was saturated with blood. Maneuvering back onto the bed blood got all over her undies. An awful lot of blood oozing out of that IV site. A blood bath. Using my THIRD HAND, yeah…..I wish, I reached for her flailing wrist while keeping my feet in front of her feet so she wouldn’t start to slip, I reached for a packet of large gauze dressings. Ripping the package open with my teeth I slapped the dressings over her bloody wrist. Lots of firm pressure. Not pumping blood. “HELLO! Is anyone out there? Can someone come in here and help,” I finally asked.
Here comes Golden Girl, “what can I do for you?”
“Open this and that, stick them together and put them there on the pillow. Get me a warm wash cloth too. PLEASE make it snappy Goldie.” I demanded.
“Did you know you have blood all over your shirt”, Golden Girl asked.
Getting back to our conversation, “You mean you quit on the spot?”
“Yes. I was done,” she told me.
“Did you get a pension?”, I ask sitting on the edge of my chair.
“Oh yes. I got a nice pension.” she answered. “They called me and asked me to come back. They begged me.”
“What did you say?”
“I said, no. I was done.”
“Did they offer you more money?”
“No, they didn’t.”
“Would that have made a difference?”
“No. I was done. They begged me to come back at Christmas time. You know we worked 7 days a week. 8 hour days during the week, 8 on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday.”
My mouth was wide open. “Get out! You’re telling me you worked 7 days a week for 48 years?”
“Yes. When they “begged” me to come back over Christmas I told them it was the first Christmas in 48 years that I’m able to stay home and enjoy. So No. I’m done working. I was 78 years old.”
We are both a little bloody, but it looked much worse than it was. However here comes hubby in the wheel chair being pushed by Towhead. They are watching with big eyeballs.
She was cleaned up, ready to go home. No more blood dripping from anywhere. She looked great. It was wonderful to meet her. Wonderful.
Me, on the other hand, I was a mess. My hair frizzing up around my face, mascara smeared,my glasses sitting cock-eyed on top of my head and blood splattered on my uniform.
It was a good day.
TIDBIT tow head
A person with very light (almost white) blond hair, “tow” being flax or hem
p fibers. Tow-headed, along with fair(-haired) and flax
en-haired, is a tradional way in the English
language to refer to blond hair or lightly-colored hair, having come from its old Germanic roots (which are quite rare).
“The tow head is an illusive creature, a minority.”
Not to be confused with albinism.