Lessons in Thanksgiving-

In the time I’ve spent here in Lancaster, I’ve learned quite a few things.  I now know more about the spine than I ever imagined knowing– or wanted to know.  I know about surgery, recovery, anesthesia, and how to both manage a patient and a nurse.  Let’s just say it has been an education.  However, many of the most important things I’ve learned weren’t the things I would have expected.
I’ve learned gratitude for things I know I usually take for granted.  My husband’s job would definitely be one.  He has a good job, enjoys his work, and that job has quite a few benefits.  His employer, the Department of Defense, provides a good salary, affordable health insurance, and plenty of vacation leave and sick leave (which can accrue over time).  Thanks to this, he has about 60 work days of “sick leave” and even after taking four weeks of vacation, he still has quite a few more weeks of that left too.  Gotta love “use or lose.”
For many people, a husband out of work for six to twelve weeks would be a financial disaster.  We’re not going to have a month vacation with Kevin this Christmas, but who cares?  He’ll be able to walk and sit again.  This is much more important.
I’m also thankful for his salary.  This hospital visit has been horribly expensive– and we haven’t gotten a single bill yet.  I had to drive down here, get a hotel room, and I have to eat every day.  I’m here for much longer than I expected– guess who had to buy clothes to keep me clean and covered?  And, thanks to that wonderful provision of the Lord we like to call “a paycheck,” I could even afford to spend a little extra money to buy a few things to keep me occupied and a few books (at extortionist prices) to keep him from going stir crazy.  You know, it’s going to be tight for a few weeks– maybe months.  We’re going to have bills– lots of bills.  I spent several hundred dollars in hotel bills, food, and in stores.  I have it.  That is a really good thing to know– I have it.  It’ll be tight, but we won’t be wondering where our next meal came from or if we can afford to pay the mortgage.  God is so very good.
I’m learning to appreciate the sacrifices other people make to become surgeons and nurses.  Most doctors graduate with the equivalent of a mortgage before they ever take their first patient.  Now, I’m sure neurosurgeons are among those doctors that really do make a good salary, considering the malpractice insurance they must have to carry, it’s a good thing.
My natural dislike of the medical establishment isn’t gone… but I have more sympathy for the people in it.  Nurses have quite the thankless job.  Kevin’s nurses almost don’t stop moving.  They’re in our room, giving him a pain pill, out the door, back in to get his water, go get him water, back in the door.  Oh, it’s time to check the blood pressure.  Oops, forgot to empty your urinal, be right back!  They write down every single thing they and/or Kevin does.  They do it all with a pleasant attitude and without growing impatient.  Thus far, I’ve only seen one exception.  I was quite annoyed with his recovery nurse yesterday when the hospital volunteer took me back to the recovery room.  The doctor said to take me back, so she did.  We arrived and Kevin’s nurse just about bit off the poor elderly woman’s head.  I was livid.  No, it wasn’t because she wanted me out of there.  I got that.  She was in the middle of trying to get Kevin a new IV, Kevin wasn’t doing well, and there isn’t much room in there for another person.  I totally understood that.  I keep reminding myself that the woman was under a lot of pressure and she was protecting her patient–my husband.  However, her snippy “Call the nurse next time” response to the Volunteer explaining that the Doctor said I should go back was unprofessional.  Let’s face it, if a doctor and a nurse give anyone conflicting advice, the natural response is going to be to listen to the doctor.  Had she not had a nasty look on her face, been rude in her barking at the poor woman who donates her time to be the liaison between the family and the surgery staff, and just said, “If you’d call next time and make sure we’re ready for the family, I’d appreciate it.”  It wouldn’t have taken much extra time but it would have shown consideration for the woman who saves this gal many trips back and forth every day.
However, aside from that unfortunate experience, I really liked that nurse.  She was great at advocating for Kevin, helping him, and even having someone watch over him while she did a few other things.  I’ve liked most of the nurses.  It’s been a good thing.  Considering my negative experiences with nurses in the past, this has been a wonderful thing for me.  I’ve learned gratitude for people I used to avoid.  I’m thankful for that as well.

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