When you’re the child of a nurse you get away with nothing, especially when it comes to faking an illness. Trying to get a day off school with a moaned, ‘my tummy hurts,’ would earn you a starvation diet of rice and bananas plus (as a bonus) scar you for life with an order to ‘dare not flush’ until contents have been enthusiastically and thoroughly inspected. What was worse was what would happen if you claimed to miss a movement!
Magical Medical Bag
As a public health nurse, my mother had the skills – and the tools – to make such a declaration incredibly unwise. According to my mother, pretty much every ailment could be cured with a ‘good clean out’, and between her dietary know how (celery is the bowel’s broom!) and her magical medical bag of goodies, she had ways of keeping us ‘moving’ steadily towards good health.
Besides having an intimate knowledge of – and messed up curiosity about – our bodily functions, mom also had a matter-of-fact way of dealing with matters most “normal” folk would find totally taboo – like puberty. Like the time, with about 15 or 20 family members of all ages milling about, mom (very loudly) not only inquired about the puberty stage my male cousin was in, but shared exactly where my older sister and I were as well. Nope, nothing is private when you’re the child of a nurse.
But having a nurse as a mom has advantages too. I was awfully proud dragging bloody-kneed friends and teeth-through-lip playmates in to see my mom for some TLC before either heading back out to play or delivering them – patched up and tenderly tended to – to their own moms.
My son also loved having nanny the nurse around. I’ll never forget his beaming face the afternoon nanny magically patched up a dirtbike casualty before sending him off to emerg. ‘‘Saved buddy’s chin,’’ my son told me proudly after the drama has ended.
I’ve also called on mom for everything from colic (no solution other than, ‘come home my dear, and I’ll give you a break’) to baby burns (darn that vacuum!) to a two-year old’s lips almost shaved off with a razor (earned me a lecture about where dangerous items need to be placed) to simpler things like high temps and suspected chicken pox. Mom’s been a rock on which to cling to when my own mommy world seemed to be crumbling. The nurse in her -retired or not – can’t be shaken or shocked, and that in itself is awesomely comforting.
Comforter & consultant
My sister Kelly followed in mom’s footstep and became a nurse. Now, she seems to be taking over the role of comforter and consultant. Like mom before her, my sister also practiced community care and has seen and done it all. I find it endearing how mom now calls on my sister when dealing with anything medical for either herself or my father. My sister, in the thick of her nursing career, keeps mom calm and collected, if only by validating mom’s own prognosis or diagnosis of many of her and dad’s senior ailments, injuries or complaints. Having my sister step into the role of family caregiver, and knowing she’s just a phone call away, is incredibly comforting.
So sure, having a nurse in the family might lead to some embarrassing ‘too much information’ moments, but the good has far outweighed the bad.
If there’s a nurse in your family, reach out and give them an unsolicited thank you for being their best when you, or someone you love, is at their worst! No doubt you’ve called on their care and comfort more times than you can count. A nurse is never off duty for family. So remember, the next time they offer you a piece of celery, chow down, and know they are doing so with only your best interests, and your intestines, in mind!