In a previous article, I wrote about the very best nurse I have ever worked with. Well, here’s another story about her …
I mentioned before that Mary was easy to bait. Like a kid in a lolly shop with no supervision and a sweet tooth, my mind would frequent turn to ways to help pass the time in an amusing way. Anything to break the tension of the day. Not very mature I agree, but c’mon I’m a male nurse in a female environment – the proverbial rooster in the hen house. A boy’s gotta have a little fun every now and again.
One of my favourites involved the 4:00pm heparin round. In the rehab setting we worked in, it was not unusual to have up to 12 patients in our 30 bed ward on twice daily heparin injections. As they were all generic and standard doses, Mary and I would prepare a poultice of them in the treatment room, divide the work into 2 and go on our merry injection way.
Of course Mary would be one short for her round. I would see to that. She would come back to the treatment room, mumbling under her breath, not quite sure how she had miscounted and very annoyed with herself that she had to draw up another dose. You see Mary was extremely proud of her maths ability, able to perform complicated medication calculations in her head and she never, ever got them wrong.
For her to be not able to count to 6 when there were 6 patients who needed an injection was mortifying. In the kindest possible way, I gently let her know that at her age it was perfectly understandable that counting to as high as 6 can sometimes be challenging. Fook, Fook, and Fook You followed by another one or two fooks was her typical and predicable, but not always measured response.
This went on for another 2 days. The Fooks got louder and more frequent. My co-workers who quietly were in on the game were in danger of collectively bursting with unresolved and contained laughter. Of course, Mary soon twigged onto our little bit of harmless mischief and I must say took it all in her stride. Sure she let fly with a barrage of Fooks, occasionally bursting into some Gaelic brogue, but all in all took it well.
A little later that same evening I had a chance to have a quiet word with Mary and asked her if we had hurt her feelings. She looked at me, with an expression that did not suggest any bitterness or anger. I think she knew deep down that we all loved and respected her greatly and meant no harm.
She said three things to me that I will never forget
- To survive in nursing, you have to have some way to relive the tension of the job. A little bit of fun every now is fine
- Be very careful that you only have fun with people. Never make fun of people or make them feel small or embarrassed.
- Finally she said – Pogue Mahone
I asked her what it meant and she replied we a glint in her eye that it was an old wise Gaelic expression and that I should look it up when I got home …
I did. Mary had told me to KISS MY ASS. I called her straight away and we both had a great laugh. From that day onward, at the start of every shift we worked together, Mary would say to me Good Morning / Afternoon Mark – Pogue Mahone (kiss my ass) … It always set the mood for a great start to the shift regardless of what was to follow