In 2011, I spent a month in a Mesa hospital. Twenty-eight days, to be exact. After about three weeks of trying to figure out how to fix me, doctors finally decided to do surgery. As you can imagine, a month is a long time to be in a hospital. In total, I had five different rooms, including one time in which they stuck me in the maternity ward. I didn’t mind that gig because I could wander down and look at the new babies. But except for the short stint in the maternity ward, I had the same batch of nurses.
Nurses are my heroes. I guess we all know this on some level, but I was able to observe with my own two eyes that nurses put up with a lot of crap. Patients are crabby and in pain and, since it was Mesa, AZ, and many of the patients had just had knee or hip replacement, pretty demanding and short-tempered.
My parents taught us to be kind. Or maybe I learned that from watching Romper Room followed by Captain Kangaroo. Anyway, I’m kind. I was patient and respectful. I did what the nurses asked me to do. I didn’t snap at them, even when they had to come fix my IV 15 times during the night. So I was well-liked.
It was my lengthy hospital stay that first showed me just how attached I get to people who are nice. I got so attached to a couple of the nurses during my time in the hospital that I literally cried — tears rolling down my face — the day I said goodbye to them. That seems so ridiculous, but the truth is, they teared up as well.
Now you’re going to laugh at me. I had the same experience yesterday morning when I said goodbye to my new friend, the barista at Buddha’s Brew Coffee and Tattoos. I have been going to that particular coffee shop for about three weeks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, when Bill is at his boxing class. My friend works on Monday mornings. She probably works other times as well, but I only see her on Monday mornings. We became friendly almost immediately, and have subsequently shared stories about families, Parkinson’s, dreaming, and other things.
One day she asked me what my days were like. Isn’t that the most interesting question? I told you all that the reason I was immediately taken with her is that I often feel invisible, and she actually SAW me. I told her that I was retired, and mentioned that I write a blog. Her face lit up. Really? she said. What’s it called? I told her and she immediately logged on and read the latest post. She told me she enjoyed reading it. I was pleased, but assumed that it was a one-off.
Yesterday, as she was making my iced coffee with a splash of cream and two Splendas, she said, “I read your blog every day. I really enjoy it.” I was ridiculously pleased. And if it’s true that she reads my blog, I’m now ridiculously embarrassed that she knows how pleased I am.
As I was getting ready to leave, I told her that we were heading back to Denver and would return to AZ in the fall. “You won’t be here by then,” I told her. She didn’t confirm or deny. But she did thank me for the nice conversations we had been having.
For the record, I didn’t cry, nor did she.