Saturday, May 5, 2007

If you're going to spew...spew into this...

My sister-in-law is going to nursing school. Hearing about her classes has brought back memories about a certain life altering decision that could have crippled my moral well being. A few years ago, I thought seriously about going back to school to become a nurse. I wrote a couple freelance stories about the impending nursing shortage, researched schools, talked to nurses, applied to be a nurse's aid, the whole bit. This fascination lasted for three years. I was on the waiting list for acceptance into a school when my tediously made decision did an about face thanks to the events of spring, 2005.

In the middle of my, "I think I know what I want to be when I grow up phase," my husband was hospitalized for a week with pneumonia.

My altruistic health care world came crashing down the third day of that ordeal. Was it the dehydrated, emaciated frame of a once strapping man? No. Was it the tubes and needles and anesthetic reek? No. Bedpans? No. The geriatric roommate on the other side of the plastic curtain who runs down her list of ailments like a grocery list? No. Jello? No. The plastic shoes and scrubs covered in rainbows? No, but seriously, who designs scrubs to look like crib sheets?

I was walking down the hall in search of a Diet Coke when I stumbled upon two nurses engaged in a very loud conversation, obviously about a patient. This is what I heard verbatim on that dreadful day, "Have him spit into a cup and get a sputum sample."

Eeewwwwwww! Eeww! What? What kind of word is that? I can't bring myself to say it out loud. I rolled the word around in my head all the way down the hall. SPU-TUM. SPEW TUM? SPYOO-TUhM. My face turned greenish-white and I thought about finding an appropriate sized cup for myself. It's not what the word represents, but the sound, cadence and general 'spoo' of it all. What kind of sick abecedarian thought these letter worked well together? I can't imagine why anyone would approve such a heinous word for general use and then force it upon unsuspecting listeners. I was word raped!

By the time I got back to my husband's room, my future occupational goals had been halted indefinitely. There is no human way possible to work in a field that glibly employs a word so hideous as sputum. It's disgusting to say and even more distasteful spelled out on paper. S-P-U-T-U-M. Who thinks of these ugly words and how many others are still out there? How can I possibly be expected to help and heal with the threat of vile sounding words leering at me from behind medicinal clipboards?

From that moment on, I have never once considered going into the health care profession. The argot required of future Florence Nightingale's is too great a price. Nope. Can't do it. Crisis averted.

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