Nurse (verb): Give medical and other attention to

So my Friday the 13th medical appointment is in the bag, and though it’s supposed to be a day of bad luck, something positive happened: I had THE conversation for the first time.

The nurse was nice; more than your average-nice and we got chatting. She took my name, address, date of birth and commented on the fact that it’s my birthday soon. I shrugged it off. 35 just means I’ll be deemed a “geriatric pregnancy” from thereon in.

We did the simple pre-surgery assessment checks I went in for: blood tests, swabs, height and weight (unfortunately, I now know for definite how much my lockdown diet of chocolate biscuits has cost me!). After the initial checks were completed, the nurse needed to take my blood pressure and heart rate. Now, I have always had a low resting heart rate (mine is around 53 beats per minute, while for most people a resting heart rate of 60-100, is considered normal). In the past, this has led to medical staff repeatedly asking me if I’m an athlete: erm, not unless chocolate biscuit eating is a sport.

Due to my heart rate, the nurse wanted to do an ECG (a simple test to check my heart’s rhythm and electrical activity). It involved lots of wires and lots of stickers, attached to various points on the body. The nurse had to put one on my chest so pulled up my jumper, but in doing so, she accidentally disturbed my long dangly necklace and it fell to the side. She picked it up and said “Oh this is lovely! What’s this date?” And I thought: this is IT. It’s time.

“That’s my daughter’s birthday”
“Oh that’s lovel..”
“She was extremely premature, just 20 weeks. It was a neonatal death, she was born and died on the same day”

I unexpectedly start to cry, just tears, not sobs.

*very sincere pause*
<very gently>

“I’m sorry. What happened?”
“It was PPROM: my waters broke too early”

*another thoughtful pause while she takes this in*

“I’m sorry. There’s still time. You’re young”
“I’ll be 35 soon”
“There’s time”

Lying back on the bed, face in a mask, I did it. A few more tears fell.

“I’m sorry I upset you”
“No, that’s ok. I like talking about it”

And that’s the surprising truth, to everyone involved: even though I’m crying, I will always welcome conversations or acknowledgment of Summer. You didn’t make me sad, it is sad.

That nurse was so kind, her response was so genuine and her comments were simply lovely. Nurse can be a noun (a person trained to care for the sick or infirm, especially in a hospital) or it can be a verb (give medical and other attention to). What a professional she was. A professionally decent person, that is. To have nursed my intangible open wound.

N.B. After yesterday’s blog, I just wanted to say a quick thank you, for giving me perspective. The comments are some of the kindest I’ve ever received and they are so very much appreciated. I will keep the faith in this ‘journey’ and I hope that you will too: we’ve got this.

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(8) Comments

  1. Sally Dennis says:

    Dear Anjulie,
    Thirteen is not a bad number, it is just a powerful one Some people don’t like that.
    I do not read everything you write, is there time? But I do now also read with attention articles by other people who have suffered the same tragedy.
    I am so glad you have recently had a good experience. There are lovely people out there.

  2. Laura says:

    This is lovely. xx

  3. Claire says:

    I am so glad you had such a positive experience of talking about Summer to a stranger, and particularly to a medical professional. Well done Anj. Your strength shines through for all to see. Cx

  4. Karen Palmer says:

    So glad you had a good experience and that the nurse was lovely. But I’m a bit confused. Why did she not already know? Has note reading before seeing patients gone completely out the window? xx

    1. Anjulie says:

      Karen, you would be surprised. All (bar one) medical professionals who have called me, have made me say “I’ve had three miscarriages” out loud. They clearly do not read the notes.

  5. Vicky says:

    I’m so happy that something positive came out of this day and appointment for you, what a lovely nurse and example of wonderful tact and sincerity. And it must have been so cathartic for you to be able to tell your story and have that conversation, I hope going forward that lots more people ask about Summer wherever you go!! xxx

  6. Melanie says:

    I am so pleased you have had a positive experience with a medical professional!! Long overdue, but may this be the way of the future. The nurse sounded appropriately empathetic. It must have been a real release to have had “that conversation” xxx

  7. Karen Palmer says:

    Anjulie, that’s awful. That’s how it was for me nearly 30 years ago and I’m really shocked that it’s no better. As a medical professional ( I suppose especially in Psychiatry) note reading before seeing patients was critically important. But I’m sure it was known to be foundational to good practice in every department. Maybe we should start some kind of campaign…

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