Passover

By Gorman, Geraldine | Nursing and Health Care Perspectives, July-August 1997 | Go to article overview

Passover


Gorman, Geraldine, Nursing and Health Care Perspectives


Ron opened the door and smiled. Trim, with pleated slacks and a pale yellow shirt, he motioned me in and said gently, "Larry, the nurse is here." We walked across a polished floor past healthy plants enjoying the good air and light. In the bedroom, on a single bed, the patient stretched and opened his porcelain doll eyes (clear blue and vacant). He raised his head in my direction and damp curls fell to the pillow. His bathrobe gaped open, revealing the newly fashioned colostomy. A Botticelli angel leaking stool through his abdomen.

"This morning Larry took his first shower in three weeks," Ron said and turned. "Here, here is a clean towel for you." Laid out on the other twin bed were all the supplies: sterile gauze, normal saline, latex gloves, paper tape (displayed with antiseptic precision upon a second white towel).

Ron had changed the dressing earlier that morning and he detailed the amount and consistency of the drainage. The dressing required no alterations or reinforcement; his technique transcended professional kibbitz.

In the living room a meandering jade plant dominated the northeast corner, a twenty-four-year-old chocolate point Siamese cat named Winston coiled on a sofa cushion. Larry settled next to him, and Ron sat in the background, legs crossed, hands folded.

A delicate, petal-like rash suffused Larry's body, back, chest, thighs, arms, sparing only the chiseled, impervious face. His diastolic pressure was high, heart rate rapid. Was there a history of hypertension in the family? The eyes moved in languid amusement. He said: "I come from a proper Southern family; we don't discuss such things." Later, emergency contacts were requested for the necessary forms. …

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