Nurse Ratched

Slice of Life #14

“Okay, Nurse Ratched, ” Mom laughed after I went through the pills, inhaler and drops routine for bedtime.
“Take this,” I said pointing to the cup of cough syrup when you get up in the night.”

“Love you,” she said hoarsely as I turned off her light.  Nurse Ratched, indeed!

Today I managed to get my mother in to her primary care provider [PCP] whose assistant spent about an hour with her.  We got antibiotics, cough/throat gets, inhaler, a list of things to buy at the drug store, and a return appointment to — clean wax balls out of her ears.

What a relief that will be when she can hear on Friday afternoon. I noticed the TV was getting deafening, even with her door closed.  And it has been a cuckoo nest around here with mom down with the designer virus.

This evening we resorted to writing back and forth on note paper to make ourselves understood.  It was better than shouting about how the syringe for the ears worked.

“Oh.  Rinse with water?”


Something very civil about writing.

It was a miracle we got to the noon appointment because my mother needed to use bathe in the walk in tub.  Then, I’d see her standing in front of the mirror worrying about her hair.  This is the first time in four days she’s been out of bed, she’s late for her appointment, and worrying about her hair?

She asked for a scrambled egg and changed her toast order.  I complied and made it.  Then she said she didn’t have time to eat it.

“You have time to eat, Mom. Please sit down a minute.”

We got out the door with her cane and she insisted I bring the x-ray films we need tomorrow along.  “Okay.”

I was ready to make up for lipstick and hat time after an entire morning devoted to getting her ready for her appointment when the freeway went sluggish.  Cars moving, rolling, but not really driving.  I got off and went across town.

I sat in the doctor’s waiting room for over an hour before I was given the list of things to get at the pharmacy and the green light to get Dolores back in bed.

Driving home, unable to talk, I was glum.  It seemed everything I did this morning was either ignored or overruled.  I had to write it off to maybe mom’s feeling better and is going back on independent mode?  I just felt crappy.

I felt her bony hand on mine while I was slowing for a light on San Carlos.  “Thank you for taking care of me,” she rasped.

I never had any idea how hard this could be.

And, my doctor did not give me cool little cough gels and antibiotics.  He just said, “Use your Q Var, your air passages are probably irritated.”

So, in the morning, here we go again. This time we need to be at the spinal specialists two hours earlier than today’s appointment.  I’ll get good at this, maybe.

And I have to smile and be the ears, because mom’s earwax balls won’t come out til Friday.


3 responses to “Nurse Ratched”

  1. Oh man. Life is full of twists and turns. Sounds like you have both hands on the wheel and are handling the tough ride well. You are patient and kind to your mother. Kudos. The dialogue in your piece really helped me to hear both of you and get a feel for your interaction.


  2. Emily Culbertson Avatar
    Emily Culbertson

    Love the ending!! Babies and parents…we are blessed to be in charge of their care. Have a great day!


  3. It’s so hard to take care of loved ones especially when your feeling blah too.


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