This is something I previously posted on a local website a couple of years ago under the title of “My Mistake Made Her Smile”. At that time I held back a bit of information concerning this story. My husband was surprised the first time I posted this, sharing a mistake I made with every one who happened to read my story. Mistakes will happen, we’re only human after all. For me the nickname was more embarrassing and I never shared that with anyone until now. After the “mistake” I ran into a classmate in the hallway who I thought was waving at me to get my attention. As I approached her she held her hand up and wiggled her fingers at me and said “Hello Tickles”. That name stuck for a bit of time…..luckily for me a short bit of time. So now you will know the entire story, except you’ll have to read the rest to learn what my mistake was. If you laugh, don’t worry about it, I still laugh at myself when I think about what happened all those years ago too.
Through the years I’ve made my share of mistakes and I was always grateful that no one was ever hurt by them except myself. This is a true story about something that happened when I went to school for nursing, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), to be exact. It was a one year course that started September, 1975 with graduation June, 1976. We wore Pepto-Bismol pink uniforms and plain white caps. Upon graduation we were able to wear regular white nurse uniforms and a green stripe on our caps. Not one person in my class was sorry to be rid of those awful pink uniforms.
I did exceptionally well with all the courses, having a final grade of 98 in anatomy and when I took the Boards that October I passed them the first time with a score just 15 points shy from a perfect score of 750. I shared that information not because of an oversized ego; I want you to understand that I did know what I was doing when I was taking care of my patients. Two of my sons may have thought otherwise, however. They both work in the medical field and many years ago when I mentioned being a LPN they laughed and joked about how LPN meant learn practically nothing. As to that comment, well, there’s a saying I’ve heard off and on through the years……opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.
As students, we did clinicals at the local hospitals working in pediatrics, medical/surgical floors, labor and delivery and the operating room which was my favorite. We also worked taking care of the elderly at a couple of local nursing homes. This was the most difficult part of the course for me because it was heartbreaking to see so many elderly left alone with no visits from family or friends. I quickly realized that the people who specialized in taking care of the elderly are, indeed, very special themselves.
One day, as a student, I was assigned to take care of a sweet lady in her late 70’s who had a problem “going”. She was impacted and needed assistance and it was my job to help her which was a first for me. The aide helped me get her into the bathroom and onto the commode directly over the toilet. Nervous as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rocking chairs, I chatted away about anything I could think of to cover up my nervousness. Gloves on, lubricant applied, I squatted down beside her and began my approach under the commode to help her get things moving. I was surprised when I didn’t find her “problem” and carefully, gently, continued to probe a bit more feeling around but not finding anything. I tried again, wanting to help her and ease her discomfort. I changed my approach a bit and as I probed further and deeper with my fingers, I looked up at her to make sure she was okay. There she sat wearing this huge grin. I mean an ear to ear huge grin. This is the point where you have to remember I mentioned scoring a 98 on my anatomy final.
“Don’t stop dear, keep going, I haven’t felt that in a very long time” she told me. Realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in the wrong spot. I had to grab the toilet to keep from falling onto my butt. I was so mortified that I was speechless and just pulled my gloved hand out and away while I tried to think about what I was going to do. She just sat there smiling at me then gave me a pat on the shoulder as I squatted there looking up at her.
I tried to compose myself, as best as I could given the circumstances, all the while wishing I could just quietly slip out of the room and go anywhere to not be where I was at that moment. I just couldn’t think of anything to say to her and she was still smiling at me. I was actually speechless. I took a deep breath and told her we were going to try this again, correctly this time. I was successful, finding what I was looking for, and able to finish what needed to be done. I got her cleaned up and settled back in her bed knowing the worse was yet to come.
I located my instructor and immediately reported everything that had happened. She made no attempt to hold back her laughter, laughing so hard tears were running down her face. My patient’s comment to me had the entire wing in stitches because, of course, I had to be totally honest and document every thing that had happened. I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to picture the ribbing I took about that and of course there was the nickname…. Tickles. It caught on pretty fast as did the finger wiggle wave.
This is another one of those moments that remain crystal clear for me all these years later. I can still see her huge grin and the way I look at it now, being able to make someone smile is never a bad thing.
To this day I still don’t have a very good sense of direction.
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