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Behind Closed Doors: Were You Raised By an OR Nurse?
You can always tell when there's a nurse in the family.
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: July 9, 2015   |  Tags:   Opinion

My daughter is all grown up and working as a healthcare professional now, but I can still remember when, during my time in management, she'd sit in my office to do her homework while I tried to catch up on paperwork. Or how we'd pepper our conversations with medical terminology. Or the time I took a video of a procedure home and she watched it with me. I recently asked her if she'd ever felt slighted by this dizzy work-life balance. She said, "No, I thought that was the way everyone lived."

You and I know, of course, that's not the way everyone lives. But if there's any doubt in your minds, here are a few telltale signs that you, too, were raised by an OR nurse.

  • Your mom (or dad) got to wear their pajamas to work every single day. Coolest job ever! And they had so many extra pairs in their drawers and closet that some of them eventually found their way into yours.
  • Those white kitchen dish towels with blue strings attached to them.
  • If, while playing outside, you fell and yelled for your mom, she'd yell back, "Are you bleeding?" (No.) "Can you breathe?" (Yes.) "Can you move your arm / leg / hand / foot?" (Yes.) "Then walk it off, you're fine."
  • When you told her you had a stomachache, the first thing she'd ask was, "Have you pooped?" — even in front of other people — while she felt your forehead.
  • You think iodoform smells way better than any air freshener or candle. The scent reminds you of home.
  • When your friends came over, your mom asked if they were allergic to anything before she served them any food.
  • At Thanksgiving, your mom set up the dining table like a back table. She called for a time out before the turkey was carved, and she passed the knives using a no-hands, neutral-zone method.
  • At Christmas, she unwrapped and unboxed the present you gave her like she intended to place its contents on the sterile field.
  • Bedtimes, curfews, appointments and other family deadlines were announced in 24-hour military time, with which you were conversant at an early age.
  • Whenever you took your toys outside, your mom made you count them first. When you brought them back in, she made you count them again.
  • Your mom had a stronger stomach for slasher movies than you or any of your friends. She even heckled the special effects and anatomical accuracy or some of the surgeons she'd worked with that week.
  • Two words: antibacterial OCD. The rules were clear. You had to go to the bathroom before you all left the house. If, to her horror, you had to use public facilities while out and about: Don't. Touch. Anything. Line the toilet seat with about half the roll of paper. Flush with your foot. Then wash your hands thoroughly. This is no party, but you're singing through "Happy Birthday" twice.
  • You're thinking it would be a good idea to wear exam gloves, and maybe a mask, when you walk into a crowded big-box store.
  • Grocery lists and reminder notes were often scribbled onto the backs of cardboard tags printed with surgical gown instructions. Usually on the same days that mom complained about a long and busy day at work.
  • Whenever you or your siblings had to go see a new doctor, your H&Ps were just a click away on the home computer. The receptionists and nurses were always so surprised when your mom attached a multi-page printout to all those information forms they gave you.