I love and admire nurses.
1)Oncology nurses and 2)ostomy nurses. Radiation nurses and 3)post-op nurses. And those essential, always-there-when-you-need-them, round-the-clock nurses. (And though most of my experience is with female nurses, I admire male nurses, too.)
Now this isn't some abstract 4)infatuation, based on seeing 5)South Pacific one too many times. I've been hospitalized six times in my life, and the medical personnel I came to know best—and like best—were the nurses.
To generalize: Nurses are warm, whereas doctors are cool. Nurses act like real people; doctors often act like 6)aristocrats. Nurses look you in the eye; doctors stare slightly above and to the right of your shoulder. (Maybe they're taught to do that in medical school?)
My most recent dependence on nurses came in 2008 and early 2009 as I was treated for an 7)aggressive Stage 3 8)prostate cancer. But more about that later.
My first vivid nurse memory comes from the summer of 1970 at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. I was 12 years old—almost 13— and a 9)benign tumor in my right knee needed to be cut out.
The night before surgery, a 10)no-nonsense nurse in 11)starchy whites strode into my room like a 12)drill sergeant. She carried a basin of warm water, shaving cream and a razor, and I soon found out that she was a real baseball fan, a 13)Boston Red Sox fan.
“The Sox need to trade Carl Yastrzemski,” she said as she began shaving my right leg. “They need to start14)dangling him…dangling him, trade him for someone like Roberto Clemente or Dick Allen.” I never even noticed the razor had 15)planed my leg to a hairless 16)sheen.