When I was a kid, a number of my friends and classmates said they wanted to be a nurse when the grew up. As it turns out, several of them did go on to become nurses. There were a couple of key moments growing up that confirmed for me that I probably couldn’t cut it as a nurse.
I panicked at the sight of blood. I didn’t get sick, mind you. But, I completely lost my head.
One summer I was babysitting my younger brother and sister while my mom worked. My brother was about five years old at the time. He had gone to a neighbor’s house to play with a friend in their back yard. They were playing on the playmate’s dad’s boat, even though they were not allowed. Little brother hurrying to disembark when they heard the dad’s car pull into the driveway, slid down the side of the fiberglass boat and scraped up his torso from chest to belly button. He ran home crying. My little guy was upset and crying. And bleeding just a little. There was a scratch, but mostly it was just superficial scrapes. But as nurse on duty, I wanted to calm him down and patch him up. I also wanted to stop any bleeding before Mama got home.
I hosed him down with Bactine first aid spray and covered him with about a dozen Bandaids. He calmed down and started watching some kid show on TV. My mom was momentarily mortified when she saw all his bandages, until she looked under them and saw there wasn’t any real injury.
The second time I lost my head in a medical emergency was when I was a young teen, maybe 14, helping out at my church during Vacation Bible School. I was a helper in the first grade class. We were walking the group of kids down the hall either going to class or going to assembly. One of the more rambunctious boys was running ahead, not watching where he was going, naturally. There was a chalkboard on the wall and he ran smack into the metal chalkholder which was near eye-level to him. He bounced back and crumpled on the floor. He threw his hand over his face and blood was running down profusely. I froze. I thought he had gouged his eye out. Fortunately, the cut was just over his eyebrow.
An adult teacher, an experienced mom, came over and scooped him up into her arms, pulled his t-shirt up to press against the bleeding. I was still in shock. She told me to run fetch his mother. This was a chore I could accomplish, so I did. But the momentary horror of thinking that little kid had poked his eye out has stayed with me.
I knew I’d never be a nurse, but am impressed with my friends who are able to take care of people who are hurting or ill. I’m especially proud of my niece Madeline. She’s still in nursing school, and is currently working an internship for the summer in the cardiac department at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Fortunately, I always wanted to be a writer and ended up working many years as a newspaper reporter before turning to fiction. The only blood I have to deal with are the victims of my own making in my murder mysteries.
Do you remember which careers you and your friends contemplated in elementary school? Did you end up in the career you thought about back then? Share in the comments.