Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Today is my  Mom's  birthday. She graduated from St. Anthony's Hospital in Rockford, Illinois during the 1940's. She was a genuine coal shoveling nurse and liked to boast how quickly she could fire up the hospital boiler. As a child I remember encountering her blood splattered Red Cross nursing shoes one morning after her return from work. When she caught me with my eyes fixated on them she cheerily replied, "Don't worry my patient was really sick last night, but he is going to be fine."

I was also really impressed by the curved glass drinking straws she brought home from work. She explained that they were bent at the exact angle so someone could drink while in bed. I marveled at how nice it was for someone to help a sick person drink. That notion totally fascinated me as a child and when things got rough for me much later in life in the OR, that image of  a glass straw helping a sick person to drink always popped into my weary brain. Things were not so bad.

I remember her stories of caring for young polio patients in iron lungs. That really scared me to death and I remember her joy when the polio vaccine was developed. Although my mom had other options she worked decades at the bedside. I think that for her, hospitals were church and the patients bedside the alter. She was not keen on  Sky Gods, but I'm certain her spirit lives on in the many patients she helped over the years.

If not for my Mom, I would have probably become an auto mechanic (shop was my favorite high school subject.) Instead of looking down upon my Bovie burned finger, I would be gazing at scarred knuckles from slipped torque wrenches. Strange how things turn out!


  1. What wonderful memories for you ~ she sounds like an awesome lady!!!

  2. Moms. Whaddaya gonna do. As a combat infantry Marine, and later a street cop, I privately enjoyed all manner of classical music. Thanks, Mom.

  3. This proves that a true nurse has a calling. It's not just a job. Very few people have that surety in their life. Good for you and your mom.

  4. My uncle was a polio victim, he got it the day the vaccine was available in his town and kids were lining up for it. Except for him, he was first day sick with polio. He died of post polio syndrome.

    I was visiting a town in a different part of the country and I kept seeing these massage beds and calling them iron lungs because I couldn't imagine willingly going into one of these things for a massage.

    Turns out they are a dry hydrotherapy thing, mostly used for massage for fun going by the places that had them. They are available in shopping malls like those tooth bleaching places are. You get into the iron lung looking thing, fully dressed. There's a plastic barrier and water is aimed at you to feel through this barrier. Oh, and they seem to be popular at chiropractic places.