Monday, April 15, 2013

In which I have a stroke (Part 3: Beautiful Nurse B-- is beautiful)

Not Beautiful Nurse B--, but in the same ballpark
My first morning in the ICU after my stroke, I awoke to find in my room perhaps the most beautiful woman I've ever met. "Good morning," she said with a beautiful sunny smile, "I'm your nurse this morning. My name is B--."

Of course, I couldn't answer with what I really wanted to say, which was (since the "drafty" hospital gowns left me waking up cold every morning I was in the hospital), "Good morning Nurse B--. I'm cold. Would you please snuggle under the covers with me until I feel warm?" Instead, I just said, "Good morning Nurse B--." Then I thought I should express some personal interest in her, so I asked her if "B--" was short for something, like the name it's usually short for. She said it wasn't short for that name, it was short for something else, a name I'd never actually heard before.

In my mind, I had already christened her "Beautiful Nurse B--." And this song kept running through my head:

I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.
I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.
I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.

I guess if you're a straight guy and when you meet a beautiful woman, mainly you think about the Ramones, you may be overly immersed in popular culture. Or, I guess it means I really am a pinhead.

Well, next Beautiful Nurse B-- took my vital signs and went though the standard stroke patient tests to check for hemiplegia and weakness, which are "Squeeze my fingers" and then (with me still holding her hands) "Now pull me closer" and "Now push me away."

When she got to the "Push me away" part, I managed to come up with, "I don't want to push you away," for which effort I was rewarded with a patient smile, rather than what I deserved, which probably would have been something more like, "Stop trying to flirt with me from your hospital bed, you elderly1 ass-clown!" Of course, that actually wasn't very cool of me to do, because I'm sure she gets that kind of stuff all the time, and she's probably pretty tired of it. So I was kind of sorry afterwards, although she was so nice about it. And I left the nurses and other female personnel alone after that.

But they didn't leave me alone. Because, the next day, one of them (not Beautiful Nurse B--) came into my room to give me a sponge bath. Which can be a little embarrassing. Or a lot embarrassing, in some cases. Obviously, if you're a heterosexual male, when a kind woman gently ministers to your body with a warm sponge, there is a certain natural reaction that threatens to take place. Which, if it did, would be quite embarrassing to everyone involved.

In order to avoid that natural reaction, one therefore attempts to distract one's mind from physical sensations by deliberately thinking about things that are horrifying and repulsive, for example, "Rotting, dismembered corpses!" or "Drowning in a pit of raw sewage!" or "Ann Coulter!" Those thoughts turned out to be quite successful, and in the end I was left clean and without serious embarrassment (and admiring my own self-control a little bit). Of course, that was probably only because it wasn't Beautiful Nurse B-- who was doing the washing. If it had been, the effort would likely have been futile. I doubt even "Ann Coulter!" could have saved me then.

Anyway, for me it was kind of a positive sign that in the ICU the morning after I had a major stroke, I could still try to flirt a little with a woman half my age (although it was a little hard on her, and I'm sorry). It was proof that I wasn't that far gone. On the other hand, I think I must have actually been pretty far gone after all. Because my speech therapist2 said we met while I was in the hospital, but I didn't really remember her when we started outpatient therapy. Which is weird, because she's really great, and I would have expected to remember her quite well.

She's super positive and helpful, and gives me lots of useful mental exercises and stuff to do. Plus, she seems very insightful. I really feel like she gets me, which a lot of people don't. She does a great job of keeping the mood light (and even kind of laughs at me sometimes), which is exactly what I need, because I can be such a gloomy fuck sometimes. I deeply admire competence in a woman; I love a woman who's good at her job, and she sure is. Not only that, she's insanely cute too; absolutely adorable, with the most amazing infectious smile (complete with dimples) and beautiful brown eyes. And -- Oops! I better stop there, 'cause there's actually a pretty good chance that she's going to read this sometime, and I guess I've already embarrassed myself enough for one post. Sorry.

1Technically, I'm not elderly yet, but since I'm about 25 years older than Beautiful Nurse B-- is (and she's beautiful, of course), she'd be entitled.
2It's called "speech" therapy, but it's not actually that much to do with speaking per se, since I don't have any big problems in that area. It's actually more like cognition therapy, because it's all about getting my mind working right again.

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Image credit: redav / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. I think you should write more haikus about her.

  2. I never have. She was only my nurse for a day or two. My last three haiku (and my next two) are about two other people. Sigh.

  3. Thanks for sharing all this, kuri. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about ‘religion’ during some part of this experience. Did you ever wonder about stuff like that, e.g., wondering about what’s going to happen if you don’t pull through, or if you do (and you obviously did!) that it might put you on a different path, or thinking differently? Stuff like that. Did you ever wonder about your standing (according to the doctrine, covenants, etc) with your ‘Mormonism’?

    I wonder about stuff like that sometimes.

  4. I'm really glad that you're sharing your story about having a stroke. I think about these things as I'm growing older, and it's great to know different scenarios like this. If something like this happens to me or a loved one, maybe I'll know what's happening just a second sooner for having read your story. Thank you!

  5. MFC,

    I didn't really have many thoughts about religion. I've made my peace with oblivion after this life. I didn't exist for over 4 billion years before I was born, and that doesn't bother me a bit. The thought of not existing for billions more years after I die doesn't bother me much more than that.

    I did have one fleeting "religious" worry though: "What if my brain is damaged in such a way that it turns me religious again?" No signs of that though, fortunately.

  6. Thanks Michelle! That'd be great if anyone is better informed about stroke because of my little blog. Please, watch your cholesterol. That's what did me in. I had really high cholesterol for years, then brought it down a little, but not enough. That's what blocked up my carotid artery and caused my stroke.

  7. Your anecdotes are most reassuring, in that it's plain that some important parts of you, mental and physical, are still firing on all cylinders. And that your brain is still happily free from religion and belief in eternal life.

    On a parallel track, our own Andrew Marr, whom I know as a BBC journalist, modern historian and intellectual, has recovered from his own stroke (which kept him off air for many weeks). But he puts it down to some vigorous workout that he was in the habit of doing, which he now understands was not appropriate for his age.

    I wonder if you have now made a similar decision, especially since your blood clot exerted its baleful effect while you were actually doing the workout?

  8. I was predisposed to a stroke because I'd had very high cholesterol for a long time, and even though it was down to a more moderate level, I still had significant atherosclerosis, including stenosis of the carotid arteries.

    I do enjoy high-intensity exercise, though. I'll be talking to my neurologist about that when I see him in a couple of weeks. I really hope I'll be cleared for it.

  9. You may want to reconsider your position with regard to religion, kuri. This this video just might do it for you (Suggestion to some viewers: Some scenes may evoke overwhelming, emotioal feelings -- you may want to have a box of tissue handy):

  10. The Miracle of the Fishes! I believe!

    Handy clickable link

  11. I love your posts, plus I think we have the same musical tastes!


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