I had a knee reconstruction ten years ago, and despite what the amateur thespians on the footy field would have you believe, it wasn’t that big a deal. My doctor was gruff but harmless, the anaesthetist was friendly – as would be I at that pay grade – and the nurses were all plump and matronly and gorgeous, just like in the picture books. When I awoke there was one on either side of my trolley stroking my hand and saying “well done.” I’m pretty sure all I did was fail to count to ten, but I returned their pats, smiled heroically and went back to sleep.
When I next awoke, the Renaissance cherubs were gone, and in their place, hovering like the spectre of death at the end of my bed, was a morose looking woman in her early fifties. Now my logic is that if you wake up every morning and think “I hate hospitals but I hate people more,” you probably shouldn’t be a nurse. She obviously didn’t get the memo because her first line to me was one of the following:
A. “Hi, how are you feeling?”
B. “Hey, just gotta ask you some questions.”
C. “You were pressing the morphine button in your sleep. It doesn’t work after a certain amount anyway, and you’re lucky it doesn’t, because you would have been dead by now if it did.”
This woman made nurse Ratched look like Mother Teresa. She told me from day one that in the event of impending urination, I was to get up and make my way to the toilet without her assistance, and even though I explained to her that it was really painful, she just said something along the lines of “you’ll be right” and moved on to the patient next to me. I never actually saw this other patient because the green curtain between us was always drawn, but I prayed, on several occasions, that it was the Great and Wonderful Oz so I could a request a heart for the tin nurse and directions home for myself.
Justice (unpremeditated) was enacted that same night: swift, merciless and a little acidic. After a valiant attempt at making it to the loo on my own, I rang for Pol Potty, hoping that she’d changed her tack. She hadn’t: she just slapped a bed pan on the seat halfway between me and the toilet and said “if you can’t make it, just do it on here.” In my defense, I tried to warn her: “The tank is full,” I said. “I repeat, the tank is full,” but she had already disappeared. “I can’t stop once I start,” I whispered, poetically, into the darkness.
Long story short, her cup runnethed over and I had no choice but to make peace with the situation and settle back for the ride. I finished, rang the bell, and when she came in, shocked, I looked at her, looked back at the makeshift toilet and shrugged. Let’s just say that the next time I needed to go, she was at my bedside, compliant as a zimmer frame. Revenge, it would seem, is a dish best served gold.