For an 18-year-old fresh off a Wyoming ranch, dropping into Charity Hospital’s School of Nursing, was like waking on a new planet. The sights, the sounds, the HEAT! Breathtaking! I had the idea it would be an adventure. It did not disappoint. The first shocker was not being able to sleep with ambulances howling off Claiborne Ave. all night, in route to Charity’s E.R.
Segregation was in full stride the three years I was there, with the Hospital being divided in half, connoted as C-905 or W-905. We could make $1.00 an hour working on our days off, and I had a coat on lay-a-way to wear home for Christmas. I had worked several days when someone asked me, “Did you work C-905 or W?” I truly had to truly stop and think. I remembered my patient’s faces and conditions, not their color.
Standing for hours as a scrub nurse was grueling, but the O.R. patter lightened the load. One patient, having a hysterectomy under spinal anesthetic, suddenly blurted out, “Doctor, this isn’t going to take away my “nature” is it?”
The doctor started suctioning and said, “Hear that, that’s the “nature” machine putting all your “nature back in.” It was a good thing I had a mask on.
So many stories, so little space.