“The General” was what they called her…
As we approach the end to Nurse’s Week 2012, I thought it would be great to share one more story from a Kronos Sales Executive. (I’ve been knocked over by these guys this week!)
As a kid, playing football in Oklahoma, like a few other states in this country, is life or death. In my junior year at the end of our last regular season game before the playoffs, I tore up my knee. I was 16 years old and both scared and angry.
I went to Oklahoma City where I learned I would need surgery to repair my knee. I was scared, this was no football field. My Orthopedic surgeon was a thought leader among his peers on knees. In 1977, knee surgeries were completely different than they are today. He had a nurse who worked with him and his patients. The Doctor introduced her as “The General” and said she is my secret to my success. He told me, I would find out soon why.
He proceeded to tell me, young man, you may not be able to play football again. Worst words a kid could hear. He left the room and I was trying not to cry. The General looked at me and said, quit feeling sorry for yourself, we will beat this injury.
I never knew The General’s real name because I was too scared to ask. She was short and stout, old school and you could tell she didn’t mince words. As you could imagine, I didn’t care for her because I wanted her to feel sorry for me. Trust me, it may have entered her mind but in no way was she going to let me know. The General looked directly at me in her matter of fact way of talking and informed me I was going to stay in the hospital for a week, then wear a cast from my hip to my toe for three months. She said it was going to hurt a lot. Recovery time after the cast would be another six months which would put me at the start of the next season. I was sixteen, no family or friends around and was scared out of my mind.
The day of surgery The General came early and said, smiling, you ready? She said she liked surgery days, I thought she was a mad scientist. They hooked me up and I watched and listened to everything they said. My mom was in the room and was scared too.
After surgery, I woke up to The General smiling the mad scientist smile. She said raise your leg. I have a full length cast. It was massive and my leg was killing me. Then the smile went to that stern look, raise your leg 10 times. I can still remember the pain but I wasn’t going to let the short tough acting nurse push me around so I did it. I thought it was a challenge, one timer. She then barked, I want two more sets of ten. I did them with every ounce of guts I had. As she left the room she said, I thought you would do better!
Now I was mad. I would see The General three times a day and she barked the same orders on the leg raises. I dreaded seeing her. She meant pain.
Finally, as I’m getting ready to go home she came in the room and told me I could’ve done more but I did just OK. Trust me at that point, I would have done jail time to smack her. I hobbled to the car on crutches while she stood there and watched. She didn’t even offer to help.
I went back to the doctor after the three months and had the cast removed. My leg was half the size of my right leg. It looked horrible and the doctor rubbed his hands over the scar and said, beautiful. I saw it too but my definition was very different than his. I continued to do the exercises.
Finally in July 1978, he gave me the ok to play football again. The General was standing right next to him just staring at me. She didn’t say a word.
As I left the office with my mother, I told her I hated that woman and couldn’t believe she kept a job.
A couple of weeks after football season, my mother yelled at me to come to the phone. I said hello and the next thing I heard was, hi, it’s The General. I was in shock so much that I tried but couldn’t hang up the phone. She asked how I was doing. I said fine and then her tone changed and said, I’m so proud of you. She said. I followed your team all year and you had a great season. I even saw where you lead in tackles. I asked why she cared.
She said, my patients are my children. She said, you were a pistol and you would give me that stare. I pushed you harder than almost any patent I’ve had because I knew you would do it. I knew you wanted to play football so bad. I knew you didn’t like me but I had a lot of respect for the way you worked at getting better.
I apologized to her and she said I didn’t need to as she had already received the best gift I could give her, playing again. We hung up the phone. I looked at my mom and started crying.
I have had multiple injuries requiring hospital stays and long recovery times. Healthcare may be in flux but the care the nurses provide can’t be measured. Nurses affect not only the injured but all who love the injured person. Nurses are truly hero’s in my book as they have put me back together with tender care multiple times. I will never forget the one I love the most, “The General”.