How scrubs eased the pain


how-scrubs-eased-painIt was a lovely spring evening. We were about to sit down to a nice dinner when I heard a loud scream.
By the sound of it, I knew it was serious. Being a mother, I have become quite attuned to my daughter’s varying cries. I could tell this one was not good. Ruby had been jumping on the trampoline with her cousin. My daughter is nine, and my nephew is nineteen. Need I say more? They were definitely not following our trampoline rules. My nephew outweighed my daughter by at least a hundred pounds.

We quickly administered an ice pack, dosed her with Motrin, and elevated her foot. Ruby had landed on her ankle from what must have been her highest jump to date. Our dinner would have to wait.

Our trip to the emergency room is just an example of how colorful printed scrubs can change a patient’s outlook. We entered the emergency room not in the best of moods. Nobody realistically wants to be sitting in pain at a hospital or doctor’s office. Even if you are getting the best care and help, the reason you are there in the first place is usually not a happy one.

But the moment we met the nurse who took Ruby’s vital signs, our moods changed for the better. Although her name escapes me, I can tell you exactly what our nurse was wearing. At first glance we all knew this gal loved purple. Her printed purple floral scrubs, purple sneakers and purple finger nail polish said it all. My daughter immediately asked if purple was the nurse’s favorite color. The nurse began checking Ruby’s blood pressure, a routine procedure that potentially could be a scary thing for any child. Ruby barely noticed the uncomfortable tightness that ensued. She was too busy asking about the flowers on the nurse’s scrubs.

“What kind of flower is that?” Ruby asked the nurse. “Is that your favorite?” Our nurse’s print attire became a great conversation starter. It brightened up her patient’s day…and the unexpected conversation with my daughter consequently brought a smile to our RN’s own face.

The nurse-patient relationship is an essential part of the healing process. Who knew that printed scrubs could also be part of that healing process, instantly distracting and comforting my daughter? As a costume designer my attention to detail has been one of my strong suits. Every piece of clothing that people wear makes a statement whether they realize it or not. It’s a visual shorthand that can make a huge impact on first impressions.

Even in a hospital environment, there is fashion. It’s all how you put yourself together. Have fun with it and feel good about yourself.

Epilogue: Ruby had a badly sprained ankle, and spent the next two weeks becoming an expert on maneuvering through life on crutches.

Katie Sparks
Katie Sparks has been a renowned television show costume designer for more than 20 years. She received a nomination from the Costume Designers Guild for excellent costume design for Arrested Development. When she's not dressing movie stars, she loves to write, and says, "Writing for Scrubs gives me the opportunity to write and give fashion tips! A perfect combo."

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