Touched by a nurse: Patient care as sweet as lavender


lavenderMy husband and daughter dropped me off at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, at 8:00 a.m. I was determined not to interrupt my daughter’s summer schedule or worry her about something she had no control over. I had told her I was going to have a procedure that morning. She seemed indifferent to the whole thing; mostly she was thinking about “backwards day” at camp. Nine years ago, at 40, I had my pacemaker put in. My husband and I definitely had strong emotions about my being back at the hospital for another pacemaker.
The hours of checking in and waiting for surgery can often be the most stressful time. My check-in that day, thankfully, went well. Saint John’s is extremely organized, and I knew that having a ten o’clock surgery meant the hospital wouldn’t be that crowded at eight.

Nurse Barbara came to take me to my waiting room. She checked my blood pressure, temperature and the usual vitals that one has taken before surgery. She wore lavender scrubs and beautiful gold drop earrings with lavender stones that matched her scrubs. I’m a true believer in how colors affect one’s mood. When I see the color lavender it reminds me of the sweet fragrance of lavender that I find calming and relaxing. Even the color of lavender has a calming affect on me. I told Nurse Barbara how much I liked her earrings and her scrubs that looked great on her. We found out that we were both stepmothers and had all kinds of similarities about step parenting.

Before I knew it, I was wheeled into surgery and greeted by two lively nurses with big smiles: Amy and Caryn. Amy wore a printed scrub hat and wacky printed top. She was from the South and had a great laugh and sense of humor which reminded me of my husband who is also from the South.

When my doctor came in, I jokingly told him my scar was barely noticeable after nine years. With this surgery, I would have to stop wearing my strapless dresses again. He looked at my scar and said, “I’ll probably have to make this one a bit bigger because I have to take the old pacemaker out and put a new one in, but let me see what I can do.”

I told him I was just kidding—my strapless days were long over. But seeing that he was seriously trying to figure out how he could make the incision small made me understand why I like him. He cares.

I continued talking to the nurses, and then Amy said, “Okay, you’re all done.”

“What?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

“You’re all done, sweetie. Surgery is over.”

I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like there wasn’t a beat between all the talking.

It was the nurses who chatted with me, fluffed my pillows and made me laugh who were able to keep me distracted. I missed holding my husband’s hand before I went into surgery, but in the end, it had been okay. Barbara, Amy and Caryn made sure I was relaxed, comfortable and even laughing before surgery. How much better could it get? Without these amazing nurses, with their colorful personalities and scrubs, my experience would have been completely different.

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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