It’s hard to believe that such a milestone could have snuck up on “us”. A casual last minute remark triggered that “it” was upon us.
Let me set the stage. It’s a long story and there is no “long story short” as my friend Judy, whom this story is about, likes to say.
The story began in September of 1985 in the theatres of University Hospital Operating Room. Every team leader was a bit intimidating to me but none more so than the orthopedic one. Judy was an excellent nurse and a good teacher. I’m not sure if I was such a good student though. Most of the surgeons in that service were a bit terrifying for one thing. Total joints were done in space suits and my claustrophobia was so intense I often couldn’t hear anything but my own breathing so I’m sure Judy may have wondered about my abilities. I, on the other hand, was in awe of hers as her patient skills are the gold standard not to mention her flawless technique as a scrub nurse.
Following mat leaves and a short stint at City Hospital I spent years working a job share back at RUH. Following her mat leave she took a job share and so we occasionally worked together in the various orthopaedic rooms; total joints, scope days and some trauma.
We both went back to full time around the same period and so spent a lot of time together in orthopaedics. Then in 2007 I became the orthopaedic resource nurse when Carol retired. Judy was extremely supportive of me as I found my way in this new role.
We further cemented the friendship by going to Haiti together on a medical mission. It turned out that our partnership meant the long days were easier. Just like a married couple we can finish sentences, pick up nuances and change trajectories smoothly. All good attributes in that setting.
So that’s the long story. Now the short story at the end, so to speak.
We discovered, quite by accident, on December 13th that her last booked shift (she’s now retired and working casual) before her warm holiday was the next day. By the time she returns to work I will be retired. In usual Judy fashion she pulled out all stops and had several surprises in store for me the next day.
Back in the days of paper charting I always made Judy do the chart because she has the nicest printing and writing. Added to that is the fact that somehow she hangs on to her 7 year pen while I could never find a pen to write with! Now I have my own 7 year pen for my next job.
Magically when I turned around to start the next case there was another uniquely wrapped gift. How well she knows me! The dark chocolate bar was wrapped in material. Which as she states I am to use on something for myself. Again with the insight of an old friend she knows how often I make things and give them away but not this time.
Now here the day took a crazy turn and we didn’t end up with the usual Judy Bernie team surrounding us. Our regular day in ortho trauma is often prone too getting mixed up with more acute patients or open fractures bumping the schedule around. We roll with it. But today, on this last special day, ortho itself got bumped for a tiny wee one who needed surgery.
Which meant that when gift 3 showed up we didn’t really have time for a laugh and a chat about it. It disappear from sight quickly so no photo of it. Gift 4 ended up outside on the drill cart. Both these gifts were beer; one from the Ukraine which is her roots and one from the Czech Republic, where I learnt to love beer.
There was also a card but I’m no dummy. I could not open it at work as I was sure to end up a puddle of tears as indeed I did at home. Let’s just say that the inside is as pretty with words as the outside picture is and that I echo her words back to her tenfold.
Seems surreal actually; we’ve been working together such a long time. Heck we didn’t have children when we first met and now they are all adults.
We’ve shared so many things in our work world; highs, lows, extreme lows and every emotion in-between. Well maybe not. I actually can’t ever remember being mad at her. Annoyed yes; usually when she was right about something that I wouldn’t let go of! But that’s the brief kind of “damn my friend is right again” kind of annoyance that is mostly self directed. She’s made me a better nurse and a better person by being herself.
Often repeated words while training new nurses; watch Judy do that or listen to Judy with the patient.
Judy -the gold standard.
Ps The post has been sitting here for almost a month because I couldn’t figure out how the heck to end it. Then this am the last 3 paragraphs finally fell into place.
PPS When I redid the ortho binders I have always left Judy’s hand drawn anatomy pictures intact. I know new staff can get this info elsewhere but I couldn’t throw away something so well drawn and labelled. I felt it was fitting to use a hand drawn picture from inside the card as the image for this post.