It was a week or two after I had successfully learnt how to speak again using “leak” speech. It was time for me to have the swallowing test. Up until this time I was fed a thick goo 24/7 via a tube that ran from a bag on a stand down to my nose, down my throat into my stomach.
The swallowing test was designed to see if I was able to resume eating normal foods after the operation on my tracheostomy. The test consisted of me sitting in an x-ray machine and swallowing various liquids and foods laced or covered with chalk (barium).
It was common for people who passed the swallowing test to start on a diet of watery liquids and slowly progress through thicker liquids to finally arriving a full diet which included solids. Much to the surprise and delight of those who watched my swallowing test, the tester announced that I could go on to FULL diet immediately.
As I was wheeled back to the ward, it was obvious that word had spread. Everyone I passed on the way congratulated me. But it was when I was back in bed that I was startled. A senior nurse, came skipping in. Now “skipping” might be a slight exaggeration. She was an experienced nurse in a spinal ward so she wouldn’t be skipping anywhere in the hospital.
Besides if I’d call this post “a happy nurse walks fast” I doubt I would have piqued your interest. However, I do know this nurse entered my room with great enthusiasm and did punch the air and call out with equal enthusiasm “Yes!”
There I was relaxed, just happy that I remembered how to swallow chalk, when this nurse entered my room and gave me a jolt. I might have been happy. She was excited. I already knew her to be a true professional, plying her trade of nursing with great skill. I never expected this though. For just a moment the veil dropped and I saw not just a great nurse but a great supporter, a barricker, a cheerleader, a person celebrating my progress.
From that day on, I saw nurses, doctors and hospital staff in a different light. . .