Posted by: wrmcnutt | May 20, 2009


Ok – fair’s fair.  I’ve got all kinds of good things to say about nurses and nursing.  But not all my experiences with nurses have been positive. It’s been a very long time, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  The year was 1966, and I was three.  I had strabismic amblyopia.  If you are interested in the details, the link is good, but the short version is that as a small child, my eyes didn’t point in the same direction.  So, despite my Mom’s every effort, I went under the knife at the tender age of three.  They hauled my left eye around and made it to follow the right one.  Close enough to see where I’m going. But not enough to make me an astronaut. *snif*

I’d had a very thorough briefing.  Just not quite thorough enough. I knew all about the people in the operating room, and in general terms, what they were going to do.  I knew about doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and technicians.  I knew, in general terms, what was going to happen to me.  They were going to put a needle in my arm, which would hurt, I would get a mask of stinky stuff, I’d go to sleep, and then the doctor was going to fix my eye.1 -2 – 3 – 4.  Simple.  But nobody had said anything about my pants.

I remember they put me on a gurney, although they called it a “hospital bed.”  I want to say that the sheets were paper, but I’m probably imagining that.  They were white,  I remember that for sure.   It was cold, and I was worried about Mom.  She was wigging out.  But I was having a great adventure.  I suspect it was the very first time I’d been allowed out of her sight since I was born.  (Actually, I had been in daycare.  Sometime I’ll tell you about the time I got abandoned there.)

They took my shirt off.  That was OK.  I remember distinctly that that was OK.  It was a little odd, because my eye wasn’t under my shirt. Dad was out in the yard with his shirt off during the summer.  So men took their shirts off all the time.  So I let them take off my shirt.

Then they started messing with my pants.  Now, mind you, this was back before little kids got taught about “good touching” and “bad touching,” but I objected.  EVERYBODY knew that men did not remove their pants in the presence of women.  (I got a different opinion later,  and under different circumstances.  But that’s another story.  Well, actually, no, it’s not. )  Anyway . . .

I flatly refused to yeild my trousers.  Men did not remove their trousers in the presence of ladies.  Further, they weren’t working on that end. As far as I was concerned, they did not need my pants, and I wasn’t going to give them up. 

And do you know that those evil, deceitful women did?  They brought in a brightly colored boat and held it out of my reach.  When I reached out to take it from one of them, I felt a sudden jerk and the cry of “MY PANTS” echoed through the Operating Room.  One of those other sneaky wenches STOLE MY PANTS.

Mom, however, was still making my clothes in those days, and she found the “fly” to be too much work.  So I had elastic pants.  They slid easily over my hips and away.  Leaving my briefs to defend my modesty.

Batt Masterson’s hands were not as fast as mine. I grabbed hold of that waistband like it was my lifeline to heaven. I remember squeezing the waistband of my briefs so hard the pattern of the elastic imbedded itself in my palms.  Would you believe that the witch tried waving the damn boat at me again, like I was some kind of idiot.  Hah!  Fool me once . . . I wish I’d had the vocabularly to tell her to bite me. But I was up to laughing in her face and shaking my head.  And not letting go of the briefs.

There was much intense discussion and persuasion, but at that point I had my back up.  And every minute they jabbered at me, expensive OR time was being wasted.  Of course, they did the rational thing.  They waited until I was out, and THEN took my briefs.  We could have avoided this had nudity been included in my breifing.  But how DARE they take my pants without permission? To coin a phrase, “No mean’s NO.”

UPDATE:  I am advised that my pants would have contaminated the sterile field in the OR.  I know that NOW.  And if they’d included it in the briefing THEN, we would have been ok.  I mean, I knew about germs at 3.  Germs were the reason that any dropped candy had to be consumed immediately, or your Mom would take it away.

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  1. Just wanted to pass on a couple of comments that showed up in IM:

    From my Loving, Supportive Wife, the ER nurse:
    “On behalf of surgical nurses everywhere, let me say ‘BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA'” To which I replied, “On behalf of modest, poorly informed gentlemen everywhere, let me reply :P.

  2. the very idea of you objecting to any woman taking your pants is just cracking me up!

    • There is a time and a place for everything. Including pants-snatching. And that was neither. BOTH of them were too old for me, and it was COLD in the OR.

  3. Ah yes. You should have seen Harry’s response when security made him take off his SHOES at the airport. OH, the INDIGNITY!

    With Harry it’s all or nothing. Either fully dressed down to socks and shoes or total nudity. He’s not a kid that does anything by halves.

  4. For a while there, we had to try to convince Meg that one doesn’t wear a bathing suit with panties. She remained skeptical for a long time because you ALWAYS wear panties unless you’re in the bathroom. Panties were a big “big girl” goal for her, she had earned the right to wear them, there were *rules* for wearing them, and she obeyed those rules to keep wearing big girl panties, so bigawd big girl panties all the time unless in the washroom.

    And yes I’m reserving this particular anecdotal fact to keep in my motherly arsenal against future need.

  5. “Germs were the reason that any dropped candy had to be consumed immediately, or your mom would take it away.”


    • Life often is. Contaminated snacks were why unwrapped Halloween treats had to be eaten before you got home, too, or Mom would take them away.

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