I am a home care nurse.
On Friday, I spend the better part of the morning stretching, pulling, prodding, and hoisting until an itty-bitty pair of nylon compression stockings contains my patient’s very large, very edematous legs.
This weekly activity is part of a treatment plan to reduce fluid retention in a woman whose diagnosis may or may not be right-sided heart failure.
What a feat, I say.
It itches, she says.
I wipe my brow and have a look around the room. Twinkie boxes line the top of a dorm-sized refrigerator to the left of the bed. A gallon-sized container of sugar cookies sits on top of the TV. Leftover food trays hold empty cartons of whole milk and Entenmann’s wrappers.
I take vital signs and leave to fill insulin pins for the weekend.
In the morning, I wander over to the Boulder Farmer’s Market. Amidst kale, chard, mushrooms, and squash are hoards of organic-looking bodies marveling at the cornucopia of USDA produce.
Even the old bodies look young.
Will this organically grown beet — or, well, 400 of them — prevent me from becoming the bed-ridden lady whose prescription slips stack higher than the bedside table?
Will these locally grown radishes guarantee that my pancreas remains in good insulin-producing order until the end of my time?
I would certainly like to think so. Judging by the crowd, (even in this Saturday’s misty, overcast soup), much of Boulder would like to think so too.
And maybe they will.
Walking home, I try to imagine what my patient looked like on the best day of her life — before compression stockings and insulin injections and regular visits by the home health nurse. I imagine her to be some beautiful young woman with a sun-kissed face, pedaling home from the farmer’s market with bread and honey and peaches in tow.
I wonder what mattered to her on that afternoon when she could take her health for granted.
And I wonder when she got old.
And what she ate for lunch that day.