Another epic fail at camp nursing

While I quickly fell into a deep, delicious, dreamless sleep, poor Tim was writhing in pain in his Bear Hut bed. Tears streaming down his face, he tried to stay quiet so the other LIT 1’s wouldn’t be disturbed by his agony. He rubbed his eye. He tried a cold cloth. He tried water from the tap. He tried Visine. He tried someone’s saline eye drops. None of it worked. Finally about three in the morning he fell into a fitful sleep. I didn’t see him until breakfast time. 

Meanwhile, I woke up with the sun. Camp was silent and peaceful. I quietly got out of bed and left ‘the boys’ to sleep. I got showered, dressed and then went down to the health office. I peaked in on Drew, the over-zealous cake eater. He was curled into a ball and appeared healthy. Then, as soundlessly as possible, I opened the health office and arranged the morning medications. I posted a new joke and a health tip on the white board. Then it was time for coffee.


I padded down the stairs and found the dining hall deserted. I started a pot of coffee. As I waited for the coffee to brew, gurgling and sputtering, I walked over to the west facing windows, stood with my arms crossed and looked out over the lake. The water was so serene and glassy still. I knew that this peacefulness would be short lived with visitor’s day ahead of me. I tried to capture this. The peacefulness of the lake and my own inner peacefulness. It was hard not to stand there, look out at that lake, and feel that all was right with the world.

I heard the sound of footsteps behind me, and I turned to see Shawn checking on the progress of the coffee. It was almost done. He looked over to me and smiled and gave me a little salute. I responded in kind. He went back into the kitchen. I noticed he left a steaming croissant, a container of milk, a melamine coffee cup and his 16 oz coffee cup on the counter beside the coffee maker. God I loved Shawn.

I turned back to the view. Wow. This had to be the best nursing job ever. As long as you were OK with dirt. And bugs. Oh and kids. You had to be cool with kids. And bunk beds. Oh and not getting paid. Financially at least. Yup, this was definitely the best job ever. I was feeling so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here with my family experiencing this.

The coffee maker burped out the last bit of liquid. I poured the two cups, added the milk and took the large cup of coffee in to the kitchen. I placed Shawn’s cup on the counter. He looked up a me and we both nodded silently and smiled. I picked up my coffee and my croissant with butter and jam on the side and took them out to the kitchen deck. 

I was wiping up the last bit of butter and jam with the final morsel of my croissant when I looked up. I could see two people coming out of the woods. The counselor Joe had a hand on a camper’s shoulder. It sounded like he was consoling him. I looked more closely at the camper. He was tall, probably from the Bear Hut. And he was holding a wash cloth over over his eye. 

Suddenly I recognized that the camper must be Tim. The LIT 1 guy Alisa had told me had gotten bug repellent in his eye. Alisa had intimated that he was a bit of a drama queen, so I tried to prepare for that. I waved Joe and Tim over to me. They trudged over in my direction. I got up from the kitchen picnic table and made my way down the steps. 

“Hey Tim. I heard you had some trouble with your eye.” I said.

“Ya.” Tim responded in a soft voice. He looked weary. I didn’t detect much of a drama queen vibe. “I accidentally sprayed my eye.”

Sprayed your eye? I didn’t think we had any sprays at camp, only lotions.”

“Oh no, I brought my own secret can of bug spray with DEET in it.”

“DEET?” I repeated as my eyes widened. Oh. Dear. God. I was thinking he had just had some lotion dribble into his eye. I had, obviously, not gotten all the facts.


“And how did it get into your eye?” I asked as a feeling of terror began to overcome me.

“I was showing off to the other guys that I had a can of DEET. I sprayed my face. Not the smartest move, I admit.”

“So it was pretty close to your face?” I had to remind myself to slow my breathing down as I tried to appear nonchalant. 

“Ya. Kinda stupid, eh? Believe me, I have been regretting it all night.”

“It was a rough night? Lotsa pain?”

“Ya. Stung really bad. We tried everything. Eye drops and water and the wash cloth here. It feels better this morning. I finally fell asleep for a few hours. I was wondering though what I should do today?”

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Me. On the inside.

“Let me take a look at it before we decide.” I said trying to steel myself for what was to come.

Tim removed the wash cloth from his right eye. I was, quite honestly, horrified.

“Oh Anne!” My little inner voice scolded me. “You really screwed up this time sister.”

So much for inner peace. 


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