A cow of a different color.

Image credit: daveweissamericanpop @deviantART

I wrote this back when my mom had come out of remission from her multiple myeloma for the first time. We were ready for that, having harvested millions of her stems cells and put them into cryo-storage the year before.

This happened the day after she went in for her stem cell transplant, and still makes me belly-laugh to this day.

What can I tell ya. 🙂

(Originally posted on Writingscape V1.0, 11/14/2009)

But before we get to those cows, let us start with that peachy Southern Diva, the Queen Dowager known far and wide as Ms. Ellie, my mother.

After a really L-O-N-G Wednesday, a good night’s sleep in my own bed, and a busy morning, I arrived back at Emory U. Hospital this afternoon all a’flutter, to be by mah Mama’s side in her time of need, to offer comfort and support and be her advocate. After all, with the central line surgery yesterday and the high-dose chemo last night, she was pretty wiped out and in some pain, and we all know what chemotherapy does for you—it leaves you with that “gift” that keeps on giving. Nausea, vomiting, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, vomiting. So, I go busting into her room like a savior, and what do I find? I’ll tell you.

Her bed perfectly made. Everything in her room meticulously arranged. The room’s hard surfaces wiped down and sanitized, including the chairs. And Ms. Ellie in sweat pants, Polo shirt, and reading glasses, with a book and a yummy beverage, perched by the window in a recliner, gazing peacefully over her domain. What. (She’s got to be an alien! Ah, well. The longer the side effects take to catch up, the better.) If I hadn’t unpacked and arranged her room closet and chest-of-drawers during the line surgery, she probably would have done that too. Hmph.

After giving me the low-down on how she hosed down her new digs, she jumps up and drags me out of the room to do a few more of her recommended laps around the nurses’ station and the eighth floor. I met some of her new friends along the way, and counted thirteen bunches of balloons on the outside of thirteen doors (the nurses do that, and it means thirteen out of twenty patients have received their transplants thus far). She charged me with marking the laps down under her name on the community dry-erase board. (And it is like a community, truly. It’s nice to know that when they transplant her 10 million Little Guys on Friday, and afterwards, she’s going to be around people who identify with her and make her feel a part of the world she’s in.)


NOW we get to the cows.

All of the nurses use computers mounted on standing mobile workstations. Wednesday, I noticed that Mama’s nurse was wheeling one around with a nameplate that said “Rosebud” under the monitor. This afternoon, as we were doing laps, I got a good look at some of the other computer workstations around the floor. There was Rosebud, again. And Essie, Flossie, Betsy, Ferdinand, Lulu, Patsy, Bo, Petunia, Jess, and Mable. And I thought, “Cows? Hoooh-kay.” LMAO

You know I had to ask what was up. The sweetheart of a nurse who satisfied my curiosity had to tell me the story twice, because I couldn’t believe it the first time. So here goes:

Once upon a time, back when those computers were brand new, they were called Computers On Wheels (COWs). And thusly, the nursing staff gave them all cow names for fun. But one day, a poor RN had a bit of trouble getting her computer to function properly, and voiced her frustration to a fellow nurse.

“I had so many problems with my COW this morning!”

Unfortunately, the RN was standing right in front of her patient’s door. The patient (a female) overheard the comment and assumed the RN was talking about HER.

Now, this is usually the part where you laugh, but neither the hospital nor the RN were laughing because the patient SUED THEM and won. Thereafter, Computers On Wheels were known as WOWs—Workstations On Wheels. But they kept their cheerful bovine names.

Now that’s a cow of a different color.

Image credit: ASR Healthcare

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