We have these blanket warmers at work. They look like big, stainless steel fridges, but instead of making food cold, they make blankets warm. We use a lot of warm blankets with cancer patients. I guess when they lose weight and get all cachectic, they are always cold.
One night, when I was still working at the hospital, I was doing a shift on the orthopedic ward, and I had a patient, a woman, who had just had a hip replaced. It’s quite a painful surgery, as I understand it, and she asked in the middle of the night if she could have a warm blanket. They discourage us from using them in the hospital because they are expensive, apparently, but, since this lady was in pain and I had already given her all the drugs at my disposal, I figured I would blow the budget on a warm blanket. So I brought it down to her, I might have even brought two. I tucked it under her existing covers and whipped them up on top to keep in the heat as long as possible. “Oh, God,” she said. “This is better than sex!”
Last week, at work, I was looking after a particularly thin woman with a good sense of humour. I got her chemo dripping and asked if she needed anything. She asked for a warm blanket. Thankfully, this forward-thinking institution actually encourages us to comfort our patients in whatever way works, so I got her a blanket and tucked it around her. Her eyes rolled back in pleasure, just like my ortho patient’s did. So I told her about the other patient’s comment about how much she liked warm blankets. It was a risky story to tell; I didn’t know this woman well, and for all I knew, she may have been a religious zealot who didn’t believe in pleasure, so I was risking offense. Luckily, we did end up sharing a good laugh about it. I think she even commented that she felt sorry for the other woman, if her sex life could be outdone by a blanket, hewever warm.
A couple of days later, I was looking after the same woman. I got her chemo rolling again, and asked if she needed anything. She said, “You know, I could really use a warm blanket. I haven’t had a “blanket” in at least three days.” Then she winked at me.
I think she is my new favourite patient. I hope she gets better.