From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose


Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.

Eleanor Roosevelt

As a clinical instructor of nursing, my favorite unit for working with students was an orthopedic unit at Williamsport Hospital. This unit had patients with total hip and knee replacements. Taking care of these people provided a challenging medical-surgical clinical experience. The patients all had intravenous fluids, dressing changes, injections, medications, physical therapy, and patient teaching needs. My students often commented that they couldn’t believe how old the patients were with most being in their seventies.

One Wednesday afternoon, I got to the unit to select our patients for the next two days. One of the nurses commented that they had just admitted a 100-year-old woman for a total hip replacement. I went in to meet Sadie and asked her permission for a student to participate in her care the next two days.

Then I had to ask, “Why at 100 would you elect to have this surgery?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, she answered, “I’m having trouble getting on and off of my motorcycle.”

“What?” I asked, thinking she was joking. But she wasn’t.

“I live alone and ride my motorcycle every day to visit my little sisters. They’re ninety-nine and ninety-seven.”

Kathleen D. Pagana

Reprinted by permission of Mark Parisi and Off the Mark. © 2000 Mark Parisi.

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