I have good news, Lizzie is doing well. She is positive and appears to be trying to make the most of her situation. Expectedly, she is beginning to miss home and her “baby kitty” as she likes to refer to him. Your letters do a lot in keeping her attitude positive so remember to send any thoughts and well wishes to Lizzie [at] burkeandlizzie [dot] com so I can collect them for her before I visit her again. Lizzie’s interactions with the nurses makes for some pretty good stories. The dialog below between her and a nurse over her name is a great example and one of my favorites thus far.

In general the nurses aren’t so nice. A few of them are, but a few seem to be so afraid of dealing with me, as if my lack of Slovak knowledge is contagious and they’ll be struck dumb upon periods of extended exposure.

When we are called to any meal, there is a big metal box full of stacked trays labeled with our names to specify dietary restrictions. (Just imagine how uncomfortable I make them feel- more on that later!) The nurses look at the name and call it out while they are still facing the metal box so I hardly hear the names, let alone these old ladies who can hardly hear. There was one lady in particular who was slow in responding and the nurse barked at her, “More lively next time okay?”

One time, I accidentally kept my patient card after I saw the doctor so I immediately returned to the nurses window to hand it back in. The nurse took it and asked if I came for drops. I said no because I had just gotten them, and she asked if I was supposed to come back at the next hour, I said no and tried to tell her that I already had them. But she went and got the drops. So I tried again to tell her that I just had the drops two minutes earlier and for some reason she still didn’t understand that. So she told me to take off my glasses and I said NO, Doctor! and pointed and then she figured it out. I’m very thankful I haven’t seen that nurse again because that was a situation that would frustrate anyone.

My favorite incident with a nurse happened on my first night. After having my patient card in my possession, I realized that my name was written Falknor, Katharine (my middle name, but also very close to a popular Slovak name). And this nurse was so nice she even called me by name, Katarina. So I composed my very best Slovak sentence and said:

Me: Katarina je moja stredna meno. (Katherine is my middle name)
Nurse: Oh? Ako sa volate? (Oh, what’s your name then?)
Me: Elizabeth.
Nurse: Puzzled look.
Me: Ayleezabet.
Nurse: Ah, Elizabet. Ale, budem volat ti, Katarina, dobre? (Oh Elizabeth. But I’ll call you Katarina, okay?)
Me: Hey. (Okay, despondently)