All Because of a Fallen Toenail

Nurse Nevaby Neva Bodin

First I’d lose weight and look younger. Well, things weren’t moving in that direction. Then, one morning, as I sat at the college gym where I work out a bit, and took one shoe off to put my gym shoes on, half my big toe nail fell off. I don’t know if anyone else was surprised, but I sure was!

As with any embarrassing moment which couldn’t be helped or planned, I looked around to see who noticed. Then I hastily picked it up and hid it in my pocket, put my socks and shoes on and headed for the exercise bike. I almost whistled nonchalantly.

My decision was made. I’d make an effort to travel 730 miles to attend a monthly luncheon of nursing classmates before anything else fell off!

So began my continuously rescheduled airline flights of last week–four planes, four rescheduled flights. Snow storms and crew availability caused canceled flights and an overnight stay in Denver, CO, where my blessings continued when I immediately ran into a friend at the gate—a nursing friend whom I’d worked with in the seventies and hadn’t seen for a couple years. We were put up in the same great hotel and had a stupendous meal together that evening.

My classmates and I began a grueling three year nursing course 49 years ago. We lived in a dorm with one phone per floor. Each year’s class occupied one floor, although there were so many of us, (nearly 40 if I remember right) that several were forced to live on the floor below with the junior class.

The first semester, and probably the second, we took many college classes, traveling by bus to a local university. We also had nursing fundamentals and certain skills labs in our dorm classrooms.

Our class was made up of many different personalities. Ordinarily I believe only a few of us would have ever bonded in life. And at the time, that’s what it felt like too.

But we lived in a dorm, with only one phone in the hall per 30+ students, and only one shower/bath room to share, plus classes and work experiences year around, summers too. A sisterhood, (we had only one male student and he didn’t live in the dorm) developed unawares.

It’s amazing. The students who live near Fargo, ND where this monthly luncheon occurs, began meeting perhaps two years ago. This time eight of us came—one from Arkansas even.

Two of us at the luncheon are still working. For those of us who graduated after three years of pouring our lives into our chosen profession, (we went to school year-around, no summers off, we rotated holidays and I worked through my first and third Christmas there), we were nurses through and through. Nurses are us.

And the affection I felt for each one was reflected in the faces ringing the round table at the restaurant. (One classmate hadn’t aged at all! Bet she still has all her toenails too!)

Perhaps it was struggling for a common goal. As when the first immigrants to America proudly became Americans as they fought to form a new country. Bonds are forged without being recognized. I am saddened by those who have already died, our one male being one of those, even though we weren’t particularly close at the time.

However this sisterhood developed, I am grateful for it. And despite the airlines best attempts to keep us apart, I am grateful I did something some might think foolish, and flew 730 miles to have lunch with people I hadn’t seen in at least 30 years perhaps.

And now we are planning a 50th year reunion for 2016. Nurses are us!

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17 Responses to All Because of a Fallen Toenail

  1. What a lovely graduation picture, Neva. I’m sure your mom was proud. Your nursing school days sound like a blast and you must have many fond memories. So glad your class tries to get together.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thanks Linda, it was a busy but exciting time. Learning my passion as well as “being free” and on my own! Ha. I also met my husband my senior year when he was dating a fellow student!

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  2. Wranglers says:

    First off, if I had a toenail fall off–I’d be heading to the ER. I would definitely travel to meet up with people from my past. As you know, Del had surgery last week so we spent a lot of time in the hospital, on one wall was a bunch of black and white photos of nursing school graduates. We commented on the hats-that we wish they still had. We miss the nurses’ crisp uniforms. Del looked at the one class and said, “1920, one of them could have helped deliver my Mom.” Shows a connection we have with other people, even ones we don’t know. That’s a lovely photo of you. Cher’ley

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thanks Cher’ley. I hope Del is recovering well. Yes, I miss the hats and while I am in the minority on that, I think a hat and a white uniform was calming and reassuring for patients. And they knew they weren’t talking to auxillary staff. Some things that weren’t broke have been fixed.

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  3. Mike Staton says:

    Fabulous post for the immediate days after Thanksgiving. Such a wonderful way to put the meaning of Thanksgiving into perspective. You definitely forged close links with those nursing students of the 1970s. Nothing like that from my college days of the early ’70s. I’ve lost track of college roommates.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      We did forge connections–no i-phones to concentrate on when sitting together in our nurses’ lounge in those days. We talked! A nurse who graduated from a college based program of two years recently told me she had one classmate she might connect with and that is it. I am saddened by that. The feeling of being part of a dedicated and caring group all these years is somehow affirming of our choice of profession and our personhood.

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  4. Wranglers says:

    We never know who will become important in our lives. Some come for a short while and others stay a lifetime. What wonderful memories and the chance to share those with people from your life, priceless. So glad the toe nail did not stop you. I do hope however, you did get it taken care of. Doris

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Ha. The toenail doesn’t seem to be a problem except trimming it. Who knew it would help make my decision to travel? I do treasure that class and the others who make an effort to stay connected. It’s a warm feeling.

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  5. I’ve never heard of a toenail falling off. Is this something else we must look forward to in old age? Well, that can’t be nearly s bad as strokes or dementia, can it? I’m glad you and your fellow nurses had a great time and hope you can do it again.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      THanks Abbie, yes, I wish a toenail falling off was the extent of what to worry about! It was a great time even with the airline delays. And so affirming to get together with others who feel we still have a connection.

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  6. Reunions — some great, some not, but obviously your nursing student reunion was great, despite the travel woes (to which I can relate!!) Glad you made the journey and that you had a wonderful time (and that you’re safe!!) Lovely photo, Neva, and delightful post!!

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thanks Gayle. I didn’t know you were having travel woes then too. I don’t think too many got by without them that weekend. The girl from Arkansas was rescheduled 4 times coming and her luggage didn’t catch up with her for 36 hours. It was fun to do something so unlike me to do–but, time’s awasting!

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  7. Nancy Jardine says:

    That’s brilliant that you went, Neva. You’ll always be glad that you did- though hopefully no more shedding of ‘bits’. I truly don’t think nursing training today can possibly give the student nurse that sense of purpose and achievement that you all had to gain by sheer effort.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thanks Nancy. I believe you’re right. The training today is college based and bonds aren’t formed because of continued time together during long periods. We spent 3 months in every department, even living in another town at a state hospital for training for 3 months. However, I love the bonds we now have. They are affirming and something to cherish. We matter to each other and that is always a good feeling.

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  8. Joe Stephens says:

    Isn’t it funny how the seemingly smallest, most insignificant things can end up leading to amazing experiences? I’m glad you got to go spend time with your sisters.

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  9. I love that you meet up with your nursing sisters. It’s funny that sometimes those friendships or relationships you don’t think are significant at the time are the ones that last a lifetime. I know that’s happened to me over the years. Count yourself as very lucky to have that. And yes, beautiful photo, Neva!

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  10. S J Brown says:

    I don’t think you are foolish at all. OF course this is coming from a woman who would rather spend an afternoon in the woods with a bear than with most people. You are fortunate to have been able to make the trip. So glad you hung in there and finally got a chance to see old friends.

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