Monday, February 20, 2012

Ode to the Label Printer

It’s funny what you think about or observe at the most dire of moments.

I recently had surgery; nothing like brain or spleen, just abdominal hernia repair. And anyone who has had any kind of surgery knows it can be nerve-wracking. In the hospital as you are moved from holding area to holding area, you get asked name, rank and serial number (for lack of better words) about 80,000 times to ensure you are who you say you are and that you know why you are there. It gets exhausting, but I would hate to have someone else’s chart attached to my stretcher and end up having my elbow removed.

So on that fateful day when I finally made it to the final holding area, tensions were high, mainly mine, and I knew it was the last stop before heading into the room of bright lights and masks – and no, I wasn’t about to star in the Broadway performance of Phantom of the Opera. Other patients were lined up beside me for one last identity confirmation – and for one last chance to back out. I was scared, nervous, dreading the aftermath/recovery (yet looking forward to the funny little painkillers). Folks in green scrubs and masks were bustling about, machines were beeping, and the tears (mine) were fighting to leak out. Good thing I was mascra-free.

I reminded myself I was there for a hernia operation, and I was fortunate – it wasn’t a matter of life or death. The clock on the wall ticked down to the moment of truth. Anxiety from the folks in other stretchers ran high, and those folks bustling around in green scrubs, funny-looking shower caps and masks were making me more and more nervous with every pass.

I was praying to every God available (he was rather busy that day – I hope his Blackberry was working), when I saw it.

A machine that at any other time would drive me crazy, but right then was saving my sanity.

A label printer.

And not just any label printer, but the exact one as in the office where I work. The machine that is constantly the bane of my existence as every time the machine has a minor hiccup in production, panic erupts and I am calmly summoned to fix it. If I don’t line up the ink roll and refill labels ‘just so,’ it won’t work. It is so outdated that when it eventually does die, not even our highly skilled technological repair department will be able to save it. I wonder which doctor goes to work on saving their label printer’s life?

I wanted to jump off my stretcher, open-backed nightie flapping behind me, and grab any scrub-covered porter/nurse/doctor and tell them that I – I, LISA - could fix it, if needed. I KNEW that machine. It was something I could relate to in that holding room of flashing lights, beeping machines, wires and tubes.

The focus it gave me momentarily kept away the inevitable panic before being wheeled into the land of anaesthetics, bright lights and face masks.

I will always cherish it because at a time of angst, stress and tumultuous emotions, it gave me strength and courage. Yes, a piece of plastic the size of your average toaster saw me through a scary time of great vulnerability.

I will never take that label printer for granted again. I will never cuss its good name. I fully intend on planting a big ruby-red lipstick smooch on that hunky piece of plastic when I return to work from the land of funny little painkillers (hmmm… I might have to save a few funny little painkillers for when I go back to work).

I intend on getting that little machine bronzed one day, and as I do, I know I will remember to not take the unexpected little things for granted, for it’s those that can get you through when you need them most.


  1. Thank heavens for that printer... and way to look at the bright side of things! Here's to being thankful!! On the other note, I'm so sorry you had to go through that horrible operation and I'm so pleased you are home and on the mend. Take good care of yourself. j ox

  2. Janelle - I will never take that printer for granted again....glad you like the new look! Thank you for reading! Lisa