Dear Day Shift Nurse,

I was awoken at 7:10 AM today by a repugnantly cheerful nurse, bursting into my hospital room with a cart and a trainee in tow and turning on every light, her face positively radiant with schadenfreude.

"Time to take your vitals!" she shrieked. My eyes fluttered as I shielded them from the lights.

"Have you had a bowel movement today?" she demanded as her ogreish minion wrapped a blood pressure cuff around my arm.

"Today?" I stammered.

"Yep. This morning."

I quickly peeked under my sheets. "Doesn't appear so."

"Ok," she dutifully noted down my reply in her chart, probably failing to document the contempt in my voice.

"90 over 60" her henchman cried out into the morning twilight. Twelve hours before they had caught me in the passionate throes of a valiant video game struggle (one in which I ultimately prevailed) and recorded my blood pressure as 140/90. Seems like really useful data to collect when no variables are controlled for and the patient is in his thirties with no medical history of cardiovascular issues.

I was then told that my pulse was 60 and my temperature was 98.1° F (36.7° C), which really put my mind at ease. If the nurse hadn't woken me up, the gnawing anxiety of not knowing my pulse and temperature would have anyway.

"If I wore a fitness band or smartwatch, could you get the vital signs that way instead of waking me up tomorrow?"

The nurse looked down at me and smiled. "But Honey, we'd still need to ask you about your stool."

And with that they left.

Sebastian Braff


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