Max Koch Uncorked

Wine-soaked adventures through a twisted life…

Karen the Nurse

Yesterday morning, I got my last allergy shot. Initially prescribed to me by my ENT doc, I’ve been getting them for three years now. When I first did the scratch test, I was told by Karen the nurse (who administered it) that I’m pretty much allergic to everything. That I should basically be living in a plastic bubble like John Travolta did. This has been a lifelong issue, my allergies…along with my battles with sinusitis, which almost killed me back in ’94. 

Look, I just wanna trade in my head, okay? It’s too goddamn big anyway.

I wouldn’t mind living in a plastic bubble, as long as there were still lots of ladies to talk to and plenty of wine flowing. But this is more about Karen the nurse. In the three years she’s been giving me weekly allergy shots, she has gone through a great many hardships, including a separation from her husband. She has two young kids, she had to move (her commute got so much worse), she had to rebuild. She started going to the gym and figuring out her future. Every time I’d go in to see her, we’d quickly catch up on our weeks, over the course of however long the shot took. Right arm this week, left arm next week. Weeks and weeks and weeks. Some of the shots hurt much more intensely than others, yet her skill and presence was always soothing and kind.

Saying goodbye to Karen the nurse this past Friday was a little rough, I gotta admit. I’ve come to depend on her. Her shots. Her laughter. Her whispered musings. Her terrible taste in movies…

ME: So what’re you gonna do this weekend?

KAREN: I dunno. I need to get out. Have some fun. I wanna see a movie. 

ME: What do you wanna see?

KAREN: Oh! Y’know what I wanna see? That new “Fast and Furious” movie! (her eyes lit up) “Furious 7”!


KAREN: Aw! What! You don’t like those?

ME: Of course I don’t! Karen! I’m RAGING cinema SNOB! Never seen one. Never will.

KAREN: Oh, Max…

And then a giggle. OUCH! And…right…a shot.

So I gave her a huge hug goodbye. It felt amazing to hold that fine caregiver in my arms. What a sweetie. “Come see me anytime”, she said. Now I just need to come up with excuses to visit the doc now and again so I can check in on how my friend’s doing.

WINE PAIRING: Being that I’ve brought the nurses and operators of the office cases of beer over the years (they’re SO not wine girls), we’ll take a break from the grape this time and bust out the suds. Karen’s always been so appreciative of the beer. I bet she’d be a lotta fun to party with. Here’s hoping she finds her peace. She’s earned it.


  1. Richard

    my second or third career is being a nurse and I gotta tell ya Max that RNs as a group have some of the most complicated and often distressing lives imaginable. Among nurses the common phrase is “we become nurses out of a desire to fix our own lives and families”. Glad you got to meet Karen, she sounds like a great person & nurse.
    If I was your nurse you’d have to suffer hundreds of my corgis pics but on the plus side we could compare Cayucos vacation trips and of course a few stories of the strange days at NTS.

    • maxkochuncorked

      Wow, Richard! I had NO idea you were a nurse. I have a whole new level of respect for you now (not that I didn’t before). AND you’ve been to Cayucos, too?? Did I know that? Did you stay at the dog-friendly Shoreline Inn?

  2. Richard

    Yes you wine befuddled goofball! I’m one of the people who talked you into trying Cayucos out! We did a annual trip there started just after our son was born and he’s now 17. We’ve always rented a house but after your reviews the Shoreline Inn, mainly your buddy the manager, sounds like a great place to stay.