Tuesday, April 13, 2010

He blew me a kiss and made me smile


I don't talk about work not because there's nothing to talk about but because i'm not as invested in it as i should be. One of the things i've had to do at this hospital that i never did at my former hospital was deal with bodily fluids. When i first started, i protested loudly to anyone who would listen (at home. I don't complain at work). My first time was cleaning poop off the floor cos this lady had the runs and couldn't hold it until she got to her room. Housekeeping had gone home for the day, come to find out later that even if they were around, an MHA (mental health associate) would have had to clean it. We clean, they sanitize (hmmm...).

The next time i went to work, i worked on the emergency stabilization unit. This is where the extreme cases are put. I don't like working there cos you don't get a moments peace. Just too much is going on for my comfort. Anyway, during report they talked about this 75yr old man who needed to be cleaned and fed. I'm wondering to myself why he is not in the older adult unit. Anyway, we get to his room, which smelt of pee for days. The housekeeper informed me that I'm supposed to be the one cleaning the urine not her, that they only sanitize. Okay! She decides to be nice and clean like a weeks worth of pee off the bathroom floor. Time to give this dude a bath, and i almost puked. His diaper had at least 3 days worth of shit in it. The stench of fermenting pee was overwhelming. He couldn't get up. He kept rubbing his whole head in this weird way. He wasn't speaking and i wasn't sure if he was understanding what was being said. We finally got him to the bathroom and he sat on the commode. The other MHA left me with him to go get something.

I asked him to take off the diaper and put it in the waste basket and he did that. So i knew he at least understood. He had absolutely no energy. Only God knows how many days he had lain in that bed in that filth without food. He couldn't raise his leg to step into the bathroom, so they decided to move him to a handicapped bathroom. They got him there after much struggle, by this time we had a male MHA helping us. The shower in that room refused to bring out hot water, so the dude was freezing. That idea was aborted, we had to transfer him to a third bathroom. I felt so bad for him. He finally got a bath, some clean clothes and socks. Time for dinner, someone we had been told in report that we would have to force him to eat, ate by himself without any prompting. He ate like he was starving and he probably was. No one had gotten that man out of bed in at least 2 days. They just let him lay there in pee and poo. I just kept thinking that whole time that he was someone's dad or granddad. After he finished, i asked him if he wanted to watch TV. He still wasn't speaking, so i wheeled him in front of the TV. I kept going back to talk to him and see if he was okay.

Things got so busy, we never got around to changing his bedding. When i went to check on him during quiet time, i saw that he had laid back down on his stinking bed and was still shaking. I asked him to get up and sit in his wheel chair and i changed his sheets. The whole time, the dude had not spoken a word to me, but i could tell he understood me, and he was still making the weird rubbing motion of his head. Shift ended and i went home. I only work weekends and have not been put on the unit since. Last week when i worked, patients on his unit were allowed to have group in the patio of the unit i was working on. They are on total lockdown so they are usually on their unit. I saw him walk past, very energetic and i was surprised cos the last time i saw him like 2 weeks ago he could barely stand up. By the time group was over and they were going back to their unit, i was at the nurses station which was at least 5 feet away and i happened to be looking that way as he walked by. He stopped and looked at me for a second. Imagine my surprise when he blew me a kiss and walked away. He recognized me!! That totally made my day. I was grinning from ear to ear.

He reminded me of the grandfather i never had. Interesting how both of them have been at a mental hospital.


  1. This reminds me of something a friend once said to me: 'It will always count for something'.

    I'd been whinning about not being recognized for stuff that I'd done, and he pointed out that the 'reward' doesn't always come the way we expect it.

    I'm glad that you got something to make you smile.

    How are you dear?

  2. U made a difference!!!!

    Proud of u.

  3. I'm doing okay. Thanks for asking.

  4. Nice! Im glad you made a difference to him. Indeed labors of love are never forgotten! Keep up the good work!

  5. eyah, he didn't forget you.

    This definitely made me smile.

    Hope all is well.

  6. aww..he remembered....how sweet

    nice one

  7. r u serious he remembered eyahhh made me remember cleaning my gpa poo too wen he got hit by an okada and the shock of it made him poo himself....men i pray we grow old gracefully and in good health!

  8. That was such a beautiful story! Your work is appreciated and I think it's awesome that you treated him like a human being. I'm sure some people working there don't bother to recognize people in a mental hospital as humans.

  9. see?
    we think people dont notice but they do!

  10. So touching..
    And to think he has noone who actually cares to pay attention to him..
    Keep up the good work.
    I see you getting better, atleast from your posts..Keep being busy and God guide and keep you.


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