I used to love to watch DRAGNET. I still remember the lines: This is the city. I work here. I’m a cop. Well, someday, I think I shall write a book that will start out: This is the hospital. I work here. I’m a nurse.
Today’s story would go like this: I got called up to start an I.V. on a man who has driven out everyone who has entered his room to do anything for him. On the phone I am informed that the guy is impossible and they want to know if I can come up and handle the situation. I admit a penchant for starting I.V.’s, and I can do one in the blink of an eye, but don’t have much tolerance for abuse, verbal or otherwise. One might think that all patients are helpless and needy, but let me tell you right off the bat that putting a person in a gown and confining him to bed does not change his temperament. The whole trick is not to get emotionally involved with hostile patients and, in my case, in this situation, the plan was to get in, do the job, say a few kind words, and get out. No confrontation, no abuse. So I was of this mind set when I knocked and entered Mr. X’s room. I have seen a lot of things in my long career, but I have yet to encounter what I saw. The bed was stripped of everything except the bottom sheet. On the bottom sheet, I saw an organized mass of papers, files, envelopes, stacks and stacks of what appeared to be documents of some sort or another. I checked the bathroom and no one was there. The roommate in bed two said….”he went for a walk. He doesn’t stay in bed. He’s dressed up in a suit and tie, with one bandaged arm, so you will recognize him.” So, relaxing my ready stance, I left. Later we got a call that Mr. X was back in his room. Because I was sterile, doing a PICC line insertion, my partner went up. As she left, I advised her of what had been relayed to me on the disposition of the patient and the office supplies covering the bed.
I would like to claim that my partner is a shrinking violet, but nay-nay, Nurse Ratchet, from “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”, has nothing on Janet. Since I had not encountered Mr. X, I could only wait for the account of how the I.V. went. Janet came back, and she, being the proverbial animal lover from the depths of her heart, gave this account: Mr. X. was up later than his wife. His wife had fallen asleep in bed with her Rottweiler, as is her custom. Mr. X slid into bed beside the backside of the Rottweiler, and reached across the two of them to turn off the bedside lamp which had been left on by Mrs. X. When Mr. X reached across the Rottweiler and Mrs. X to snap the light off, the Rottweiler sprang into action. Mr. X has a left arm that has been so badly mangled he is awaiting his third surgery. Janet told me he has a large flap that still has to be re-repaired. Multiple puncture wounds were all over the lower arm, and he had developed Cellulitis. She said it was pretty grotesque. She identified herself, and told Mr. X. that if he would clear off his bed and get in it, she would start his I.V., so that antibiotics could be begun again. Apparently Mr. X had made short work of his previous I.V. in a fit of rage at a housekeeper. As Janet was starting the I.V., Mr. X. let loose with vile profanities telling his tale of horror. His first rant was that his wife didn’t even drive him to the hospital, nor had she come to visit him. He further declared she wouldn’t answer the phone and she hadn’t called to check on him. When he had exhausted that flurry of words, he told the story of the Rottweiler attack. He was enraged that he got attacked in his own bed in his own house. Janet sympathized with him, but being the dog-lover she is, I’m sure she felt the Rottweiler was only protecting his mistress. After completing his I.V., she went to the desk to make a notation in his chart, and noted that he was 70 years old. “What in the world is a 70 year old man doing with all that “emergent” paperwork?” she asked herself. So she flipped to the face sheet and read that he was a former lawyer. (“DEFENSE” lawyer someone had amended in the margin.) I thought on the way home from work that perhaps it doesn’t make too much difference if the owner’s dog is in the comfort of one’s own bed in one’s own house. Maybe the danger comes from some other factor. If I only were an investigative reporter, I’d get the wife’s story for you, but unfortunately she never showed up at the hospital in all the time her husband has been in there. Perhaps she and the Rottweiler are sleeping in peace.
Love to all my Waynedale friends, Mae