At the end of a long, long day on my dialysis unit, there were only two of us to finish up the work of cleaning up and setting up for the next day’s treatments. There was still an elderly gentleman to be returned to his room. I helped him into his chair, wrapped him in a blanket, and headed back to his room. As always, I was in a bit of a hurry to get home to my children. I wheeled him into what I thought was his room only to find the bed already occupied by a little old lady. “Oh excuse me Ma’am. Wrong room!” I apologized.
“Just bring him right on in, Honey. I’ve been here quite a while!” We all got a good laugh out of that.
Hint for anyone in hospital. Always ask that your wheelchair seat be covered and be wrapped in a blanket when you leave your room. Wheel chair seats can be soiled and those halls get cold.
One of the hardest parts of being a nurse is comforting and supporting the bereaved family at the time of death. Normally, family members are heartbroken, grieving at the death. On a few occasions, I witnessed something different. Mr. Jones, an elderly patient owned a successful insurance agency. Every morning, he donned freshly laundered silk pajamas. When discharged, He wore a fine finest suit, shirt, shoes, and hat and took great pride in being noticed. He bragged of buying a new Cadillac every year, dining at the most prestigious restaurants, and enjoying a membership at The Country Club.
His son, Junior Jones was in his late fifties and had always worked for Daddy. It appeared Mr. Jones was none to generous nor kind to Junior. Junior dressed in cheap clothes and drove an ancient compact car. It must have been miserable since he was so tall he had to fold up like a jackknife to fit in it. When Junior came to the hospital to consult with Daddy about the business, Daddy was condescending, snide, and critical, never showing Junior the least respect.
One the morning Daddy died, we’d called to notify Junior his father’s death appeared imminent. Junior came streaking into his father’s room just moments before Mr. Jones’ death. I offered my condolences. Junior ignored me, opened the drawer of the bedside table, dug out the keys to his father’s Cadillac, his father’s checkbook and left the room without speaking. A nursing assistant who was a friend of the family walked him out to the parking garage. He handed her the keys to his small car and drove off in his father’s big, black Cadillac. That was different! I guess he’d had enough.
The time I spent getting to know my patients was the best part of nursing. As a hospital dialysis nurse, during the course of a four-hour treatment, we had a lot of time to talk. One of my favorite patients was a lively little seventy-year old lady, the mother of twenty-one children. I never knew what she’d have to say. When I expressed my amazement at her having so had many, she told me, “It wasn’t so bad. I had a set of twins, so I was only pregnant twenty times.”
“You must be proud of your kids,” I answered.
“Huh,” she snorted. “Ain’t half of ’em worth the powder it’d take to blow ’em away. I gotta keep my purse right with me.”
“Oh.” I had no other response to that.
She was always full of wild tales about getting the best of her “old man” who was twenty years older than she. I inferred they had a warm relationship, but she straightened me out when I expressed my condolences at her next treatment after his death.
“Mrs. Johnson, I ‘m sorry to her of your loss. I know you must miss your husband.” I dreaded the lonely times ahead for her.
She cackled. “I’m glad that old devil from hell is gone. I thought for sure he was gonna outlive me. My daddy gave me to him when I wad’n but thirteen years old. He beat me ever’day long as he was able. I was so proud when he got old and stoved up so I could take a piece of a firewood to him any time I got ready. I mean to tell you I whooped him many a time.”
She always gave me plenty to think about.