Friday, September 17, 2010

A Walk on The Wild Side

How do I manage to misplace a whole day? I achieved more when I worked 40 hours a week. With limited time off, I would race around cleaning, doing laundry and shoveling trash from the car, and shopping for groceries. The stress of being an RN wasn't enough?  Monitoring patients and overloaded with labs, tests and care of them not to mention a code blue or two during a shift while charging a floor and then coming home to more responsibilities and it all got done.

Today I received a call from the agency wanting to know if I would work a psych hospital this weekend.
I haven't worked anywhere for almost 3 years now and the thought of jumping back into the fray causes me to shiver. It used to be normal to go to work on a lock down unit with psychotic patients that because of their illness, we wore "screamers" attached to a part of our body that we could use our elbows to pull the pin should a patient clamp his arms around us and we were unable to get to that pin  with our hands. The "screamers'' were grenade like in appearance. The staff could rush to our aid when they heard a screamer go off; the patients tried to murder us on occasion. That was a normal day in my life. The husband expected a phone call 4 hours into the shift to let him know I survived the first 4. Showing up at home assured him I had survived the last 4.
Ah, those were the days! The things I saw there, I could write a book about. Each time I returned from one of those "walks on the wild side", the husband would want to hear what happened that day. I could tell him the stories but couldn't mention any names, which I didn't. He asked if I could video it for him.
"Oh, sure", I said sarcastically, "all those patients want to be on You Tube some day!"
The schizophrenics and the bipolars would go off their meds and then some one would notice their erratic behavior. 
We had one lady that would pitch all of her furniture into the yard. The neighbors, by this time, were familiar with her and what was going on and the officials were notified. After she was admitted, I sat with her one day and engaged her in conversation and this was her story.
"It's the dust, she said, "they come down and sprinkle the dust all over the rugs and the furniture. It's white dust and they think I can't see it but I can."

I nodded and kept quiet and let her talk.

"When they sprinkle the white dust on my furniture, I have to get it out of my house. It's dangerous you know."
"Ah" I said, "and who sprinkles this dust?"

"The little men. They come from that place in the sky. It's poison you know."

I looked at this well coiffed woman dressed in her fine clothes; she had a good job as a manager here in town and I won't even mention what sort of manager, but she held a good position with the company she worked for. She was off her meds and within a week she had slipped back into her schizophrenic state and as I sat listening to her, I knew that within a week we would have her stabilized and she would be ready to go home and continue with her life.
The truly ill mental patients wrung sympathy from me for what they endured.
The other psychotics we dealt with were the drug users that had been on a three day binge without an hours' worth of sleep during that time and they were hallucinating when they arrived. A "cocktail" was given and soon they were out for 8. Eight hours later their conditions were much improved and in a few days they were sent back out to return again within the month.

Do I really want to give up my life of leisure? Late nights and late mornings and as many days as I want to stay home or take trips when I want? Do I want to go some where that some one might want to snap my neck because voices told him/her to? Do I ever want to be involved in another "take down"?

I think I'll watch the caller ID on that phone and just ignore those calls that ask "Do you want to work at .............." this weekend? I enjoy the health I have and I don't think I care to jeopardize it again with a "walk on the wild side". 


  1. Don't do it Charlotte Ann. You know before I moved to Turkey I was a senior social worker in the mental health field. I ran a residential home for people who had been discharged from psychiatric units. By the time I left I had just burnt takes its toll doesn't it? I would never ever go back to it....and I would advise you to also stay away. As you so rightly say you enjoy the health you have...why jeopardise it.

  2. Ayak: yes..and it's nice to communicate with someone else that understands the stressfull conditions we worked under..(that would be YOU)
    and I have little desire really to jump back into the fire. I was lucky to have worked there and not be badly hurt.
    I'm staying HOME!

  3. Thank heavens for people like you who did and do your part. I could never do it. Hopefully some young, idealistic medical workers will keep coming in to the profession because we really need them. You have done your part, however and I wouldn't advise going back at your advanced age. WINK!! Let the kids do it now.


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