I had an interesting encounter at work the other night. I was walking a patient back to their room from triage. As I started getting him set up in his room, he was pacing and asked me a question. I could not understand what he had asked me through his mumbling, so I turned towards him and simply responded, "Excuse me?" No attitude, no inflection in my voice that would indicate any disrespect. I was simply wanting him to repeat himself, because I didn't understand him the first time.
He looked at me like I had called him a bad name, or had just killed his dog. The look of rage in his eyes was powerful, "I asked for something to drink. Geez B**** do I have to repeat myself?"
"Yes sir, I didn't understand what you had asked. I was wanting clarification," I was keeping my voice even toned and sweet, because he was obviously agitated, and although he had called me a name, I was trying not to let it phase me. I have been called every name in the book working in the ER, and although I don't think anyone should call a stranger trying to help a b****, at least he wasn't propositioning me like the psych hold we had that same evening (I will get to that later).
He replied with some rude muttering under his breath, and I proceeded to tell him that I needed him to change into a gown and have a seat, that the doctor would be in shortly. He continued to be angry with me, and his agitation was escalating. I asked him if there had been something I did to offend him, and then he went on and on about how rude I was. His mother was standing right there and was trying to tell him to relax and "Leave her alone, she is just trying to help you and YOU are the one being rude."
When I left, I took my seat back out at the triage desk, and went about my business. I warned the nurse and doctor that he was a little rude and seemed very excitable, so to tread lightly. While I was sitting in triage, the patients mother came out. She stepped up to the desk with an apologetic look on her face, "I just wanted to explain to you why he is in such a bad mood."
"Okay," I replied. honestly, I don't think ANY reason is good enough to treat another human being like crap, but I decided to hear her out.
"His son died in March," She said. I looked at her with a blank stare, and she looked back at me expecting an understanding response of some sort.
After a pause to word my response properly, I said, "Well, I lost my daughter back in April, and I do not use that as an excuse to treat a human being disrespectfully."
I could tell that was NOT the response she expected. She seemed to be taken aback, and quickly started stumbling over her words, "Well, he was murdered by his step-father. He was five years old."
"I am very sorry ma'am,I understand too well the feelings after the loss of a child, I lost my infant daughter. I understand it is painful, but is not other people's fault it happened. Your son did not kill my daughter, so I do not treat him like crap. I did not kill your grandson, so there is no need for your son to treat me like crap."
"She was an infant, he was five," I could not believe she was actually trying to compare losses. One is no worse than the other. They were both loved children no matter what age they were.
"Ma'am, I am not going to argue over which experience was worse. I do not feel you need to apologize for your son's behavior. If he wants to apologize, he can. I am very sorry for both of your loss, but if he is still this angry, and lashes out at complete strangers, he may want to start talking to a professional or a grief counselor," It became really apparent to her quickly that I was the WRONG person in the ER to look for pity and acceptance. She was unaware when she approached me that I was a fellow baby-loss parent. I really do feel bad for the family. It breaks my heart that they have to endure such a horrifying situation, and have to live with the pain of losing a child. However, I stand by my conviction that my pain does not give me a reason or the right to take it out on any other human being. I have no idea where they have been in their life, I have no clue if they have endured something similar. I just take out all of my frustration on Foster, because I KNOW what he has been through! Just kidding. In this instance, this patient was treating someone who had gone through a similar loss, albeit not a murder, with total disrespect. He had no clue where life had taken me, and now he was inadvertently hurting someone who he could have related to and shared a mutual understanding of loss with, even if just for a moment.
A few hours later, I happened to be walking by their room when he was being discharged. When his mother was around the corner, I tapped the man on the shoulder. as he turned, his features and demeanor had changed, "Oh ma'am, I feel so much better."
"Good," I said, "I am glad they took care of you. I wanted to tell you that I am terribly sorry for the loss of your son."
I watched as his eyes welled up, and his features turned soft, "How did you know?"
"Your mom told me about it. I wanted to let you know that I kind of know what you are going through. I lost my daughter in April."
"You did!?!?!?! Oh, I am soooooo sorry how I treated you. I had no idea," he came up to me, wrapped his arms around me and gave me a hug. He started to sob, "I feel so bad, I wish I would have known. Are you still trying to come to terms with it?"
"Absolutely, I have a feeling I will be for the rest of my life. The death of a child is something that no parent should ever be expected to 'get over'," I explained to him. "However, this instance is a prime example of why you shouldn't take your anger out on strangers, I have gone through the same thing. You never know what the person you are talking to has gone through," We continued to talk about our children, I suggested different support groups and therapy options for him. He admitted that he felt guilty that he did not spend more time with his son and was an absentee father for the first 2 years of his life. He expressed his fear of having other children because he didn't want the guilt that he would treat them better than he treated his first son. I consoled him, and told him if that is the lesson that he got out of the death of his child, that it was a great one, because now he would treat all subsequent children as if they were not guaranteed another day on this planet. We parted with another hug, and an unspoken bond of child loss.
Now, onto my darling psychiatric patient who propositioned me. When I arrived at work that evening, I was pulled aside by a nurse. She explained to me that this patient had been asking about me all day. Not just asking about me, demanding to see me so he could talk about his problems with me. When we receive a psychiatric patient, we are required to hold them and have one on one supervision for that patient until we can either find him a bed at on of the psych clinics, or release them 72 hours later. I was one of the first to take care of him yesterday, but how he knew my name I am baffled by. When I took over care for him, he was sleeping. He never saw me, never spoke to me, and was never in close enough proximity to read my name tag. Now, there were a few times that he woke up and sat at the edge of his bed and stared at me through possessed looking eyes, but the door was shut, and we never really had any interaction. he would get bored of staring at me after 5 minutes, and go back to bed.
So while I was trying to unravel the enigma of how he knew my name, and why of everyone he was asking for me, I realized I had to take care of him again. I walked up to his room, and found him in a Halidol induced sleep. I was hoping upon hope that he would remain like that for the four hours I had to watch him. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. About thirty minutes into my watch, he stood up and started staring at me through the glass door. I was once again creeped out. He started moving his lips, and since I couldn't hear him behind the glass, I slid the door open, "Do you need something hun?"
His half hearted smile turned into a devious grin. He honestly looked like he was about to pounce. I backed up a few steps to keep a few feet between us, and heard him whisper, "Do you want to suck my ****?"
"EXCUSE ME?!?! No sir, I do not, and I would like you to get back into bed and lay down," I was appalled and disgusted, but kept in mind that he was mentally disturbed.
He lifted up his gown to reveal an unimpressive "package", and started creeping closer to me, "I said suck my ****!"
I quickly closed the glass door in order to keep him in the room and out of my personal space. As I held the door closed, I called out for security because he was struggling violently to open the door. He won in the end, and as the door slid open, he ran down the hall with all of his glory flapping in front while his naked butt hung out the back. I was able to grab an arm before he got too far, but why I didn't just let him run is beyond me. One of the males grabbed his other arm, and we escorted him back to his room where security proceeded to put him back in bed, and wait for the nurse to give him another shot of the "medicated restrains", aka, more Halidol.
It was actually kind of scary. For once, I actually felt threatened by this man, and really really creeped out. Obviously we figured out WHY he had been asking for me. He obviously has a thing for red heads, and thought I could fulfill his fantasy, or maybe he is just loony.
These are just a few of the lovely examples of what it is like on a daily basis at my job. At least I can say one thing, it keeps things interesting!!!
Well Here's a Huge Update
2 months ago