Psychiatry can be a very high-stress occupation and I tend to think that the innovative ways which people find for relieving that stress often reflect such extremes. Like many professions, Psych nursing has its great traditions and this is certainly true for some of the treatments specially reserved for the benefit and edification of the fledgling student nurse.
After a twelve week placement on Ward 13, I was still reeling a bit from 'Scrotum-Shock' (technical term), but I think otherwise I'd got off pretty lightly. Little did I know what my next placement held in store: Psychogeriatrics.
The Charge Nurse of this ward for the elderly and infirm of mind, was a fantastic bloke. Ivan was a BIG fellow who was big on patient care and big on student training. His right-hand man Mike, closely resembled Ivan in his all-in-wrestler physique and his enthusiasm for making guests welcome. So I suppose it was to no surprise that the end of my first week on the ward found me swarthily bundled into a hospital linen bag and dangling out of a window, with my boots hanging from a nearby tree.
Psychogeriatric care is by its nature, a somewhat messy business. Incontinence - both urinary and faecal - are unfortunate facts of life (and that was just the staff) as our elderly folk gradually lost their grip on life and bodily wastes. It was often a sad sight to behold, but Ivan's team did their utmost to offer the best quality of life under the circumstances. And plenty of entertainment.
On one occasion I arrived early on the ward, full of enthusiasm after a fine weekend away (the roster gave you one long weekend every 6 weeks). As I donned my protective hospital standard-issue white coat I found that someone had sewn it up at the wrists. Popping the stitching provided only momentary triumph as my hands disappeared into deep pockets filled with talcum powder and something resembling KY Jelly.
Looking back I'm not sure what I miss more, the impromptu fully clothed bath-attacks, the enema fights, the strapped-tightly-in-the-wheelchair death rides, or perhaps it was the old 'dip your finger in the bedpan and lick it afterward like I just did' routine. A sharp learner soon learnt to adopt the subtle change-of-finger technique.
Life in a Community rehabilitation facility..
You always know when you've arrived for duty at Random House. If the acrid stench of stale piss doesn't get you first.. [read]
II: Pulp Friction
Has she been helping herself to the residents' medication again..? [read]
III: Student Nurses
They're not bad," Maudlin replied, "We've got one male and one female this time. Jeff, the male, is interesting.. [read]
The laundry bag creaked a bit at the seams as the rope tying it to a radiator inside gave a little, but it held strong.. [read]
V: Evening Shift
Andy looked up from his microwaved lasagne and carefully wiped his lips with a napkin, "I'll deal with this one.".. [read]
VI: Rehab & Reality
"Hey cheer up Nurse Andy!" said a bright apparition standing at the office door. "Wot you got to be so down in the dumps about..?" [read]
VII: Body Fluids
Now, I truly tried hard to find a nicer term here, but nasal mucus doesn't really begin to describe.. [read]