Run Nurse Run

on Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Jo Bune" PhotoCredit: LGS

Like stepmothers, I think psychiatric nurses have been given unfair treatment in the media. Just as not all stepmothers are evil witches busy concocting poisoned apples while preening themselves in front of magical vanity mirrors, then equally not all psychiatric nurses are oppressive, dictatorial demons as personified by Nurse Ratched in the movie, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". In fact, although I have no first hand experience, I believe that few psychiatric nurses behave like Nurse Ratched. Overall, psychiatric nurses are well trained, compassionate and dedicated to help some of the toughest patients there are. This post is a tribute to them and to thank them for doing a very difficult and often thankless job.

This is my friend, Jo. She is a nurse. She is one of the sweetest and kindest persons I have ever known. I don't know if she finally became a psychiatric nurse but as a student nurse, she had to do a period of on-the-job training at the high security psychiatric ward of a local hospital.

Once, soon after she started, I noticed that she had cut her hair short. It didn't really suit her and I asked why did she do it. "It's funny, really" she said with her characteristically pleasant drawl. "One of the patients tried to strangle me with me own hair." And then she laughed. I didn't think it was that funny to be strangled by your own hair but that was Jo; she laughed these things off and they became unimportant compared to the work, the good that she was doing.

On another occassion, a few of us were invited to a friend's apartment for dinner. When I got there, Jo and a couple of other student nurses were already there. They were seated in the living area and were laughing so hard that tears were rolling down their cheeks. Always looking for a good laugh, I sat down next to Jo and asked what was so funny.

Jo took a couple of deep breaths and dried the tears with a hankerchief before she related the tale to me. "Well, I started on the high security psychiatric ward this week on Tuesday, you see." I nodded as I knew about that.

She continued, "We had been briefed thoroughly on safety measures and I was all pumped up, you know. Adrenaline was rushing as they opened the security doors to let me in."

"I hadn't taken two steps in through the door when I came face to face with this big naked bloke. He stared into my face and I was too surprised to do naught else but to stare right back. Then I heard the voice of the matron yelling, "Stop him!"

"I looked pass the man and I can see a couple of the big male nurses running towards us with the matron behind them. But before I knew it, he slipped past me, through the security doors and was out in the general hospital area."

"I'm sure like me, you'd been rooted to the spot too, uncertain what to do. But suddenly, the matron shouted again for me to stop him and that jolted me into action. After all, if I have learnt naught else on this course, it is to snap to when the matron shouts an order." The other student nurses nodded their heads in agreement.

"So, what did you do?" I asked, captivated by the excitement of the tale.

"Why, I ran after him. I chased him down five flight of stairs, through the cafeteria and we were running along the walkway that runs around that small central garden; the naked bloke in front, me just a few steps behind, much further back a couple of burly male nurses and the matron bringing up the rear, still shouting. What a sight for all to see."

I was visualising it in my mind's eye. It was quite a busy hospital and this must have been quite a commotion. "So what happened next?" I asked in anticipation.

"Well, we were really running. Belting along in that order when suddenly it hit me; what would I, what could I do if I caught up with him."

"So what did you do?" I asked enthusiastically.

"So, I pretended that I got the cramps." she said jubilantly and with that all three nurses broke up into hysterics once more.

As I said, it takes a special breed to do this work. Thank you, Jo and all the others working with the mentally ill. Your patience, resilience, compassion and sense of humor is much appreciated.

19 comments:

...Kat said...

Laughing Laughing Laughing

what a great human and humane woman

and what a great story you related
you told it perfectly

i love the laugh that comes from deep within

run nurse run...run the other way
lol

Christine and FAZ said...

Do these guys get danger money for all their hard work?

Top cat said...

I guess in that type of occupation it's good to have a good sense of humor.
Thanks for telling us about Jo and Jo thanks for your selfless service to mentally ill folks.:)
tc

Dave said...

That hospital scene would look great in some movie! Pretty funny! :-)

riseoutofme said...

Angels of mercy ...Great story, very well told!

Janice Thomson said...

Good story Lgs!...I think many nurses could tell some great tales.
My line of work ran into similar problems though with mentally challenged adults - and the odd one who was naked. In my first few weeks, there was a naked man (bedridden) beside where I stood while the Head Nurse did an unexpected tour and inspection of us. The Head Nurse inquired in a rather droll manner if I always walked around with my slip down by my knees. To my shock the man in the bed had pulled it down and in my eagerness to make sure I was at attention and ready for the inspection I never even noticed. I was the laughing stock for some days after. I never ever believed that patient was as blind as they claimed he was after that. And then there are tales of giving the nasty senior nurse an enema...but I'll leave that to your imagination :)

tsduff said...

Nurses are the best people in the world. (I am a frustrated wannabe.., due to my less-than-stellar math skills). Funny story!

HeiressChild said...

what a funny story LGS. i probably would have been laughing so hard just trying to catch the naked guy. how nice of you to honor them today.

Cheryl said...

It takes a very special person to be a nurse. I saw a lot of them when both of my parents were hospitalized for long periods. Great tribute, LGS. They do say that laughter is the best medicine.

Claire said...

Humor is the only way to make it through the day when you're in that profession! Funny story.

leslie said...

I can just see Jo catching up to him, jumping on his back and then the patient continuing to run! That would have been even more hilarious! Yes, nurses are very special people - I know that nursing is a profession that I was NOT born to do, although I do have one sister who was.

Claire said...

LGS, btw, come and see 'my' squirrel!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

kat,
"run nurse run...run the other way". Exactly. lol

christine & faz,
Somehow I don't think so. :(

TC,
Thanks for joining me in saluting the nurses. I actually, haven't been in contact with Jo for over 20 years. It would be one of those fun internet karma things if she reads it.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

dave,
Truth is "funnnier" than fiction?

riseoutofme,
Angels of mercy but with some common sense, no?

janice,
My goodness. You have some tales to tell. haha.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

ts,
Sorry you didn't get to be a nurse. Maths is unfortunately very important. Without maths, my friend Jo may have thought that she could use her small light frame to bring down the large naked guy! :)

sylvia,
Hmmmmmm. Are you saying that your idea of fun is chasing naked guys? Hehe.

cheryl,
It does take a special person to be a good nurse. Thankfully there are some of those around.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

claire,
humor helps us through a lot. Thanks for the heads up on the squirrel at your blog. Left you a comment there.

leslie,
You should be directing a comedy. Nice idea and my salute to your sister for being part of this noble profession.

geewits said...

It sounds like you miss your friend.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

geewits,
as I replied to top cat, I haven't been in contact for 20 years with a whole group of friends including Jo. Somehow I've reached a time when I think it would be nice to meet up and learn how everyone's fared.

CS said...

Sometimes all you can do is laugh - it keeps you sane in an insane situation. I've certianly been there!

As for nurses in general - I know there are some bad ones out there, but I have been tended to by nurses who went abouve and beyond in their compassion.

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