Night Shift Night Shift I’m not sure what attraction I feel towards working in a hospital. When I was younger I hated even thinking about them. They smelled funny, everyone looked nervous, and a lot of places were off limits. But I think the thing that scared me the most was the thought of needles. Yet after working on the night shift for about a year, I’ve found hospitals to be more than just a place where people are sick. They are a place to observe life.
But I’m still scared of needles. One of my most memorable patients was an elderly man who had Lou Gehrig’s Disease. When I met him he was on a ventilator, a feeding machine, and an IV. All this to keep him alive. He was slowly losing his ability to control his muscles. He couldn’t talk, so I learned to lip-read what he wanted, which wasn’t an easy task for either of us.
But I didn’t stop trying and he didn’t give up on me. After awhile we were able to carry on a fairly good conversation. He’d mostly listen or ask questions while I talked about cars, the army, and the weather. Being able to communicate with someone was something I know he dearly missed. I cried when I found out he had died.
I knew it would happen one day, I just didn’t want to lose my friend. After thinking about it for so long I believed I was strong enough to take the emotion. I was wrong. I also took care of an 18-year-old that had been in a car accident. He was a passenger in the car and his drunken friend was trying to show off. He had been put in the neurology unit because they suspected that he might have damaged his spinal cord or brain.
When I came in to see him he was scared to death. He was a normal teenager out having fun on a Saturday night. Thirty minutes later he was laying on a hospital bed in a neck brace with the horror of surgery to follow. I knew he was afraid, so I talked to him about school, sports, anything to get his mind off of the surgery. I think that made him feel better, but I was still mad at the one who had put him there.
Hospital work isn’t all sad. Sometimes it’s happy and even funny. I took care of a very sweet lady who had been a nurse when she was younger. She always wanted to help. She would stroll out to the nurse’s station looking for someone to take care of. Although, I don’t think she realized that she was a patient.
I think some of the greatest people in the world are the ones who we might consider out of it. One reason is they usually say what they think, they don’t hold back. I remember one lady in particular that had a dark colored bruise on her arm from an IV. She looked deep into my eyes as she pointed to her arm and said, “I’m not a Negro–I know you think I’m black, but I’m not.” I didn’t know how to respond to that except burst out in laughter like all the nurses around me. Nurses laugh a lot–they have to.
Sometimes it’s the only way to keep from stressing out. But then, who can help themselves from snickering when the old man in room 111 sneaks out of his room in nothing but his birthday suit?.