bookmark_borderThicker Than H2O

Doctors rarely marry nurses; it’s a generalisation but a valid one. As a rule doctor’s date nurses but marry other doctors. Nurses on the other hand tend to marry policemen and fireman, it’s like we have a similar respect for each other’s vocation, we all know that we are there, at the front line serving the community; we recognise kindred souls, folk like us who work shifts, get lots of platitudes from whichever government is in power but still receive shit pay.

So, nurses, policemen and firemen, kindred souls and we look after each other and when I was doing my nurse training this relationship was never more apparent when there was a blood shortage. Modern day nurses will be aghast at this but during the eighties when I was training we used to run out of blood quite frequently – so who do you call, no, not Ghostbusters but the local police station and fire station.

All Policemen and Firemen know their blood group and when supplies are low are willing to provide a convenient supply of blood.  This happened more frequently than realised during my training and it must seem barbaric to today’s nurses but it wasn’t just a one way street. You see, when the Matron put the call out for more blood two things happened at the same time.

First of all just about every unmarried policeman came rushing to the hospital because ..well.. nurses and policemen make for a potent mix so there literally was a rush of policemen to the ward with sirens on full blast “Well, it’s an emergency in’it..!”  it wasn’t really but any excuse to chat up the nursing staff.

The other thing that happened when the call went out was that every nurse made a beeline for the changing road and brushed their hair and put on fresh lippy…. Sometimes I’d look around the ward and I’d be the only member of Staff on there because everyone was doing their faces. Even today it’s the same story, the firemen came to my current place of work and a large proportion of the female staff headed to the bathroom…something about firemens uniforms..

Sadly for me I was male and not once, not once did a firewoman or policewoman pitch up to one of the wards to donate blood.. but I’m not bitter.. no…not bitter at all.. much 😉  (and everyone asks why I left nursing!)

bookmark_borderMay contain nuts (part deux)

The first time I walked onto Intensive Care (ICU) as a new staff nurse I thought “Holy Crap! This is like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise!” All those bleeping machines, monitoring equipment I didn’t recognise and so many lines and tubes attached to each patient.  I thought I had made a huge mistake and would never manage all this chaos. It reminded me of when I started on A&E, again I thought Holy Crap, this is like a friggin warzone, blood everywhere, I’d never be able to understand the organised chaos that is A&E!

Happily it didn’t that that long to get up to speed on ICU because there were many similarities with A&E. In ICU the priority was always the heart, lungs and kidneys, as long as we looked after those systems then the odds were good that the patient would survive. We had the same philosophy in ICU, look after the heart, lungs and kidneys and the rest will all follow in good time. That may seem like a very medical anatomy and physiological model but overriding this was absolutely everybody’s focus on the patient and their family, we worked as hard as possible to get absolutely everyone out of ICU in the best condition possible.

That was one similarity ICU had with A&E, the other similarity was nurses reaction to the fire alarm. The theory goes that nurses should prepare their patients, decided which ones can be evacuated from the unit and which ones are OK to stay, the nurse should be getting ready to move the patient into the next safe zone, usually theatres. However, what invariably happened was that every single female nurse (and some of the male ones too), would make a beeline for the changing room and put on their lippy and brush their hair for the expected firemen.  Nurses and firemen… and policemen, a potent mixture.. Sometimes when the fire alarm went off I would look around and realise I was the only nurse on this side of the unit! Nurses in A&E and ICU wore scrubs, what surgeons wear in theatre, it helps minimise infection control, you get a fresh set each shift and dump them in the laundry at the end of the shift. However, even Pamela Anderson with her enhanced silicon valley wouldn’t get a second look if she was wearing scrubs, so the priority was to rush into the changing room and pretty oneself up. Sadly we never had any female firemen – ermm firewoman so I never got to dash off to the changing room to make myself (even) prettier.

Another similarity between A&E nurses and ICU nurses is nothing grosses us out – plus our sense of humour would always stray to the really sick kind, graveyard humour. I think it was a protective reflex, nothing grosses out nurses or doctors. I’ve been out with a bunch of medical staff and their respective partners and will happily discuss wee, pooh, blood and guts and some intricate procedure I assisted the ICU staff with and then notice that the non-meds are turning green and off their food..  oh dear!

But there are a few differences between A&E and ICU, in A&E there’s a special phone and when that rings everyone stops what they’re doing and listens. It’s a direct line from Ambulance Control and it’s nearly always AC telling us of a Blue Light on the way in, the ETA and any details they have from the paramedics.

Another difference is that the A&E staff generally only ‘patch & dispatch’ as we say, patch patients up and dispatch them on to ICU/Surgery/Wards. So the time they have with patients is very limited and they don’t get to know patients in the same way we did on Intensive Care. As an aside, in the Medical School they have a department that incorporates Obstetrics, Genetics and Elderly and it’s referred to as the Hatch’em, Match’em’ Dispatch’em department! I think that would be an excellent title for a murder mystery book.

But by far the best difference between A&E and ICU is that occasionally A&E staff get to go on the Ambulance so they have insight into what the paramedics do. In reality it’s just an excuse for the paramedics to chat up and impress the nurses, they were always disappointed to see a male nurse join them… I have been out in a ‘blue light’ a few times. It’s fantastic! It’s like being in a snow plough, all the traffic in front of you parts like Moses and the Red Sea. I’m sure there’s a scene in Bruce Almighty like that, it’s the fastest time I’ve ever got from work to the other side of London.

During my time in A&E I learnt a few things that I thought I might share, these are not all mine but the medics out there amongst you will be able to relate to them.

  • Don’t tell the nurse you have a bad back and then have sex with your partner on the trolley behind the curtains.  Yup, coitus interruptus was interrupted by moi.
  • The phrases “I know what I’m doing” and “Hey, watch this!” is almost always followed by a trip to A&E
  • Never get into a road rage incident and go head to head with someone who has a spanner in his hand.
  • Never try to get away from a police dog, they are quicker and from what I have seen, have VERY sharp teeth.
  • Never allow your sex partner to push a screwdriver/wine bottle/apple/cork/banana/etc up your jacksie, and then tell the nursing staff you don’t know how that got in there. Remember, your rectum is an exit point really, and bowel perfs are NOT fun.
  • Never walk in front of your brother when he is practising his golf swing.
  • Don’t jump off a bridge into the river without first checking it’s more than one foot deep.
  • Never…NEVER…hide your weed in a toothbrush holder and stick it up your butt and think it’s a safe hiding place from the officers in a prison. It could get stuck! 
  • Never assume you are sterile just because you didn’t get your last 3 lovers pregnant.
  • If you are having an MRI done, we REALLY need to know about those “personal” piercings, because they will get ripped out by the magnetic pull.
  • Always wear safety goggles while playing paint ball/or checking out the paintball gun
  • Spermicidal foam tastes like hair shampoo (apparently).
  • Vaporub definitely won’t prolong your erection (and you’ll taste very bad!).
  • Do not assume you are “going thru the change” when you suddenly stop having a period when you are 43. Consider the fact that you might actually be pregnant!
  • Do not try to sandpaper off tattoos by yourself. Also do not use a sandblaster or scraper to do it with.
  • Insulin needles should not be shared by family members, especially for weeks at a time.
  • And finally, no matter how bowel obsessed you are, do not strip down naked in your back garden and have your husband (whom you met at a psych unit) give you an enema with a garden hose. Your neighbours will call the police and you will get a bowel perf and peritonitis, and you will be sent back to the psych ward where you met your husband in the first place.

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, part 15. Oh Baby..

During my previous career training as a nurse I had to work a few weeks on the Labour Ward, I absolutely loved it, probably because it was so intense and (excuse the pun) so hands on – or in this case hands in.

The Midwives were great and very down to earth and most of the mothers were great too, it’s a time of great excitement and beaming smiles – once baby had popped out of course! Most mothers were on their first or second births but occasionally the midwives would come across someone who’d been there more than a few times. One Sunday afternoon I was working with Margaret (name changed to protect the guilty!) and a mother came in straight from A&E (ER for our American friends), she was about to pop and we got all the equipment ready and asked the mum to remove her pants (obviously!). Mum asked Margaret did she recognise her and Margaret said no, not really – she wasn’t really paying attention trying to get everything ready but then when the mum had undressed and Margaret started to check how many centimetres she was dilated and had her fingers half way up her jacksie she suddenly said “Oh! NOW I know who you are!!”

My mouth fell open and I gave her that look, you know the one, the one that says “YOU recognise people, not by their faces, not by their voices but by looking at their jacksies?!?! …”   She realised what she had implied and tried backpedalling but it was too late – I was going to tell absolutely everyone in the coffee room that evening!

(But between thou and I, I wonder, if Margaret was ever called up to one of those police line ups and had to identify some crook, would she be asking for everyone to drop their pants or else she wouldn’t recognise them… ?)

I told that tale to one of my friends, he said he knows how she feels, he says there are some folk he only recognises by looking at their jacksie too – and he’s not a doctor..just a bad bad lad!

One weekend I had a mum with a big ornate gothic script “EDDIE” tattoo on the inside of her thigh and Eddie was there, holding her hand and doing all the right things. For almost 12 hours, we soothed, cajoled, encouraged and cheered on this lady. I brought Eddie into it: “Look at Eddie, he loves you and the baby so much, breathe with Eddie, keep going, Eddie, you hold her hand” blah, blah, blah.. 12 hours of sweat and tears, near exhaustion and trying my best to involve Eddie and make it a brilliant caring sharing experience for both of them..

Close to the end and I start to realise that something’s up, Eddie’s got more and more stony-faced and silent throughout the day..

He’s actually glaring at me now.

A thought strikes me, “Ummmm, is your name Eddie?”

With the most hateful glance, he grunts, “No!”


PS I probably should explain that at that point I had been in England for only two years and my accent was as thick as treacle, so when I asked him at the start ‘are you Eddie?’ he thought I asked ‘are you ready..?’ and said yes ..Doh.


bookmark_borderMay contain nuts – part three


It’s not common knowledge that most nurses tend to spend a lot of their working day in a slightly distorted reality field but it’s true, we see and get involved in things that probably looks quite odd from outside but is just another day for a nurse.

One day in A&E (ER to our American friends) I had this huge guy come in and he was writhing in pain, bright red face, creased over into a ball… the Sister in charge sighed and said “not you again Alec!” and asked me to take him to a cubicle. I helped him get on a trolley and he was pleading with me for some painkillers. I was young(ish!) and very naïve so I asked the oncall to come see him ASAP, the doc came in, took one look at him, swore and told him to sling his hook and get out and stop wasting our time, he wasn’t getting any drugs from us.. I was new there and didn’t know the score but this guy looked like he was in real agony and I was convinced there was indeed something wrong with him. He got really angry under all the pain, told me he wanted to die, left the department and walked out to the main road waiting for a car to come. A taxi came along and Alec threw himself in front of the car, the car pulled up easily as the road had speed humps. So Alec stood up and started shouting at the driver “come on you B*******…run me over!!” The driver was pissed and started beeping his horn at Alec but Alec just walked closer to the front of the car and kept on shouting “come on you B******do it! Are you chicken!!”.  More cars came along and Alec wouldn’t get off the road so I thought I’d better call the police as I knew there was trouble coming.

Alec was calling the driver all the names of the day and the driver was getting very pissed off and more and more cars were building up behind him honking their horns and cursing away at him. A small crowd was gathering when Alec started kicking the first car and then he grabbed the metal antenna and snapped it in half. At this point the driver got out and they engaged in fisticuffs and wrestled each other to the ground.

Fortunately the police arrived at this point and separated Alec from the driver but he was a big guy and it took six…yes SIX policemen to throw him into the back of their van, he went ballistic in the meat wagon and managed to smash his head against one of the seats, (at least that’s what the policeman told me!). He was bleeding furiously and thus the police had to carry him out, take him across the road and bring him, yup, you guess it, into our A&E.. Sister just groaned again, the policeman threw him onto a trolley and literally sat on him whilst they handcuffed him to the frame and the sister tried to attend to his wound. He was like a bucking broncho at this point, even with six policemen he was still giving them trouble but Sister eventually got him stitched up and the police carted him off to the cells.

Two weeks later he was back in – looking as right as rain – and asking for more painkillers.. this time it was my turn to groan..

I learnt many lessons in that A&E, such as;

If you’re a patient then don’t waste your time asking the A&E staff if anyone has any weed…trust me, we don’t.

Never take your goldfish out of the bowl and play with it on your tummy because it may “occidentally” swim up your vagina.

Make sure your husband and boyfriend don’t turn up at the labour ward at the same time.

If a patient arrives at A&E with a suitcase send them away, it’s not a friggin hotel you know..

Don’t stick your penis in a vacuum cleaner hose because your friends at school told you it was next best thing if you couldn’t get a girl;

(a) it will buy you a trip to A&E and (b) it will hurt like hell.

And finally, “the little white one” and “the one for my heart” are the worlds two most common medications.

bookmark_borderThe Pizza Dilemma

TombStone? A not so subtle hint.

When I worked as a nurse on ICU part of the job included patient education with regards towards a healthier life, so we’d try educating patients about giving up alcohol and smoking, explaining the statistics about quality and length of life. A common response back from the patients was “it’s not that you actually live longer – it just seems it, you suck all the joy out of life, no fags, no drink…of course your life is going to seem longer.. a LOT bleeding longer!”

I have some sympathy with my ex-patients, you see, I’ve been trying to eat healthy recently, trying to cut down on sugars and fats; no more cakes, biscuits, pizza, chips, pies etc and now I know just how my patients felt, it’s not like I’m going to live longer…it just seems like it…a long dreary existence… kill me now.

You see, culturally, I come from the land that considers eating five different coloured M&M’s as part of your ‘five a day’, a land that has taken Nutella to it’s heart (literally), a land than considers dipping Mars bars in batter and deep frying them in lard a healthy snack, a land that considers anything with the word ‘die’ in it to be avoided…like diet and dieticians.

So, I’ve decided to do a bit of research and have come up with a scientifically valid diet, it’s the ice-cream diet, also known as the Gelato diet. You see, ask any scientist about calories and heat and they will tell you quite seriously that it takes 1 calorie to heat 1 gram of water 1 degree centigrade. Therefore, if you eat ice-cream or Gelato then your body will warm it up to body temperature and the only source of calories is in your fat stores so your will use up calories.

Let’s explore this a bit further,  if you consume 100g of ice-cream then for your body to bring that from 0.0C  to body temperature of 37C then that’s 100g times 32C which equals 3,200 calories used to raise your ice-cream to body temperature. Now, the average portion of ice-cream is probably closer to 200g rather than 100g so that’s 6,400 calories used up but of course there are sugars etc in ice-cream and on average you are talking about 1,200 calories but we’ll say that on balance, with every average portion of ice-cream you will use up roughly 5,000 calories.

This works equally as well with cold beer, if you go out drinking every evening then you will lose weight. There’s roughly 16 fluid ounces to a pint and if you do the maths then you lose roughly 1,000 calories with each ounce as long as it’s chilled and served from a frosted glass, so in a pint of beer you actually lose 15,000 calories allowing for the calories already in the beer.

Sadly this diet only works with foods and liquids colder than your body, it doesn’t work for pizza which is usually served above body temperature – except obviously during the next morning when you find some left over pizza in the carton and then it’s healthy as it’s cooler than body temperature.  But there is a solution to the pizza dilemma, you see, we all like to go out and eat pizza but don’t want to wait until the morning to eat vast quantities of cold pizza so the obvious solution is to either drink lots of beer with your (hot) pizza and eat lots of ice-cream afterwards. Dilemma solved. My diet starts tomorrow. I wonder if I’ll get the Nobel Prize for this?

bookmark_borderTo pee or not to pee, that is the question

Idiots guide.

Hmmmm know that point in your existence, the point just before you’re born and God says to you “OK my little spirit being, it’s time to choose, what do you want to be in this life, a man or a woman, decide, it’s totally up to you” and I obviously choose to be a man and I can remember God saying “are you sure, after all, woman get to bring life into this world, they love so much more and so deeply, they have that special bond with their children and then there’s the added bonus of multiple orgasms….” and despite the attraction of ALL that I’m still glad I choose to be a man because I couldn’t cope with being preggers for nine months. I know this with certainty because I had a really nasty risotto the other day at lunchtime and spent the rest of the day feeling bloated, really bloated! It was awful, I was so full of gas I thought I was going to burst and if that’s what it’s like to be pregnant then you woman are more than welcome to it. If a man had to give birth then trust me, the human race would have died out long long ago, either that or artificial wombs would have been invented way before the steam engine.

When I did my nurse training I spent a few months on the Labour ward and had a fantastic time, I loved it but that’s because I was a man and had absolutely no insight into just how effing uncomfortable being pregnant really is. I used to say to my expectant mother’s when they came into the Labour room writhing in agony, “Hello, I’m dilated to meet you, I’m at your cervix”. It’s a wonder I wasn’t kicked out but at least it broke the ice (and maybe broke the waters too as they giggled). One reads about how wonderful being pregnant is and how some woman ‘glow’, in two months of working on the Labour ward I never saw anyone ‘glow’ except maybe in rage, usually at the poor unfortunate husband, if I had a nickel for every time I heard “you’re never coming near me EVER again!” then I’d be a rich man.

Of course I’m not equating one day of feeling really bloated with being pregnant for nine months (but being a pathetic man I will try my best), however it was interesting that I daren’t cough or sneeze for fear of peeing myself.  If someone had a knitting needle I would have quite happily allowed them to stick it in my tum and let all that gas out. Poor poor me. It reminded me of this.

When I was a kid and living in Conlig, Northern Ireland, the farmer up the road cut one of the fields of grass and left the cuttings in the field. There were a few mangy horses in the next field and somehow one of them managed to get into the freshly cut field and feasted on the large clumps of cut grass. The next day when we were coming home from school we noticed that the horse was laying on its side and looking very bloated, fit to burst in fact. I told the owner, he sighed and called the vet. The vet came, regarded the horse for a minute and told the owner that the horse had obviously been gorging on the grass next door and that a horse’s digestion system is not able to cope with large quantities of grass all at once so it was fermenting and producing copious amounts of gas. He went back to his van, retrieved a large metal knitting needle from a black bag and punctured the horse’s abdomen with it.  A crowd of us kids had gathered around as between thou and I this was the most exciting thing to ever happen in Conlig (and probably still is) and as the gas escaped from the horse’s abdomen every kid downwind immediately turned green and ran away, the stench was awful. The owner and vet just laughed but the horse got up almost immediately and obviously felt a large sense of relief as he went skipping off around the field.

That little tale reminds me of something else. When I was working in A&E (ER) as a student I had a bloke come in with a distended abdomen. He hadn’t had a pee for a number of days and an x-ray showed that his bladder was filled and distended massively. It was very obvious that his prostate was stuffed and blocking off his ureter completely and he would need a TURP (transurethral resection of prostate) but in the acute phase he needed to pee and the quickest way to achieve that was to insert a foley catheter. This man was in agony, complete agony which wasn’t helped by him spending the previous evening drinking pints at a stag party, his bladder was almost backed up into his kidneys and I lay him on the trolley to insert the catheter. BUT here’s the thing and if you are a woman you are going to have to take my word for this, if you are a nurse about to insert a foley catheter into any guy who has a blocked ureter, trust me, you can ask for his wallet, his car keys, even his house and he will without hesitation hand them over to you because he is in so much agony. Really, seriously, he would sign a blank cheque if you asked him and once that catheter is in and the pressure is off his bladder he is always as grateful as hell.

Reading that now, I’m not so sure I choose wisely at birth to be a man…oooeerrr

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, Part 11

The old tricks are the best, we used to do this with student nurses.

During the Vietnam War Michael Herr wrote in Dispatches “war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror”. I initially thought he was talking about American Football but I know how he feels, because I’ve worked in theatres and Intensive Care.

In my previous career as a nurse I had to spend about two months working in theatres (or OR as our American cousins call it) alongside some not very bright surgeons. After a few weeks working (or more accurately standing still with my arms at the same length all day watching the clock go in reverse) I realised there were some phrases that one should listen out for, for example;

Wait a minute, if this is his liver, then what’s that?
Everybody stand back! I lost my contact lens!
What’s this doing here?
Am I in the right spot, ’cause I don’t think that should be here… (why am I thinking G-Spot suddenly?)
“Hmmm, well that’s interesting” during a C-Section

but the worse one we all dreaded was ‘FIRE! FIRE! Everyone get out!’ I have actually experienced that one plus a few power failures and you have no idea just how transforming that is to the assembled team, suddenly you stop daydreaming about last night’s (mis)adventures and just like a warzone, everyone moves like greased lightning under those circumstances, not to get out of theatre ASAP but to get the patient off all the support machines and keep him/her alive whilst you push the operating table out of the theatre. It’s all hands on deck literally and when I was working in the National Heart & Lung institute in central London I watched a cardiac surgeon squeeze a patient’s heart manually whilst we pushed the table into the neighbouring safe zone.

I’m not sure how it works in normal business’s but in hospitals the idea of moving patients out into the street is a no-no, usually you have to shove the patients into the next ward and then the plan is to keep moving them if that area becomes at risk. Trying to get a patient down a set of stairs on a hospital bed is not easy. However, in 10 years of ICU nursing I had seen an equally miraculous transformation in patients who normally required two nurses to help them get into a bedside chair but when the fire alarm goes off then they can do the 100m sprint in Olympic time.

What is not common knowledge is that in a fire emergency there is the potential to leave about half of your patents behind. On the face of it that seems callous but there is a logic to it, you see, in an average UK Intensive Care about 50% of your patients will be sedated and on ventilators. Therefore in the situation of an ICU filling up with smoke and fumes (from a distant fire) you triage your patients and the ones sedated and on ventilators are not going to suffocate from fumes as they are on piped O2. The ICU could be filled with thick black smoke but they would still be breathing clean air so you’d leave those ones behind and drag – sometimes literally – the patients that are awake and breathing room air.  I’ve never had to actually do that but every time a fire alarm went off then I automatically figured out if my patient should stay or go. Well.. I say ‘I’ because practically every female nurse (and some of the male ones) did what they always did when they knew Firemen (or Policemen) were coming to the Unit, they ran into the changing rooms and put on some lippy and fixed their hair, think it was something to do with the uniforms..

The normal routine on any ICU is for the ICU Medics to take primary irresponsibility for the patient but various teams (or ‘firms’ as they are called) would come around and advise on specialist treatment; Surgery, Orthopaedics, Obs & Gyna, etc but on ICU we had a running joke on how we identified various teams;

Q: How can you tell what type of physician caught the elevator door just as it was closing?

A: If they put in their hand, they are a medic…if they put in their head, they are a surgeon.

Of course we nurses liked to mess around and take the piss out of everyone but especially doctors, this story did the rounds when I was working with some very posh docs in Harley Street.

Three doctors and three nurses are travelling by train to a conference. At the station, the three doctors each buy tickets and watch as the three nurses buy only a single ticket. “How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?” asks a doctor.

“Watch and you’ll see,” answered a nurse. They all board the train. The doctors take their respective seats but all three nurses cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, “Ticket, please.”

The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The doctors saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the doctors decide to copy the nurses on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all that). When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the nurses don’t buy a ticket at all. “How are you going to travel without a ticket?” says one perplexed doctor.

“Watch and you’ll see,” answered a nurse. When they board the train the three doctors cram into a restroom and the three nurses cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the nurses leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the doctors are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, Ticket, please.”

bookmark_borderHow To Speak Fluent Norn Iron; Part Six

I'm going back to sign language. Less mistakes.

I’ve mentioned before in this blog that it’s not a good idea to call Native Americans ‘Red Indians’ when visiting the states, not unless you want everyone to drop to the floor! Being a child of the 60’s and 70’s, the term was used every weekend at the local flea-pit (Queen’s cinema) as the cowboys fought the redskins. It’s easy to cause unintentional offence with obsolete terminology,  and especially confusing when there’s an American football team named the Washington Redskins, and the Redskins serve as the mascot of Red Mesa High School on the Navajo Reservation in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, go figure.

During my nurse training it was perfectly normal to refer to the Elderly Care wards as the Gerry’s ward – as in Geriatrics – and this was to our tutors. Now I am pretty sure Gerry’s is out and I suspect even Elderly Care is frowned upon, I think it’s referred to Care of the Aged now and during training terms like physically handicapped and mentally handicapped was perfectly acceptable but now handicap is only used during golfing conversations and the term disabled or disadvantaged is preferred.

I was talking to an American member of staff today and mentioned the ‘red’ faux pas to her and she agreed that if she hadn’t been sitting down then she would have fallen over if I used that term in normal conversation, however I went from one faux pas straight into another because I mentioned that her fringe needs trimmed and she looked at me quite shocked, apparently whilst fringe is a common term here in Europe, it’s called ‘bangs’ in America, where she comes from to have your fringe trimmed means something much more personal. Oops!

We all know over here that fag is a cigarette but means something completely different across the pond and beaver is a small water dwelling damn building forest animal – at least in this country but can mean your butt across the pond, fanny here is considered vulgar and not suitable for polite company but not considered that racey across the water. However, during my twenties in Northern Ireland and then in London we had terms, that as young lads we used all the time without a second thought.

Vincent Van Gogh – Rhyming slang for ‘cough’.  As in ‘That’s a nasty Vincent you’ve got there’. As a digression, we had a tutor at school called Mrs Chesnokov and whenever she was mentioned in conversation it was de rigueur to skip her name but to quickly touch your chest then knee and then cough; chest-knee-cough..  geddit?

Salad dodger – an extremely overweight person. Sometimes we would also say busted sofa – an overweight woman wearing a tight dress/trousers. As another digression, I once sat on a bus with my very young son only to be mortified as he said in a very loud voice whilst pointing to the lady sitting in front of us, ‘Daddy, that ladies very fat, isn’t she?’.  The young couple sitting behind us had to get off because for the next five minutes they tried and tried valiantly to supress their laugher before finally giving in to it.  So did the rest of the bus.

OK OK digression #2, when I was at Secondary school we had a tubby chap in our class called George Burns and being the horrible cruel kids that we were, his nickname was ‘Fat Burns’ and loved our cleverness as not only was he obviously fat but because, of course that fat does actually burn.

Aeroplane blond – this is a nursing term and no, it’s not about dumb blonde’s, it’s a phenomena one got used to seeing, especially in A&E (ER) Units, it’s a reference to an attractive woman who has dyed her hair but still has a black box.  As yet another digression, we once had an unconscious patient in A&E who had dyed her pubes green and had a tattoo ‘Come Lie On The Grass’ above it.  She needed to be prepped for emergency surgery so one of the nurses shaved her and wrote in ink above the tattoo ‘sorry, we had to mow the lawn’.

Pearl Harbour – cold weather. Rhyming slang.  “It’s a bit Pearl Harbour out there!”. Meaning it’s a bit nippy out there or there’s a nip in the air. This comes from the well-known surprise attack by Japanese planes on the American port in Hawaii in 1941. We would also say ‘it’s brass monkey weather out there’ meaning it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey, I had absolutely no idea where that came from but if you wish to be educated then click here.

Mork and Mindy – Rhyming slang for ‘windy’, i.e. “It’s a little bit Mork and Mindy today, innit?”. This isn’t actually a reference to the weather outside but this expression is always accompanied with a grin as you flap your hands around your rear end.  Speaking of which, I was reading a blog  (yes, mine actually) about life’s most embarrassing moments and this girl wrote that when in sixth form her teacher asked if anyone could do something unusual…like wiggle their ears or somersault…so this 16yr old said she could do a cartwheel. The teacher thought that’s a good trick so the entire class pushed all their desks back and she stood up to do her cartwheel, unfortunately as she was in the middle of it two things happened simultaneously

1) Her skirt fell down and everyone could see her awful Bridget Jones knickers..

2) She farted…REALLY LOUDLY

The entire class fell to the floor laughing and she was humiliated.. even the teacher laughed…

She left shortly after that and became an axe murderer..

Blouse Bunnies – you can probably figure this one out from the following totally true story. Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he’d just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut, and bruised, and he’s walking with a limp.
‘What happened to you?’ asks Sean, the bartender.
‘Micheal O’Connor and me had a fight,’ says Paddy.
‘That little O’Connor,’ says Sean, ‘He couldn’t do that to you, he must have had something in his hand.’
‘That he did,’ says Paddy,’a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin’ he gave me with it.’
‘Well,’ says Sean, ‘you should have defended yourself. Didn’t you have something in your hand?’
That I did,’ said Paddy, ‘Mrs. O’Connor’s breast, and a thing of beauty it was; but useless in a fight.’

Five Finger Discount – to steal something. Another completely true story. It’s Saint Patrick’s day and an armed hooded robber bursts into the Bank of Ireland and forces the tellers to load a sack full of cash. On his way out the door with the loot one brave Irish customer grabs the hood and pulls it off revealing the robber’s face. The Robber Shoots the Guy Without Hesitation!

He then looks around the bank to see if anyone else has seen him. One of the tellers is looking straight at him and the robber walks over and calmly shoots him also. Everyone by now is very scared and looking down at the floor. Did anyone else see my face?’ screams the robber.

There is a few moments of silence then one elderly Irish lady, looking down, tentatively raises her hand and says, ‘I think me husband may have caught a glimpse.’

bookmark_borderBreaking The Seal.

I have never been a big drinker but between the ages of 20 and 25 all my friends would go down to the Castle Arms and get completely smashed after work.  I’m aware this perpetuates the stereotype of the Irish being big drinkers but if you lived in a country where it was cold and rained almost constantly then that’s how you’d spend your evenings too, anyway there’s only a limited  amount of times one can trudge through the delights of Tullymore Forest and The Giants Causeway before the attraction wears off.

I’ve never taken to beer, I’ve tried but I actual detest it, especially Guinness and I know I’m in danger of having my passport revoked penning that but I’ve always done my own thing so I was always designated driver. Most weekends I would happily watch the transformation of my friends from quiet introverted geeks into loud rowdy morons and then into ‘I love you, you are my best-est friend ever’ stage followed by falling asleep in mid sentence and resting their head on the table amongst all the empty pint glasses and full ashtrays.

OK, I know this dwells on toilet habits somewhat but there is a point. What I couldn’t understand for a few years was how the guys could drink pint after pint and not go to the toilet, the general pattern was that they would drink until about 10pm and then go to the loo but then go frequently after that.  They would have consumed anything between four and eight pints from 6pm to 10pm and not go once. I thought they all had cast iron bladders, hollow legs or somehow auto-magically plugged into the Castle Arms plumbing as I had no idea where that volume of fluid was going. However, I was talking to Carl one evening about this and he explained what happens when you’re a heavy drinker. You can drink and drink and drink and not feel the urge to go but there comes a point when you just have to and then after that you go regularly and that’s termed ‘breaking the seal’, it’s like the dam has finally burst and all the water pours out.

I know this seems somewhat convoluted – but I was reminded of that conversation the other day. In my group of friends and colleagues for the last 25 years no-one has got sick and suffered any major health problems but since turning 50 in February I know of three folk who are seriously unwell, it’s like someone ‘broke the seal’ and now I have a flood (ouch) of friends not well and the term ‘grave illness’ seems ironically appropriate.

During the first 25 years of my life death and tragedy was a common occurrence and I lost friends and colleagues due to The Troubles in Northern Ireland, we called it Northern Beirut with good reason and that was part and parcel of growing up – at least in Northern Ireland, I imagine it was probably the same growing up with the gangland violence in parts of New York City during the same era, so the first 25 years of my life was marked with tragedy, some involving very close friends.

However, during the last 25 years it’s been all quiet on the western front  and the only tragedy I’ve had to deal with was when I worked on Intensive Care and although death and tragedy was a common occurrence there it was not friends and colleagues of mine, it wasn’t personal, the nature of the job kind’a insulated you from the worse feelings because you have to come in next morning and start all over again with someone else. However, that was the last 25 years, now it feels like someone has broken the seal and in my extended group of friends and people I’ve had dealings with in the past suddenly there is more and more tragedy occurring and it’s a bit of a shock.

I wrote in a previous blog posting about Facebook and how I was sad that it doesn’t extend into Heaven, I think it would be quite nice to be able to check up on a few friends when they pass over and make sure they are okay..

bookmark_borderMoney versus love?

eee-me meeny miny mo..

You’re probably familiar with these lyrics;

Can’t buy me love, love
Can’t buy me love
I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright
I’ll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright
‘Cause I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

Credited to Lennon/McCartney

Paul McCartney stated that “The idea behind this song was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won’t buy me what I really want.” but I wonder if that’s really true these days – or ever has been.

This is not an easy subject to blog about without causing some folk to get hot under the collar but I blogged a while back about my Speed Dating evening and how practically everyone there was only interested in my earning potential but not my loving potential. One of my friends says she doesn’t believe in true love and shooting stars, only in shoes and cars – which saves me having to figure out if she’s dating material..

When I worked in Northern Ireland I had a well paid job, house/car etc and it was interesting that the higher up I went in the food chain (literally as it was a massive supermarket) then the more attention I got from certain woman and I ponder on this quite a lot these days. I overheard a gaggle of my staff once describe me as ‘a good catch’ and I wasn’t standing anywhere near the Fish Dept at the time.

When I left the rat race and went into low paid Nursing then suddenly I became less desirable, my dance card emptied and I wonder how it goes, when I was senior management I had no problems getting a dance but once I went into nursing then that all stopped because of course all nurses suffer from white coat syndrome and will only date doctors. And when I started dating again a few years ago I was disappointed to met up with woman who made it obvious they were only going to date someone with lots of funds. And of course it works the other way around too, friends moan at me about men that will only date young fit woman and they don’t seem to be interested in the loving potential of someone 50+.

This is of course, all generalisations but I can only quote from personal experience, there ‘are’ woman out there in dating land that don’t give a shit about how much I earn but they tend to keep themselves well hidden, and I wonder does it all change as you get older and established, when I was in my 20 and 30’s it seemed to me that most partners were viewing me in a ‘will he provide for a family and make a good father’ attitude but now I’m 50 I wonder does any of that matter as most folk this age are sorted.. it was like love with conditions but when your cat/dog/kids love you they do it without conditions and I wonder how that change comes about…

Paul McCartney was to later comment: “It should have been ‘Can Buy Me Love’ ” when reflecting on the perks that money and fame had brought him, when “Can’t Buy Me Love” went to number one (4 April 1964), the entire top five of the Hot 100 was by the Beatles, the next positions being filled by “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me,” respectively. No other act has held the top five spots simultaneously. The expression we have at home is he’s well worth rubbing up against (think of a pussycat), and I know there are more than a few gold diggers out there happy to help Paul spend his money but I can see where he is coming from, money can buy you love it seems but just not the sort you might want, I can go buy a puppy and I’m pretty sure after a few weeks I’ll get all the puppy love anyone could ask for but what about non-canine love? (I know a few of you are thinking why on earth would I need any other sort of love).

He probably has a large (pay) packet..

A while back I blogged about Crystal Harris (aged 25) and her engagement to Hugh Hefner (aged 85) and their pending nuptials, I really wanted to ask Crystal the following question “what was it that first attracted you to the multi-millionaire Hugh Hefner?” but it seems that there is hope for me after all as Crystal broke off the engagement five days before the wedding. Not like I want to marry Crystal Harris but it’s good to see that even being a multi-millionaire can’t buy you love – or the illusion of it.

I wonder a lot about this these days for various reasons, I can see the change in attitudes from dates now I am 50, there is much less ‘sizing up’ these days and much more willingness to check out a man’s loving potential as opposed to his financial potential and I wonder will that get better and better as the years pass, my mother Doris waited until she was 81 before she settled on the man who was going to give her true love – unlike a previous suitor who was obviously only interested in her land but I’m kind’a keen to not wait until I’m 81 before finding true love.

Perhaps I ought to start doing the National Lottery 😉

Or perhaps not.

bookmark_borderWe are our own saviours

Yes, can’t sleep, lucky foxes are fauxing each other outside and making one hell of a racket so lets share thoughts instead.

Surfing around and found this, I like some of the lines.. particularly the last one

Wond’ring aloud –
how we feel today.
Last night sipped the sunset –
my hands in her hair.
We are our own saviours
as we start both our hearts beating life
into each other.

Wond’ring aloud –
will the years treat us well.
As she floats in the kitchen,
I’m tasting the smell
of toast as the butter runs.
Then she comes, spilling crumbs on the bed
and I shake my head.
And it’s only the giving
that makes you what you are.

It’s July the 20th and if I had to name a theme for this year it would be ‘a  year of losing people and VERY long goodbyes’. It actually started on New Years Eve ironically enough and seems to be continuing even more intensely now but I’m not very good at picking up memes until I get hit with them again and again, so goodbye to everyone whom I’ve lost this year (even if some of you forgot to say goodbye) and in particular goodbye to Leanne and Sunny as you all move onto pastures new and thanks for the lessons and the time but there’s one person in particular who hasn’t moved on yet but most likely will due to illness before the year is out and that’s C.

I spent this evening with C and it was a reminder from the Universe about what’s important in life and what’s flotsam and even then the Universe was teaching C lessons. She’s always been very concerned with her looks and now she realises how little that really matters in the end, it’s the person inside that counts the most. I suppose that’s why my mother Doris married Big Hooter Bob (to quote her 81 yr old self) the other year, I think she was talking about the size of his nose.

Fortunately C met a very nice man a few years ago and they are very very happy, I think the Universe can be mischievous and likes to play with us but is not cruel. So C has someone to help and care and share and hold her hand during the night when she feels frightened as frightened she will be, and that’s what it’s all about, it’s only the giving, that makes you what you are..

I spent ten years working as a nurse on Intensive care,  ten years trying to stop folk leaving this world and ten years holding their hands whilst they moved on. From 16 year olds to 95 year olds and I remember so so many of them and their families, and in the final days money, status and politics didn’t matter, it was only about family and friends and love

We called it Intensive Care with good reason

I’m kind’a sad that Facebook doesn’t reach into heaven

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors (part six)

Polly wants a cracker!

When I was doing my nursing and it was quiet I used to ring up some of the other wards and ask for fictitious characters like Penny; Penny TrateMe or Connie; Connie Lingus or Ipee; Ipee Freely..I’d do that when a new member of staff started and didn’t know anyone (or any better) was revenge for the same trick being played on me when I was new and I’m sure it still happens these days.. (no, not by me!).

Someone rang me up once when I was doing my Ward Management Exam and said her name was Mrs Smith and she was coming in for a hernia repair tomorrow (which was true as I had a list of tomorrows ops) but then she asked what parrot food we had..

I thought WTF and said pardon and she said she was going to bring her parrot in as we couldn’t expect her to leave it at home for a week, she had a cage and it was clean and not too noisy but it was very fussy about it’s what food did we supply..

I said sorry but there is no way we would allow a pet parrot on a surgical ward but then we got into this surreal argument about peoples rights and animal rights, I was just about to tell her to go fuck herself when I heard a snigger in the background..and the penny dropped, I said hang on a minute til “I check with the boss” and nipped around to the next ward and the entire staff were standing by the phone laughing at the wonderful prank they were playing on dumbo next door…I’m soo naive…bastards…

bookmark_borderA load of balls

When I was working on A&E (ER) as a nurse, we had this bloke come in unconscious and naked, he was found by his flatmate who called the ambulance. We checked him over and he had a huge bash on the top of his head (he was bald) but rather unusually he had scratch marks and a small amount of fresh bleeding around his testicles..

We thought this was a weird one, we’ve had some strange cases in A&E like the bloke with the badly injured penis, he claimed he accidentally managed to umm suck his penis up the vacuum spout when he was hoovering, well, that’s what he claimed but we did eye him *somewhat* suspiciously.. I didn’t know it was normal practice to hoover your home winter..I’ve obviously been doing it all wrong.. and we had a bloke who *fell* onto a toilet cleaning brush instead of falling onto the toilet when drunk and managed to ‘wreck his rectum’ to some suppressed titters from us lot of unbelievers outside the cubicle.. and the amount of folk that accidentally sit on satsumas is amazing…well, they ought to be banned really, they are such a hazard to health…and one bloke managed to get a small light bulb up and around the corner of his rectum… we made copies of the x-ray, it was on the wall of the doctors mess for years..

Anyway, this bloke with the bump and the bleeding testicles.. eventually he regained consciousness and told us his story.. It transpires that he had just finished having a bath and when he got out and dried himself he noticed a scum mark around the bath, so still naked, he got out some bath cleaner and proceeded to lean over and clean his bath.. Whilst he was scrubbing away, his new kitten came into the bathroom, saw his testicles swinging in the breeze and made a lunge for them and dug it’s claws in, he screamed in agony and jumped up suddenly and bashed his head on the medicine cupboard and knocked himself out…

(you might be surprised at just how much of this post is actually true! ;p )

bookmark_borderAre my testicles black?

Are my testicles black?

We (ex) nurses tend to see the world in a slightly different way from Joe Public, words and phrases in common day use tend to make us smile, for example; feedback, when a tutor says to us ‘give me some feedback’ we all titter and immediately think of vomit. Another one is motion, if someone says ‘he’s just going through the motions’ then we think of someone picking their way through shit, and another common one is issues, when someone tells me they are having issues then I have an image of her standing there and all this bodily fluid issuing from her.

Nurses do tend to have ‘gallows humour’ and each discipline tends to have their own ‘in-jokes’.  When I was doing my two months on the Labour ward there was an official sign on the wall saying “Remember, the first five minutes of a human being’s life are the most dangerous.” Underneath, a midwife or nurse had written: “The last five are pretty risky, too.” I loved the Labour Ward.

One of my favourite things to say to mothers in labour (and the break the ice) was ‘Hi, my name’s D*****, I’m at your cervix” to which they would generally laugh and then I’d say “I’m dilated to meet you”, saying things like that usually sets the tone of the shift but considering I was going to be staring at her jacksie for the next eight hours it only seemed appropriate.

I had one female student nurse tell me this;  her patient in ICU was wired up with drips and monitors, breathing with the aid of an oxygen mask. He waves at her and asks “Are my testicles black?”
Embarrassed the young nurse replies, “I don’t know Sir, I’m new here and only here to wash your face and hands.”
He struggles again to talk through his mask and repeats, “Nurse, are my testicles black!?”
Again the nurse replies, “I can’t tell. I’m only here to wash your face and hands.”
The Head Nurse was passing and saw the man getting a little distraught so she marched over to inquire what was wrong.
“Nurse,” he mumbled, “Are my testicles black?”
Being a nurse of long-standing, the Head Nurse was undaunted. She whipped back the bedclothes, pulled down his pyjama trousers, had a real good look, pulled his pyjamas back up, replaced the bedclothes and announced, “There’s nothing wrong with your testicles!!!”
At this point, the man pulled off his mask and said very slowly, “I. SAID. ARE. MY. TEST. RESULTS. BACK. ??!!”

Think she may have made that one up 😉

bookmark_borderYou see, it’s the little kid inside us that stops us from going crazy.

Not so much a student nurse, more a victim...

Apparently one should never blog when pissed as proverbial newt – thank God for spell checkers cos there is no way in this gods earth that I can spell proverbial when drunk.. or even sober and this will probably offend just about everybody so unless you are a doctor or nurse, stop reading now, we (ex)nurses use humour as our coping mechanism, it stops us from going crazy in the middle of so much tragedy (plus it’s cheaper than therapy).

When I was gainfully employed as a nurse on intensive care unit about a third of my patients died.. it wasn’t my fault, honest your honour, I’d pull out all stops to keep my patients alive, simple little things – like stopping the cleaners from unplugging the ventilator so they could plug in their damn vacuums and hoover the room, and like stopping the patients from lighting up cigarettes under the blankets during the middle of the night and literally going up in smoke because of the high O2 supply, I would do everything in my power to keep them alive – at least to the end of my bleeding shift (!) but some folk are obstinate buggers and  frankly don’t give a damn about my feelings and just insist on dying during my shift where-upon I’d have to ‘lay them out’, at least that’s the term we used. This involved removing all the lines and cables and tubes and leads and wires and paraphernalia (thank you spell checker) that we had attached/inserted in them and then wash the body and wrap them in a gown and attached the traditional ID label to toe. Sooo…

Things they don’t tell you in nursing school

1.       Make sure you check the patient’s cupboard (and mouth) to see if they have dentures. It seems there is only a small window of opportunity to put dentures back in the mouth or then they never fit properly again, I’ve been caught out by this on more than one occasion, the last time was when the patient was already away to the morgue and I had to force them in and then wrap bandage all around head to close keep mouth closed again, jaws without teeth never look right.

2.       Bodies make noises even when they’ve been dead for quite some time.. sadly sadly sadly it is practically impossible not to laugh out loud when you are listing the patients belongings in the Death Book and the bodies let off a big fart. Noises from bodies happen with regularly frequency, the usual ones being farts and burps but occasionally big sighs as well – which is excellent as the Student Nurse with you usually faints at that point. And sadly, as I’ve rolled big patients over onto their side so the other nurse can wash their back we have heard long fanny farts.. When a patient does that  I will usually say something like ‘that’s been in there since 1947..” at which point we are wetting ourselves laughing and I can’t hold onto the body and it’s in great danger of rolling out of the bed.. And sometimes you can be sitting by the nurses station a few hours after the person has died… 4am in the morning…quiet everywhere.. and all the sudden there a long drawn out fart from behind the curtain… and you wonder if that’s the body …or if there’s a nurse in there as well..

3.       Student nurses are easily spooked. It’s amazing easy, when behind the curtains to spook the student nurse helping you lay out a body, they are usually very nervous right from the start and you tell them stories about patients coming back to life and breathing again even when officially declared dead… this is usually most effective late at night and it’s dark and then you say “OMG he moved!” and the student nurses freaks out… and you say you thought you saw his chest move and the nurse is starting to panic and then the coup de grace is to discretely and gently push the bodies elbow slightly so his hand moves which point the student invariably runs out of the cubicle screaming whilst you have tears of laughter rolling down your cheeks..

4.       Dead bodies don’t magically disappear from ICU and materialise in the mortuary via  Star Trek transporter.  The porters come up with a special trolley that is hollow, the body goes into a compartment in the trolley and the top of the trolley is covered with a clean sheet so it looks like an empty trolley to members of public walking past in corridor. However, rigor mortis seems to set in amazingly quickly, you probably want the relatives to see their relative and say their goodbye’s ASAP because if you leave a body in a semi reclined position on a few pillows with their  hands together on their chest then what invariably happens is that you can’t actually straighten them out flat afterwards…  This has caused me problems when grieving relatives have spent ages saying goodbye to their loved one and then when I come to transfer them into the porters trolley they won’t lie down flat, nor can I move their arms down to the side. There have actually been occasions when a student nurse has left the patient in a sitting up position as the rellies were there and then once they went we couldn’t flatten him and get him into the porters body-trolley. Then what you have to do is leave them in the bed for a whole shift and gradually the rigor mortis resolves. You thought I was going to say we bash the body with a mallet to get it into the trolley, didn’t you… we never did that, we used rolling pins.

My old nurse tutor, Mrs Threadbare (as everyone referred to her) would turn in her grave if she read this but every experienced nurse will probably say ‘yup, been there, done that’ 🙂

You see, it’s the little kid inside us that stops us from going crazy.

bookmark_borderConfession time, I hang my head in shame….

I hang my head in shame, names have been changed to protect the innocent..

One dark and stormy night – NO, NO, REALLY, it was dark and stormy, it was the night of the famous hurricane here in southern England. Michael Fish, the Walter Cronkite of weatherman on BBC1, chuckled about it at 6pm on TV and said it wasn’t going to happen, he said “some lady phoned in to the Met Office to say there was a great storm approaching, well everyone, I can assure you that there is no storm approaching, there’s going to be some rain but no storm…the really bad weather is going to miss us!”

Four hours after telling us that The Great Storm did indeed pitch up on our doorsteps, some houses lost their roofs, many buildings suffered structural damage and tree’s were uprooted, Seven Oaks, a village in Kent was dramatically transformed into Two Oaks and many books were written about the Great Hurricane..

So ‘one dark and stormy night’, October 16th, 1987, I was asked to accompany my then girlfriend Jen and her friend Diane, to Springfield Psychiatric hospital so they could copy down their off duty rota as they were due to work there on their Student Nurse rotation.

So we went across the fields to Springfield loony bin, now I don’t know about American nut houses but most Brit ones were built in the Victorian era out in the countryside and for some bizarre reason they all look like a film set from an old Hammer House horror movie.. which was hilariously lampooned in Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein..

Anyway, the three of us traipsed across the institution grounds, we were already a bit spooked, it was pitch black, the distant street lights kept flickering out, gale force winds, lightning, wolves in the distance howling at the full moon, Jen thought they were just foxes but I wasn’t convinced.. I kept thinking of An American Werewolf in London.. “keep to the path stranger, dinna stray from the path…” as we walked across the fields….

We found the unit the girls were going to be working on and we pressed the buzzer to be let in.. First shock was that there where patients lying on the ward floor…just lying there blocking the way like a scene from One Fly Past The Cuckoo Nest, I scanned round surreptitiously looking for Jack Nicholson… and a large Native American carrying a pillow and looking suspicious…the ward seemed to be full of people in their stripped pyjamas.. and it was only 7pm… and that was just the staff…

We found the nurses station and the staff were all sitting there smoking like chimneys and chatting/joking away, the girls introduced themselves and asked about their coming stint on the ward and if they could copy down their off-duty. So after a while Diane asked where the loo’s where as she needed to have a quick pee, the Head Nurse pointed her down the corridor and around the corner and up the stairs… Diane wasn’t too keen to head off down the dimly lit corridors with the wind (Werewolves) howling, the windows rattling, sheet lightening flashing everywhere and the cast from The Rocky Horror Picture Show standing around in their pyjamas.. However, a full bladder won’t be denied so off she went…looking very scared….

OK I’m kind’a ashamed about this ..a bit… but some of you will have noticed that my handle here is MrMischievous and not without reason.. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be a fun jape to sneak up to the loos after Diane and spook her ..just a little bit..?

So I snook along the corridor, round the corner and up the stairs to the staff loos.. The lights were on so I knew she was in one of the cubicles and deciding to be gentle on her (initially), I stood by the door and started to flick the lights off and on.. a lot… and a startled voice called out “WHO’S THERE!!” teeheeheee…and then I thought wouldn’t it be funny to howl a little…so I switched off the lights and let out this long low HOWL and Diane SCREAMED big time..really screamed and kept screaming… I thought HOLY CRAP! and ran out and around a corner.. and immediately all the staff came running up the stairs and burst into the cubicle..

Apparently when they burst open the cubicle door Diane was sitting ‘on top’ the loo seat ..with her pants still down and still screaming..

I know I’m going to hell but I couldn’t being myself to confess to her afterwards, to this day she is convinced that she was stalked by a Werewolf that night…

I told Jen years later and she kicked me.. and then laughed outrageously..

I hang my head in shame.. surprisingly I still have a few friends left…….

bookmark_borderMay Contain Nuts.

If you are easily offended then stop reading.

During my Student Nurse days I had to spend three months working on the Psychiatric hospital in South London. Some of the skills I picked up the was the ability to dodge incoming blows easily, wrestle a six foot six psycho to the ground in one deft movement and play poker, skills that have occasionally come in handy since then.

I worked on the admissions ward and nearly everyone there was sectioned (court ordered) and it was a bit of an eye opener. Some of the guys there were huge, brick shit-houses and you didn’t turn your backs on them *ever*. Most of them knew that if they punched your lights out then nothing would come of it, it’s like “are you nuts or something?” and the reply being the obvious “well, yes actually..” At times I felt like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest and developed a morbid fear of pillows.. So one developed a sixth sense when you were going to get decked, there was a chart on the Staff room wall with whom had went the longest without getting thumped, the longest period I went fist free was ten days but some of the old timers there nearly managed 100 days with a punch-up.

I should actually say that some of the Staff quite liked the fighting and enjoyed the fisticuffs with some of the more insane patients. I *did* see one guy, huge fucker, high on some weird concoction, take four staff on and beat them, eventually it took six police officers to subdue him enough for someone to jab his butt with a syringe containing enough sedative to take down a bull elephant..

The daily routine was to try to cajole the ‘inmates’ out of bed in the morning and get them off to occupational therapy but most just wanted to lay in bed all day and vegetate. We’d get most of them out of bed (eventually) but one huge guy in particular didn’t take any notice so the technique was to leave him to last, then two of us would grab his mattress, yank it up and literally toss him off the bed and run like fuck. He’s come charging after us but we were too fleet footed for him and eventually he’s give up and go get breakfast.

I wouldn’t want you to think I wasted my time there, I spent a lot of my time there constructively by learning to play poker. Playing poker with normal sane folk is difficult enough but playing it with someone psycho is a bit of a challenge for various reason. Knowing that your opponent could suddenly throttle you certainly added to the excitement of the afternoon, sometimes you’d see the other player being distracted and when you asked “what’s up?” it was somewhat unnerving to hear him say “the voices are telling me to kill you..”, and that was a member of Staff.. (only joking!), it certainly made the game more interesting. I did wonder though, was this just them playing us along, were they really hearing the voices but it was only for cigarettes so it was no biggie. I *have* sat at tables reading peacefully and suddenly all hell breaks loose because of the voices..

Anyway, we had quite a turnover of patients on the ward but one chap in particular was very memorable due to the fact that he masturbated continuously, even when his elderly parents came to visit (which thankfully was infrequently). I did suggest that they should perhaps visit during the night when he actually did sleep due to his strenuous and vigorous daily exercises but then conversation would have been minimal to say the least. Eventually they just rang up occasionally and listened to him panting down the phone at them, I’m sure some men pay good money to toss off down the phone to someone and I think I may have spotted an excellent retirement career for them, phone sex but didn’t dare suggest it. However, I did find it slightly worrying that to think I was masturbating almost as much as him – and he was considered mentally unstable.. where was the dividing line, two, three, four ham shanks a day? and what happens, was Big Brother watching in some sort of perverted way from the wardrobe and ticking them off on some clipboard..

Billy Connolly did an excellent sketch on masturbation, he was told how to masturbate when he was a young lad but then he was told that once you’ve done it a hundred times you die! So he masturbated furiously for a few weeks and counted them all up but he wasn’t sure, he lost track and then when he was masturbating he had this huge fear that he was going to die, and the shame of being found by his Mammy in bed with his hand around his member would have been too much to bear, it would give added meaning to the term rigor mortis.. or having a stiffy..

(Oh and I have a terrible terrible confession to tell about Springfield Psychiatric hospital and one dark stormy night but I’m going to consult lawyers before I post THAT!)

bookmark_borderShared Body Warmth

When I worked on the wards as a Nurse I had to do night-shifts every other week. We all hated doing them, trying desperately to keep awake at four am was no easy task but to keep awake we would play around somewhat…okay okay “I” would play around somewhat.. much to the irritation of everyone else.

The cylinders of helium gas were always good for a laugh, we used them for patients with respiratory problems as it’s less vicious than oxygen – but it has the wonderful effect of making you sound just like Donald Duck when you speak…excellent fun when your co-workers are half asleep and Donald Duck creeps up on them and quacks “Hiya, Toots, fancy a cuppa tea..”. We also used to play with the false teeth but I canny tell you, dear reader, what we did with them cos you’ll report me to the authorities and I’d be throw into prison for crimes against humanity… needless to say it was great fun thou..

However…one night-shift I thought I better go round and check the patients, we had four bays of eight beds, the first two bays female medical and the other two male medical. Most of our patient were quite old and had a tendency to be a bit confused, (especially when Donald Duck was trying to take their blood pressure), so I started at the first bay and thought that’s odd, Molly from bed two is missing…assuming she had gone off to the loo I carried on checking everyone else in the bay but then I started to get concerned, I checked the loo and she wasn’t in there…oh dear, Molly was about 80 and easily confused…

I went out and told the other Staff nurse and we started to search the other bays and cupboards and loo’s… no sign of her and suddenly I’m VERY awake…thinking shit shit shit, where can she have gone, how the hell did she get past the Nurses station…

Then I looked at bed 30 in the men’s bay… Frank seemed to be very bulky… I thought WTF? and went over to investigate… Snuggled tightly up beside Frank was Molly.. I thought…oh she’s obviously feeling better!, do I disturb them or do I leave them alone, after all, they are both consenting adults 🙂

Not sure what to think, I asked Molly if she knew where she was.. She said (incredibly sweetly I should add) “yes, of course, I’m snuggled up with my daddy..’ Frank was also of a certain vintage..

So I gently got her up and brought her back to her own bed and settled her in.. That was fine but I went back to see Frank and I asked him did he know he had company.. he said “Well, you know what, I looked over and saw this woman getting into bed with me and I thought ‘I MUST be dreaming’ and rolled over and went back asleep again…”

I don’t know, I’m not convinced… but think it might actually be a good idea for patients to share beds in hospital, at least by mutual consent, Frank had a spring in his step and big smile on his face next day…


Those of a medical bent will appreciate this. These “writings” were actually once written into hospital charts……….

1. The patient refused autopsy.
2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
6. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.
10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
12. She is numb from her toes down.
13. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.
14. The skin was moist and dry.
15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
20. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
21. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.