My favorite stories are the ones my dad tells of his days on the Lexington Fire Department. It’s true… when you work with the general public, especially in extreme environments or situations involving life and death, or just human health in general, you see some crazy stuff.
I have laughed so hard at some of his stories, one of which included a guy who called 911 from a payphone in Lexington because he had diarrhea running down his leg. Or the time a man with a trach (a hole in his neck to breathe out of) that was covered in gauze who suddenly started vomiting in the ambulance… the vomit causing the gauze to flap as it spewed out the hole in his neck, causing dad’s fellow paramedic to also puke…
Okay, okay, I’ll stop. I know some of you may not have stomachs as strong as mine. 😉
I have told dad and my other paramedic friends that they should write a book… the stories are just too good… you can’t make anything up that is as good as real life.
When I started working at Eastern State Hospital several years ago, I had this thought in mind as my first day of work approached. I was super nervous, I’d never worked in a psychiatric hospital before, and had no idea what to expect. Not to mention… has anyone seen this place!? It looks like it belongs in a horror movie. Totally creepy.
In fact, it’s the second oldest facility in the NATION devoted to patients with mental health issues. They need to shut it down and use it as a real-life haunted house. I have seen the tiny rooms where they used to chain people to the walls. And where the incinerator was where they burned the bodies of those who died while admitted.
On one of my first days on the job, I was working on the geriatric floor. This was the unit that every Eastern State employee dreaded. It wasn’t just psychiatric patients, it was geriatric psych patients! We all know how grandmas can get a little crass as they age… the mouth filters apparently stop working at some point in life. Well, multiply sweet grandma’s occasional pervertedness or vulgarity by 1,000,000,000.
Aaaand, welcome to the geriatric unit!
It was often my job to sit one-on-one with patients who had a risk to hurt themselves or others, and on this particular day, I was sitting with Santa Claus. Actually, this man by outward appearance looked very sweet… kind face, long white hair…
…there was just one problem.
His tongue was like this giant slug that filled his entire mouth and hung so far out, I couldn’t understand a single thing he tried to tell me. It was like the slug was trying to escape as it drooped out over his lips, and he was constantly sucking it back in. Yeah, I was thrilled on this day.
So Mr. Tongue, or Peter as I’ll call him, was sitting with me in the common area, where many of the patients gathered to watch television and just relax – as much as you can in a psych hospital anyway – what, with people peeing on the floor, and the occasional screaming. In front of everyone, Peter began putting his hand down his pants.
Oh dear… here we go.
“Mr. Peter, do you need to go to the bathroom?” I asked him.
The slug moved back and forth.
He continued to dig in his pants…
“Mr. Peter, let’s not do that here, you may embarrass the ladies.”
He began pulling down on the top of his pants and at the brief (an adult diaper) that he was wearing.
Oh dear God, please no. Please don’t let my patient get naked on my first week of work…
Mr. Peter was able to spit out a couple words.
And as I proceeded to ask him what was bothering him, he kept repeating “Wabbit” as best he could with his slug of a tongue, all while pulling at his pants and digging down in his diaper.
Finally, he stood up, and I was sure he was about to show everyone his birthday suit as he reached down his pants.
“Mr. Peter, let’s go to your room. If you are wanting to get undressed, you should do it in private.” I said, as I guided him quickly towards his room.
As we began heading towards his room, he pulled out a handful of this white fluffy stuff.
Then reached in again, and pulled out another handful of the white fluff.
“Wabbit!!” he exclaimed, as he made a trail of this white cotton to his room.
Apparently, his brief had been bothering him, and the cotton it was made of, or the “wabbit,” just had to go!
Swallowing my laughs, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I helped him to his room,where he could finally get that rabbit out of his pants!