Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crackhouses as viewed by a nurse (repost)

I was thinking about this post this morning as I drove into my office. It's hard to believe this was just a year ago. Enjoy.

My job will change soon. Right now I am a home health nurse. Again, this means I drive to peoples' houses and be a nurse. My patients range in age and location. Of concern today, are my patients who are not white and not rich.

There are very poor pockets of this town. The next step is homeless. These enclaves are often called ghettos, section 8 housing, the projects, or crack house lane. All accurate names. And so there I go, before ten am, in my car. Me, the white nurse.

The man I saw today was not appreciative of my visit. For better or worse, he has expectations of the agency that I work for. These expectations are not being met. After I knock, he hollers to let me in. I open the patio door and enter his first floor apartment. He is angry and short with me. I explain that I am not his regular nurse but I can relay his concerns to her. I feel his angry and aggressive energies. I breathe deep and stay centered.

He's seated in a recliner, dressed in shorts and a tank top. He's watching TV. I have never seen a tv like his. “You have a see through TV.”, I say, rather chirpily. This is my natural and genuine tone. Flatly he remarks, “It’s a prison TV”.

It would function as such, the outer casing is clear plastic and you can see all in inside electronic trickery. No hiding shivs there. “Oooh, I seee.” I say. “That's exactly the point.” He smirks. I smile. “That’s a funny joke!” says me. Chipper monkey, thy name is Mrs. Hall.

So we get down to it. My task at this appointment is four fold. He refuses all but two. I take his vitals, listen to his lungs, his heart. Then the diabetic foot care. His feet are a goddamn mess. Toenails all thick with green and yellow fungus, nail beds splitting apart at the seems, feet all dry and flaky. A mess indeed.

I am sitting cross legged on the floor, in front of his recliner. It is the kind that moves up and down with a remote. His carpet has foodstuff ground in. I move aside a bottle of Jameson, empties of Hamm’s beer, and the cockroach spray. My tools are taken from my backpack. And for the next 30 minutes I work through this mess.

I notice that as I lean forward, my white t-shirt dips down, revealing cleavage. My shirt is quickly adjusted and I look up to see if he had noticed. He is twisted completely to his left, leaning over the arm of the chair. A mere six inches from the TV. Glued to The Price is Right. He takes no notice of my labor.

I do an excellent job. He feet respond well. When I am done I repeat my offer to complete my other tasks. He says no. But this time, he smiles. He is no longer short and angry.

In a way, I find my job selfish. On this visit I had an opportunity to give dignity to a man who has very little. This is the privilege of service.

11 Left a message at the beep:

Anonymous said...

I have got to get me one of those TVs!

What you do does indeed give people some badly needed dignity. I remember how well the hospice nurse took care of my Mother, such caring, almost like a child.

Ok, in regards to the comment I left on the previous post, I am now really queasy with all the nasty foot details, LOL.

Mrs. Hall said...

I've a giver, it's what I do ;)

Slyde said...

i havent seen that movie in years, and i STILL get the chills every time i see a picture of nurse ratchet.

p.s. i know im a post late, but T2 is a movie i can watch over and over again. cant get enuff..

Mrs. Hall said...

Slyde: That is NOT a pic of nurse rachett!!! It is from my alma mater's nursing history archives.


ok-will have to do a post to clarify :)

but, no worries on being late, :)

SK Waller said...

You are one hell of a woman, Mrs. Hall. Bless you.

Kimberly said...

Should nursing fall through - there is always beauty school ie. your angelic touch with people's feet.

Bruce Johnson said...

I recall reading this the first time and realized that I needed to start following what you write. You are a saint with far more patience than I will ever have.

Mrs. Hall said...

Steph: aw shucks!

Kimberly: Hey, you didn't do that word veri thing. huh. Well, yes, I would totally work the salon! Hair and nails and weaves and everything!

Bruce: Glad I could rope you in. And I don't really think I am a saint, they perform miracles-I just did some diabetic foot care. :)

The Savage said...

Nurses are made of awesome! Especially the one on whose blog I leave this post....

Mrs. Hall said...

Le Savage: Thanks dude. But, really just doing the job. I don't work for home health anymore. Now I'm all fancy psychiatric nurse practitioner. All working in a office and such.


Susan Higgins said...

Oh my God! YOU are an angel... there is no way I could touch nasty fungus nails.

Mrs. Hall, you are now my new heroine, doing so much more than I could do, no wonder I never became a nurse!

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