Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crackhouses as viewed by a nurse

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, in this post, are my patients who are not white and not rich.

There is a pocket in town that is poorest. 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 was not appreciative of my visit. For better or worse, he has expectations of the agency that I work for. They are not being met. He is angry and short with me. I feel the angry and agressive energies. I breathe deep and stay centered.

I remark on his TV. “You have a see through TV.” I say, rather chirpely. This is my natural and genuine tone. He says flatly, “It’s a prison TV”. It would function as such, the outer casing is clear platic and you can see all the parts. No hiding shivs there. “Oooh, I seee.” I say slowly. “That is 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 goddam mess. Toenails all thick with green fungus, nail beds splitting apart at the seems, feet all dry and flakey. A mess indeed.

There I am, in front of his recliner. It is the kind that moves up and down with a remote. His carpet has foodstuff ground into it. I kneel there, 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 top dips down, revealing cleavage. My shirt is quickly adjusted and I look up to see if he had noticed. He is bent 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 priviledge of service.

4 Left a message at the beep:

Big Pissy said...

You, my dear, are a Saint.

There is no way....NO way..that I could preform the job that you do.

Have a good one deserves it more. :)

Mrs. Hall said...

Hello Pissy!

I am not sure I qualify for Sainthood. I think you actually have to perform a miracle for that. Or have a vision of Jesus or something. All I did was some foot care and basic nursing assessments.


Mrs. Hall

Michelle said...

Foot care is saintly mrs hall!! Most people only prefer to care for their own feet, not the feet of others!!!

Good work my friend!!


Bruce Johnson said...

In a past career I got to enter into the same netherworld when the veneer of society is peeled back. As an insurance claims adjuster, I used to have to go peoples homes and look at a damaged stove, a burned shed, other little mishaps of life. I found in these journeys that all people do not live by the same standard. Many are functional alchoholics, many have never seen the word hygiene much less practiced it, and many were illiterate and ignorant (but they still had money from some source and house to live in).

Everyone on this planet needs to have a job like this once in their lives, it gives such a better perspective of the big picture.

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