Wednesday, June 28, 2006

B.N.O. (Bowells Not Open)

Even tho I've worked as a nurse for many years I'm still bemused at the actual minutiae of the job, especially in aged care where there has to be a holistic approach covering the residents for many years, until they die. One of the biggest obsessions is the bowel movements of the oldies, for they can go weeks without shitting if not watched closely, lying in bed with little exercise as they do and with the sloppy food that gets sludged into them setting like concrete in their guts. We have to go into the finest details, how many times a day they went, what was it's colour and consistency, hard balls or liquid flood, any blood or foreign objects, if they had a laxative or did they self-manually evacuate it, (yes, some of them actually stick their fingers up their arse or get a nurse to do it for them, something I absolutely refuse to do!) I hate the sight and smell of shit and luckily, as the boss registered nurse, I just get to point at the mess and my assistants clean it up. I have 2 University degrees and several world prizes in ART but little did I know I'd end my days counting turds, what a bring-down for my brat's hubris!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, "old age is wicked, nursing homes are wickeder." You'd think that in the twilight years humans would be allowed to rest comfortably in bed dreaming of past joys and glories, but no, they must be hunted out continuously from under their blankets, rolled about to have shitty nappies ripped off and replaced; turned back and forth every 2 hours to get them off their pressure areas; pricked by needles and prodded by rubber-gloved fingers; sat up to gulp medicines; swung about in 'pelican belts' at dawn for compulsory showers; invaded in every orifice by catheters to void urine, drain phlegm and deliver suppositories; tubes plugged into bellies for feeding when the throat clams up; thermometres thrust in every nook and cranny, blood-pressure cuffs squeezing the limbs, bandages cutting off the blood supply; rushed about in wheelchairs for diversional therapy, propped up like groomed mummies for the grand poobah doctor's visit, it goes on and on, with rarely a half-hour's rest night or day for the innocent, like geriatric babes in arms, moaning protests, screaming, "fuck off and let me die!"

One old lady, rich but weak on her legs, was brought in by her nephews to be cared for 24/7 , she swears 'they' are just after her money. She calls us nurses a pack of bastards for keeping her locked up, she's been kidnapped and put in the 'home' against her will, and every night she toddles about the corridors clinging to her walking frame and planning her escape, trying to bribe someone to open a door, or kill her to put an end to her misery. I feel like a jailer yet I've seen that she can't look after herself, always falling over, she would be on her kitchen floor for weeks broken-hipped before anybody found her, and all her money can't buy her love. Life is amazingly wonderful if one has the guts, luck and brains to grab a hold of it, and then the party's over, and it's back to the interstellar dust in this vast mysterious universe. In the face of this entropic horror I'm having as much fun as I possibly can, like Life, bring it on, whatever the extremes, I want to enjoy it to the max while I can.