One more tale from the "industry of dying" before I forget it, hard to stomache as it might be, it's what channels into my experience of latter-day reality. It's from when I worked a few months at a place I mischieviously call "Murderith House", only because I nearly got murdered there, otherwise it wasn't too bad, the oldies, the veggies, the "existentially challenged" were looked after well enough, the DON kept it ship-shape and the 'owner' bothered to keep her eye on the home's proper functioning. The level of actual care depended on the nurses and they come in all varieties, lazy and indifferent, assiduous and caring. I was just doing holiday and sick relief so I was interloping on the territory and routine practices of the permanent night nurse, as always I was a bit like a child in the wilderness, kind of a patsy. The only way a night nurse can handle a regular job, year in, year out, is to have it all worked so they can sleep a few hours in the night, otherwise their lives trully fall to bits. I don't sleep, I watch.
At the back of the nursing home was a dementia unit named St.Sebastions, my favourite saint and I thought it sounded sweet and peaceful, forgetting the 'slings and arrows' of his martyrdom. I worked a few disparate nights there and it seemed easy and quiet, the frail demented stuck to there rooms, except for Nazio Grotto, a burly octogenarian who wandered the corridors at midnight but went cheerfully back to his bed when I diplomatically asked him to. The regular nurse, Mandy, decided to give up Wedsday nights there and I was asked to take her place, resignedly showing up to do my 'duty', it was quite boring in St.Sebastions.
When I came onto the ward I noticed Nazio Grotto was much agitated, pacing the corridor, waltzing in and out of the rooms, and when he spotted me his face fell and his chest swelled. He had a pathetic crush on R.N. Mandy, doting on her, following her about like a puppy, her encouraging the attention, possibly to keep him under control, but "inappropriate behaviour" according to another nurse, older and more experienced. He must've been waiting excitedly for her to come on to tell her of the day's happy events and instead he got ugly, bald old me, an abominable gay male nurse who didn't let him have his run of the unit in the wee hours of the night. He had always been a 'ladie's man' and was notorious for touching up the female staff and chucking them under the chin and chanting, "Belissimo", and on clapping his beady eyes on me he was ropeable.
That day some stupid "diversional therapist" or dull spark nurse up at Murderith House had thrown a make-fun celebration, "Christmas in July", with decorations, carol singing, special dinner and dancing, the dementia patients brought up to swan about with the other gerries, Nazio getting to dance with as many spunky females as he could grab a hold of. According to the Sister who handed over to me, Nazio came back to St. Sebastions "as if drunk, singing his head off", nobody telling him and the others it wasn't really Christmas, he possibly expected his family to visit with presents and more lovely dinner, pacing about furiously until 9.30PM when I signed on, lone monstrous me, not the lovely Mandy.
There was another mad old patient agitated into an hysterical fit, Jane Klepto, her daily routine had been upset by her loyal husband visiting at a different hour and she rushed around the dementia unit shrieking and flapping her hands like Lady MacBeth wringing them of blood. This got Nazio worked up further, and as I moved about on my duties he shouted, "I don't like him. Get rid of him !" I wasn't impressed that he wandered the corridors after 1.ooAM, even going in and out of other resident's rooms, who knows what he'd get up to if the RN was not vigilant, watching everything, and he never liked me watching his movements and giving him directions. I asked him nicely to go to bed as he and Jane were exciting each other, but he lumbered off back up the corridor and then another resident added to the furore, Elizabeth, herself a retired RN, wandering from her room moaning, "Where am I? Who am I? I don't know what to do next? Where should I go?" She tried innumerable times to go out the back door, setting off the alarms, running to the front gate onto the open road, and I would have to plead, cajole and mollify till she allowed me to lead her back into the minimalist bau-haus brick unit.
Nazio growled, Joan shrieked and Elizabeth moaned and I grew distraught as I also had three people dying and I had to keep a close eye on them to assist them on their final journey. Two of the dying shared Nazio's room and I had to go in there throughout the night to watch them. As` I was hovering over their beds to observe their breathing Nazio charged in screaming ,"Get out of my room, bastardo!" Without futher ado he started throwing punches at me, heavy ones that I constantly had to duck and weave to escape. While Nazio was over 80 years old, he was built like a rhinocerus, a peasant from Sicily diagnosed as "paranoid dementia", thick and squat like a Neanderthal caveman with arms like clubs. He spoke hardly any English in his delerium, screaming, "Bastardo! Bastardo!" repeatedly as he swung his rock-hard fists at me, I grew weary of the dance and grabbed both his wrists in mid-air, holding him off for a moment as I demanded he desist from hitting me. He threw me aside like a rag-doll and I escaped out into the nurse's station where he followed me with fists waving, mouth cursing and reptillian eyes aflame.
He kept taking swipes at me which I eluded, then he grabbed a plastic bottle of Sorbolene and managed to hit me with it a few times but it was soft and didn't hurt. "Bastardo! Bastardo!", he howled and thumped his chest just like a gorilla, it really freaked me out and with his yellow teeth grinding and the occassional gobs spat upon me he was monstrous in the extreme, like something out of my worst nightmare and I could not placate him. My assistant, a beautiful Polynesian woman, tried every request and trick in the book but he could not be calmed down, his rage in fact increased with time, like he realised he could finish me off no worries. He tried to grab the telephone to hit me with but I wrested this from his grip, he kept grabbing at it, we wrestled about, I pulled away and he staggered back, then eye-balled the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall. If that was bounced off my head I was dead. For the first time in my long nursing career I experienced a raging patient that could not be calmed down and I turned to the last resort, I rang for an Ambulence to take him off to a psyche unit at a major hospital. As I tried to give the operator directions Nazio rushed back and attempted to rip the phone from me and we continued wrestling over it, me, him and the assistant shouting, sqwawling, hissing, quite a drama to tune into, and so the operator called the police as well.
Nazio continued to throw punches at me and most of them I managed to duck, he'd cornered me behind the nurse's desk and eventually two swipes connected, one a crashing blow to the ear, the other a stunner to the cheek, so hard I wept from the pain and shock, I'm too old to keep taking such punishment, life's been one long bash-up. I danced around him and prayed for the Ambulence to come, but as soon as the crew stormed thru the doors, a veritable SWAT team with them, Nazio instantly turned into Mr. Nice-guy, standing back like an innocent, ingratiating smile on his ugly mug, and every time the Paramedic asked him a question he shrugged his shoulders as if he couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. I explained to the 4 cops and 2 paramedics what had gone on, the whole day's crazy events, and they seemed sceptical that such an nice old man would run amok, then my assistant backed me up and I showed them my bruised cheek and red swollen ear and they gave him sour looks from then on, especially when I told them of his previous history of violence, other residents being hit and bruised. There was the usual blonde pony-tailed female cop standing at the ready and we eyed each other with bemusement, it's not often in my life I've called the cops to my aid and she knew it.
They took him off for a night's chill-out in the padded cell of a psyche-ward and I was glad to see the last of his saggy, rhinocerus arse. I still had Jane Klepto to appease and Elizabeth to put back to bed with soothing orientation. I had to ring Nazio's family to tell them of the ghastly night and his daughter and her boyfriend came breathlessly to St. Sebastion's about 3.00 AM to question me on the unusual behaviour of their dear old man. Forget that they'd put him there because they couldn't deal with his intrusiveness and violence anymore, I had to tell them about lovely Mandy and Christmas in July and poor Jane Klepto , yet they looked at me as if I wasn't the full quid, that I simply could not nurse a case like Nazio and must be incompetant. They didn't want to know about his inappropriate behaviour, that he restlessly wandered the unit nightly without sedation, I guess they complained to the DON the next day and I was never given a shift there again, they preferred that Agency nurses worked there regardless that they slept.
My hours and pay were cut and I was offered no "worker's compensation", I had to take the next night off due to shock and anxiety but wasn't given any sick-leave, as a 'casual' worker I was merely cannon-fodder, to be thrown aside as my use-by date dictated, a paying resident was more important. I thus felt no allegiance and quit, I did my best and was nearly murdered for my trouble, and that's why I mischieviously call the place "Murderith House". I know this comes across as yet another fuck-up in the nursing home trade and I indeed may be an incompetant nurse, whatever, I try to be a cool dude and this was my experience, human society is full of horror stories and I keep copping them! I won't be nursing again for awhile, if ever, I prefer to be a deadbeat artist, wandering the globe's backroads, I'll probably die alone in a gutter somewhere far off, and I wont have a care in the world, having done my dash.