Thursday, May 21, 2015

An irritating nurse - II

Once when I asked the nurse to turn the page of a book, she muttered something under her breath that sounded like, 'Why can't this guy just lie down quietly?' After that, I stopped asking her to turn pages. I would read the two pages in front of me and sit quietly. After half an hour, she may turn the page. If she did, I read; otherwise, I didn't. During such times of simple living and high thinking, my favorite pastime was how best to bore you in my next post. So you can blame this nurse for some of your miseries.

The nurse had the habit of saying one thing when people were around and muttering the opposite thing under her breath when she was alone. For example , she will say to people that she had learned my system of communication quickly while the reality was very different. She seemed to temporarily think that I was deaf and couldn't communicate anything to anybody. At these times, I will quietly continue doing whatever I had been engaged in, pretending that I didn't hear anything while she will be sitting with a brilliant smile as becomes the victor in a battle of wits.

She seemed to be the perfect example of the cliché  - a bad carpenter blames his tools. If she couldn't remember where she kept a towel, she blamed the towel; if some piece of clothing that she had put out to dry flew away in the breeze because she had not fastened it with a clip, she blamed the clothing. If she spilled some feeding or urine, she blame my cough even though I had been lying quietly.

Once she spilled urine all over my pant because she had not kept the can properly. At this time, I was lying on the bed and the so the nurse didn't have to call anyone to shift me. She struggled on her own to remove my pants and wipe me clean. I told Jaya about the incident when the nurse was not in the room. We knew she would blame my non-existent cough which was exactly what she did later when she described her struggles in making me clean. Jaya pretended as if she was hearing about the incident for the first time and said, 'Really? You should have called me to help!' I did my best to look on impassively.

When Sujit was discharged from the hospital, I asked Jaya to get the nurse changed. It was the first time I had made such a request. There had been other nurses too who had some similar characteristics but this nurse had them all to a much greater degree. In A damsel in Distress, P.G. Wodehouse wrote:
The gift of hiding private emotion and keeping appearances before strangers is not, as many suppose, entirely a product of our modern civilization...Of all the qualities  which belong exclusively to Man and are not shared by the lower animals, this surely is the one which marks him off most sharply from the beasts of the field.
Animals care nothing about keeping up appearances.  Observe Bertram the Bull when things are not going just as he could wish.  He stamps.  He snorts.  He paws the ground.He throws back his head and bellows. He is upset, and he doesn't care who knows it.  
As long as this nurse was around, there was always the danger that I might forget my better nature and decide that Bertram the Bull had the right idea.

Monday, May 11, 2015

An irritating nurse - I

Sometime back, I had a nurse  who the agency said was very experienced, had looked after quadriplegic patients and would be able to look after all the needs of the patient without trouble. All agencies say this so not much confidence could be placed on it. The part about experience was not very reassuring because rarely had a nurse handled a quadriplegic who could not speak so any experience would have had limited relevance.

The first and foremost problem with her was that she was never able to understand my basic communication of one blink for 'yes' and no blinks for 'no'. When I indicated that I wanted something, she would ask whether it was about pillow, hand, fan, etc. but was unable to understand what I was saying. She would randomly adjust various things which would make matters worse till my eloquent eyes discouraged further investigations.

I always want the nurses to close the door when my motion is being cleaned. This nurse would often forget it in spite of being told to do so numerous times. On one such occasion, when she forgot to close the door, I kept turning my head towards the door and making some croaking sounds. She understood that it was about the door and kept insisting that she had closed and bolted it which I could see wasn't the case. All she had to do was to turn and look at the door and the mystery would have been solved but she was reluctant to do it.

At times like this it is a good idea to ask the question, 'What would Sherlock Holmes have done?' But this did not help. The famed resident of 221B Baker Street had only handled murders, burglaries and international intrigues. This was a lot more tricky.I could not expect Luck to do the heavy lifting at all times. I had to occasionally give it a push with my own effort.

Not being known to act with promptness and dispatch in sticky situations (or in any situation for that matter), I had to fall back on my tried and trusted eyes to convey the gravity of the situation. They screamed at her in helpless anger, 'Look at the bloody door!' There were some fruity words long suppressed swirling about in my mind struggling for utterance. It is said that meaningful silences are better than meaningless words. I am full of meaningful silences and this was as meaningful as any. (My meaningless words are reserved for the blog.)

The usual clonus set in and my  hands and legs began to have the typical shivering movements. The nurse finally got the message, turned towards the door and found it wide open. Mission accomplished.  If she had looked at me sheepishly, I would have laughed over the incident. What irritated me further was that the nurse pottered towards door muttering under her breath as if she was annoyed that I had pointed out her error.

At this time, Sujit developed some health issues and had to be hospitalised for a few days. This meant that Jaya had to be in the hospital for extended periods of time leaving me to deal with  the whims of the nurse. This was a situation that could not have been avoided and I had no option but to depend on Lady Luck. In  A Damsel in Distress,  Wodehouse writes:
Luck is a goddess not to be coerced and forcibly wooed by those who seek her favours.  From such masterful spirits she turns away.  But it happens sometimes that, if we put our hands in hers with the humble trust of a little child, she will have pity on us, and not fail us in our hour of need. 
I decided that Wodehouse knew what he was talking about. I am pleased to report that my trust was not misplaced. Luck had shaken off her capriciousness and was on her best behaviour. I suffered only the discomforts that I had anticipated and there were no unpleasant surprises.