Since it’s a full moon in our neck of the woods tomorrow, I figured I’d tell a bedtime story about some of the craziness I’ve seen first hand on the night of a full moon.
Years ago, I worked as a care assistant in a hospital, and I had the dubious honour of having a night shift during a full moon week. Yup, it’s what we in the family call ‘Jenny Luck.’ More on that to come in future blog posts, there’s too much under that heading to fit here! So anyway, there’s me, the only attendant on in an elderly male ward in the middle of the night, and the entire ward is going apeshit. Now maybe they all huddled together when the nurses were changing shifts and had a conference; thereby deciding that because one of them heard someone say it was a full moon, that they were going to have some fun. Hell, that’s what I’d do. However, they were bedbound for the most part, so unless they all had ESP or communicated using morse code by tapping on their bedpans, this craziness was for realsies.
Most of the night was like a bad babysitting job. You know the ones where you sit down to watch the dvd, and before the opening credits have finished you’ve changed the bedsheets twice and stopped a fight. It was never-ending. Every two seconds: “Nurse!! Nurse!!” Except they sent yours truly in to run the gauntlet of flying slippers and unreasonable demands. No point in telling the patients I wasn’t a nurse. THEY weren’t responsible for giving me a raise…
So come four in the morning, and all of us working that night were tearing our hair out. If they weren’t bed-bound, they got up for a wander. If they were lucid, they were flirting, bringing their A-Game in their best paisley-print pyjamas to the poor hassled nurses at the station. Actually, some of the not-so-lucid ones propped themselves up as if they were at their local drinking establishment, probably awestruck at all the lovely fine fillies that seemed to have descended on their pub. Giving us all the glad eye and winking like they’d won us at a county fair. Bless their polyester socks.
Five in the morning, and the most surreal moment of the night kicked off. From somewhere in the middle of the ward came an ear-splitting rattle of steel bedrails. My heart sank. It was my turn to go in and investigate. Operation Midget Frontline. Cheers. So I take a deep breath, put on my best ‘stern nurse’ voice, and march right into the ward…to be greeted by a man sitting bolt upright in the bed, wide-eyed, rattling the shite out of the sides of the bed (sometimes they’re put up to stop the less than clear-headed from getting up for a wander and forgetting that their legs don’t work – not the best way to find these things out really).
“What’s wrong, Paddy?” (In an Irish male geriatric ward, you are guaranteed at least 7 out of 10 patients’ names are a derivative of Patrick, so always try those first.)
He looked at me intensely.
“I can’t get it going..”
“Can’t get what going?” (I was curious, you never know what a full moon will yield up)
He looked at me like I was the one who was not-so-lucid, and pointed to the rails on his bed:
But the story doesn’t end there. Oh no. I had one of two choices. The first, tell him the truth about where he was, and deal with the upset and hysterics that would follow and distress the poor man unnecessarily, OR…..
“Paddy, look outside. It’s five o’ clock in the morning. Do you think your neighbours will appreciate you starting up your tractor this early?? On a WEEKEND?” (It was a Tuesday, but in for a penny, in for a pound.)
“I s’pose not..”
“There you go. So just go on back to sleep and I’ll call you later and we’ll sort the tractor out.”
“Grand so, Mary….zzzzZZZZZ”
I hope he got the tractor up and running at full volume the next night for the lovely nurses who let me do all the running that night. Wouldn’t want them to feel left out.
It’s been years since I played ‘Let’s Pretend’. I should do it more often.