Monday, February 25, 2008


The patient was rather uncommonly attractive, at least to the way I see things. Dark hair, watery blue eyes, and an angelic countenance.

Sick, though. As in: long-term tracheostomy (through which they managed an articulate whisper,) a jejunal feeding tube, and multiple intravenous antibiotics for respiratory infections. They were ambulatory, thankfully.

Their condition was not the result of cancer or trauma. Some months ago they had attempted suicide by drinking a kitchen drain declogging fluid. Messed them up right hard, that.

That must be why I felt a little attraction to them. I remember that when I was a college student I sometimes found myself enamored by the gothic, dark-mooded, "complex" members of the opposite sex. That's probably just a branch of the same tree that drew me to nursing. I've always felt that somehow I could have a therapeutic affect on others, and it seemed hardly worth it to mess about with the healthiest ones who had no use for my ways.

Though probably occasionally guilty of trying to help people who maybe weren't ready for it, I can say I developed in those days a way of heading off the troubles that can go along with such attractions. That helps me on the job now too, I suppose.

Over at Head Nurse, the always-light-hearted Jo lists several ways to try to kill yourself, all of which she derides as likely failures. Drano wasn't one of them, though.

A lot of nurses have such things to say about failed suicide attempts and the people who end up in our care after trying. Granted, it does sometimes seem like a waste of time trying to help somebody who is just going to try to end it all again as soon as they're well enough to be released from inpatient care.

Those are patients that I've always liked working with, and I'm not sure why that is. Many are intelligent, but even the dullards are intriguing to me, like that one good-old boy who shot a deer with the one bullet he took on his hunting trip:

He had only wounded it, and it lay on the ground writhing around in circles. He trudged a couple miles in the snow to get back to his pickup, drove to camp, borrowed another's rifle, and went back to the deer but the coyotes were on it. The meat had been spoiled by the dog pack. He left it.

When he got home he tried to kill himself for some reason but he only managed to shoot his leg. Just like the deer. He never made that connection though, at least during the day or two that I worked with him. Nor did any of the other nurses. They just thought he was an idiot.


wunelle said...

There's an extremity in this personality. We all feel self-loathing at times, and I suppose we all pass thru times when we wish we were dead, at least in a superficial way.

But here's someone who made a go of it. Maybe it's the coward's way out (not that I think this), but it takes more courage than I've got.

Love it or hate it, you HAVE to be intrigued.

may said...

may we never lose that feeling: that we can affect other people in a positive way. if you ask me, that is an asset in our line of work.

Bobby, NOT the liver said...

I do think it would take some balls to kill your self. For me anyway. People always say it's the coward's way out, but I believe it is the opposite. My Grandfather was successful. He was a recovering alcoholic like me. He killed himself after many years of sobriety. I feel bad for the ones who slip at AA, because they are still dying, and they don't know it. If they knew what I know, they would never drink again. When I passed a year sober, people patted me on the back and said " wow, what an accomplishment" but I think it is not that at all. It's just that I know the truth. Drink=die. We will all die someday, but why rush it?