I suppose I set myself up for the fall. Taking a job in a hospital with no prior experience and no idea what horrible things people do to one another, themselves and worst of all their children.
My trainer tells me that sicknesses come in waves in the emergency room. Car accidents when it's snowy. More gang violence in the summer. Full moons bring in the psych patients. Tonights special is post-holiday suicide. Five people have tried to take their lives this evening. For all different reasons. Six if you count the man overdosing on heroin. This is just my first night.
Two days later I happen upon a man handcuffed to his bed. He is sobbing and tells me about the woes of being a sex offender. He asks me if I know that one conversation I have with someone can make a difference in their life. That kindness can go further than I can understand and could I be kind to him. I laugh and tell him I am always kind. He calms a little and I hand him my pen to sign a form with his one free hand. Next thing I know he is trying to stab himself in the neck with my pen. Luckily, he is intoxicated and I wrestle it from him and run out of the room. Frantically I look around and see a nurse. I say "That man just tried to stab himself with my pen!" Clearly amused by my terror she says "You must be new."
The next day a man comes in from a car accident. I am just observing and I walk into his room and he is all smiles. I smile and say hello and confirm his name. I wonder what he is in for. I look down and see his thigh bone broken and sticking out of his skin. He continues to smile and the Dr. says "Morphine" and gives me a wink.
A man is taking his clothes off at the ER entrance. He is saying he has bugs on him. I immediately change course in hopes of avoiding bringing bed bugs home. I don't want lice either. Later I ask if they put him in quarantine of some kind and the guard says "Oh no there were no bugs. That is George, he is addicted to meth and comes in half naked often. He is just hallucinating again. "
A woman is screaming "My baby" outside of my office door. Over and over again. She collapses on the floor. I invite her in. She tells me how her husband tried to punch her while she was holding the baby, but accidentally hit the baby instead and they made her leave the ER. She tells me people at the hospital are treating her like a criminal and won't let her see her baby. She is moaning and security walks in. They have brought a Social Worker. Security tells me they have been dealing with her all day. I am upset at this. They ARE treating her like a criminal. I tell them they are hardened and should always try compassion. I whisper under my breathe that I never want to become like them. I defended her. Two weeks later my co-worker tells me that the same woman was arrested in our parking lot after beating her other child. That was the moment when my doe eyes became slits and full of suspicion.