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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The saga of the 99-year-old man: part 2

I thought I'd take a moment finish my saga of the 99-year-old man I started last Friday. Of course you guessed correctly that he got admitted and was ordered on Q4 breathing treatments. You know the rule: being over 90 is an indication for bronchodilator.

But he was so combative it took four or five of us staffers to hold him down. We are no longer allowed to use restraints because someone decided it's inhumane (even though the patient has no clue where he is), so we had to do this often during the course of the night.

So, I had to give him a treatment. I didn't want to, nor did I think it was indicated, but to be politically correct, I had to at least try to do it. So, while the patient was sleeping, I snuck up from behind him and plucked out the bag part from the mask and...

... it woke up with a vengeance. He leaned forward and clenched the corner of the mask in between his yellow dentures and growled at the full force of his lungs. He made me think of a Lion at full charge. I came within a millimeter of him actually biting my finger off, which I think this man was fully capable of doing.

And his arm flailed up and barely missed my head, and the only reason he missed was because he was swinging blindly, because he was not of his right mind. Well, I suppose he was probably blind to boot. But that's beside the point. I had to use all my muscles to hold this man down, and as I held his hand, he squeezed with the might of a 24-year-old athlete.

He tried to dig his long fingernails into my flesh, and I did everything in my power to prevent this. I even tried to escape his grasp, but I couldn't. I tried as hard as I could, but this 99-year-old out to lunch man had the strength of a bull, and now had me trapped.

However, moments later, while he was still screaming at the top of his lungs, he forgot about me and let go long enough for me to slip the neb into his mask and then he fell asleep. So, after all of that, after showing all of us in the room how strong his lungs were, he still got his full dose of Ventolin whether he needed it or not.

Now, let us fast forward two hours. The patient's nurse asked me and the other nurse in the CCU to assist him in repositioning the patient. We all knew this was not going to be easy. The patient, every time he had been awake all night, screamed at the top of his lungs, keeping all the other patients awake.

So, when I walked into the room, and this 99-year-old man put his arm out in my direction, I flinched. My co-workers laughed at me, but I was very leery of this old man. But brave as I was, I took his grip and, instead of digging into my palm with his nails, he provided a firm grip and he smiled at me.

Then he appeared to pucker his lips and was saying something I couldn't understand.

"He wants to kiss you," the patient's nurse said.

He was right. So, what was I to do? I provided him my hand to kiss. I touched the back of the mask with the back of my hand. "No. No," he chanted, as he made a feeble effort to pull the mask off.

It occurred to me then that he wanted more than just the back of my hand through on the mask, he wanted to kiss my hand. So I offered him my hand to kiss, which he did. But he wanted more than just my hand, he wanted to kiss me on the lips. So I pressed my cheek up to the mask. But he was not satisfied with that, he wanted to kiss me on the lips.

"Ativan does wonders," the nurse said. "It's the true miracle drug."

"Yeah, I see," I said.

"Well, we're done. While you had him side tracked, we did our job. So, now you have to make him happy and just let him kiss you on the lips."

I looked at the man, wondering what his life was like. I will never know what he did during the course of his life, whether he was married, happy, or whatever, but I do know that he did something physical, and was very fit.

And he was a fighter at times, and a lover at times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems like this sort of thing always happens on night shift. At least he mellowed out some...must have been the ventolin. ;)