As you know I work in a hospital. I have seen a lot of things, been in several situations that we say “up to armpits in alligators”. I have not once felt the need to attend a crisis debriefing post after any of these past traumatic situations…that is until today.
We have “all walks of life” working in our very busy department, makes the job colorful even without adding in the patients. One person on staff is a very unassuming, simple man I will call Lenord. Every morning each and every employee is greeted by name, big smile and true felt “Hi” by this gentleman. He has not forgotten a name of any human being that has passed through those double doors in 3 decades. Lenord cleans up after us well-educated, highly trained professionals, (none of us having taken the course: If you use it, put it away, if you spill it, mop it up). Lenord is not worldly sophisticated like the professionals; he holds complete conversions playing all the roles by himself, picks his nose, at the same time hoisting up his scrub pants and retying them to his hipless frame, laughs at inappropriate times and eats his lunch at promptly 11 am, mouth open and egg salad oozing down his chin. I feel, well safe as I pass this fixture every morning, hearing his “Hi Eileen, its Monday”. I have stopped carrying a day timer having Lenord to greet me and inform me as to the day, I just don’t need one.
Lenord has one job that scatters staff in all different directions, the empting of the trash.
He gathers his clean bags, walks that Lenord walk up to the trash basket and bends over. Yup that’s the signal to scatter. While in full conversation with himself and a plumbers crack view that even the failing eye sighted staff can see with or without our eye apparel secured behind our ears, the trash bags are changed out. Once done we all ease back to the center of the room picking up conversation missing not a beat. This ebb and flow happens 3-4 times a day as natural as breathing.
It seems that Lenord has not been feeling well lately and had an “episode” under my watch at work. Using a very honed skill of mine I designated, sent Lenord to the ER.
After an hour or so and no word from the ER I decided to use other skills, concern and compassion and ventured down to the ER to check on Lenord’s status. Finding Lenord’s room I knock on the partially opened door and hear
“Yeah, come on in”
I step past the door to find a drawn curtain, now I am a seasoned nurse and curtains are drawn for a reason.
E: Lenord are you all put together?”
L: “Yeah I’m just peeing”
E: “Ok Lenard, I will wait outside till you are done”, hearing the gate of a full bladder open and pour forth.
In the hall I talk with Lenord’s wife and get the full scoop, they do not know what is wrong, nothing, nodda, the usual medical diagnosis costing hundreds of dollars an hour. “Hey Eileen my blood pressure was 138/84” yells Lenord to me in the hallway.
I yell back; “Great Lenord that’s better than mine”, still hearing the liquid gold pouring through the released gate. More conversation with the family when Lenord announces;
“OK Eileen I’m done”
I move toward the curtain and stop, “Lenord are you all put back together before I come in?”
L: “Yeah I’m put back together”
I pull back the curtain in one grand swoop, do my usual 1 second room assessment and catch my eyeballs in my hands.
There on a gurney sitting up at the 45 degree hospital issued position, side rails up is Lenord, holding no less than 800mls of liquid gold in his left hand, smile on face, shirt pulled up to chest, blankets to thighs, under pants in proper place and one retracted penis staring at me!
“AH, Lenord I don’t think you have everything put away yet”, as I back out the room pulling the curtain in the most professional manner I can muster for the moment, I turn and nearly take out his wife who has been standing directly behind me. Quickly pulling my professional self together I inform his wife that Lenord still is not quite finish behind the curtain and I am sure they will be running more tests. Write down my phone number on her Kleenex no less and ask to be called as soon as she has more information. She happily agrees with my assessment and I leave the ER with the small amount of dignity I have left. Making my way down the hallway to the OR, blood drained from face and embarrassed beyond words I find a chair.
Thursday morning as I come through the double doors to work there is Lenord cleaning the kitchen, “Hi Eileen, its Thursday”
“Hi Lenord, it is Thursday, thanks”.
Yes, my small professional world is back on its axis, Lenord is back at work, calling hello to each one of us. Lenord is true to himself as we all should be. He is teaching me to get over myself and laugh at my own ridiculousness. Lenord belongs to the OR; he brings a balance that all so-called “professional” environments need, the yin/yang effect. It takes a TEAM to work in the Health Care industry and Lenord is part of our team.