Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Ghost Stories


It's the wee small hours of the morning and I am on my break at work.
Wards, even the noisey ITU can be creepy places in the dark!
I am reminded of a story I was told on night shift back in the asylum days
I was working graveyard shift with a EN ( enrolled nurse) who enjoyed telling ghost stories to frighten the student nurses.
The ward was a 30 bedded mixed ward for mainly severely affected dementia patients and at that enlightened time in the 1980s the clientele were termed officially as psycho- geriatrics
After a lull in the conversation my supervisor asked me if I had heard the story of one of the staff nurses who had  suffered a severe heart attack on duty only weeks before
I told her I had not, so smiling she sat me down and shared the tale.
The nurse in question was working with a student nurse like myself, only the student was a shy girl of perhaps nineteen and the workload was as busy as it was for us, as every patient was totally confused and disorientated of time , place and person.
As the patients slept both nurses made a round around the dormitory and as suddenly as heart attacks strike, the staff nurse collapsed to the floor without warning.
The student nurse panicked, and not knowing that she needed to call for help by telephone she crouched by her colleague tried to rouse her then started to cry.
Suddenly one of the patients, an elderly man in his seventies clambered out of bed.
The patient, who was mute, incontinent of urine and faeces and considered a " husk " of his former self hurried over and said in a clear voice " we had better get her on the bed"
The two of them, then lifted the collapsed nurse onto the spare bed after which the patient told the student nurse to call for help.
The student grateful for clear instructions did just that and help arrived within minutes as the nursing officer on duty rallied the troops, and surprisingly the collapsed nurse survived her heart attack though never again returned to work.
The patient involved never spoke again. His cognitive abilities were assessed and remained unchanged from those performed before this incident, and it was never explained just how he behaved the way he did when the student cried out for help.


45 comments:

  1. I love stories like this John. I hope your readers give many more... I can't help but wonder what this elderly patient had once did for a living... Perhaps in a former life he was used to responding to an emergency situation... so some form of 'reflex' just kicked in... Hugs! deb

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    1. I would agree. And how lucky for the RN that his memory/reflex did kick in.

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    2. This has also been my first thought. A long lasting experience in the patient's life must came back to light here fortunately.

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  2. Two things come to mind; past experience kicking as Jinxxygirl said, or maybe someone (or something) else working through the available husk...

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    1. I dont remember the patient involved ...but i must have looked after him

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  3. I'm also looking forward to the readers responses here!

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  4. Old habits die hard ...

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  5. Hmmmm. Sounds to me that in the panic the patient's mask fell off. There must have been doubts about his true condition ever after.

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  6. Even in the consuming fog of dementia, the angels in our own minds obtain. I believe that is what you have recounted here.

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  7. My grandmother and her daughter, my aunt Patty had always lived together. As my grandmother got quite elderly she developed sever dementia. She didn't recognize anyone except my aunt. She could not walk or speak or feed herself and this had been going on for many years. Patty had taken care of her all by herself as they had been devoted to each. She had taken grandma to the loo and dashed out to get something. In the process of doing that Patty stubbed her toe and shouted, ouch! ouch! Grandma then called to her and said...Patty dear, are you alright?...My aunt froze on the spot and cried. As these were the only words my grandmother had spoken in many years and they were the last that Patty ever heard.
    Nothing can stop a mothers love.

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    1. Same thing happened to my Mum when Granny had a stroke. Granny was unconscious and not drinking or eating and at home as they were in the early 50's. After a few days they knew she would die, and Mumwas crying by the window of Granny's bedroom. Suddenly Granny said, " Don't cry love". Mum whipped round to see Granny's eyes closing. SHe never spoke again.
      I would believe this story about the student nurse, I have seen many strange things in hospitals and am the same age and ITU like John.

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  8. Good story. My sister used to be a Staff Nurse at Great Ormond Street in London, and one night a child called out for a glass of water. My sis became distracted and forgot the water, returning to the booth at the end of the ward which was a station with glass walls. She remembered the water, so left the ward to get it, and when she came back to the child, a glass was on the table next to the bed. The child said "That lady in the long grey uniform brought it for me." This was a famous ghost as she found out. Nobody could have walked past her station without being seen.

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  9. It must be nice to have a job where you can sit around sharing ghost stories - and getting paid for it too. This must be the direct opposite of Intensive Care. Absent Care?

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    1. Thats a bit harsh, isnt it?

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    2. It's not harsh, it's English humour!

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    3. lol ok! I normally get English humour but this one didnt translate well for me

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  10. The ability when needed was there...

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  11. Guardian Angel; I love to believe that :)
    Greetings Maria x

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  12. A remarkable story. I wonder what suddenly produced such clarity of thought and awareness?

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  13. What an amazing story.

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  14. Based on my experiences and the research being done, I can totally believe that the patient was able to do that. It is more common in some causes or forms of dementia than others, but the ability to pull together coherent communication for a short period of time happens - commonly in a moment of stress - or joy.

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  15. Regardless of how it happened, thank goodness it did. Probably saved that woman's life.

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  16. I like this story and the way in which you told it very much.

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  17. My Gran had alzheimers. She never spoke much, Songs of praise she would sing every hymn. She taught me all of my times tables in a sing songy voice 2x2 is 4 etc all the way up to 20 times tables. The most animated she became what when the national anthem came on. She would stand as quickly as she could and if you werent up quick enough she would nigh on growl at you and then come over and hit you when she finished singing. Giving a quiet "hooray" and then clap a bit and then give you a smack!

    She could also remember how to milk a cow by hand and sew and make repairs on clothes. Yet she remembered no one, what day it was or if she had eaten.

    They are in there, I am sure. Its terribly sad.

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  18. Sol, You describe it so well. My mother in law had Alzheimers.
    She lost all memories of her life, childhood, family .. we were thankful only that she did have a very long life and that we were able to remember some of her amazing memories for her .. A child in Russia being smuggled out with her brothers to a ship to the United States.
    Being met at the ship by cousins she never knew existed. Being married to an older man to get her "settled and taken care of " .. divorce, remarriage and 3 children later, she became forgetful in her 80s .. she lived past the age of 101.

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  19. A friend working with Dementia care told me of an old lady in a nursing home who tapped constantly. It turned out she had been employed in intelligence services during the war and once engaged in conversation could give talks on her experiences.

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  20. This article http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/09/13/493744351/denmarks-house-of-memories-recreates-1950s-for-alzheimers-patients may explain some of these responses from folks who seem disconnected.

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    1. Ohh thanks for this. It is my one real worry, it is part of the reason I blog. in the hope that if it happens to me, people can show me my pictures and I can be prompted.

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  21. On my first day as a management trainee in a large mental hospital I arrived early. The office was deserted. I sat at a desk and heard someone reading a newspaper across the corridor. I went over to say hello but the room was empty. When my new boss came in I told him about this. He said "oh that was matron". I said I didnt know we still had matrons and in any case there was nobody there. He explained our offices were previously the matron's living quarters and she died 30 years previously but was frequently heard in her rooms. I often heard her walking about.

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    1. Are you sure you were a managemnet trainee?

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    2. MANAGEMENT!!!!!!!!!

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    3. Matrons made a better job of it than present day managers. I left the training post after a year it was doing my head in as they say.

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  22. Wow…what amazing things we humans be.

    I took care of my grandmother while she was in a nursing home the last year of her life. I don’t regret a thing. She was deaf. I would sit in the day room and play the piano while I placed her hand on the piano so she could feel the vibrations. We went roller skating. She had a beer every night. Her circulation started failing and eventually a black spot was found on her heel which led to her leg being amputated. She was never fully awake after the surgery. She would wake up and look at me and say “my leg, my leg”. One day she woke up and looked at me and said “I’m going to get you a nurse”. She was concerned that at 23 or 24 I was still single. She died on Christmas Eve. I played midnight mass that night but I don't remember it. Gramma was buried from that church and had a fine funeral at which I played and for which the full choir sang.

    A couple years later, the women in the choir at the same church where I was the organist, set me up with a woman who lived in Philadelphia at that time. They meant well and I was in the closet and unattached and thought what the heck, I have nothing to lose. We dated, we became involved, we fell in love and we married and we had a child together. She was a nurse and still is today, although we are no longer married.

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  23. She cried out for help...the question is Who answered? Interesting tale. Many would call that a miracle.

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    1. As would I. People tend to ask how God acts when we are in need. That story John is telling us would be but one of many fascinating ways . Great reading!!!

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  25. I was a student nurse on the Paeds ward and we wore uniforms not unlike the ones in Call the Midwife. The story had it that a nurse fell asleep whilst feeding a baby and smothered it to death. So the ghost of the nurse would yank your puffed sleeve if you nodded off. As a guilible, spooked 19year old holding a very sick baby there was no way I was going to drop off. Another night on Private ward the lift doors swung open on their own. The story was a Doctor had somehow caused a pts death and chucked himself down the lift shaft. My cousin worked in a Midland hospital and the original floors were under the newer modern ones and half a ghost of a nurse in old fashioned uniform would visit pts before they died. Frankly if I saw the top half of a ghost I'd probably die of fright. Hospitals are full of ghosts. I am amazed at how many London asylums are now luxury flats. I could never live in a place where so many suffered.

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  26. Interesting and unexplained John, but I suspect that incidents like this do occur from time to time.

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  27. I'm afraid my demented father would walk right over me.

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  28. I think that extreme circumstances can cause us to access things within ourselves that may not show up day to day. We have all heard of a slight person being able to lift a heavy object off an injured person. Maybe our memories work in a similar way. Perhaps the student nurse's distress triggered the helping reaction from the patient, where regular interaction would not. Whatever the explanation, it's an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  29. Jacqueline (aka cranky) suffered a severe stroke last week. Unconscious since then.

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  30. Just read your message david, can you tell us any more?

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    1. I am very sorry to hear this news David. Thank you for passing it on. She is such a cheerful contributor to my blog. Please tell her. Thank you.

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  31. What a sweet story.

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