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.