It was even possible that I would get to do some patient care. When I got off the elevator that morning, I fully expected that Thanksgiving would be a good day on Eight Cook.
Thanksgiving was chaos.
To begin with, one of our RNs was pulled to work on the special care unit. As if that weren’t enough, we had six patients who were disoriented. Half of them were falling out of bed. One man who fell had to have two, stitches in his head. We had to Posey all six, and even restraints did not solve the biggest problem, a 54-year-old black male patient who called himself Marshall Francis Grippes, King of Europe.
Mr. Grippes had come up from special care a week earlier. He Around the room, you might think he could go into a patient’s room and hurt somebody.
Actually, I wasn’t positive he wouldn’t. Although Marshall the King could be amusing, he was also abusive. When he was in a good mood, he told the nurses that he had left us each a million dollars in a Swiss bank. But when he was mad at us, which was most of the time, he threatened us, calling us bitches and telling us to get the fuck out. Because he was such a skinny thing, I wasn’t afraid of him. Some nurses were, and I probably should have been. I’m sure he could have hurt any of us if he had tried.
His behavior with the doctors was entirely different. Marshall never gave the doctors a bit of trouble. The one exception was a woman, Dr. Breton, the psychiatrist who was trying to work with him. If he saw her coming toward his room, he’d scream, “Woman! Get away from me! Dr. Breton! You get out of here r’ She’d get out. “Patient recognizes me but won’t let me in the room,” she’d write in his chart. The male doctors couldn’t believe that he acted as nastily and noisily as we said he did. With them he was meek little Marshall.
Having the King of Europe on the floor would have been easier if we could have gotten him to take tranquilizers. But not a pill would he take. He rarely let us near him for a shot. One day somebody got the idea of grabbing the ginger ale off his tray before the people from Dietary took the tray into the room. We opened the bottle, dropped in a Stela zine tablet, and put the bottle back on the tray. For a couple of days Marshall drank the ginger ale. Then he started refusing it.
So not only did we have trouble keeping him quiet, we also had to spend a lot of time trying to con him into letting us do his care. He wouldn’t let us wash him or even change the bed. He was really dirty.
Marshall chose Thanksgiving Day to be particularly obstreperous. I went into the room in the morning to try to give him an antibiotic and some Thomasine, which he was supposed to get once each shift. He wasn’t letting us give him anything unless we told him it was pain medication.
He saw that I was holding two syringes. Eyeing me suspici-ously, he asked, “what have you got two needles for, girl?’