Years ago, back in the day when I still wore little knickers because I was slim, as opposed to big knickers to make me look slim I worked in the caring profession. Ironic really as most people wouldn’t describe me as the caring type; but still before my career, before kids came along I enjoyed a range of titles from residential social worker through to psychiatric care assistant.
I was remembering these years today whilst out on a run and I remembered one night when I turned up for a temporary role at an old folks nursing home. I was penniless after spending the three months prior to that night in a student bar with a book in hand having the time of my life at college. I needed funds and fast and so night shifts were the way to go as you always got time and a half and more often than not you could sneak in some shut-eye at some point.
So my nineteen year old slightly spotty self rocked up at a nursing home in Yorkshire and was greeted by the matron who was very pleased to see me as my arrival meant she could trot off home for the evening. To my sheer surprise she explained that I would be alone that evening with just twenty-six elderly chaps and ladies for company all of whom would be tucked up tightly in their beds.
In the years I worked in various nursing homes I saw some rubbish practices but I am afraid this blog isn’t tackling those tonight as I put my soapbox on the top shelf in the garage and I can’t reach to get it down. Looking back I would agree that it wasn’t wise to leave a nineteen year old care assistant in charge of all those people but hey ho at nineteen I thought I could run Britain so I was pretty confident.
Matron explained that all I had to do was make the rounds hourly and check each bed and occupant, and as we walked around the sleeping folk she gave a brief history…
“This is Arthur, he is 86 and sleeps through…. This is Martha; she sometimes gets up to go to the loo…”
And then we reached Ethel’s bed and she paused for a moment,
“Hmmm, this is Ethel,” she coughed “hmmmm, Ethel is 92, she is in good health, loves The Arches, has six grand children ” she carried on and on, “and Ethel likes sitting in the sun, she sleeps well generally but occasionally her bowel falls out and you need to pop it back in.”
And off Matron continued to the next bed whilst I stood aghast, jaw making thudding noises on the floor and imagination on overdrive.
I mean can you imagine, nineteen, no real medical training, an ego as big as a house and zero and I mean zero experience in popping bowels back in.
Terrified that if I confessed my inexperience in replacing bowels I would be sent home without my seventy pounds worth of drinking money I swallowed my horror, hid my ignorance and waved Matron farewell and locked up.
On the hour every hour I wandered the dark halls, jumping out of my skin when Maratha shuffled off to the bathroom and every hour I studiously swerved past Ethel’s bed until at 3am I heard a shout and what I can only describe as a trumping noise. In fact yes, it sounded just like an elongated fart and it came from under Ethel’s duvet.
It was terrible, it was like my legs were controlled by an external source as they dragged themselves over to Ethel’s bed and I had an out of body experience as I watched my hand tentatively lift the edge of the duvet.
There it was, my first bowel experience, previously I had had bowel movements but frankly they don’t compare.
What could I do, I couldn’t leave it, no lady wants to be caught with internal bits hanging out.
So using only my northern sense for guidance I leaned over and ‘popped’ it back in.
It truly was a once in a lifetime occurence.
Needless to say it was my last night shift at that particular home.