My heart fluttered and my pulses raced. I smoothed my uniform and checked that my shoes were clean and shiny. I tucked a loose strand of hair up under my nurses’ cap and glanced in the mirror to be sure it sat just so. My blue eyes were wide and the excitement was evident. This was to be my first day on a new ward at St. Martha’s Hospital and I felt a little trepidation. I prayed silently that I would do a good job and impress the head nurse and my supervisor. I knew I was being graded each day I walked those wards and today was particularly important.
At 7:30m after the report from the night nurse was read, we students each received our assigned patients for the day. At 18 years of age, this was pretty serious business. And so….. Mr. Hillman was to be my first patient of the day. He was a diabetic and blind. A senior student nurse would take care of his medications….I had yet to go through this class; however, my big job was to bathe and shave my patient, all the while I was to learn more about him etc. I prepared the bowl of hot water after meeting him and letting him know he was in my care for the morning. He was a lovely older gentleman and we chatted easily while I set everything up. Having watched my dad shave numerous times, I was sure I could easily take care of Mr. Hillman’s stubble in good time. The thing is, before I really got underway, and for reasons unknown to me, my blind patient decided that he could do a better job himself. He wrestled the razor out of my shaking hand (ok so maybe I was just a tad nervous and he sensed it….) and he began to shave his now lathered face. NICK! Ouch….”Mr. Hillman, really, I…..” NICK! More urgently, “Mr. HILLMAN, Please…..let me…..” NICK! I was beside myself as he insisted on continuing the fine job he was sure he was doing. The fact that he now had 5 or 6 major NICKS and blood running down his face did nothing to ease my anxiety or his determination. He kept right on….NICK! By now, my voice was taking on an air of authority, “Mr. Hillman, DO give me that razor NOW…..!!!Mr. Hillman!!!!” he smiled at me and hushed me soundly just as the Doctor, Head Nurse and my Supervisor walked into the room. There was blood everywhere and my face was beginning to drain of any of my own blood. WHAT A DAY!
Needless to say, I somehow survived that fiasco. In fact, the gathered medical hot shots made it their duty to comfort me….ME? He was bleeding everywhere but it was me they were concerned for. Actually it turned out that this was not Mr. Hillman’s first attempt at shaving himself, much to the consternation of other student nurses. He was a very stubborn man but turned out to be a lovely patient. I just knew after that day to keep the razor well within my grasp no matter what.