Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bedwetter Special

We received a particularly difficult new admission Saturday night around midnight. She wasn’t really new because she was just discharged the previous week, and she was difficult because the scrutinized all the papers she had to sign even though she was already familiar with them from several admissions in the past. When it was time to inspect her suitcase, I opened it and the blast of urine stench escaped and surrounded the immediate area. Apparently she was such in a hurry to leave her board and care home that she dumped her urine soaked clothes in the suitcase. As a courtesy to patients, we wash their clothes for them in the unit’s laundry room. After I put two loads of her wet clothes in the washer, I notified her of what I did. I was taken aback when she asked me “did you sort them?”. Excuse me?! It wasn’t like she had whites and colors because they were all colored. And besides, we don’t run a valet service here so I told her in my most pretentious sarcastic voice, “I’m sorry but your only choices are washed or not washed.” Fortunately she acquiesced. The “did you sort them” question was the running joke for the rest of the night. After I ran the clothes in the dryer, I did sort them out: pants, blouses, and undies. Please forgive me for forgetting the fabric softener Downey or some other dryer sheet. They were not available.
The next night, another bedwetter asked me to wash his clothes at 3:00 a.m. Not a problem. As I turned the corner, my coworker asked me to also wash the previous night’s admissions clothes. Well, whaddya know but they were even wetter and more than the other patient’s clothes. I had to carry three pillowcases full of clothes with my left hand while keeping my right hand “clean” so I can use it to open doors with my keys without contaminating them. After I put the clothes in the washer, I told my coworkers that tonight, I sorted the clothes: wet on top, wetter on the bottom, and to add to the yuck factor, bloody in the middle (yes, to top it off, she had her menses!).
See what we have to deal with sometimes as part of our job? The sad thing is I don't even work in a geriatric unit. These patients ages ranged from 37 to 57. Fortunately we can add some levity by joking about them. But not in front of the patients of course. I shouldn’t be so hard on them because I may become one myself some day, sans the menses.
An update: we had 4 bedwetters during the night - probably a record for our psych unit. The patients must have been pissed!

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