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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Freak Show Scene Two

I was terribly judgemental of my fellow nurses when I started working for the Department of Corrections. I thought them to be unfeeling, uncompassionate, and unconcerned. I was wrong. I learned. Oh did I learn. It was a Saturday. Everything always happened on Saturday. I was the mental health nurse. In charge. The Crisis Stabilization Unit was off the chain. It usually was. Or I thought so anyway. I admitted an inmate who was very hostile, yelling and cussing. I don't remember his name or diagnosis. Surely he had Antisocial Personality Disorder. He could of won the prize for that disorder. A large percentage of mental health inmates have it. I think it means they need their ass kicked. But remember I am not a psych nurse. I tried to tell them I wasn't. I notified the doctor and counselor on call that the inmate was in the CSU. I gave him his meds. He took them. They don't sometimes. He was somewhat calm for about an hour. Then the freak show started. The officer called me. The inmate was bleeding. I walked down there. I peered in the little window. He was shaking and thrashing. his wrists slashed and bleeding. But how? These guys are strip searched, to include oral and other cavities. I knew something the other staff didn't as I had read his chart. He had Hepatitis B. It kept getting better and better. I had to disclose this to the officer as he was about to be directly exposed. The inmates anger was accelerating. There is a protocol for going into these cells in these situations. He clearly could cut any of us with his razor. He most surely had one.

I was no longer Nancy Nurse. I had an epiphany. He was going to pass out or calm down and lay down or we would not come in. The nurses were tough and I was getting tough. He could sling Hep. B all over, I no longer was playing his chain-gang con. I called the doctor and received instructions for inject-able meds to calm him. The officers in the mean time were dressing out in protective gear. Arm protection, knee pads and helmets with shields. I was going in ,in pj's, I mean scrubs. I had three needles and they had protective gear. All I had was gloves, a cloth gown and glasses. They would wrestle him down. Not me.

The officers went in first. Three razors were found. Three. They were small. He had swallowed and regurgitated them. Isn't that sweet? The cuts were not serious. Just enough for drama. The inmates are experts at this. He bit an officer. The doctor had us put him in leather restraints by the end of the day. I also had to put a helmet on him as he was beating his head into the floor. All of this requires pounds of paperwork, dozens of phone calls, and numerous checks on said charming inmate. After that Saturday I was a different nurse. Tougher yes. I still cared. I did not trust as much. I understood my fellow nurses to be wise in the way of prison life.

Olive Out

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