|i could go on for 40 days and 40 nights about my blog title and bore you to bits and pieces with 10,000 different ideas i actually had for the name of this blog but because of the 500 characters limit that is imposed upon this mechanism which, by the way, is supposed to promote free speech, i shall shorten it to just two words basically describing what the hell this is all about and who this hell belongs to.|
Sunday, March 23, 2008
take away my uniform, take away my cup, but you can't take away my ehrm... dignity/pride/all-encompassing sense of justice?
the hospital is one of those dangerous places that are bounded by an inordinate amount of laws. of course, most of these laws are about as helpful as a pistol that points backwards. as in, if i try to shoot you in the foot, i will end up shooting my own head instead. of course, this makes a rather exceleent cure of one's migraines, but it leaves a rather grisly mess for the forensics team to figure out. that, and the fact that headless people are generally considered rather dead.
having worked for several years in a hospital, i have come to realize that one of the most prominent laws the general public loves to wave about is the Law of Negligence. or what i would like to call the Law of Negligee. the negligee being a item of fabric to promote a certain transparency of sorts, but mostly useful and looking good if only one has the required assets to wear it. similar to real working life in the hospital, the Law of Negligence is only useful if you do your work well in the hospital and follow laws by the book. but truth be told, taking care of one human being is never easy work. taking care of one human beings while being bounded by laws and rules is rather difficult. now try taking care of eighteen human beings and throw in the laws, ethics and rules, it's seriously overkill. eighteen patients is what i usually have under my charge. i break the rules half the time in order to help the patients. not fun when you consider my measly pay and my entire career at stake.
i find the whole Law of Negligence thing to be a real ironic matter. we nurses put up with a lot of bullshit from the patients. we put up with even more bullcrap from the relatives. i mean, for most relatives, the hospital is the next best thing to a pet care centre to dump their elderly relatives whom they have absolutely no intrest in taking charge of. call me cynical and call me horrid, but countless are the times when the whole nursing profession is treated more like a service-oriented job. the typical complaint that comes about with the relatives are things like 'Why didn't you walk my father after the operation?' or 'Why didn't you change my father's diapers regularly?' which sometimes i would really like to pose the question back to them in a 'if you were in my shoes kinda way', 'do you actually bother to walk your father?' and 'do you want to do the changing of the diapers instead?'
of course, the rules in the hospital are not only limited to negligence-based ones. as with any other organization, there are rules set in place to keep the staff in check. like women and hair accessories. no dangling 'Beyonce-ish' hoop rings are allowed for ear accessories. only one wedding band is allowed for rings on the fingers. and coloured hair is generally frowned upon. i daresay that i'm the only male nurse in my hospital that has golden hair. which generally makes me very much frowned upon. yes, male nursing seems to be a really dowdy lot.
but back to rules about the nursing uniform. the nursing board has dictated that uniforms are strictly forbidden to be hung behind the doors of the cubicles in the staff toilet. this is of course for a good reason. a sanitary napkin dispenser lies in the corner of the cubical. people are bathing and splashing bacteria all about the toilet walls. menstruating women who can't pee properly staining the toilet seats (i have personally seen this before in my staff toilet). ironic, given that we practice aseptic techniques while at work, but can't seem to be hygienic with our ablutions. none the less, i have always made it my habit to hang my uniform in the shower cubicles in the toilet when i leave for work. this is purely out of unbounded love for my parents who do the laundry. one uniform typically lasts for two days. i have told my colleagues about this little tit-bit before and received feedback ranging from 'eeeeee' (the clean freaks) to 'oh please! mine lasts for three days *flies buzzing*'.
not helping is the typical locker that the nursing staff are given is about as big as a box of condoms. okay okay, i'm exaggerating here. it's roughly the size of two boxes of condoms. the staff locker is big enough to fit in one set of folded uniform and prolly a pair of shoes. and really, who in this hygienic society of ours wants to keep uniforms and shoes in the same place? whatever happened to the medical drama locker room scene where one can actually HANG those scrub suits to air dry?
there was a period of time when the female nursing staff all kept their shoes in the cabinet underneath the sinks. one of the health-care attendants (the people in charge of washing dishes, cups and serving beverages and doing the menials tasks that keep the hospital running) who had an all-encompassing sense of morality, grabbed the ward supervisor violently by the arm (she has a history of bipolar disorder, now well-controlled, thanks to medication) and dragged her all the way to the staff toilet. 'YOU SEE, SISTER! ALL THE SHOES OVER HERE!! SO DISGUSTING!' she emphasized, prolly with the same ardour as one would preach the gospel to a group of heathens. this particular health-care attendant is rather fond of capital letters and exclamation marks in her speech. all the affected females had their shoes dumped into a big black trash bag after that brouhaha. the females in question also had a hard time sorting out the uniformed black shoes and have come to hate the health-care attendant in particular.
none the less, my uniform which was supposedly hung (hur hur!), had disappeared when i got to work one night shift. initially i thought i was the victim of someone who hated me at work, but then again, i didn't aggravate anybody enough at work to generate that much hate. which led to the next logical conclusion, the bloody supervisor. she's the old school of nursing type of person who got to her senior nurse manager position by following strictly by the book. the type that would definitely find it hard to survive in today's rather flexible world. left with no uniform and an impending shift, i went to borrow a set of scrubs from the Infectious Diseases ward. the ID ward typically wore hospital-issued t-shirts and flowing pyjama pants which tend to 'flow' rather well over prominent private parts. Pangkeng, being the naturally perverse person that he was, couldn't help but constantly comment and try pulling down my pants which were precariously suspended by a simple knot. and i'm very bad at knots.
infuriated by this sudden act of confiscation, i refused to speak to my senior supervisor for three days. if there's one thing i've learnt since primary school, it's that taking things without permission equates to stealing. so technically, she stole my uniform from me. and if she wants to return it back to me, she had better come see me rather than i go see her. it wasn't until the third day when i had no choice but to pass her in the hospital corridor that she confronted me about the uniform in question. to summarize, i listen to her explanation without agreeing to a single thing she said. she returned my uniform intact with my name tag which was hanging neatly on a hanger behind her office door. admittedly, i was touched. but i guess deep down inside, to avoid similar feats of theft from happening, i decided to use that small two-condom boxes-sized locker to keep my uniform.
about a fortnight later, an even sillier act of supervisor-based theft occurred in the ward. the nursing staff have a norm of keeping their cups and water bottles in the pantry. the pantry being the places where the patient's diets are kept and stored. on a normal day, one would find about fifteen to twenty water containers amassed at the pantry. logically speaking, since the staff lockers are already filled with uniforms, shoes and toiletries, keeping a cup where one drinks from in that locker is rather unhygienic. of course, once again, the nursing board dictates that the pantry is solely meant for the patients. and with the Joint Commission International audits looming round the corner, the supervisors are going gaga with the rules.
the night staff arrived one fine day to find that the water bottles and mugs missing from the pantry. in fact, the entire pantry was devoid of a single water container. Kegal Laugh's Ripcurl water bottle. Pangkeng's mug described as 'my deceased grandmother gave it to me!!!!'. my very own Aquacel Ag mug that i got from the very first colorectal seminar that i attended which had very high sentimental value to me. of course, all of us were angry. 'Taking without permission is stealing,' i proclaimed at the top of my tar-coated lungs. and so we investigated and ask around the afternoon shift staff who prolly knew better as to the fates of our mugs and water bottles.
one health-care attendant witnessed one of our supervisor gathering all our mugs and putting them in a transparent plastic bag. and if that wasn't enough, she proceeded to place the transparent plastic bag conveniently outside the disposal room. normally, placing stuff just outside the disposal room is a message to the housekeeping stuff to throw things away. and believe you me, our housekeeping staff are really efficient and don't ask questions. you could place chopped up body parts wrapped in tin foil outside the disposal room and they would still send it to the great big garbage dump for incineration.
so either the supervisor in question really was ignorant about this norm, or she was just the plain embodiment of evil and wanted to dispose of all our cups, just so she could teach us a lesson. being infuriated at that point of time, we all went with the latter. that was when i started to formulate a plan of sorts. well, since the supervisors are so in love with taking away and throwing away all our water containers, let's give them more to throw away then. i grabbed a new unopened packet of plastic disposable cups and started placing them at every corner of the ward. the nurses counter, the toilet, the trolleys, the pantry, the medical officer's office, the floor, the cabinets. every single surface that could support a cup wasn't spared. i even managed to pyramid of sorts on top of the water dispenser. the tune of the New Radicals 'You Get What You Give' kept playing in my mind while i carried out my diabolical plans of revenge.
but of course, the thing about plans is that 'Man Proposes, but God Disposes.' early march was pretty much the monsoon season accompanied with strong winds, no thanks to El Niño. it happened to rain that particular night and the wind blew half the cups away. even my pyramid display wasn't spared. suffice to say, i spent the night picking up cups like an Egyptian loser. not exactly very fun thing to do.
silly little rules and authorities, perhaps this is why i've never liked working for organizations. but then again, which young adult ever enjoys subjecting oneself to rules and authority?
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