Monday, June 25, 2007

Nurse Follies: Sometimes They Come Back

Find me a nurse who claims to not believe in ghosts, and I will show you someone who hasn't been in the medical field long enough to establish their belief in them. Give them time, and then they will have stories that will make the little hairs on your arms stand on end. If you do a search on "nursing ghost stories", you should find enough to give you the willies for the rest of the week.

One of the best stories I heard was from a coworker who used to work in a hospital in Nebraska with his wife. They worked as techs in an ICU. One patient was a woman who was pretty much brain dead, but they kept her on life support because she was pregnant. Time came that they decided the baby was done cooking, so they delivered it via C-section. Mom died and that was that. Later, a little old lady with Alzheimer's was admitted to the same room. The patient was pretty much incoherent most of the time, but one night, she was screaming her head off. The techs go to the room to investigate and find the woman screaming about a baby. They try to calm her and ask for more details about this baby. The woman points a bony finger to the corner of the room and says, "That lady there wants to know where her baby is!"


It seems that older the hospital, the better the ghost stories. My floor, while somewhat new, never really had a ghost story...until now.

At some point, we had a patient (whom I'll call Ed) who was in a particular room for a long amount of time. A very sick person, who probably hung around on this mortal plane far longer than he needed to because his family had issues of letting go. Well, he finally passed not too long ago, much to the relief of the staff who saw everyday how he suffered.

Monday, a couple nurses were in the room (empty at the time) when the lights started flickering. The television would turn on, cycle through all the channels, then turn off. Maintenance was called, and they found nothing wrong with the room.

Friday, I am assigned to a patient who is in the same room. Everything is going fine until another nurse hears my patient chattering in the room. She ducks inside and the patient tells her that "someone is floating around in here". The nurse suspects if the patient has lost her marbles, and comes out to tell me about it. This patient had been with it all night, so I go into the room to assess the situation.

Me: What's this about someone floating around?
Patient: Oh, you already heard about that?
Me: I hear about everything. What's up?
Patient: Did someone die here recently?

Initially, I'm pretty vague. I explain that it is a hospital, and patients do sometimes die here, so it is probably that someone died recently. I don't say anything about Ed.

Patient: Well, my husband died a while ago, but sometimes he comes home to check up on me. I will feel him rub my leg, or pat my arm. However, whomever is in here, is not my husband.

Slightly freaked, I go tell the others. We are now convinced that Ed has returned, and is going to exact his revenge upon the nursing staff for making him suffer. We didn't, his children did. The nurses were merely their tool for doing so.

The patient finally falls asleep, but I check on her frequently. At one point, I call down to the cancer floor and ask one of the nurses if they had experiences with patients who had died, but hung around for a while.

"Oh yeah. In fact, we have one on the bone marrow transplant floor right now."

That morning, I'm in the room with my patient, giving her morning meds. I ask if her visitor came back.

Patient: He never left. (Note that she said he.)
Me: Well, next time he does, tell him to go home.
Patient: I've been telling him to go to the light.
Me: Try telling him to go home and haunt his children.
Patient: You probably think I'm crazy.
Me: Not at all. In fact, we kind of have an idea who it is.

I cared for this patient all weekend. Apparently, Ed never got around to leaving. My patient wasn't freaked, but merely annoyed because her guest hindered her sleep.

Most everyone is sort of nonchalant about our haunting. Some are happy it has finally happened because every floor needs a good haunting. One nurse is downright ecstatic about it. She loves ghosts, hauntings, and all that stuff. I don't care as long as they leave my patients alone and don't move anything that shouldn't be moved.


thedirtyknitter said...

goosebumps :)

Nightmare said...

I lived with a ghost in Chico Ca. She was an ornery bitch until I saw her, and told everyone in the house about her and then we treated her like a member of the group and she stopped opening all of the cupboards, and the old timey admiral fridge, she would do one cupboard, just as a Howdy, or to remind us to say hello to her.