So we don’t normally get highly dangerous patients but sometimes we unfortunately do. This guy was SO scary when I first met him. I thought I was going to get beat up for sure! I will call him Jose, he is a 270 pound 30 year old guy with a shaved head. He paced up and down the halls only to stop and glare at you and then returned to pacing while randomly yelling obscenities. The first time I met him my co-workers told me that he was with us because he hears voices, becomes violent and had been kicked out of his “group home”. I said ..” OK, so why is he not in jail?”
So anyways, the first night I worked with him he slept the entire night and I didn’t even have to talk to him, nothing. The next night was officially one of the worst nights in my almost 2 years of working at this job. For the first 5 hours of the shift Jose was on edge, ready to explode at any second, and he would. Randomly. I hated it because I could never see it coming and since this was my first time meeting him, I didn’t have any rapport with him whatsoever. My co-workers had told me that he responded well to music so I put on hard core rap for him and he would stand behind the glass of the nursing station and nod his head to the music. This would pacify him for about 10 minutes at a time and then he would be going off again, yelling, ” F*** You!,” and trying to break out of the door. I couldn’t breathe, I felt like I was suffocating. On top of dealing with Jose, I had 9 other patients to take care of, asking me questions, needing things, acting bizarre. I didn’t know how to connect with him and calm him down and I had the pressure of him going off if I didnt. At one point he escaped and I had to call a Dial 9, this is where your co-workers will come running to wherever you tell them over the hospitals intercom and help. That was one of many that I called that night. So, from 6:00pm to 11:00pm I failed miserably at keeping him calm for more than 15 minutes at a time. He was so extremely labile, going up and down so quickly. I could tell he was responding to a lot of voices but I was too scared to push him, to say anything that would make him worse. I just didn’t know how to gauge him yet, and I was scared to literally get too close to him. After 5 hours I was SO mentally and emotionally drained that I was in a trance. I felt like I couldn’t move, talk, think, do anything. My co-workers made me switch units for the rest of the night. I was grateful and I prayed that the next time I came to work he would be gone, but of course… he wasn’t.
When I walked in for the next shift I was with my male-coworker and the second Jose saw us he started screaming, ” F****** B****!” and began trying to jump over the glass window. My co-workers told us to leave for awhile. When we came back they told us it was my guy co-worker that had triggered him. Apparently he gets triggered by males and works tons better with females…So they were basically forcing me to work with him again. They assured me that since he had been with us he had not attacked anyone and so I should be safe. I dragged myself onto the unit and I just told myself to not be scared of him and to just treat him like I would treat anyone else, a friend.
It worked wonders! He responded so well to me its not even funny. I worked with him for 2 days straight and he was almost perfect for me. I still had to give him more attention than I did for the other patients but he never yelled, screamed, escaped or punch a wall! I told him that when he started to hear the voices to come talk to me and tell me and that I would help him. He nodded his head in agreement. When he came to me and told me I did what I always do with the “voices”. I distracted him. I asked him about what sports he likes to play, how many brothers and sisters does he have, ext…It is amazing how quickly this can help someone with voices. It doesn’t keep them away forever but it helps enough for them to call down until we can get them an anti-psychotic which is what really will help. We ended up talking a lot, I got to know a lot of things about him. He once said to me, “I don’t get why people are so scared of me.”
When it was time for bed I made his bed for him, and he said to me, ” Will you stay and talk to me?” It was then that I realized that all he had wanted was someone to show him some love, kindness and to treat him as an equal. He had wanted love and attention just like any other human being. He didn’t want to be treated as someone to be afraid of. It’s amazing how alike we are as human beings. At the end of the day we all want the same thing, to be loved. And I think that is something that Jose didn’t get enough of as a child.
- Toddlers Learning About Life – 6 tips for explaining a sometimes scary world (babble.com)
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