2 Funny Stories from My Days as an Aged Care Nurse

Today let’s take a look at how the pursuit of the dollar has humbled us.

Let’s not discuss it at the abstract or conceptual level: let’s make it real by sharing some stories.

Below are two stories from my days as an aged care nurse/hospital wardsman/general cleaner and gardener/disability care person.

Health care folk

Before We Begin

It should be noted that I never entered the Aged Care field with any airs or feeling of snobbery. I didn’t have any interest in the job and didn’t really want to do it initially but once I got in, I loved being with old folks, especially because their old age (and in some cases) dementia made them so real, non pretentious and friendly.

I never ever made the declaration that I was above other people’s bodily fluids or anything like that: I accepted it as part and parcel of the job before I got in. The reason I got out: because I don’t really have a passion for the industry AND I am a pretty bad nurse (and I like to imagine, a much better writer and thinker ;) )

Some scatological humor coming your way. Don’t read this within the physical or psychological vicinity of food, anyone squeamish or uncool.

Story Number One: My Friend’s First Day

Colon cleanseThe nurse had done this many times before and knew exactly what to do. Grab the old feeble person lying on the bed. Roll them over so that they were facing them and their back was to the newbie nurse sent by the agency. Pull of the diaper pad. Grab a face washer and……….pass it to the agency nurse: No need doing the grunt work when there was an agency nurse around.

Nine point five times out of ten, the agency nurse would gladly grab that face washer and wipe that bum clean as though it were La Mancha and he was hunting for some gold. But not this day my friends and not this African. The African contorted his countenance into a look of pure surprise:

“Excuse me?” he said as he stared at the food that escaped the decaying old man.

“I don’t have all day, grab the face washer and give his bum a wash!”

Would this be the day? Would this be the moment? Would he now officially become a member of the ABC: the Australian Bum Cleaning Association?

Alas friends, today was not to be the day. For you see, our protagonist had the perfect excuse:

“I can’t do it, I’m new here!”

Now a second countenance contorted into pure confusion:

“What do you mean your new? This isn’t rocket science. Grab the towel. Dip it in the water there, wipe of all the sh………”

Shhhhhhhhh, he lost our protagonist at shhhhhhhhhhh

“I am new here! Please do it and show me how!”

And with that the young man put off the inevitability of joining the ABC. Too bad, the person whose bum he wiped to join had a much nastier treasured buried in that there diaper.

Story Number Two: Will Mwangi Find Love?

Hand of love“Thank God it’s Friday night and I juuuuusssttt got paid!”

That song kept playing in my mind over and over and over and over again. A few minutes until the shift ends and then women had better watch out, there was a young aged care nurse on the prowl, and I was loaded with sanitary gloves 8) . Sure I didn’t have much. But where money was lacking, I more than made up in testosterone and enthusiasm.

With me being in such an expectant and chirpy mood, I basically floated into the room that belonged to “the Lady” in the final minutes of the shift.

Unfortunately, the Lady had busted her nose and I was there to clean up the blood while she lay there in bed. For some reason that I can’t quite fathom, I forgot to turn on the lights as I walked into her room and the only light that showed was a tiny sliver of flourescent light from the hallway. That flourescence formed a perfect line from the hall all the way to the head of the bed where she lay and where I stood with a towel in my hand and ready to hold my jaw in the other. Let the soap opera begin.

She was smiling at me a little too much. Then again I was a young man in a nursing home, this happened quite a bit and I was used to it. I gently caressed (that must have been what she thought) her face with that face washer until all the blood was off.

I dropped the face washer back into the bucket of water and began to bounce my way out when I heard a gentle whisper:


I could say that I did an elegant swivel back to face her as Ridge would to Brook in the Bold and the Beautiful, but at that moment I looked like the black guy in the movie who had just heard the sound which everyone in the movie knows will kill him. I turned round: oh oh

“Come here,” the senior lady of the lake (if you get this reference, I’m so sorry) purred

I came to her side like a good nurse would:

“What’s up?”

“Just one?”

“Just one what?”

“Just one KISS!”

I looked like a deer in the headlights.

“Say what?”

“Come on, just one, just one little kiss!”

I did what any compassionate loving human being would do….I began to cackle!

“You’re bad for me you know that?”

“Come on,” she continued like a siren upon the rocks on a Scottish shore.

I slowly began to back away cackling and unable to believe that this was happening. Finally I left her with a kiss in the wind which was delivered from my lips to her cheek via a blow from my right hand. I had to give the people what they want :P . Now to repeat that process with a twenty year old……………

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No Comments

  • By Leeban, June 30, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

    I like that friend of yours. smart guy. I think I`d need about 18 demonstrations before I could do my own old person bum wash.

  • By Kelly, June 30, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

    Your friend is admirable. Such stories just convince me that its better to struggle back home than to wash bums abroad. It might take longer but well…

  • By Mwangi, June 30, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

    @Leeban and Kelly: Interestingly enough, he is an absolute consumate professional when it comes to the job now. He doesn’t flinch when he sees feces and even used to lecture me about professional standards that must be followed within the nursing industry.
    I don’t even see where the problem is to be quite honest, once you pass that hurdle of being able to handle bodily fluids, and getting certificates and documentation, nursing is an absolutely fantastic minimum wage job on soooo many levels (flexibility of time, plethora of work etc etc)

  • By who me, July 1, 2008 @ 5:01 am

    I can still remember it like it was six years ago.
    Fresh out of high school boarding that plane. Filled with grand ideas of the “Ulaya” (abroad). The land of flowing milk and honey.
    Soon enough after touching down though. The realization that I was going nowhere fast without a job struck home.
    On this my first month, second week and ninth day away form “home”. I hit all the recruitment agencies on the high street, learning of their collective requirements as I went along. Of course I had CV, but reference; err no, previous experience; likewise. Add any other thing you can think they’d ask you for, you just don’t think of these things.
    Then the phone calls started coming in and the fun began. Have you ever thought that a job was beneath you. Not in a snobbish, am too high class for that malarkey, kind of way. More a, “they have “mboches” (maids) – who’d do that for a pittance”, kind of way. Well that idea was blow clean out of the water when I was offered £12 an hour for loading flowers onto a truck, or £14 for emptying bins and wiping tables. The list of jobs that I’ve been through is endless: Cleaner, Farmer, Gardener, Builder, Factory Worker, Programmer, Nurse – changed old guys diapers, IT Dude. It goes on and on and on, you think of it and i’ve done it. Most of the Jobs I never imagined I’d ever do, but if it pays the bills – i.e. drinks tab, “Kazi ni Kazi” (work is work).

  • By Mwangi, July 1, 2008 @ 5:11 am

    @whome: You’re story is all together so common. I think another blog that I might eventually start is a blog where people simply send in their stories of what they did in pursuit of money.
    It does make one wonder though, just what we are capable of as human beings, if for the sake of money, our character can change so radically. Makes us realize that we are a lot more fluid in our character and standards and beliefs as human beings than we like to imagine. Thanks for the mini-post, me always loves the mini posts.

  • By Sanaa, July 1, 2008 @ 8:35 am

    Thank you for the warning (right above) as I was having tea. I’ll be back to read the rest of the gross details(assuming there are some)

  • By Carol, July 1, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

    Your post Mwangi and Whome’s mini post, make me realize how we go thruogh a real lot of stuff just for money!
    Then there was this funny mail of guys dressed in animal skins, just to act in the zoos in the UK, ati a monkey falls to a lion den and he says ‘leo nitafa!’ (I will die today!)One of the lions replies,’ni wewe unaaguka kama mtoto!’ (Is that you falling like a kid?)These were just local me deguised in zoo animals, well, those visiting loved it especially the smaill talk between a lion and a monkey, of course no one understood the language and made the scene even real!

  • By Mwangi, July 2, 2008 @ 4:28 am

    @Sanaa: There is nothing too bad in the story. I realize now, after writing this that there are much much worse stories that could be told. This was the PG version. Hope you enjoy.

  • By Mwangi, July 2, 2008 @ 4:30 am

    @Carol: Indeed, many people who started out very snooty and stuck up about what they would or wouldn’t do in this life have been humbled here by poverty. I must say though that I’m kind of glad that so many folks have to go through this type of thing, it really gives one more character and depth, I think.

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