One of the hospital wards I worked on in Dublin,
had more than it’s fair share of elderly men.
Many came from very rural locations,
and most had not taken the time to bathe prior to admission.
Arriving into a busy ward was very difficult for these men.
They were unused to company especially female,
and distrustful of everyone.
Most were poorly educated,
and had almost no idea what procedure they were in for.
One morning just such an elderly gentleman arrived to the ward.
He perfectly fitted the description above.
I welcomed him and began to help him put away his belongings.
He was very jumpy.
Every item I picked up he would grab off me,
and say, “leave that now, that’s mine”.
Then he would place it under his pillow!
I explained to him that the locker by his bed was his,
to put in whatever small items he wished to,
and that there was a large locker outside for his clothes.
I asked him would he like to come and see the outside locker.
“Thank you nurse, no need”, he said, as he stretched out on the bed,
his head lying on the pillow perched on top of his unpacked belongings
I thought I had better give him time to settle, so I left.
When I returned it was visiting time.
Quite a number of visitors were in the room at other beds.
My old gent was sitting up, eyes darting,
with one hand placed on guard on his pillow,
under which I could see he had put everything he had brought in,
along with the clothes he had worn.
I began to think there was more to this than possessiveness.
Armed with my patient property form,
I approached the bed and pulled the curtains.
Explaining as matter of factly as I could,
I said I would need to take a list of all he had brought in.
“Right nurse, thank you nurse”, was his reply.
I was delighted, compliance at last.
Then I said,”And have you brought in any money with you?”.
He looked at me for a moment and then he said,
“Not a penny nurse”.
Now I had been on this ward for awhile,
and gentlemen like him never ever come without any money.
I decided to go and get back up.
When I returned with my fellow nurse,
I explained to him the dangers of leaving money around the ward.
What would happen when he went to theater?
As I spoke with him I carefully noted,
that his hand kept touching a pocket on his pajamas,
and his eyes darting to his socks.
I think it was obvious where his hiding place was?
I accepted his denial,
and eventually got his clothes from under the pillow.
He was a lot less concerned about them now.
Obviously the loot had been moved.
I tried once more to encourage him to hand over his money.
Carefully I explained that the hospital safe was like a bank.
Receipts would be given. His money was safe.
But still he denied the existence of any cash.
So in the end I had to say straight out,
“I know your money is in your pocket and socks”.
Now, there was definitely no question of letting him keep it.
So in the end we managed to coax him to come to the hospital safe with us.
He was so funny as we walked along, giving out about banks all the way.
Even when we got there he said to the girl taking his money,
“I’ll be watching you, in case your wearing a fancy new dress the next time I see you”.
I was only working until 2.30 pm that day,
so before leaving I called into him.
He asked me would I check the safe on my way home!
When I did get home I laughed so much,
telling my mum about him and his distrust of banks.
One hour later my mum called me.
The hospital bank had been robbed at gunpoint!
I was speechless.
My poor elderly gentleman!
His money was gone.
Now I will not go into the conversations I had with my gentleman,
when I did return to work.
Suffice to say, when he saw me he wanted the police called,
as he firmly believed I had set it all up.
I managed to stay well away from him,
for the remainder of his stay,
but every time I hear “trust me I’m a nurse”,
I think back to my old gentleman friend.