When a prison nurse gets sick by A Nonymous, RN
Why A. Nonymous doesn’t do drugs. . .
Ok. I am different. I have known this since I was in third grade. I had to go for special testing in school to get placed in the “gifted” program. I was doing the inkblot test when the guy performing the test told me “I’ve never heard these answers before.” Later on in school, I was told that my brain thinks like only 5% of the population. Life is fun seeing things from a different viewpoint most of the time. But there are times where I stop and wonder if I have really gone over the edge.
Five days ago I went into work feeling a little under the weather. There had been a virus going around at work, and I figured that I had picked it up. No big deal. Others had work through it; I could too. Besides, I had just been teasing my roommate about having a man cold. How could I wuss out now? Twelve hours later, my relief at work sent me home telling me to call in sick for that night. I figured I would get a good day’s sleep and feel better. Wrong.
I was so cold when I went to sleep that I stayed in my long john’s and scrubs under the blankets and still shivered. Part of my brain saw Dr McDreamy explaining rigors but most of my brain just wanted to go to sleep. I should have listened. I woke up a couple of hours later, still cold, but I had to pee. I got up to go to the bathroom and I felt like I was floating. I remembered that sensation from when I was in sixth grade. I woke up from a nap and floated down the hallway. My dad took one look at me and said “your fever is too high.” The next thing I knew, I was tossed into a bathtub full of cold water - nightgown and all.
This time there wouldn’t be a cold bath. I despise the cold. Preferring a seizure to anything less than 95 degrees, I chose to remove my long johns and get out from under the blanket where my 102.7 degree body could slowly cool off. I fell back asleep. I basically slept for 60 hours. My roommate drove two hours and brought me DayQuil, NyQuil, a case of water, a subway BMT salad and some Reese’s peanut butter cups in an attempt to get me to eat. I wasn’t touching the chocolate. Hell must have frozen over.
At one point, I woke up and took the NyQuil. I then began hallucinating about Santa Claus and holly berries. Was it the Nyquil? Was it my fever?
48 hours later, my Airbnb hosts knocked on the door and woke me up. “A. Nonymous, are you alright?” I stumbled to the door and opened it up. They both looked relieved. I can only imagine that conversation.
“Honey, she hasn’t come out of that room in two days. She never misses work. Go check on her."
“She said she was sick. She probably called off.”
“I haven’t even heard her move. What if she’s dead? You’re the one who works in a hospital. You go check on her.”
“I am not finding a dead body in my own house. Can you imagine all the cops and news media that would come?”
“Ok. We will go look together. We can discreetly put the body somewhere else and be each other’s alibis.”
Thankfully, I was still alive, and they didn’t have to drag my carcass somewhere.
Yesterday morning, I felt a little better. I decided to try to go to work. I got up, showered and brushed my teeth. My throat hurt, so I looked at it. That’s what people do - look at things when they hurt. What was that I saw? There were patches on my throat! I hadn’t had strep throat since I was twenty-four and the doctor took my tonsils out. Besides, I remember strep throat hurting a lot more. It had to be snot or something stuck there. I swallowed and looked again. Nope. Still there.
I texted my roommate to ask him to bring my antibiotics.
Him: “so you have strep throat?”
This is when I knew I was feeling better. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to mess with him. Keep in mind that he is my roommate and knows exactly how uninvolved I am with men.
Me: “well, strep or gonorrhea.”
Me: “I have patches on my throat. It could be strep throat or gonorrhea of the throat. I would have to get tested to find out which one for sure.”
Silence followed. Then I had to crack up laughing. I told him it was strep, and I would like my penicillin. I also asked for some Sudafed. The congestion in my sinuses and nasal passages had gotten to the point of being cement, and the DayQuil wasn’t touching it. I briefly thought about how you could use pouring cement into someone’s nose as a torture technique. I think it would be much more effective than waterboarding.
My daughter and son-in-law agreed to bring the medicine out to work. So I headed that way too. Unfortunately it is a 2 hour drive to my work from my home.
Don’t judge me for this next part. When you work in a correctional setting, you make do with what you have. I am now the McGyver of nurses.
“This man needs IV fluid, but our IV catheters are so old, they can’t connect to the tubing! Whatever shall we do?”
Nurse McGyver “Pop the end of that pen off and pull the ink part out. We shall screw it on to this end of the IV catheter and then insert the other end of the now empty pen into the IV tubing and save this man.”
*pose with a big smile and a special tooth shine*.
Instead of being heroic, I cracked an ammonia inhalant to try to sniff it to open up my sinuses. My eyes burned. My throat really burned, but nothing got through my nose. I took some DayQuil in the hopes that it would help a little.
My heroes arrived with my medicine. I thanked them while trying not to get my germs on them and sent them on their merry way. I wasn’t sure how I would react to the Sudafed, so I put off taking it. Fast forward to four AM. I felt like I was getting worse and losing my voice again. I pulled out the fateful Sudafed pills and took one. Just one. Remember kids, it only takes one time to ruin your life. . .
By five AM I could feel the Sudafed starting to work. I could move a little air in my right nostril. Brilliantly, I decided to try the ammonia again to help it along. My nasal passages opened up for a few seconds and then closed right up again. I thought it didn’t do anything. I would soon find out that I had angered the snot monsters.
We were counting the sharps during shift change when the cement block turned into a tsunami of snot running through my nose. I had to quickly grab tissue paper and profusely apologize to my coworkers who probably would have been completely disgusted if they weren’t nurses. The cement hardened again. I cleansed my hands and finished our count. The tsunami of snot had managed to open up my ears, so I happily climbed into my vehicle, thinking that I would feel amazingly good when I woke up tonight.
Then, as I was putting my seatbelt on, Mt Snotsuvius erupted. There wasn’t any chance of making it back into work to grab tissue. It would have run all down my face and shirt by the time I made it through all the gates and doors that I would have to wait on security to open. I didn’t have any napkins in the console. No baby wipes left in my granddaughter's car seat. I stuck my hand in my pocket in a last ditch effort to find something and found a wad of toilet paper.
Now prison toilet paper isn’t like toilet paper at home. You could use it as sandpaper on wood, and It had already worn away several layers of nose skin during the tsunami earlier. My nose couldn’t bear the rubbing any more, but I couldn’t have lava waves of snot running down my face either. I tore the paper in half and jammed each piece into a nostril.
Now if I had been thinking clearly, I would have just taken small pieces, curled them like a tampon and put them in there. At work, we call them Rhino Rockets. But I panicked and I now looked hilarious with a handful of toilet paper coming out of each nostril.
I decided to leave the tissue paper in that way while I drove home. My nose skin hurt worse than my ego. Besides, I told myself “ you don’t really care what they think.” Oh but I did care. Not in the way that they may say or do rude things, but in the hilarious, incredulous looks that I could get from people in the other cars. The “what the . . .” looks. Sometimes it just makes me laugh to do something that makes people look at you that way and then go home and tell their family about it.
It made me laugh so hard that I started crying.
It was at that point when I though of a wacky meme about the cousins on the mother’s side being craziest. If you guys could see me now, I would win hands down, I thought. Or would I? I think people secretly shove toilet paper up their nose when it is running all the time. Maybe not out in the open, but at least in the privacy of their own home.
I got about half way to the Airbnb and wondered what I would say to the home owners. Would I shape the toilet paper into tusks and chase children around? No, I decided. I already put them through enough when they thought I was dead. I planned to just take them out before I entered the house.
I looked over and saw a guy in the truck next to me laughing so hard that he was crying. It made me start laughing again, at least until I noticed a giant spider in the back of his truck.
It stretched across the whole back window of his truck.
I told myself it couldn’t really be a spider. No spider is that large. I looked and looked, but nothing else was in the back of his truck to make a shadow. There wasn’t any equipment in the bed. It is a little late in the year to still have a Halloween decoration up. The light turned green, and I floored it. I was probably flying at a low altitude instead of driving on the road.
I am telling myself that he still had a Halloween decoration in his truck. Nevertheless, I am never touching NyQuil or Sudafed again.
A. Nonymous is a real life RN working in a correctional facility. Despite her obvious talent for storytelling, she asked to not be named. Don't give her any DayQuill, either. There's spiders out there!