I'm a nurse at City Hospital in Odessa, Texas. I guess you could say I'm not a typical nurse, seeing as how I'm not a kind and jolly old woman, but a witty, charming young man (if I do say so myself). Being a male nurse, I get quite a lot of flack from the doctors on staff and I usually get stuck with the worst tasks from the senior nurses. I also get odd reactions from patients. But today took the cake. Today I met Captain Tom Jergens.
Captain Tom came in last week. Captain Tom had AIDS. He also had pneumonia, which is why he was hospitalized. Captain Tom was going to die.
I came into his room this morning to check his vitals and administer a fresh IV fluid pack. Captain Tom was dozing. His wife and three children (grown) and their seven children had gone home to get some sleep after clocking three days straight by his bedside. Dr. Bance, Captain Tom's physician, had told them the Captain would be well looked after during their absence and if "things got bad" they would be called in immediately.
Anyway, I was hooking up the fluid pack and Captain Tom's eyes flew open. I was not one of the nurses who normally looked after the Captain but I had brought him his dinner for several nights in a row. Each time I came in I swear he gave me glaring looks, but the man was clearly suffering, so I always gave him my most cheerful smile. And extra Jello.
His eyes rolled around the room, registering where he was. Then he saw me.
"Where's my wife?" he wheezed.
"Your wife has gone home to get some rest, would you like me to call her in for you?"
"I need my flight plan. What's my flight plan. Where's that stewardess? I need a drink. Gin. I need gin, on the rocks. Gimme that on the rocks, babydoll."
Okay, so now I was freaked out a bit. I never do well around patients that are "near the end", I'm still not used to the breakdown of brain function.
"Tell Marlene that I need her to bring me some gin," he gasped, "I'm hungry. Get me some food woman. Black cats."
I went to hit the page button next to the Captain's bed to call another nurse into the room with me, and have someone notify his family that they should get to him. Usually when patients start mumbling about nothing it's a good sign they're on their way out.
"Who are you? Are you that faggot nurse?"
Great. Another homophobic old man, I thought.
"What the hell you faggot, don't touch me. Get your gay hands off of me. Don't you touch me! Get away!" he began to raise his voice with each word, until he was somewhere between a raspy cry and a terror filled scream. He was grabbing for my arm each time I got near the page button.
"Get off of me you butt fucker! Get off! You fucking fag!" He was now at a fervent pitch.
He began thrashing around in his bed, clearly panicking.
"Sir, please calm down. I'm just paging a doctor, and your wife. Please sir, let me page them. I just have to push the button next to your bed here, I won't touch you."
"Geddoff!" Fucking Fag! Geddoffame!"
He threw off his sheets and was kicking his legs now.
"You homo! Don't touch me! Geddoffa.."
His hospital gown had flipped up. The Captain was now fully exposed in front of me, and seemed not to notice. Funny, as he was so concerned that a "fag" was touching him.
His IV came off and the cord flopped around, leaking fluid onto the floor as he threw his arm at me, waving me away.
"Hooomo..tell Marlene to get me some gin.. geeen..."
And then he stopped. No more trashing. No more screaming. His eyes fluttered.
Oh fuck, I thought. He's going to die. Right here, he's going to die.
"Get away. Go away fag. Away from me..go.." he whispered.
I took a step back. I hadn't seen anyone die before.
"You fucking..." he gasped, his breaths were becoming more laboured.
He had stopped breathing.
Holy fuck, I thought, this guy is dead. He's dead.
I finally got to the page button and called Dr. Bance.
The machines around him were humming with flat lines and exclamation marks. Red things were flashing everywhere and I could hear Dr. Bance being paged out in the hall.
The Captain had just died. And he had used his last breath to harass me over my presumed homosexuality.