“Mrs. G. you can’t go up those stairs. Stop; Mrs. G. Don’t put your foot on that step.” We had been warned never to run inside the building so I was walking as fast as I could towards my dear friend. She was confused this morning. I had suspected it when her smile was there but the spark wasn’t. Now, here she was, headed for the Third Floor stairway. “Please, Mrs. G., let’s go over here and I’ll bring you a nice cup of tea, shall we?”
“No, I don’t want any tea. I want to go up there and see what’s up there.” I had reached my patient at this point but didn’t want to startle her by gripping her arm.
“Oh, Sweetie, that’s just another floor exactly like this one. My roommate, Joyce, is working with the patients on that floor. It looks exactly the same as this one. Please, take your foot off the step and let’s come right over to this chair. You can watch the stairway, if you like, while I fetch you something to drink.” I wasn’t a bit worried about my patient; she was such a nice, little old lady and I felt sorry for her. Why shouldn’t the people get to see what was on the other Floor when they saw that stairway all the time. Still, it was the rule and that was that. No checking out the other floors. Mrs. G. seemed agitated or nervous or something; I wasn’t sure and there was no one to ask in sight. I remembered that sometimes they gave the patients something like juice to drink, which helps them get out of the confusion. I wanted to get Mrs. G. to sit down so I could bring her something to drink.
Mrs. G. had one foot already on the first step and when I saw her starting to bring the other foot up, I reached to take hold of her elbow. “I’m sorry, Mrs. G. but you can’t go up there.” Well, my guard had been so totally down, with not a lick of worry over my own personal safety, giving Mrs. G. just the advantage she needed. As soon as she felt my touch, in the flash of a lightning strike, Mrs. G. whipped around, grabbed hold of my throat with both hands and squeezed.
“I…said…I…am…going…up…there!” She was still shouting, some very hateful things against me included, but I missed a lot of the tirade. My own world was going black completely as I lost consciousness, slipping to the floor with Mrs. G. on top of me.
Finally, one of the nurses heard Mrs. G. screaming that she would kill me and then she would just go where she wanted to go. She came running and was able to peel the strong fingers, one-by-one, off my throat. Another staff member returned with Joyce about the time I began to breathe again, trying to figure out where I was and why I was on the floor. Joyce was excused from her shift on Third Floor to drive me home.
Perhaps, the administration worried about any future ramifications from the episode, but they suggested that there would be no objection should I want to find employment elsewhere. They made it clear that they weren’t firing me and I could stay, should this be my desire. It wasn’t my desire to stay and their relief seemed as great as mine. Nope, time to move on, while I could still breathe!
In spite of the traumatic exit, I was glad to have worked there. I had learned a lot from my time of employment at the nursing home. Not only that but they gave me a glowing recommendation when my next employers asked for a reference. Nope, it was not in that city. Summer was nearly gone so we bade Spokane a fond farewell. We found employment for the remainder of the summer in the city where we were returning for our second year of university study. Where? Why a nursing home, of course; now, we were experienced nurses aides, you know. This facility had only one floor with three wings branching out. No stairway issues here!
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