I'm Afraid of Myself
1982, Changi Hospital @ 1945hrs
Just got back from dinner; saw a patient at bed 30 called and about to attend when the senior staff nurse called me from the nurses station “nurse… come here! You’ve done last offices before?” I nodded.
“Good then, can you attend to bed 19….. The family is on the way... I will call Nurse Chia to help you... you know what to do right?”
[Mind] This man! Did you just talk to him an hour ago before going off for dinner? He went to toilet and say hello to you along the way?”
[Self ] Yes the same man. I wonder what happen... he must have collapse… looks like they tried to resuscitate him but fail….
[Mind ] look at those tubes, the IV lines eeeeeeeh! So grotesque!
[Self ] what eeeeh! we’re going to remove all these. And prepare the patient before the family comes… let’s start. Don’t have to wait for Nurse Chia... she’s attending to a patient... we proceed first… okay what is the first instruction in our nursing procedure manual.
[Mind ] Don disposable gloves and apron. Rationale: To prevent cross- infection .Give respect to the religious belief of the patients…. The procedure is to be carried out quietly, quickly, and respectfully…. Clean away the equipment used during the procedure
[Self] We need to remove the endotracheal tube and the I’V infusion.
[Mind ] you mean we have to remove all those….. Just look at his tongue... it’s so pale…you’re sure he is really dead?
[Self] Of course he is dead, the doctor already certified it, that is why we’re told to prepare him… didn’t the nursing procedure said clearly… clean and remove all the equipment used?
[Mind ] yes! But do you remember about the story we heard at Alexandra hospital… about the nurse... remember the male nurse? He was doing last offices with an attendance then suddenly the man , supposedly dead man, open his eyes, sit up and held his hand… remember that story
[Self] that is only a rumor. Nobody knows actually what happen. The attendant went into coma and never wakes up. She died few days later in ICU. The male nurse refuses to talk at all. He just went missing; nobody knows what happen to him…
[Mind ] then how the story about the dead man opening his eyes etc surface if not from the male nurses himself…
[Self] don t know, this is not the right time to think about all that!
[Mind ] you know this patient just had his dinner before he collapses… just imagine all those stomach content…what if?
[Self] what if what?
[Mind ] you know… you remember the exorcist movie…the girl and the priest... she suddenly cough out and the fecal matter spurt out from her mouth landed on his face… what if when you remove the endothreacheal tube suddenly the stomach content all spurt out at your face…did you see that! that! I just saw something!
[Self] what did you see?
[Mind ] I saw his finger twitch... serious.. honest. I saw it!
[Self] chey! You’re full of imagination… nothing of such will happen... it's the muscle reacting to the chemical changes hapening in this man body.. now shall we proceed. I’ve remove the tube and the IV line. What’s the next in the procedure?
[Mind ] apply dressings on any wounds... or orifices with secretion.
Rationale: The body continues to secrete fluids after death. Leaking orifices pose a health hazard to any staff coming into contact with the body. Clean dressings are reapplied to prevent any further leakage from wound site.
[Self] done! What’s next?
[Mind ] Remove any mechanical aids such as foam rings, heel pads, and strengthen the limbs. Rationale: Rigor mortis occurs 2 - 4 hours after death …. Remember Salem’s Lot. The movie we watch sometime back. Scary eh!
[Self] yeah quite!
[Mind] you believe such thing ever happen in real life? Vampire and such
[Self] nah! It’s just a movie… to scare us all. It is just an entertainment.
[Mind] but just imagine it …. You and Sammy. Have you thought about it?
[Self] thought of?
[Mind] you know! the scene between David Soul and that girlfriend of his, what’s her name…. Right after his escape from the house, they met at the house by the forest, and there she was waiting for him as she promises she would….. When he about to embrace her, he …… do you think you can do it?
[Self] do what?
[Mind ] you know…. Just reverse the scene again… you running away from the vampire house, suppose to meet Sammy at the meeting point, and there he was smiling with open arms, waiting for you to …… but at the back of your mind you know he have become one of them…. Can you really do it?
[Self] do what?
[Mind] you know…. Kill him, just like David Soul [as Ben Mears] killed her from the back…
[Self] chey!!!!!!!! How can you think of such thing at the moment like this?
Just at that moment, the screen open and enter Enrolled Nurse Chia. “Sorry… I have to attend to another patient… have you remove all the things”|
“Yeah… all of them...”
“Oh! Good, now we just need to tie the two legs together and the hand. I’ve got the shroud and the mortuary card with me. The family is already downstairs at the mortuary... they’re going to claim the body tonight… The mortuary cart is on the way…”
“You’re okay! this is not the first time you’re doing last offices right?”
“No... Not the first time… but first time doing alone”
“Ah! You’re okay? I’m sorry, I should have come earlier, but the patient at the end there wants a urinal… and I have to get the mortuary shroud and prepare the mortuary card etc… I hope all this does not scare you... are you afraid... you seems so quiet.”
“Scare, Afraid? me… nope not at all… I’m afraid of myself actually”
“Okay then… once we transfer the patient on the mortuary cart, you can strip the bed and throw the bed sheets in the special laundry bag…. and remind the ward attendant to clean this bed… don’t have to make it now... let it dry for a while”
[Mind] laughter “I’m afraid of myself” eh! Ain’t this fun~ … we should do this more often.