i think i said at some point i said might come back and tell you about him, and now is that time. it sounds maybe like i don't take him seriously, but i do.
i don't know what it's like to be all patients checking in to all hospitals, but i know what it's like to be me checking in to the hospitals i've checked into, and i have talked with a number of patients who have indicated that we have some shared experiences.
one of the things you do is watch the staff closely. when you come in you are often pretty badly strung out and you have to get and idea pretty quickly who can be trusted and who can't. in every population some people are full of shit and some aren't. in every population some people have a sense of humor and some don't. and the thing about people is that some of them are just on our wavelength and some aren't.
the patients can tell you, if you're in good enough shape to talk with the other patients when you come in, who's on the level and who likes rules. the patients will tell you right away if that scary looking patient is really sweet and harmless if that's the truth, but they won't tell you anything if that scary looking patient is really scary. it's kind of a code. the patients will explain a lot of things for you; they will explain for you whether an "offer of a quieter room" means an "offer of a quieter room" or whether it means a "threat of five-point restraint, a dose of thorazine, and a quieter room". the patients will tell you right away if there's a ratched on the floor.
but mostly you have to watch the staff yourself and decide who's full of bullshit and who's not.
david the sunshine nurse seems at first to be way too happy, but my bullshit detector isn't going off. and he's really sincere and pleasant to everybody, and enthusiastic about his work, and on the weekends he runs a music group for which he plays music and that makes me kind of grumpy, but i realize that it has more to do with the fact that i'm grumpy about how i've let my guitar skills slide, because he's really good.
and i'd like to be all snotty about the music he's playing, but i'm looking around me at what's REALLY going on and people are singing and they are smiling and nearly all the patients are there and just about everybody but me loves it and that's where the real healing is, and while i don't care for his brand of music, i am loving his brand of sunshine, but i have to leave anyway because i'm in the middle of that drug reaction and i'm too uncomfortable to sit.
later on i get to have this awesome conversation with him about medications and later i also hear snippets of conversations around the ward, not because i'm trying too hard to eavesdrop, but because the place is kind of built so that there's really no such thing as a private conversation, and i'm really impressed. i don't know what exactly his educational credentials are other than he's an RN and that he appears to have some sort of specialty in medications, because i notice that only certain nurses only ever work the med room, so it would not surprise me if he has as much training or nearly as much training as a registered pharmacist, who, by the way, holds (in most cases) a bona fide doctorate in pharmacology-
but anyway, the more i see this man work, the more impressed i am. and as he works, he spreads sunshine and music. and it's subtle, but then you notice him using his lunch hours to bring sunshine and music to patients on other wards. and he probably doesn't have to wear ties that make you laugh necessarily, but in his own quiet way he just goes about making his own corner of the world better, and against tremendous odds.
he is not dealing with flowers in a park. he is dealing with addicts and junkies and the flat-out crazy. he is bringing sunshine to broken people in a bleak place in difficult times.
sometimes they get better, and sometimes they don't, but he is not seeing them at the times when they are at their best.
so, david the sunshine med nurse: best of luck to you, and thanks.