The moment I was on the ward, I knew something out of the ordinary was happening that morning. Something dramatic. There were orderlies, nurses and nursing assistants from all over St. Mary’s and they had one thing in common. They were big and male.

As a fellow big guy I was greeted with nods, grunting and other male acknowledgement as I moved through the crowd. They tended to stick near the notorious massive, locked front door as if not completely confident it was ok for them to be there. Soon, the men saw that I was different. I belonged. 6-D East was my domain so I was given deference and a way was made for me to get to the head of this activity cluster. Up to where those in charge were… organizing.

Gladys Born (head nurse, head honcho and always in charge) was going over the plan and when she saw me, she got me up to speed.

“Ok Brian, I want you up front. We’re going to mass as many of you guys outside the room before we open the inner door. Then you will all rush in.”

Sometime during the night a new patient had been admitted to 6-D East and taken directly to one of the locked rooms. I can’t remember all the details about what the night staff had said about that, but I’m pretty sure they said he had been sedated when he was put in the room with nothing but a bare mattress.

And then, sometime that morning… he woke up.

“He tore the mattress in half!” Exclaimed the night nurse, still in a kind of shock as we all made our way down the hall toward the room. The chatting of the young men behind me disappeared as we approached. Deeper into the ward, the sound of the raging man in the room added to the foreboding atmosphere. These guys would be telling this story for a long time. As would I.

To one side of the room’s outer door, a few of the day nurses (the most experienced ones) were standing by a large, heavy bed. Preparing the leather restraints. The plan was to fill the room with big guys and immobilize the raging man with bodies so fast, he wouldn’t have time to hurt anyone. They would then try and hold him well enough for the nurse, ready to pump him with enough thorazine to put him out. Then we would bring in the bed and strap him on.

It didn’t go like that.

I was among the first to approach the inner door. At some point, the sound of the raging man had changed. No doubt he’d become aware of the crowd outside and so he stopped focusing on the mattress (yes, he had actually torn it in half) and began throwing himself against the heavy oak door. I tried to look through the small round observation window but couldn’t really see anything. I couldn’t get right up to it due to the shaking of the door every time the man’s large body hit.

And then it went quiet.

I got right up to the window but couldn’t see the man. “I think he knocked himself out” someone said (perhaps me) “Let’s go!”

The door was quickly opened and sure enough, the man was lying unconscious near the entrance. The nurses shooed away the crowd of now extraneous men and rolled in the bed. Myself and three other NA’s from the ward picked up the man, put him on the bed and secured the restraints. We hadn’t even needed the thorazine.

Gladys was very pleased.


To be continued…