To read about the beginning of The First Poopy Night, click HERE. To read the second part of The First Poopy Night, click HERE.
Now that my patients were clean and sleeping -- at least temporarily -- I visited each room to bag the poopy linens and take them to the Soiled Utility Room for rinsing and re-bagging so they could go in the large laundry bin.
Since the laundry workers started their days early and left early in the afternoon, by the middle of the night the bin often overflowed with bags of stinky laundry.
As I began rinsing the excrement-coated linens, Shayla marched into the room. "Trish wants to know where you are," Shayla said, "and she's mad cuz she told you to stay on the hall and clean up the patients."
"I cleaned everyone," I protested. "I can't just leave the sheets and bed pads on the floor."
Shayla shrugged her shoulders and wandered out.
I stuffed the little bit of laundry I had rinsed into a bag, tossed it in the bin, and returned to West Hall, where Trish awaited me. "You can't leave your patients, girl," she shouted. "They're sick."
During the few minutes I had been in the Soiled Utility Room, Minnie had awakened and begun to vomit again. The poor old woman now suffered with dry heaves.
I held Minnie's hand, rubbed her back and tried to comfort her while Trish berated me for my slowness.
I spent the rest of the night dashing from one patient's room to the next, cleaning up the sick, changing wet diapers, rolling people from side to side to side in the losing battle against bedsores. Stolen minutes found me back in the Soiled Utility Room, rinsing out linens.
When 7 a.m. finally arrived and my shift ended, my hands shook with exhaustion. I hadn't had a break during my entire 12-hour shift.
And any fondness I might have felt for Trish had gone out the window. I suspected that her accusation that I was slow would follow me forever.
I got in the elevator that would carry me to the first floor, a little spot of peace on the way to the safe haven of my car. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but since paying the bills rested on my narrow shoulders, I figured I'd better laugh or I would spend every night at work in misery.
Laugh I did, all the way to my car, where I chuckled and guffawed at the insanity of the night as I drove home. I giggled as I dragged myself into my house, until spasms seized my stomach and I spent the next few hours glued to the toilet.
The stomach bug from which the residents suffered had followed me home.
But at least I could get up and walk to the bathroom. I didn't have to depend on someone else to clean my bottom. How fortunate I was to be 45 years old, and able to take care of myself.
Best of all, I got to call in sick to work.