Thursday, September 18, 2008

OPH (other people's hygiene)

For reasons both legal and moral, I cannot post a picture of my fear for today.

I work for Mental Health, where many of our clients have what we refer to as "hygiene issues." (Odd Fact: Schizophrenic people in general do not like to shower.) For the most part you extend love and understanding and work/deal with it. Last night this ability was put to the test.

A co-worker came in shuddering. Not exaggerating. Not being melodramatic. But obviously disturbed. I asked her what was the matter. She took a few seconds to compose herself and said: "I saw Sharon's toenail." [editor's note: the name has been changed] I said: "wow, that bad, eh?" She shook her head. "Just don't look. Trust me, you don't want to see it. It will haunt you. It will follow you in the dark." I told her I wasn't afraid. She said "Please, for me, promise me you won't look at it." She was dead serious. I told her I'd do my best.
Then, last night, I was doing a bed check. It was 3 in the morning. I was on automatic pilot, and therefore forgot about strange fact #2: schizophrenic people very often like to sleep with the lights on. Her foot was extended out past her covers. I saw it. It has been hours and I still can't get the image of that toenail out of my mind. I shake as I write about it. The thought of it ties a knot in my stomach. This is not for comedic effect: I live in fear that it might cross my path again. The client in question woke up an hour ago, and while I treated her with dignity and respect, my eyes were teetering on the edge of a cliff, drawn to it, but knowing that to glimpse it again would be to throw up. I honestly feel uncomfortable knowing it is nearby.

I hope you never have to see it. But given that I cannot reveal the name, or gender, or location, or any other pertinent information about the client in question, the fear is yours as well. It may be out there.

And with all the flip flops being worn these days, it might be better if you just don't look at people's feet.

1 comment:

jonathan said...

I heard a similar warning regarding Terry Gross. "Just promise me you wont look at her."