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Are you missing a man in a kimono?

“Zookeeper, RN” writes:

I am an RN at a very large public safety-net/regional trauma center/teaching hospital. It is a very interesting place to work as a nurse as there is always some kind of drama going on. I work on a medical floor where we see lots of infectious disease (HIV, MRSA, VRE, TB, c. diff, you name it), complications of IV drug use and booze, diabetes, renal failure, and many psych co-morbidities. As we are a public safety-net hospital, we see a lot of the same people over and over again because, well, no one else in town will take them.

One such gentleman we see quite often, we’ll call him Sammy, was assigned to me recently. Sammy is what happens when you drink too much for waaaay too long. His liver is shot and all those toxins that a healthy liver would filter out have permanently damaged his brain, so he’s confused, but pleasantly so. He’s yellow as a banana, and he has a history of leaving AMA (against medical advice) – he often will just get up and walk out. Which is another reason why we see him over and over. But I digress.

So Sammy is my patient. He wanders a lot, around and around the unit, talking to people and going into other patients’ rooms thinking it is his . On this particular admission Sammy has been wearing a flowery silk kimono over his hospital PJs. It’s kind of dirty but he refuses to give it up and I have 9 zillion other things to do besides argue with Sammy about his wardrobe. During my shift, one of my other patients codes, so I am tied up for a good hour or so. When I am done, I go check my other patients. Can’t find Sammy. I check all his favorite hang out spots – no Sammy. I have him paged throughout the whole gigantic hospital – he does not come back. I call Security and they look for him (“Oh yeah! We know Sammy” they say) – no dice. I am starting to think he has left AMA again. The ER is screaming at us because they have 50 people in the hallway down there that need Sammy’s bed.

We are about to give the room away when our unit secretary answers the phone. She starts laughing. She’s laughing so hard her mascara is running down her face. She looks at me and says “It’s for you.” I pick up the phone to hear “This is Officer So-and-So from Central Booking. Are you missing a man in a kimono?” As a matter of fact, I am, I say.

Turns out, Sammy did indeed decide to blow that popsicle stand and walked out of the hospital. He wandered up the street to the nearest drug store, where he was promptly arrested for shoplifting. Now, keep in mind he kinda stands out – his skin is day-glo yellow and of course, there’s the splashy kimono. (Side commentary: WHY do we bother arresting this guy? He can’t tie his own shoes let alone summon enough brain power to plot a crime. Total waste of taxpayer money). Anyway, down to Central Booking he goes where someone at last notices the hospital PJs and his ID band and give us a call.

An hour or so later, Sammy returns to my unit wearing a new outfit: a bright orange jumpsuit and carrying his kimono in a little plastic bag (very sad!) I ask him if he is all right. He looks bemusedly at me and says “Well sure hon, why wouldn’t I be?” I explain he left the hospital and was arrested. “I was?” he says. “What did I take?”

At this point I am thinking Sammy has suffered no injury from his adventure. And then he asks me for a sandwich.

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Love it! Makes me wonder if he’s had a stroke being so giddy and wander-ful. I completely laughed so hard my husband came in to check on me.

Heart warming and heart breaking all in one.
Thanks for sharing.

This is the kind of story that makes you laugh and tugs at your heart-strings all at once. Thanks for sharing.

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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