A Day in the Life of a Nurse

The following covers the events of that short but sweet slice of my life from 2300 hours of June 12, 2014 to 0700 hours of June 13, 2014.

When I was getting ready to work that evening, I didn’t expect that I would have one of those shifts that I will remember and tell over and over, until I get so old that all I do all day is to remember and tell the same stories over and over while being   by a young, cute, female nurse fresh out of nursing school with a slim waist and a bust size that will make Viagra file for bankruptcy.

I was assessing a patient when suddenly, I was wearing the remnants of her dinner from last night. Yes, the oh so lovely vomitus disgustus , the bane of every nurse’s existence.

Every fiber of my being was trembling as I focused all my concentration on finishing up the assessment and making sure the patient is safe before leaving her. I survived nursing school and the slave labour, ahem, rotations, that accompanied it proudly rubbing it in my classmate’s faces that I can stand blood, urine, feces, and any other kind of bodily secretion. It took me only a day in the field, working as a professional for the first time to realize that I am not as strong as I thought I was. I have my own vulnerable spot too: and that is, vomit, spit, and earwax. And with the aging population in North America, even the acute care settings are filled with dementia ridden, senior citizen patients. And guess what kind of bodily fluid you deal mostly with dementia ridden, senior citizen patients? Yes, you guessed right dear reader: vomit, spit, and earwax. Not to mention a healthy, regular helping of urine and feces. Screw you, Nurse Jackie. Screw you, Grey’s Anatomy. Screw you, House M.D. Screw you E.R.

I ran to the nearest washroom, took off my scrub top speckled with a goop of masticated, seared breast of chicken on a bed of vegetable greens. Yes, I was curious, so I looked at the menu before going home. I soaked the shirt in water while I rummaged in my bag for that extra set of scrub tops. I always bring a backpack stuffed with a spare set of clothes for cases like these.

I moved on to another patient which needed my attention and it was my jeans this time. The offending suspect? Urine. I wouldn’t have made such a big fuss about it, duh, it’s only pee right? But wait, there’s more. Did you know that if you are going through a UTI – Urinary Tract Infection, that your pee smells like you’ve gone through 12 rounds with a urophilic mountain lion? Urophilia, is the weird, sexual fetish of being urinated on. Stick with me, dear reader, and you will learn a lot of useless, nightmarish, potentially disturbing medical trivia. (cue the crazy scientist background music). Having used up my remaining stock of clean underwear, socks, jeans, and scrub tops, I decided to don my full spacesuit gear, normally reserved for Norwalk outbreaks, when I’m within 6 feet of a patient. This gear consists of a clear, plastic disposable face shield, an N90 facial mask underneath it. A contact precaution gown, yellow in colour, made up of this thin, meshlike material that’s supposed to act as a barrier against droplets coming into contact with your bare skin/uniform but still remain breathable. Heh, breathable my ass, believe me, it will make you sweat like a prostitute just discovering Jesus for the first time. On top of that, I also put on a full length plastic butcher’s apron just for shits and giggles.

I now have three separate bathrooms occupied by my clothes soaking in the bathroom sinks. As my shift was coming to an end, I was stuck with another dilemma. How, in the name of Ray J, am I gonna be able to get all my stuff home? I was pretty sure that soaking it with the right amount of bleach, soap, and holy water will be able to clean it sufficiently. I went to the utility room , and grabbed a box of unused garbage bags, wrung out my clothes, stuck them in a garbage bag, then double bagged it, triple bagged it, quadruple bagged it, I am not sure how many times I rebagged the bastard, but when i was done, the clear plastic bags ain’t clear nomo.

As soon as my shift ended, I stripped off my spacesuit gear to the amusement of my co workers. (Pardon my English, but does the word “amusement” accurately cover “laughing like fucking hyenas”?) I stuffed that unholy package of defiled clothing into my backpack and went home right away. I only live 4 blocks away from my workplace, but picture a man soaked with stale sweat, wearing a grubby backpack bulging with clothes still bearing the stench of a living person’s ripened bodily fluids, and has this thousand yard stare in his eyes, wouldn’t you feel safer risking being run over a car while jaywalking to get across the street rather than pass by him in the sidewalk? Most of the people in my neighborhood seems to think so. The ones who didn’t do so looked like me and asked if I can give them a cigarette, loose change, and one even asked if I sell marijuana.

That 4 block walk was the longest walk of my life and all I wanted upon getting home was to strip naked in the hallway, run to the washroom, and take a shower while dredging the words to the Holy Rosary back from my Catholic high school past. (And the answer is no, I was NOT molested.)

I will realize upon coming home that my day is not over yet, and it’s about to get even crazier.

How about you? I would love to hear where you work and what you do. Do you have any crazy work stories that will make you swear off the human race? Please let me know in the comments below!


I would like to give credit where credit belongs. I was browsing through Ms. Aussa Lorens’ site and I got this idea of leaving my readers something to think about at the end of my story from reading her posts.

The Lion with a Cowardly Heart

Our love story didn’t have a promising beginning nor will it have a beautiful ending.

I’m a shit storyteller as you should know by now.

My name is Mace and her name is Lisa.

We met when I was 21 years old and she was 30.

I was at my prime, partying almost all night long, and she is now just winding down, looking for a lifetime partner.

I was working shifts from hell for the spawn of Satan. She was working under contract surrounded by the people who love her and appreciates her.We both left our own country; Lisa, driven away in search for greener pastures, me, dragged here kicking and screaming by my mum who feared that I would be squandering away the family fortune on wine, women, and song.I was flitting from bed to bed to bed, she was working hard to preserve a long distance relationship that was already on the rocks from the beginning.

For all intents and purposes, our world should not have even overlapped, let alone undergone an epic collision, that by the time it was over, no one was really clear on who got hit worse.

I was a young nurse, with a freshly printed license looking for work. Coming over from the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, I decided to board the 2 hour ferry ride and another 1.5 hour bus ride to Vancouver Island in hopes of not continuing my employment as a cook with my full scope nursing license sitting idle in my wallet.

2 months later, I was already working for a place that was as desperate to hire nurses, as I was desperate to obtain nursing employment I soon had another problem: housing. I was initially living with some distant relatives, 5 or 6 times related, that my mum managed to dredge from our clan’s network, but I was having a hard time choking down the comments I would have loved to hurl in their faces about how they treated their children. You see, they weren’t being abusive or shitty parents, they were just cold and unloving. I decided to skip out the first chance I got and decided to live in a hostel across the street from my workplace for the time being. Although it was quite the drain on my expenses, I figured I have at least another 6 months before I start living under a bridge.

As I was searching for a more permanent set up, I met a group of people in downtown Victoria: DIck, Hodor, and Lisa. I recognized them since they all worked at the same coffee shop near my workplace/hostel where I used to buy food all the time.

They were all working together as contract workers and they were billeted by their employer in the same apartment complex with the men and women in separate apartments. As it turns out, Dick and Hodor needed a third person to share the flat with, as their third roommate skipped out on them because they had a disagreement. This should have been a red flag for me from the start. But I recognized the third person they were talking about, and thought he was a wee bit of an asshole myself. 

I threw caution to the winds and moved in with them that very same day. I thought: The going was great for the next few months. We would all spend our days off hanging out together, sharing our meals, and just keeping homesickness at bay. I noticed that DIck in particular was very close to Lisa. They claimed that they are indeed the best of friends and look at each other as brother and sister. After cornering them both, they both admitted that they loved their own partners, Lisa and her long distance beau, Dick and his long distance wife. Both were very proud that in their original group, they were the only 2 who had remained faithful to their long distance partners without succumbing to the temptation of having an affair. They both credit it to their strong friendship and watching each other’s backs.

“Incest.” I sniggered to myself whenever they say the brothers and sisters bit, especially when I catch the way Dick was looking at Lisa. I’ve met plenty of men like Dick, the only way that society was safe from them was they were too spineless to commit into action whatever dark thought is lurking in their heads. 

As my shifts grew crazier and crazier, the less opportunity I had to hang out with Dick and Hodor. There would be stretches of days when I wouldn’t see them, and the only sight they would see of me was passed out on the living room couch still wearing my uniform down to my shoes, with my backpack still strapped to my back.

The only person who’s free time seemed to sync up consistently with mine was Lisa. She lived just next door with 2 other female co workers, but they barely come home anymore, already living in together with their boyfriends, and just use their bedrooms as a sort of storage area for their extra stuff until they can be free of their lease and move out. 

Since I am always too tired on my days off from work, I usually didn’t have enough energy left in me to go out and party and deal with the attached hangover, so I just stayed at home. Lisa and I ended up spending more and more time together, with her showing me around the city and taking me around for the usual touristy crap. I volunteered to be her guinea pig whenever she decides to cook a crazy recipe she saw from YouTube. She gratefully accepted my help caring for an autistic child she babysat and was delightfully amazed when I managed to coax a response from Nathan the first day we met. 

As we grew closer, we learned more a lot about each other. Well, being the compartmentalized, secretive asshole that I am, I learned more about her than she learned anything about me. I learned that her and her boyfriend is having a lot of problems, as usual with any long distance relationship, and she is now starting to have doubts that she will ever find someone to spend the rest of her life with.

I tried to be an honest friend to her, consoling her, listening to her problems, and trying to comfort her, in a “just-friends” capacity. I was confident that I can help her out however I want, whenever I want, without fearing for any repercussions. You see, I was still quite naive at that point. I have never been in a relationship with an older woman before and decided at that point that our age gap is safe enough to act as a natural barrier and disarm whatever emotional sparks our closeness might bring up. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Having stayed faithful to her long distance boyfriend for as long as she did, her female co workers, all of them with their own husband and kids left at home, have always withered from what they felt were judgemental stares coming from her whenever they parade about with their extra marital affairs. They were quick to notice the growing friendship between Lisa and I and were quick to initiate rumors about how hard the mighty has fallen. DIck and Hodor were not helpful either. Jealous of Lisa’s growing attention and reliance to me, Dick especially, decided to turn the cold shoulder on her, and his passivity in the face of all the rumors hurting his “best friend’s” reputation encouraged the rest to stoke the fires hotter. 

We were brought together by chance and happenstance, yet that crisis bonded us to each other. Our friendship grew stronger by our reliance on each other during that particularly nasty storm. We leaned on each other and loaned each other strength. It was hard for her losing all her friends in one go, knowing who her friends really are, and hearing them say hurtful things about her. It was hard for me since I have never experience people who don’t know me, hating me at such a personal level, yet they don’t even know me, heck, they don’t even know my full name. Knowing that we gave them a perceived opening is enough for them to come rushing in with their sticks and torches and it was suddenly quite overwhelming for me. 

Isolated, with no one else to hang out with, we started spending more and more time with each other. Suddenly, partying and hanging out with other people doesn’t seem to matter anymore for me. And whenever she comes over with her face stained with tears from fighting with her long distance boyfriend again, it took me less and less time to cheer her up with my corny jokes. Until one day, she told me that she decided to end it with her long distance beau. 2 years of fighting on Skype is enough for her, she said. Our emotional bond turned into a physical one, as we hugged for the first time. We expressed ourselves more freely in each other’s company now. We started hugging more often too. Until a few weeks later, we shared our first kiss. And then a little while later than that, we started having sex. I was confused at the speedy way things are going, but always having had a daredevil outlook, I decided to keep riding this wave, and see where it leaves me.

The first few months felt like a fairy tale, let’s leave it at that. Life couldn’t be any happier. She moved out of her apartment and I moved out as well. I met a buddy at work and he decided to help me out instead of watch me get skewered. Being the vindictive asshole that I am, I moved all my meager belongings one morning, dumped my share of the rent on the bed, and locked the bedroom door. It took Dick and Hodor 2 weeks to figure out that I wasn’t living there anymore. We started hanging out with the rest of our few friends who remained loyal to us and the rest who stood neutral and passive came back with sheepish smiles on their faces. Even Dick made somewhat of an apology to Lisa.

Little did I know that he would harbor a grudge against me though for that one vindictive prank. The next time he saw me with Lisa, he rushed me pinned me to a wall and had a fist planted firmly in my chest. The entire sight was laughable as it was obvious that he wasn’t looking for a fight, nor even used to fighting one, but only decided to make a scene with Lisa watching. I decided to turn the tables on him. Without raising my hand, and allowing him to keep his fist on my chest, I warned him that I fight dirty. I told Dick that not only was it within my right to defend myself, but I can guarantee him that he will land in a hospital even if I employed defensive moves only. And after recovering enough to walk, the dirty part comes in when I get to have him deported, thus, ending his chance to provide a better future for his family. The blood seemed to drain from Dick’s face as he slowly backed up away from me and walked away fuming and muttering to himself. Lisa scolded me mildly after that as she was more keen on salvaging whatever friendship her and Dick had left. I only chuckled at that since she already knows about my suspicion regarding Dick and this little show only proves so, if you ask my opinion.

We decided to put that little incident behind us. However, little cracks appeared in our relationship that soon turned into fissures. I was 21 y/o, she was 30 y/o. Even though we chose to ignore it at the time, we weren’t able to bridge that gap by love alone. We were just discovering that there was a lot of gaps between us that we cannot bridge. Whatever personal crisis I am going through, she is quick to dismiss it as if listening to a child. She always said that one day, you’ll look at whatever’s bothering you and laugh at it as some tiny insignificant thing. I resented it. Whenever she has a stressful day at work, I am as quick to dismiss it, unintentionally. She works in retail, I help human lives on a daily basis. Can anything be more stressful than that? She resented it.

She was already on her way to looking for her first major financial investment, I was only starting to learn how to manage my student loans and personal finances. She was the youngest in the family, growing up with 4 boys and spoiled by her dad, used to getting whatever she wanted, right there, right now. I was the middle child, the only son in a brood of 3, my sisters already looking up to me since we were kids.We could have probably survived through all these growing gaps in our relationships, if not for 2 gaping chasms that erupted suddenly beneath our feet.

One was her impatience to have a baby. She was at that point in her life where she now starts to become conscious of that ever ticking clock, constantly reminded by posts in her newsfeed of baby showers and christenings.The only relationships that I have had prior to her was girls I meet at parties and clubs during my weekends, come home and sleep with them, and never call them back, or never have them call me back. The most serious were a couple that were quickly killed when it turned into a long distance relationship, I was only just learning how to be a decent human being in a relationship, who the fuck said that I was ready to be a father in this state and at the age of 21? She wouldn’t hear any of it though. Waking up to her under the covers warming me up with my junk in her mouth and quickly mounting me was amazing at first, but when she decided to vehemently refuse to have me wear a condom during sex, I began to have suspicions. I felt like a piece of meat. We began having fights, which grew in frequency and intensity. She started to demand “proof” of my love for her. She insisted that I pick her up from work, knowing that that is the exact time that I would be at work myself. She made a running tally of what her ex boyfriends used to do for her, to indulge her, and how I compare to them. While every guy appreciates healthy competition, this is an example of how crazy it went on the last legs of our relationship: I brought her a bouquet of flowers and then she casually mentioned that an ex brought her “blue roses”, which is now suddenly her favorite. Just to appease her, I made a list of all the specialty nurseries across the western seaboard of North America. I found one that is willing to grow blue roses for me, since there are no true blue roses made by mother nature, they have to be watered and dyed blue every day from the day they were first planted. Three months later, on her birthday, I hand her a bouquet of 3 dozen blue roses. I spent a few more bucks extra having them arranged florist who just arranged it simply with minimal decorations to put the blue roses in the spotlight. When I handed it to her along with a necklace for her birthday gift, she then decided that she is allergic to the gold in the necklace and didn’t even remark on the roses. Whenever I can’t pick her up from work because I’m at work myself, she will make sure to tell me that she phoned Dick to pick her up, or to bring her the lunch that I can’t do. Nevermind that she’s a grown ass woman who can drive her own car and make her own meals. What she was telling me was what she wants, she gets, regardless. We went through a comical routine of “breaking up”, then blocking each other on facebook, only to stalk each other through mutual friends, both online and in real time, erasing her number on my phone, but have it memorized, then make peace with each other again, only to fight and break up over something again a few weeks later.

The coup de grace, was the arrival of her long distance, ex beau. You see, prior to me arriving in her life, her boyfriend, lets call him Viserys,had already submitted an application for employment with Lisa`s employer, with Lisa giving her recommendation about him to her employer. Viserys came over at the same time that Dick’s family came here. They were literally sitting next to each other in the plane. I was already hurting so bad before  he came here, even more so when I learned that Lisa went with Dick and a few other friends, who left her when she needed them most, to pick up the arriving party at the airport. She hid this all from me and I learned it only from my younger sister, whom Lisa stalked and befriended on Facebook, when she asked me if me and Lisa broke up since there`s pictures of her with another guy in an airport. 

I didn’t know how much more of this self inflicted torture I can take. All I could think of was that, this must be what crack addicts feel like. I have never been brought down this low before and disregarded, yet I couldn`t help crawling back for the next hit. I decided that maybe, it`s time. I sent Lisa a text saying that since she decided to go meet Viserys and hide it from me, I will give them a few weeks for her to sort out who she really wants to be with. She sent me countless messages and voicemails pleading to be forgiven. We kissed, we had sex, and we made up. And then I get another heads up from my younger sister, whom I keep in the loop now, telling me that the newsfeed photo updates of Lisa being with Viserys numerous times, all supposedly while I`m at work. Again, I confronted Lisa about this, she admitted that Viserys proposed that they get back together, but reassured me that she refused him and was only showing him around town. Again, we fought, we kissed, we had sex, and we made up.

But I promised myself it will be different this time.

After seeing her off, with the taste of her mouth still wet in my lips, and my bed still warm with our coupling a few minutes ago, I started planning grand schemes on how to dump her in the most humiliating way possible to satisfy my thirst for vindication.

In the end, I simply ignored her until she went away. The playful “U up for a quickie?” texts soon turned into “Why aren’t you answering?”, to “I’m here at your place, can you let me in? We need to talk, I choose you, please believe me. I’m sorry for all those stupid tests, I still love you, and I choose you.”.

I ignored her texts, I ignored her calls, I ignored all her inquiries about me, direct or indirect, from our mutual friends. I hid away from her. Whenever I see her car parked in front of the building, I sneak out from the back. I avoided all the usual places we hung out in. 

I ignored her, and hid away from her, until she just gave up one day.

For years, I rationalized this totally weird and uncharacteristic reaction from me by telling myself that it’s all for the better, that she deserved it, that she was lying to me all along and just using me, that she was a sadistic cow and I deserve better than her, and that I made a good decision.

Looking back at it now, yes, she might indeed have been lying to me and using me all along; she did marry Viserys and bear his baby less than a year after we split up. But that wasn’t the point. What if? I don’t mean the crazy “What if” question asked by people who regret their decision. I don’t regret splitting up with her. What I regret was how I did it. Could I have handled that situation a little bit better? For someone who prided on justifying his actions to be always based on either honor or cold logic, there is nothing honorable or logical with how I decided to end our relationship. I`ve gotten so good at reading people, reading their personalities and judging their character, that I have lost sight of my own personality and character.

It took me years to understand why: I was scared. I thought I was in love with her but the love I thought I was professing wasn’t the same love she thought she was hearing. We weren’t tuned to the same frequency. And having grown sick of the endless fighting, I didn`t have any experience on how to handle situations like this the mature way. Rather than work hard to find a responsible way to handle this mess, I tucked tail and ran.

This message took me 3 years to realize, a minute to admit to myself, and 2 hours to write. This kind of clarity comes to me at a time when I needed it the most. As I make preparations to end a major chapter in my life and begin a new one, I realize that running away, consciously or subconsciously, will no longer solve my problems for me. I will now have to start making big decisions, and have to be able to live with the consequences. Will I still be making mistakes? Probably. But I need to be okay with it right here, right now, without hiding behind half baked rationalizations and excuses, and wake up 3 years later thinking: “Oh my God, how could I fuck that one up so bad and fail to see it, then deny and rationalize it?”.

This post might be the result of typing whatever comes into my mind while half awake, but what I do know for sure is either I should start living the principles I learned the hard and costly way, or get rid of all the mirrors in my house lest I have to look at my face again in shame.

Baptism by Fire

“Attention all staff: Code Red in Delta Unit. I repeat: Code Red, Delta Unit. This is not a drill, Code Red in Delta Unit. All staff to report to their unit leaders.”

He was already running frantically up a stairwell before the message was repeated in the PA system. He opened the door into a unit that is a surreal mixture of calm and normalcy pierced by the shrieks of the fire alarm system.

He ran into the nursing station to check the surveillance feeds for any indication of a fire and found nothing.

A few patients step out of their rooms to investigate the commotion, without turning away from the fire command and control panel, he politely requested for them to head back inside their rooms and shut their doors. As he impatiently waited for the panel to power on, a panic stricken staff member approached and asked him what to do.

“Do a door to door check, make sure that everyone is in their rooms, if they’re awake, quickly reassure them and ask them to stay in their rooms, if they’re asleep, make sure they’re safe, and then move on to the next one.”

He was greeted by a blank stare in a tear stained face.

“Crap. There’s a fire and my helper is frozen. Ain’t that hilarious.” He tapped her lightly in the face. It worked. She sprang into action right away.

He was finally able to command the small panel to isolate the source of the alarm.

“A fire alert system has been activated, in, Room, 453, Delta Unit.” The machine repeats the message several times before running through the fire emergency checklist.

But nobody was listening it as the young nurse has already started racing off to the affected room.

He barged through several fire proof doors before arriving at the affected room.

If one would measure in real time, it would seem that the following events happened in just a few minutes, but ask the young man and he would tell you that it felt as if time stood still for him.

A casual observer watching through the surveillance feeds might say that they are watching this extremely young nurse do his job with surprising speed and forethought, as if he had done this before. No one could have guessed the terror racing inside him, the struggle to choke down on the rising flood of bile and panic that threatens to shut him down.

He scanned the corridor up and down watching for the tell tale signs of either smoke or fire: none

He then reached out a hand to gingerly touch the doorknob: neither hot or cold to the touch. Going good so far.

But opening the door is a different scenario, as he was visited with images of hell and purgatory. That is because he can see nothing but smoke and feel nothing but a wave of heat passing through him.

He put out his hand in front of him to check and feel for any obstructions and was surprised when he saw his hand vanish into the smoke. He closed the door right away and whipped out his portable unit phone to call his supervisor who is now the designated fire marshall.

“Chief, I’m in Delta. We have a fire. We have a real fire. Send help!”. He stuck the phone back in his pocket and braced himself to enter the room.

Before he can go in, someone called out from behind him. It was his assistant in the second unit that he was responsible for.

“What are you doing here?!?” he asked.

“The patients are panicking upstairs, there’s this really strong smell of smoke going around and the fire alarms are going crazy.” She explained.

“So you left them up there?! Are you nuts?! Get back up there and make sure everyone is safe! Close all the windows in the east section and look after them! Stop! Don’t use the elevators! Go up the stairs!”.

“God save us from idiots.” he muttered silently to himself as he watches her leave. He entered the room and shut the door behind him to contain the smoke and rushed deeper into the room afraid of what he would or would not find.

His first and only concern at that time was for the patient in the room. Fearing the worst, he marched blindly into where he thought the bed was and stumbled into the patient laying down on his bed.

With his heart in his sleeve, he touched the patient’s neck to check for a pulse. A hand suddenly clamped into his wrist, the patient suddenly sat up, like a scene from a horror movie.

“For f***’s sake! What the f*** are you doing in here?!” The patient angrily demanded.

Keeping in mind that the patient is in the advanced stages of dementia, he tried to conceal the urgency in his voice and tried to sound calm and reassuring.

“Ivan, there’s a fire in your room, we need to go outside for a wee bit until the fire department clears it.”. It didn’t work, however.

“F*** OFF! GET THE F*** OUT!”.

Recognizing the early signs of aggression brought on by dementia, the young nurse quickly inventoried the situation and flipped through his mind for alternatives:

1. He has a serious emergency just a few degrees away from turning into a tragedy.

2. He has dozens of potential casualties, himself included, if he doesnt get the situation under control.

3. One of the potential casualties is smack dab in the middle of the scene and is unable to evacuate.

4. He is the one in charge and responsible for all these lives.

5. He has absolutely no training nor prior experience on how to handle these kinds of situations.

Still seeing no fire and taking it as a good sign, his eyes quickly scanned the room and searched for the point where the smoke seems to be the thickest.


That partial closet by the corner has turned into a chimney and appears to be the source of all the smoke. He touched the closet handle and felt confident upon feeling the handle to be close to room temperature. He opened the closet and a few tongues of fire licked his torso, trying to head up to his face.

Bad idea.

He closed the closet door again. Later on, he will scan himself and find himself unburnt, probably from his knee jerk reaction to close the door before the fire did serious damage to himself. Racing back to the bedside, he again implored the patient to evacuate.

“Ivan! Get up! We need to leave your room now!”

He was relieved at first when he sensed the patient stand up from the bed, but sensing trouble based on the movement of the shadows in front him, he half ducked, and stepped out of range from the patient. And not too quickly as a fist soared through the air where his face had been half a second ago.

So he does what he does best: Improvise. Knowing that he can’t remove the patient from the situation, he attempted next to see if he can minimize the potential harm the situation can bring to the patient.Out of options, he exits the room and frantically searches the hallway.

Never having been a praying man all his life, he was thanking all the gods from Zeus to Jehovah when he saw the fire extinguisher about 10 feet away. He tore it off the brackets, fumbling for the pin while running back into the room. He goes back in and sees the patient. He realizes a split second later that the reason he can see the patient is because he is illuminated by the fire in the closet!

Getting close enough to be in range of the extinguisher yet far away to receive any potential punches or kicks, he starts spraying the burning closet AND the patient.

The fear starts to creep in from the edges again when he realizes that he is quickly depleting the fire extinguisher with his spray and pray method. Changing tactics, he started to conserve what remained in the tank and aimed strategically, firing in bursts and checking to see if the flames are extinguished before moving on to the next problem spot.

With a sigh of relief, he dropped the tank upon seeing the last flickers of the flame die out.

The crisis is not over yet. With smoke this thick, he is already fighting for every breath and can only imagine how it must be worse for his patient who is decades older than him and has been a chain smoker all his life.

Fighting off the fear, frayed nerves, and fueled by nothing but adrenaline and sheer stubbornnes, he attempted to convince the patient again to leave the room with him.

The patient just laid back down in his bed with a blank expression in his face, ignoring the burnt skin and bubbling blisters on his hands, extending up to his arms.

He left the room again, knowing that he needs to do something, and he would know what he needs the moment he sees it.

He was already walking towards the linen cart stacked with thick bath towels before he realized why. He grabbed a handful of them and runs back into the patient’s room, all the while cursing himself for going back in and wondering what the hell he is doing.

He ran into the patients bathroom and soaked the towels with cold water.

He tied a sopping wet towel in front of his face like a mask and headed to the patient’s bedside.

“Ivan! Ivan! Help is coming! Let’s go, there’s a lot of smoke in here, its almost impossible to breathe, let’s go before you get hurt!”. Receiving no response, he tried to drape the cold towel around the patient’s mouth and nose to help filter out the smoke.

The patient came back to life only to rip the towels off his face.

For the next few minutes that felt like a lifetime to him, he was on autopilot alternating between checking the patient’s respiration rate and pulse for any changes, assessing for signs of shock and respiratory distress in the patient and himself, running to the door and quickly peeking out to see if the fire department is coming, and doing a mental patdown of himself checking to see for any damages that might be chipping away at him.

After what felt like an eternity, he saw a trio of men wearing what looked like spacesuits walking calmly towards him.

Grateful that someone is finally there to help him, he led them down the hallway that’s now filled with smoke into the patient’s room.

“I’ve killed the fire! But I have a physically aggressive with advanced dementia still inside! He’s all yours now!”. He opened the fire door and staggered towards the, as of yet, smoke free nursing station. In there he saw his boss, his staff, and several paramedics looking at him.

He took off the sodden towel off his face and said:”What?”.

The last thing he remembered was: laughing, crying, gasping for breath, his knees suddenly feeling the effort of supporting his weight, the floor rushing up to meet him, his efforts to look up, the paramedics running towards him in slow motion –




The following events happened on the night of June 13, 2014.

I would like to save them in writing while it’s still fresh in my mind.

I attended a party held in honor of a co – worker’s birthday that night.

I learned a lot of things, met a lot of new people, and I’m afraid, made an enemy as well.

Background, Cast, Etc.Etc.

I received the party invite via text message 4 days before.

KT told me to come to this if I’m available that day for her birthday party, and to bring people with me as well.

Since the “people” that we mutually know are all co – workers, I did not bother sending the message out as I was pretty sure that she already did so.

Not to mention that most of the people I know at work are either married, with kids, working, too old, or just people I can’t imagine I would be hanging out with and sharing a few drinks out of the workplace.

So imagine my surprise when I came to the restaurant/club and saw that the I am the only person there in the 20 something age bracket. Worse, KT was the only person in the table of 6 that I knew.

Live and let live, I told myself. I’ve never partied with people significantly older than me before, so I decided that I might as well stick around and see how it will go.

There was:

1. me, 24 y/o

2. KT, approximately 35 y/o

3. “S”, a housekeeper from her other workplace ,approximately 35 y/o

4. “S Mum”, her mom,  approximately 60 – 65 y/o

5. “S hubby”, her husband, approximately 40 – 45 y/o

6. “M1”, a manager in KT’s workplace, between 30 – 35 y/o

7. “M2”, another manager, between 30 – 35 y/o

Our party of seven was later joined by:

8. “K2”, a youngish co worker of KT, between 20 – 25 years old. Imagine my relief when she showed up. Not just because she is quite easy on the eyes, but also eases my discomfort to be sitting there, drinking with people who are more suited to be seen socializing with my parents.

9. “J”, KT’s fiancee. The plot thickens. (Cue the “Dum dum dum dum dum” music, while the story teller twirls his fingers through his imaginary goatee, dimmed stage lights, etc.etc.)

The Story

The night started well enough. I arrived a bit late, I had a plate of appetizers and “KT” joined me. We all finished our meals and started drinking afterwards. Only upon recalling the events of that night did I notice that aside from “K2”, I was the only one pounding glass after glass of heavy spirits (It was Old Fashioned Cocktails, made from a very potent whiskey. Reminds me to phone the club and ask what kind of whiskey did they use). The rest were drinking beer, and in “K2″‘s case, some kind of rye cocktail. It did not seem to matter at that time though as my table mates and I appeared to be approaching the same state of inebriation regardless of what we were drinking. Me in my more robust state was brought down easily by a few whiskey cocktails, 24 hours of sleep deprivation, and exhaustion from working the previous night. My companions on the other hand, I guess, you start being careful with what you drink when you reach that point as anything with an alcohol content can easily take you down.

I noticed that “KT” appeared to have already been a little bit tipsy even before I arrived. I did not pay any attention to it at first until “J” arrived. “KT” was sitting between me and her fiancee. Going back, I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall. My coworkers has told me time and time again that “KT” always pays more attention and spends a bit more time with me than with the others. She has even outright made a “joke” that she has a crush on me. I did not dwell on it at the time, since we were fairly comfortable with each other that we were sharing personal, intimate details of our lives with each other.

So, back to that night, “KT” was getting more and more boisterous and louder the more she drank. She also became somewhat more uninhibited. At one point, she has remarked loudly that she will help me find a girl that I can “have sex with” tonight. The more “KT” was angling herself to converse with me, the more the casual brushes of her hands across my arms and my shoulders, the more sullen her fiancee became. Imagine your ordinary Friday night on any club, pub, or watering hole. I was ever grateful for the chaos of that place and hoped that no one else heard that remark, or noticed her actions getting bolder and bolder.

The house music and the sports screens were soon turned off to accomodate a live band. People were getting up to dance in front of the band. Soon enough, everyone was switching seats and I took every opportunity to distance myself from “KT” to avert disaster. I then found myself sitting beside “J”. Despite a very unpromising beginning, I worked to find common ground with him. While he did not exactly warm up to me, he soon stopped giving me dagger stares. The tone and the manner of his questions reveal that he has seen and heard everything that “KT” was doing the whole night. And that he did not like it. I tried to assure him in not so many words that the feelings I have for his fiancee is nothing more but professional respect, personal loyalty and pure frienship.

I made my first mistake when I joined the crowd on the dance floor. I soon found myself in close proximity with “KT”. Close proximity, meaning, I could feel the casual brushes across the front of my pants and I did not need to turn around to know who was rubbing herself against my back. I quickly distanced myself and started dancing with “S”, “M1” and “M2”, keeping them as some sort of a shield between me and “KT”. I also knew out of the corner of my eyes that only “J” and “S Hubby” were the only ones remaining sitting on the table and that they are most likely watching everything.

I was petrified at how the situation is quickly deteriorating. Between smoke breaks with “K2” and the others, I quickly hatched a plan to get myself out of this mess tonight. I started paying more attention to “K2”. I know being a first generation Asian immigrant on the West Coast, I will have to work very hard to catch and keep this girl’s attention. I have always had a personal theory that it will be easier to get a girl’s attention on the West Coast if you are at least 6 foot tall, Caucasian, and have a beard. Every other guy not fitting that category will just have to work very hard for their girl. I already knew that I have a lot of strikes going against me: she’s taller than I am, my accent gets thicker the more I drink, and I dance like a spastic scarecrow with Tourette’s. I guess between the alcohol she has drunk, and the dim lighting making it hard to see me, it became easier for her to warm up to me. Soon, her lips and her tongue were brushing against my cheeks and my ear whenever she would lean in to talk to me.

I also started treating “J” and “S Hubby” as if they were the same age as I am, and acting in a “bro” ish manner towards them. I managed to coax them into joining the others on the dancefloor and to dance with their respective partners. I actually had to pull “S” and “KT”‘s hands and drag them to dance with their partners. Having accomplished that, I decided to pursue and see how things with “K2” will develop. She invited me to join her in watching some friends of hers play in a band in a different pub. I gladly accepted the offer, however, delay after delay caused that plan to not go forward since the others in the party wanted to go as well. I guess “K2” just got impatient and decided to vent her frustration on our server. That was kind of a deal breaker for me. She just showed her true colors when she decided to go on a rant about our server and bad mouth her about letting someone else take her drink when she was busy dancing on the dance floor. I understand that everyone turns into a wee bit of an a-hole/bitch whenever they’ve had a little bit to drink, but its still a deal breaker for me. So I quickly shifted gears from being her prospective date, to pretending to be “that” annoying dude in the club. Every club has one. Having lost my interest, I just decided to tag along with them when they move to this second club and ditch them there. I’ve had enough for tonight.

The party got split up when moving to the second bar. Me, K2, M1, M2, and J ended up together and the others remained MIA. I bought a round of drinks for everyone and then quickly ducked out after without telling anyone.


The rest of the night and the morning afterward was a haze for me. I remember going to a 7-11 and grabbing a pack of smokes. I also remember getting into a cab with the intention of going home, but finding myself on the dance floor of a club I couldn’t remember, grinding against someone I suppose is as equally drunk as I am. I remember waking up sometime in the morning with a girl beside me in bed, the apartment a mess. I remember falling back to sleep and waking up again sometime on the same day, with someone banging on the unlocked apartment door. It was a neighbour complaining about the loud activities that was apparently going on in my apartment early in the morning and if I ever turn my apartment again into a “porn studio” according to him, he will call the managers and do his best to get me evicted. I also remember sending a text message to “KT”. I wanted to test the waters and see how effective I was in my efforts last night to defuse a very scary bomb. I asked for her and her friends’ apologies since I turned into a bit of a wild child the night before and ditched them. The lack of reply either means she was pissed off at how I edged away from her last night, or “J” and her were fighting at the moment.

I am so conflicted and did not know what to do. I sincerely enjoy the friendship and camaraderie I share with “KT”, but based on the events last night, it looks like we’re not seeing eye to eye on what to expect from out friendship. I am a product of a broken relationship and does not wish it to happen to someone else because of me. I guess I just need to eyeball it for now and watch my back. One of the biggest unknown factors here as well is “J”. “KT” has shared with me before that he apparently suffers some kind of mental health issue and has repeatedly refused to seek help, causing some strain in their relationship. I don’t know what he will do, or if he perceives I might have offended him in some way. All I know is, I need to watch my back really carefully for now.

So, still being hungover at 1800 hours of June 14, 2014, I decided to do what I do best: lone wolf it. I went out and partied again, on my own, making new friends among my age group this time.

As I was taking a shower this afternoon, getting ready to go work with my head still pounding, my arms are literally red and raw from scrubbing off all the stamps tattooed into my arms.

I wonder what will happen next?