T WAS THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I was working
as the charge nurse when one of the most disagreeable, dirtiest,
disgusting human beings I have ever encountered was admitted to
His hair was unkempt and his beard was well past needing a trim.
His clothes were all tattered and he wore two pair of filthy socks.
He cursed every time he opened his mouth and threw whatever was
handy at anyone entering his room. He required a sedative before
we could remove his clothing to bathe and shave him.
The man became our most demanding patient. His offensive nature
made it necessary for me to assign a different nurse daily for his
care. It was hard to keep the Christmas spirit, as we were all required
to listen to his foul language and dodge his breakfast tray or whatever
else he chose to throw.
man was admitted with circulatory problems and constantly complained
of his feet being cold. He was quite angry that we had disposed
of his socks. We kept blankets over his foot cradle, but still he
complained of cold feet, and continued his barrage upon anyone entering
his room. Sister Jane Frances even began to wait outside his door,
telling the nurse assigned to the room to let the patient know she
would be praying for him.
Two days before Christmas, the night shift brought in a small tree
with lights and decorations and placed it in this disagreeable patient’s
room while he was asleep. If he noticed the tree, he never acknowledged
it, but continued to harangue us about his cold feet. I was off
the following day with my last minute shopping and managed to buy
a pair of socks for our unlikable patient. My children wrapped the
socks, tied the package with a ribbon, and attached a card from
I reported to work early on Christmas morning so I could place my
socks under the patient’s tree. Imagine my surprise to find seventeen
pairs of socks from his nurses and one pair of crocheted slippers
from Sister Jane Francis already there.
He was awake, and just stared as I placed my small package with
the others. He never did say thank you, but I know I saw a tear
on his cheek as I wished him a Merry Christmas.
Kay Drake, RN
CHRISTUS St. Mary Hospital
Port Arthur, Texas