I was reading an article about some of the terrible treatment private nursing companies have given to elderly people in their care; generally with unqualified “nurses” visiting old people to look after them. It seems the industry is unregulated enough that almost anyone can become a “nurse”. As usual, this stuck in my head and resulted in this rather long monologue, which I think would be best suited to a movie short.
(A Monologue By David Rayden)
I‘ve always wanted to be a nurse. I remember playing doctors and nurses when I was a little girl. I used my brother’s action figures as doctors and patients. I was the nurse making patients get better.
He died, you know. Of Leukaemia. My brother, Adam. I kept his toys. He was too weak to play. I nursed him before he went to heaven. Well, I was only six, but I helped. I remember everyone was sad, but I was happy because he was going to heaven and everyone told me he would be with grandpa and grandma, and Trixie my dog.
I think it’s silly to cry when people die. I’m happy for them. I think it’s nice that we are all young again in Heaven. You have a long life and get old and wrinkly, and then when you get to heaven everyone is young again. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?
Anyway, I went to college first to become a nurse. It was so hard for me. I never could remember all those medicines and everything. I left. It was awful. Students getting drunk, having sex. I just wanted to be a nurse. Then I met Suzy. She was a carer for a private company and she wore a lovely nurses uniform. And she didn’t have any qualifications! She got me the job and taught me everything.
Mum was happy to see me in the uniform. I even got myself one of those nurses’ watches. You know, the silver ones that clip on the top pocket. Just like a real nurse.
At first I found it sad. Old people living alone, abandoned by their families. But then you get to know them and It’s like, well, you become their family.
Great stories from some of them. Old Fred was in the war. Didn’t talk much at first. Then he told me about the fighting and killing he’d seen. Horrible. You wouldn’t believe it to look at him. Just a quiet old man. Old Agnes used to be an actress. Loads of photo’s. She even met the Queen once! Can talk for hours, that one. Old Arthur used to be really cheeky. Said I was like his first girlfriend. He…got hard, if you know what I mean, when I cleaned him…at 80! Said my uniform did it for him. Bit of a ladies man in his time I think! Sometimes I take longer and, you know, finish him. Doesn’t take long. (beat) Doesn’t hurt anyone… and I know from the look in his eye he is happy. (smiles).
Then you see them peeing and poo-ing themselves. Wearing nappies. Not right is it
After I while I noticed Suzy stealing. Not right that. Stealing from old folk. Even if she is hard up at home. She called me all sorts of names and now won’t speak to me in the street. You think you know people huh! She was so nice on the outside. I never stole anything. I just do my best to help them. They all love me, you know. Really. I get presents of chocolates and flowers, sometimes cards. But I never take money. Yes, (beat) they all love me.
It’s not easy you know. Some are difficult to get to know at first. Like old Mrs Thomson. Always snappy. I hated going there. Used to be a schoolteacher she did. I hated school. I remember my teacher gave me detention when I was fighting with the other girls. Well, I wasn’t fighting. They were picking on me, but I always got into trouble when I hit them back. Not fair. But you didn’t argue with teachers. So I did that with Mrs Thomson. Gave her detention. After sitting in her own pooh for two days she got the message. Now she’s as good as gold. Cruel to be kind as my old Dad used to say, (beat …)and he could be really cruel.
After that, I could deal with all of them. They just needed to know who was in charge. Me. They all needed me. I got to know them well and how to treat them. If they can help themselves I make sure they do. It’s a busy job with so many to look after, especially without Suzy around. I can’t do everything. It’s good for them. They don’t know what’s good for them. Sitting around all day watching telly? Don’t need three meals a day. Not soiling yourself? Bath a week is enough. No need to change clothes every day. All that washing and ironing! No thanks!
Like children they are. Funny that, isn’t it? How we get like children again when we’re really old. Like we are getting ready for being young again in heaven! (beat) I never thought of it like that before!
Then there’s the medicines. Not helping. You can see it in their eyes. Lost. Pain. Too many pills. Not helping at all. A good cup of malt drink gets you to sleep well enough. My mum taught me that. Malt drink and a bit of the hard stuff. Well, a lot in my old Mum’s case. Especially after Adam died.
I don’t like alcohol. That’s why I use marijuana. It’s in the news you know. They want to legalise it for some sick people. That’s how I know it’s good. They sleep well and it takes the pain away. (smiles) Doctors use drugs to help patients die when they’re very sick. Everyone knows it. (beat) So I got the same stuff from the marijuana dealer. I’m not a doctor. But it’s nurses who give the medicine. The doctors leave it to us nurses.
When they get that look in their eyes, I know they don’t want to be here. They want to be in heaven. That’s when they get my special malt drink. They love it. They are so peaceful afterwards. Like they are in heaven already.
When I meet the families and they are crying, I tell them, with a smile, that they are in heaven and happy. I’m sure it helps.
Anyway, I’ve got to go. Old Arthur’s waiting for me. No! Not for that! …He hasn’t done that for ages. He’s not himself anymore. He’s old now, really old in his eyes I mean. Needs to be young again. In heaven. I’ve just made his drink. (smiles and exits with drink)
This could be a young woman talking to the audience. I imagined her to have a high-pitched, childlike, innocent, almost jovial, tone. The things she’s describing are horrendous, and more dramatic if her tone doesn’t reflect this. I hope I’ve given the actor a chance to experiment with the implications and nuance to make this a fun role to play and play-with.
I also had an idea that if it was a movie short, the camera could pan back and reveal she’s speaking to a police officer in an interview room; with a different sentence to replace the final paragraph from “Anyway, I’ve got to go.” as follows:
“Can we take a break now officer. I need a pee.”
I hope you like this. As usual, if you want to use any of my work, please contact me to discuss. IF it’s not for commercial use, I’ll probably just ask for a credit and link-back, as well as a comment on the page telling people where/how it was used.