01 Feb I’m a Nurse, and I Work in a Department That No One is Allowed to Know About
My name is Stevie, I’m 28 years old and I’m a nurse in the ‘Abnormal Conditions’ department. Let me take a wild guess and say that you’ve never heard of it, am I right? Of course I am, because the ACD is completely hidden from the public. The only people who know about it are those who work in it, and we’re required to sign a contract stating that we can never tell anyone about it. Not that we would want to. And it’s not like anyone would believe us, either.
But let me take you back to where it all began. Please note, I am going to change the name of the hospital (for obvious reasons) and redact any identifiable information. I know that it doesn’t mean much coming from a stranger on the internet, but you have my word — these stories are true. In the 3 years that I have worked in the ACD, I’ve changed my entire outlook on life. It’s bleak, it’s scary.. and it’s so fucking depressing.
I finishing nursing school with bright eyes and a promising future. I put in every ounce of effort into my studies, because nothing made me feel as complete as when I was helping people. I knew I was destined to be in the medical field, so when I landed an interview at Lakin’s Memorial, it’s safe to say I was absolutely psyched.
The building was old, leaky, and the florescent lights flickered and buzzed. The previously white tiles were stained a light yellow, and the wheels on the hospital beds squeaked and groaned with each use. The halls smelled like old cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer.
“You’re qualified, for sure.” The interviewer spoke in a tired, croaky voice. Her deep red lipstick had all but vanished, leaving behind a slight smear that I tried not to stare at. “But you’re fresh out of nursing school, and we usually look for someone with at least a few years of experience.” She didn’t look up at me as she lazily laid my resume on the desk, letting out a bored sigh.
The overhead lights buzzed, and I shifted uncomfortably in the hard metal chair. “Please,” I leaned forward, trying to grab her attention, “I don’t have to work in the Emergency department, I can help out anywhere you need me.”
And that’s what sealed my fate. I was hired onto the ACD, not knowing what utter hell I had just signed up for.
Here’s a quick run down of the Abnormal Conditions Department:
Once you’re in this department, or ward, you’re not leaving. The conditions these patients have isn’t something that can be cured, diagnosed or even understood. If you’re admitted, you’re going to die here, it’s just the way it is.
The ACD is located on the 6th floor of the hospital, and you have to be authorized to even step 3 feet off the elevator. I was given a badge with a specific code on it, which was kept in a locked room on the first floor of the hospital. The only person who had access to the key was the ACD Supervisor.
The existence of this ward was completely classified, and if any information was given to someone outside of the ward, that spelled trouble not only for you, but for anyone you told. So, please, don’t ask me questions that may help you discover the hospital I’m talking about or the real identity of any of the patients, it’s for my safety and yours.
It’s not a huge department, but there is an entire team dedicated to ensuring that the families of the patients, and any of the general public, did not know the truth about what happened to their loved one. I’m not sure if other hospitals have this sort of department, but I assume they do. It can’t just be our city that deals with things like this. Although even if other ACDs did exist, it’s not like we’re allowed to know, anyway.
I want to get something straight though, our ward is not for studying, testing or experimenting on patients. Our sole job is to ensure that they are comfortable and away from the general public. Each patient comes to us as a last resort, the other departments are to do everything in their power to help, they’re sent to us if there is absolutely nothing they can do to explain what’s going on.
Each person you hear about underwent numerous tests, scans, therapies, even operations to try and get a diagnosis, but nothing was ever found to be the cause. Thus, they were sent to us.
Anyway, let’s talk about a few of our patients.
George was older, about 65 years old when all of the bones in his body began to hurt. I don’t mean ache, like joint pain or arthritis, but hurt as in.. he could feel his muscles move against his bones. Every movement was like sandpaper over an open wound. He screamed in agony whenever he was conscious. Think of it like this: have you ever had a really bad sunburn, one that hurts even when the wind blows on it? Now imagine feeling that inside your body, everywhere, all the time.
George came to us on a Wednesday, and by Thursday he was perpetually unconscious. Legally, we’re not allowed to assist death in any way, but pain killers didn’t work, nothing worked. In the end, all we could do was keep him in a coma and hope that he couldn’t feel anything. One night, out of nowhere, his spine cracked. Broke in half. His monitor went crazy, and a piece of bone was sticking out of the center of his back.
I remember blood soaking the sheets of his bed, and I worked to try and stop the bleeding as best as I could. There was no pressure on his spine, he wasn’t even conscious, but there was somehow enough force to break the bone and puncture the skin. George passed not long after.
That’s one of the tamer stories.
A few months after I began working there, a young woman was admitted. Her name was Sue Karson. She was nineteen, worked at the local mall and had a pretty engagement ring on her finger. One morning she woke up to what felt like, in her words, “ants crawling inside of my eyes. It’s like then your hand goes numb and feels prickly, but in my eyes.” She also reported the sound of their legs crawling around, and being so loud it made it impossible to hear us when we spoke.
We had to keep her hands wrapped up because she would constantly try to scratch her eyes out. We thought it was mental, but according to her file she didn’t respond to any medications or therapy. She wouldn’t eat, and drove herself crazy. There were no bugs, but she wouldn’t believe us. Sue committed suicide one night during a shift change, I won’t go into how, but we had an autopsy done on her (as we do all our patients.) On the inside of her eye sockets, there were tiny, microscopic scratch marks. It looked like someone took a needle and made thousands of little marks.
Another patient was Marcus. His symptoms started off similar to a terrible cold or the flu. Fever, runny nose, cough, then nausea and aches. Then, his fever kept getting worse, and worse. It’d go down, then right back up in a matter of hours. After they tried everything to break his fever, he was admitted to the ACD. Seems silly, right? It’s just a fever?
No. He was starting to hallucinate, then he began having seizures. Ice baths did nothing, it was like his internal temperature wasn’t phased at all by the cold, or the medications. After a while, small blisters formed on his skin, then those turned into massive burns all over his body. Knocking him unconscious didn’t slow his fever though, and a fatal medication dose was “accidentally” injected into his IV bag.
I’m pretty sure another nurse couldn’t bear to see Marcus get any worse, not that I blame them. By the time he was pronounced dead, his internal organs had already began to liquify.
Well, I think that may be enough for tonight. Recounting these events is starting to make me anxious, so I think i’ll stop here. I don’t like to remember what these people went through, but it does feel good to finally vent and put my thoughts into words. It feels like a weight being lifted off of me, and I’m not sure why typing it out helps, but having this pent up was starting to drive me crazy.
Anyway, thanks to whoever read this and made it all the way to the end of my self-therapy session. Working in the medical field can be so satisfying and amazing, but whatever you do — don’t accept a job in ACD.