Monday, 1 June 2009

Eye Sore

There are other less explosive trespasses, with less percussion, but still prompting a ringing in the ears of pulsing blood. Ones that leave no scratches or welts, but no less violent an infraction for all that. There can be a confusion, all too readily arising, from some of the workaday duties of our job. We may wash our occupants or even help them with their evacuations. We tuck them up in their incubated cribs. We probably find ourselves towering over their shrunken, prone form in bed. Equally, we may lean down close to their faces, to spoon feed a thermometer or mop their brow. Well might we utter reassuring words to them, so that they can surrender to a safe embrace of sleep. Notwithstanding that we are no longer allowed an adult plumping of their pillow, lest we spore infection. So it can appear that we do anything and everything, short of singing them a lullaby and rocking them into the land of medicated nod. Brought about by our fistful of coloured sweeties.

Given over to such complete dependence on us for care, they are returned to a childlike dependence. This is not the healthy exaltation of the bus stop constituency. For here, the drip line has replaced the natal umbilical, tugging their awareness towards mortality. Suddenly they are confronted with the other end of life’s tether. So they reach out to reclaim and rescind. They want to suckle at my life-affirming breast. To re-enter my life-bearing womb (if only they knew !) Of course you can flail at a mother too. And dismally they do so. I represent the wake up call for them just as they appear to be going under. Accordingly, as the closest to hand, it’s me who gets punished for the presumption of trying to do my job. So I’m just as likely to get punched and mauled, as much as nuzzled or stroked. They yank the ligature which has me attached to the other end and they try and throttle me with it. Striking an asphyxiating cord. If they are to be reborn, then I must be offered up in their place. So says the law of the blood sacrifice.

Tenderness. It’s in my nurse’s remit to understand all about tenderness. And I do apprehend it, in every facet. It’s fundamentally double-edged, since you take it to mean a warm and loving touch, as might be exhibited by a nurturer. Yet I know it to be the coiled agony of a wound, where the application of the slightest pressure springs that potential and calls forth the pain. You might do well to view my body, my being, as the threshold across which you pass from your interpretation over into my defintion. You shan’t receive anything less than dedicated care from me, but not a mother’s love. (Avoid mistaking human warmth for the baking humidity of the irradiated ward for example). But don’t confuse the issue and at least you’ll be spared its flip side.

Incredibly, even this does not represent the end of the degredation spectrum. Don’t think we can quite pin this tawdry aspect on the sainted Florence. How her inheritors have since allowed themselves to be fashioned by those of rank imaginations. Myself, I am buttoned up to the throat and buttoned down to the wrist. My worsted stockings are as shapeless and bobbled as I can skirt past Sister’s inspections. Stockings, who even dreamt up that little primped enhancement ? (Musing further on it, since the police are possessed of their own stockinged uniformed mates, maybe this is why they form the sole male members of the species who are completely indifferent to us angels).

At least the Union actually managed to accomplish one thing, in forcing the abandonment of those pygmy wimples we used to have to perch on our heads. Under the guise of antisepsis, what more overt, craven male fantasy could those caps frame ? Our hair supposedly gathered up for sanitary reasons, exposing a virgin nape and the tantalising ribboned caption of any escapeé strand. However, now that this has been dispensed with, I have had to give a great amount of thought to the display of my own hair. Since I am determined to offer up nothing at all of myself. There is to be no bounce or tidal motion to my mop. Nothing that could possibly evoke a shimmering, lush sea in which someone might want to immerse themselves. Therefore my first calculation on obtaining each duty rota, is for the optimal time to shampoo, in order to render it lank and lifeless for the greatest number of shifts. Now you know the kind of thought processes we are reduced to.

For you see, I am talking about those cases fully cognizant with the driving force of their own body even when it is ailing. The ones who override pain by channelling their whole being into one self-affirming goal. The ones with an altogether different nagging complaint from that which it specifies in their notes. That possibility of diminished vigour. These are the really heinous brutes, the gropers not the caressers. The pinchers not the kneaders. The fisters not the punchers. Theirs are not the rash, ill-conceived suits of the Mills and Boon bedbound war heroes. This is them projecting on to me whatever their animal need is. No longer am I viewed as idealised womanhood. Something, anything XX chromosomal will suffice to salve this most attenuating of XY anxiety. They do not desire me, I could be any dog’s dinner done up in a nurse’s uniform. Back out in the real world, since I am nothing to look at, I can pass unseen. Below even the radar of muggers and sex fiends. And the rare occasions when I divest down to my superheroine’s uniform in public, it elicits no more than a soothing bradycardia. Yet in here, instantly I am fit to meet their pulsing carnality. My features can be bent, folded and manipulated as per their whim. They are not after a genuine conjoining of our bodies. There is no longing or ache underpinning it. Just chronic urgency. The drive to reassert their own intactness. As they cannot rasp their own mutinous skin without tearing at it, so they claw at mine instead. I am a scratching sisal. A cuttlefish. Pain is their catnip.

Everything I undertake in the course of my professional duties is coated in sterility. Tending sick bodies is hardly what I’d term sensual. What makes you conceive you experience it as such? You sullenly note me piercing your skin and harvesting any number of your emanations. You hanker after reinstating the normal order of things. You yearn for such supposedly vital essences to be reconsigned to the dark interiors of the body. For the geysered emissions to be struck, only when you summon them. In such a manner is your fear elided with desire. Consequently I am to pay for my licensed quarrying. And to assist you in bringing about this reversal of ill-fortune, handed to you on a platter, the obtuse vision that is me in a nurse’s uniform. Irrespective of my sandpapering the edges in order to sharpen up the focus. My fraying the trimmings of fantasy.

Whether they regard me pure and maternal, or dirty and slatternly, ultimately it makes no odds to their behaviour. I am to be at their complete disposal, to be defiled by their touch. The thought never enters their head that I too might be a corporeality chock full of pain receptors. A person in my own right. With someone waiting for me back at home. Even then, such knowledge would only entail they run me more ragged. So that I would be left with no option but to retire home abed, simply to recuperate my energy. Solely to attend upon their wants again in the morning.

Turning it all on its head therefore, you leave me no choice but to innoculate you against all your appetites.

1 comment:

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