He Just Would Not Let It Go
THIS DAY IN 1971
A wink…and the faintest of smiles. That’s what I remember best about Floyd Little…..and he was strong.
Floyd Little was a “patient” at Griffin Memorial Hospital, a state operated mental institution in Norman, Oklahoma at the east end of Main St.
Floyd Little was not really a mental patient, although senility had taken over a bit; but he was indigent, no work and no place to live. His only possession was a military medal he was awarded in World War I. He still had a sense of humor at 83. That’s important.
You see, Floyd had been made a surgical “guinea pig”, a “lab rat”, by an malevolent, self-serving doctor-in-residence. Floyd was initially admitted for an emergency appendectomy. He was ambulatory, his spirits and appetite were good, and his blood work verified his general health. I was working as a nurse’s aide in the men’s surgery ward when he came to our door with pain in his lower right abdomen. Two years later, he had never left the ward. He had given up his appendix, his spleen, and his gall bladder. He had suffered a partial lung resection. The veins in his legs had been stripped repeatedly and led to the loss of both legs above mid-thigh. He had bed sores deeper than a cup saucer on his hips and butt caused by being bedridden for almost two years. Old skin and tissue cannot take such abuse. You see, all but the appendectomy had been accomplished by the malevolent doctor for PRACTICE.
This day, Floyd was scheduled for lower intestinal resection. The malevolent doctor’s cold-hearted cohort, one Nurse Kramer, had instructed, in Floyd’s presence, “Give the old bastard enemas until clear.” Now, Nurse Kramer had gotten cold and hard after years of working with the mentally ill and indigents. She had lost her compassion and her empathy. Patients were little better than livestock. So, I reached into my knowledge banks and informed her that I would give him only two enemas of maximum strength, no more. That was the written rule. She left in a huff, saying “They better be clear. I don’t want him crapping on the table.” When the time came, I went to Mr. Little’s room. We had positioned his bed so he could look out the window. We talked for a bit about the weather. I told him it was time for the enemas and he said, “I won’t make it this time. I won’t be back.” “Sure you will, Mr. Little. You’re a tough old bird.”
I had made the enema solution as strong as I could in good conscience. I had plastic sheets on the bed and on the floor. I administered the first, but he would not let it go. He would not release any of it. I could see he was very uncomfortable, so I asked, “Mr. Little, will you let it go? Why are you doing this?” He was gritting his jaws tightly and shook his head. “Well, okay,” I said, “but I have to give you another one. It’s gonna hurt, Mr. Little.” I administered the second enema. His face, neck and shoulders were sweating profusely. His face was very flushed and shaking. But he would not let it go. Evil Nurse Kramer looked in and asked, “What’s the delay? Is that old bastard clear yet?” I frowned at her and told her he would not let it go. She responded with an sardonic smirk and said, “Yes, by God, that son of a b**** WILL let it go.”
She was right. As evil Nurse Kramer walked around the foot of his bed to administer a fist to the belly of Mr. Little, he turned and looked right at me. He gave me a wink…and the faintest of smiles. Then, mustering all his strength to lift both stumps of his legs, he let it go. It blasted out with great force, covering evil Nurse Kramer from her hat to her waist. Covered in feces, she screamed repeatedly, then ran from the room. Mr. Little, still smiling, squeezed my hand and said, “I’m sorry.” There was light in his eyes. He was happy for just a moment. I squeezed it back and said, “The b**ch deserved it.”
Floyd died on the table that day; but, despite being a lonely indigent without family or legacy, he is well remembered by me as a brave man who endured much more than the perils of a world war… and retained a sense of humor.
As a post script, another nurse’s aide and I gathered evidence against the evil Doctor, evidence that belied his diagnoses for several surgeries. We had accumulated records and photos, proof of his “experimentation” on patients. Evil Nurse Kramer was fired and eventually, the malevolent doctor lost his license to practice in Oklahoma; but, no doubt, went on to be a rich, unethical doctor somewhere else. Too bad. Here’s hoping he suffered as much as those on whom he “practiced.”