Creative Writing Awards 2021 Winner: ‘ ‘Pain, You Say?’ A Nursing Home Monologue’ by Tim McGehee

The 18th Annual Creative Writing Awards (CWA) were held virtually on April 22, a celebration of the liberal arts deeply embedded in the science and clinical practice of the Yale School of Nursing (YSN) community. After a keynote speech by New York Times Magazine contributing writer Linda Villarosa, each of the three winners read their piece aloud. 

Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) specialty student Tim McGehee ’22 MSN was inspired to write his essay by “ ‘Frost, You Say?’ A Yankee Monologue” by Marshall J. Dodge with Walter Howe.

‘Pain, You Say?’ A Nursing Home Monologue

“Pain, you say?” 

You asked me if the resident in 212 has complained of pain this evening.

Well let’s see now. 

I arrived this afternoon at 3 o’clock. First thing I did was check on 201. 

The nurse on the morning shift said the resident was running a low-grade fever.  

Took it again and looks just fine to me now. 

The resident in 202 had a blood sugar that was up there and was very concerned. 

When I went back in to give insulin, I found her eating a whole bag of chips. 

Guess she can’t be too concerned. 

Keep a close eye on 203. He kept getting out of his chair, and without his walker. 

I tell you, that chair alarm was going off my whole shift. 

Could hardly hear the phone ring. 

Which reminds me, 204’s daughter Donna called again.

She instructed me not to give out medical information to the other daughter Ronda. 

Can’t say I’m guilty, but it sure is easy to get their names mixed up. 

The resident in 205 is alert but confused, she thinks we are dating and asked if there was another woman.

I told her I was married.

She said we must be too young for the responsibility of a relationship. 

Now, the gentleman in 206 was being inappropriate with the aides again. 

I sat him down and told him to cut it out, but he acted like he couldn’t hear me. 

Guess his hearing loss comes and goes. 

The woman in 207 asked for a glass of wine with her supper. 

Sure enough, it’s in her PRN orders. 

She finished it right there in front of me and ask for another right away. 

You know the married couple in 208 and 209, don’t you? Seventy-fifth anniversary this year. 

Well, he wouldn’t leave her alone before dinner, so she kicked him out. 

Directed me not to let him back in until after lunch tomorrow. 

The resident in 210 had her shower today but refused to let me do a skin assessment after. 

She could not believe I was a male nurse. 

Told me we would be “the talk of the town.” 

When entering 211, I was told to “take cover.”

The gentleman there thinks there is a battle going on outside his room and even pretended to throw a grenade in the bathroom before cleaning his dentures. 

I think he needs to change the military channel. 

Before bed, the resident in 212 refused her senna. 

She said, “I don’t need those brown pills” and threw them right in the garbage. 

Still no bowel movement though, and due for milk of magnesia if nothing by morning. 

Just before I walked out the room, you know what she said.

“Come back with something for this pain.”

About the Author

Tim McGehee served in the US Coast Guard as a machinery technician before earning his bachelor’s from the University of Connecticut and has worked in nursing homes as both a CNA and RN. Following graduation, Tim would like to work in primary care with the Veteran’s Administration. 

Read More CWA Winners

Read the award-winning entries of the other two 2021 honorees: “Monotony” by Camila Soto Espinoza ’21 MSN and “His Feet“ by Maxwell Shaw-Jones ’23 MSN.