I thought I might be writing this post from a hospital waiting room.
We're all relatively OK over here, but as some of you may know, "Mr. Louise" had to go to a Japanese ER a couple weeks ago. Since then we've unfortunately had to return a few times — both to the ER and to a few different hospitals.
Long story short, we're getting to the bottom of his mysterious (but scary) ailment, and due to late night/early morning frights of the medical variety, I'm writing this post on almost no sleep. We'll call this week's installment Sleepy Creepy Corner.
But if I've learned anything from spending the wee, small hours of the morning in dark, almost-empty hospital waiting rooms, it's that:
1) Hospitals can be very eerie, lonely places late at night.
2) Nurses and doctors probably experience a lot of strange things, beyond the regular ER "horror stories" of people doing bizarre things to their bodies. (You haven't lived until you've overheard the man behind the curtain next to you exclaim, "BUT MY DICK IS MY LIFE!" — in English — then proceed to hit on the not-having-it nurse.)
Sitting in a dimly lit hospital, on a hot pink, vinyl couch (hot pink is a very popular color in Japanese hospitals), I couldn't help but think about the nurses. Moving silently but with purpose through the halls, I wondered what they had seen during those long night shifts?
It must take a special type of toughness and mental fortitude to do that sort of work.
And in case my foggy brain neglects to mention it later, THANK YOU nurses, for all that you do. Despite the language barrier, the nurses I've encountered in Japanese hospitals have taken enough of the edge off of my numerous fears, so that I'm not just The Pile of Goo Formerly Known as Louise.
Maybe it's the long hours, maybe it's the proximity to death and illness, but nurses I've met have some of the most chilling stories. Just do a Google search for "ghost stories, hospital" and the top few hits are supposedly true stories told by nurses.
While trying to distract myself while waiting, I spent a good amount of time reading those eerie tales. Some of them were touching, many of them were downright terrifying.
So I invite you, Creepy Cornerista nurses or Creepy Corneristas in the medical field, to share your your strange and unusual stories in the comments.
I have a couple stories of my own to share from nurses I've met — one a little scary, one a little sweet. However both might make you take a second glance over your shoulder the next time you find yourself in a hospital (though if you do find yourself in a hospital, I hope it's only under the best of circumstances).
He Just Kept Calling
"It happened to me a few times, but this one was the weirdest."
That's what my friend, I'll call her Jessica, told me a while ago when I asked her about odd things that happened to her while she was a nurse. If you're friends with me, you know I'm eventually going to ask you, "So what's your spookiest bartending/lifeguarding/tomato farming story?" (If you have a spooky tomato farming story, skip to the comments and tell us NOW.)
Jessica was telling me about being called by patients while manning the nurse's station in a hospital.
She told me that "phantom" calls weren't that uncommon — when a nurse is rang or buzzed to come to a patient's room but the patient either didn't call, didn't remember calling, or there was nobody there in which to call a nurse.
At first getting unexplained calls was creepy, but over the years, she said she stopped thinking too much about it. But one instance sticks out in her head.
An older gentleman was being treated in the hospital. Cranky, and in poor health, he was always calling the nurses for everything from more pillows to more pills. He was high maintenance to say the least.
Jessica had just come on shift one night, and she got a call from the patient's room. Putting on her game face, she walked over to his room ready to handle his latest request. But when she got to his room, it was empty.
Going back to the nurse's station, she asked one of her fellow nurses what was going on with the patient. It turns out he had died shortly before Jessica started her shift.
Thinking it odd, and mildly creeped out, Jessica went on with her night. A little later she got a call from the patient's room again.
Upon investigating, the room had not yet been filled, and was still empty. Thinking someone was messing around with her, she put it out of her head and went on with her relatively quiet night in her suburban hospital.
Later that night, she got another call from the room.
And then another.
Every time she went to the room, it was empty.
"I got sort of used to all the weird stuff that happens in hospitals, but this was one of those times that really gave me goosebumps."
Me too, Jessica. Me too.
Just Wait, I'm Coming
Here's another story from the Louise Family Vault.
As I've mentioned before, some of the women in my family have what my great grandmother called, "ghost seeing eyes." That is, they see people and things that the rest of can't (or won't) see. Things like the dead.
I don't know if my grandmother gained ghost seeing eyes at the end of her life, but it's hard to deny that she saw something — either mental or spectral in origin — that comforted her as she neared death. We should all be so lucky.
At the end of her life, my grandmother was confined to a bed in the hospice unit of a Hong Kong hospital. In the end stages of what her doctors called "senile dementia," hospital nurses and my aunt (also a nurse), were always with her.
Apparently, nurses weren't the only ones at her side.
Though her mind was betraying her, a fog seemed to lift in her final days. As told by her nurses, her eyes started following something or someone around the room. Something or someone nobody else could see.
It would have been easy to write off her behavior as simply the progression of her disease, but the nurses remarked that there was a focus, a single mindedness to her gaze, to her watching. Then she started talking.
"Father is here to help me," she'd say as her eyes looked up at the empty space next to her bed. Father, referring to her late husband, my grandfather.
"Yes...I don't know...you do look well," she'd converse with Father, almost girlish at times, her eyes unwavering.
Like a last gift, my grandmother brightened up again with her late husband's company. He was her constant companion, and the nurses took to giving them their privacy.
"Yes, we'll telephone her when it's time. We will...we will," a nurse remembered my grandmother saying this to Father. Was she talking about the 2 am call my mom got when my grandmother died? Was she talking about the dream my mother had before my grandmother's death?
Hallucination or not, the Chinese nurses were not about to interfere with what just might be a husband ushering his wife to the other side.
"Father is waiting for me," she'd say, her eyes trained on the foot of her bed. "Ai-yah, just wait, just wait. I'm coming."
I don't know the full details of my grandmother's passing, but from what I understand she did not feel afraid, did not feel alone. It seems her partner in life, my grandfather, was also her partner in death.
Whether it was her brain slowly shutting down, or something a little more mysterious, I'm grateful that my grandmother's nurses respected her final moments of joy and peace.
Thank you for bearing with me this week, Creepy Corner community. You're my favorite part of the week. I promise we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming soon!
Do you have a spooky story you'd like to share? A great urban legend from your area? A personal scary story? Tell me! Send your stories to CreepyCornerMail@gmail.com, and you might see it in the next Creepy Corner Reader Roundup! For guidelines see here.