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Monday, 30 July 2012

Good Old Yusof, our beloved "patient".

Yusof was one of my favourite Woodbridge Hospital patients (now known as Institute of Mental Health or IMH). Yes, I use to work there as an assistant phychiatric male nurse from 1964 till 1967.
Yusof was about 40 years old then and his diagnosis was "imbecile" meaning he was of low IQ. When I started working in IMH, Yusof was already there for a long time. He was of small built somewhere between 1.5 to 1.6 meter tall weighing about 55 kg. His face was partly distorted and he looked like a monster but a cute one to us.He had a pair of deformed hands called "club hands".Yusof did not sleep very much and if he did, it would usually be during the daytime in a little storeroom. Yusof preferred darkness to light. He was more awake during the night.
During the night, Yusof 's "job" was to keep watch for the  staff. They would steal a few hours of sleep in the middle of the night and Yusof would keep watch for them. There were many senior male nurses trying to catch the night staff for sleeping on duty.
During those days, we would be rostered to work night shift starting from 9pm till 7 am the next day for 7 days in a stretch. For this we would be granted a 2 off-days. It was extremely tiring doing night shift.
Yusof had a super sensitive hearing. He could hear someone approaching the ward as far as 100 meters away. The sneaky senior nurses would slowly and almost silently unlock the gate 100 meters away and Yusof quickly would wake us up by shaking us.
There was an occasion where one of the patients passed away and it was Yusof who discovered it before us. He was unusually alert to this sort of thing. Yusof was dumb but he communicated with the staff by scribbling on the floor with his toes the message he wanted to convey. The message was in the Malay language eg. if he wanted his breakfast to be roti prata  and kopi he would use his toes and wrote them on the floor. The staff would reward him with a free breakfast of his choice from the canteen. Sometimes,Yusof would be given tips from the staff especially during pay day.
 I fell asleep on one of my night shifts. If not for Yusof, I would have been caught by my seniors. The punishment for sleeping on duty was very severe. Thanks to Yusof's vigilance, many staff escaped being caught.
There were occasions when the night staff would gamble with one another. When one loses and did not have anymore money to gamble, Yusof would play the role of a money lender. He charged a small commission or interest for the money he loan. I had personally witnessed a staff being "counselled" by Yusof for gambling recklessly.
To us in IMH, Yusof's IQ was above average and not as diagnosed  (Imbecile) by the phychiatrist.
Yusof passed away some years ago as a resident of IMH.

BT: There is no comparison between looking and caring for patients and serving passengers in an airplane. Patients in IMH are easier to care for than the travelling public. They do not complain and not demanding like the nasty and inconsiderate passengers do. Patients need us whereas passengers make use of us. Only big difference is the salary. Just imagine I was getting $160 working at IMH and $500 with the airlines at that time. Yes I could hear you saying " wah boh tong you work for money huh?" I admit it's the pay that counts.....forget about passion,loyalty, blah blah blah.


Anonymous said...

BT I was there too from 1965 to 1969.

Boh Tong said...

Maybe we know each other hor?

Anonymous said...

did yusof have a family?

boh tong said...

Yusof's "family" was the hospital staff. He was abandoned by his real family.