About a week ago, I wrote a post for RN Soul, which was quite fun; I make a point of not writing much about my personal nurse experience for obvious confidentiality reasons, but writing it as a story using lots of different experiences was ok, and it’s nice to write from life experiences. So I’m going to do it again, and write a story about the lighter side of nursing. This is a fancier version of a few stories floating around the hospitals I have worked at, and how rumours about ‘Haunted wards’ spread, becoming a Chinese whisper.
Night shifts are something that some people love and other people hate, a little bit like marmite. See I enjoy night shifts, it always feels like you’re in some post-apocalyptic setting. Some dark, haunting hospital with the odd beep from a machine, or the odd cough from a patient. Walking on the ward, you can tell the day shift are glad to see you, they stare at you, with their hopeful eyes like your arrival is the cool oasis in a barren desert. Knowing the madness will ensue the minuet they leave; this happens most often at a full moon, no lie weird things happen on a full moon, and some of our patients get a little bit more out there. Now I worked one night shift that was exaggerated to a large extent, by all my colleagues and gave a ‘haunted ward’ and even more haunted reputation.
My shift had gone well so far, no mishaps, all my patients were sound asleep and there were no very unwell patients. Even the lady that had dementia who had spent most of the night sat next to me drinking tea, in-between shouting at me for not going to bed, had now gone to sleep herself. It was about three in the morning, a time when you start to feel a bit bizarre, tiredness takes over and you become half zombified and half super active and efficient.
I had gotten to the part of my shift where it would be a sensible thing to start finishing off my nursing notes, so I picked a cosy spot next to the creaky off white radiator, which happened to be just under an old single pane glass window. Sitting there gave me an odd combination of the chills and hot flushes; the chills were a little bit too intense for me to be comfortable, so I looked up to check the window. I remember feeling cold all over as I looked outside the window, I had to blink a few times as fear caused bile to rise from my stomach. The pale alabaster cotton fabric bellowing out in the wind the holes where eyes should have been… then I realised it was just a guy in a sheet.
My fear turned to anger as I heard him laughing,
“Go away you’re going to scare the patients!” with that I pulled the beige blinds down hard and huffed to myself.
One of my colleague’s ran in fast as he could, after he heard me shout at someone. He looked shocked stood at the door, as I turned to him scrunching my face up, still annoyed.
“Some idiots dressed up outside the window in a bloody sheet!” I pointed towards the blinds I had just attacked.
He gave me a concerned look, raising an eyebrow at me,
“I’m not making it up! There’s a bloke wandering around in a sheet!” I shot back in a temper.
“Do I need to ring security?” He asked walking at a steady pace, towards the phone.
“No, no it’s just some idiot playing a prank” I said calming down a little. My colleague reached into the draw below the desk he was sat at, it creaked opened revealing a mess of stationary and paper, he pulled out a torch.
“I’ll go have a look” He stated in an as deeper pitched voice as he could manage, he marched up the ward towards the door strutting, he was quite tall and broad, with two full sleeves. I followed him down the corridor; filled with adrenaline from my ‘fright’. He opened the door and I stormed out in an annoyed fashion, in the distance I saw someone running away giggling,
“Go away or I’m calling security!” I shouted after him, feeling secure in the fact that my colleague, who was a big bloke was behind me. I turned round to him only to notice he was still in the door way whispering and muttering looking a bit scared.
“Yeah go away.” He whispered almost under his breath. I turned around again to see a few more people stood further away from me laughing and making ghost noises in sheets, rolling my eyes I turned around to go back in.
“A lot of help you were.” I muttered to him as I past, him to call security. Hearing him mumble about how he thought they were ghosts.
Security got up onto the ward, my colleague gave them a haunting account of how there were ghosts in the woods. He even said that they had faded, in a mysterious haze, into the background as ‘we’ approached them. I told them how they were just some kids messing around on a Friday night.
They agreed, hesitating for a moment, after muttering chilling ghost stories about the ‘haunted ward’, to go and search the grounds. Of course the kids had already fled after the threat of security being called. To add fuel to the fire one of the security guards muttered about how he had without a doubt seen a white woman fade into the woods as well.
This culminated in a ghost telling escapade between security and the rest of my colleagues, about the legend of the ‘white woman’. Now the kid in sheet was now a fabled patient from the 1900’s, as the hospital was an old building. She was the mother of a child that died on the ward that now haunts the grounds looking for her child.
As depressing as that is, they had, invented it by guessing who ‘she’ could be for half an hour.
And so that is how the ward then became the home of the ‘White Woman’ a ghost story that is still uttered by the members of hospital staff a full six years later. Night shifts are weird.
Thank you for reading, this tale taken from several nurse’s experiences of the ‘White Woman’. If you ask the security guards, I’m sure the tale would be much more haunting!
Any photography is by the fantastic Victoria Langford .