When we reported for duty the next day, I was fairly certain that we would be given jobs that were pretty close to the bottom in desirability. After all, we were Hospitalman Apprentices; the keyword here was “apprentice” and all apprentices start at the bottom.
Sure enough, I was given the job of working on the contagious ward. In fact, I was the only one on the ward. There was only one patient and he had the measles. My job was to sit…and observe and then write in the nursing notes for the day. “The patient had a good day…etc, etc.” There was no one to relieve from duty when I arrived and no one took my place when I went off duty. A roving nurse would check in once in awhile during the evening and throughout the night to make certain that the patient was still alive.
What a boring job! And then to make it worse, the measles patient became well enough to go back to duty and now I had nothing to do. I had cleaned everything twice and then once again, just to make sure. And since this was back in the days when hypodermic syringes were made from glass and steel, I had a portable autoclave unit to sterilize them…so I would sterilize everything each day, just for something to do.
After about a month of this, I began to wonder…was this going to be the sum total of my Navy career?