Friday 11 April 2014


There are only 162 hours in a week, and it seems that some weeks I work approximately 161.5 of them.  Mrs. Bastard works too, so that leaves no one to watch my young son during the day.  Instead of letting him run wild around the house, we realised we have two choices 1) take him to day care where he will be constantly doused in snot, vomit, slime, and muck containing every virus and bacteria known to man on a daily basis, or 2) hire a nanny.

Hmm . . . tough choice.

We love our nanny - she's wonderful.  She truly loves my son, and she cares for him as if he were her own.  She reads to him (in two languages), she plays with him, she paints with him, and she chases after him when he runs out of the house naked.

Best if you didn't ask about that last one.

It can be very difficult to find a nanny you can trust with the care of your children, who are (or at least should be) the most precious things in the world.  We got incredibly lucky with ours.  Some people aren't quite as fortunate.

The theme of this particular trauma call day seemed to be "falls".  Everyone was falling down for one reason or another - falling out a fourth floor window, falling off the back of a fire engine, falling down while gardening, falling while shopping, falling off a bar stool.  Sandra (not her real name) was no different than the others who dutifully followed the theme - she was found at the bottom of the stairs.  She was in her late 50's and a nanny for the 4-month old daughter of a local family.  Her husband called her in the early afternoon to let her know that he would be picking her up around 3 PM after he ran a few errands.  Incidentally, is running the only way to do an errand?  Can you walk a few errands?  Amble a few errands?  Mosey a few errands?

Anyway, when he arrived at her employer's house and knocked on the door at the appointed time, Sandra didn't answer.  It was a beautiful day outside, so he figured she was taking a walk with her charge and decided to wait in the car.  About 15 minutes later her boss came home, and they entered the house together, only to find Sandra crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood.  The infant was screaming in her crib in the next room.

The medics were called, and a few minutes later they brought her to me.  She was breathing, but she was a mess - she was unconscious, unable to talk, and her face was covered in blood.  Based on the overall picture, I was convinced that she was bleeding into her brain.  I looked over at the on-call list and noted the name and phone number of the neurosurgeon on call, since I had a sneaking suspicion I would be calling him just as soon as I saw her brain CT scan.

Then as I leaned over her head to find the source of all that blood covering her face, a familiar scent hit my nose.  It was vaguely familiar, but I hadn't smelled it in a while.  I just couldn't place it.  What was that smell?  It took me a moment before I recognised . . .

Ok fine, I'm lying my ass off because at the time I just couldn't believe what my nose was telling me.  I didn't want to believe it.  I refused to believe it.  Surely my nose was deceiving me . . . but no, it was clearly the pungent odor of alcohol.  A LOT OF IT.  I leaned in again and inhaled deeply.  Yes indeed, she smelled like she had bathed in vodka and then used tequila as deodorant.

I did a full head-to-toe examination, and I quickly discovered that the blood had come from a tiny laceration on the bridge of her nose.  I looked at her brain CT as it was being done, and I felt a feeling of relief when I saw a completely normal brain.  By the time the scan was done, her bloodwork was back, and my relief was quickly replaced by a sudden rush of anger.  Her blood alcohol level was 0.47, nearly 5 times the legal limit for driving in most countries (6 times the limit in some).  Unfortunately there is no legal limit for Taking Care Of An Infant While Intoxicated.

As I gaped at the computer screen with my jaw on the floor and my eyes surely bugging out, I imagined what my reaction would be if I had come home and found our nanny in such a state, with my son screaming in the corner.  Fear, rage, shock, fury, or some combination thereof.

I went out to the waiting room to talk to her husband, and he was unaware of his wife's drinking problem.  I told him that many people would be dead with a blood alcohol level that high, so this was most definitely not her first time drinking that heavily.  Her brother called in later and confirmed that yes, she drank heavily.  Often.

That she got blindingly drunk while supposedly "caring" for a helpless, innocent baby made me irate, but the fact that she was devious enough to be able to hide such a vice from both her employer and her husband made me even angrier.  But even more than that, it scared the shit out of me.  I'm not generally a paranoid person, but this made me want to buy 218 security cameras and set them up in every corner of every room in my house.

If anyone wants employment as a nanny, contact me.  I have a strong feeling there's a job opening here.


  1. Hey Doc,

    I have a very similar story to share - a froend of mine has a daughter. She was about 7 months old at that time. My friend had to, ahem, run some errands and left her baby daughter with her mother.
    To cut things short, when she came back a few hours later, she found her precious mom piss-drunk with a bleeding laceration on her head and unconcious. Worse still, she left the kid crawling about... Near an open window. There was an ironing board propped to the window ledge.
    Noone in the family had the slightest idea my friend's mother had ANY drinking problem. And one could think tou can trust at leat your family.

  2. Call you! Yes! What is your phone number, and more importantly, country code? *pulls out pen and paper*

    1. His number is 1)0( 845-7421)

      (You might not get it; it's Doc Bas-tard in leet)

  3. Doc Bastard I just love your stories! Been an ICU nurse for 32 yrs and just when you think you've seen it all....The shenanigans are just endless. I found your blog during the McMath saga and I love your refreshing, honest perspective take on things. Keep the stories coming.

  4. The stinking part about this whole story is that if you're a doc in the U.S., you couldn't tell the employer her employee was rip roaring drunk due to HIPAA. OR, could you have told her because she was a threat to the life of the child? That would be just awful if they had taken her back because they didn't have any idea she was an alcoholic.

  5. I have to admit to being impressed. even our most professional of alcoholics rarely make it above 4X the legal limit.

  6. Families who foster an environment where communication is not only expected, but praised will set a precedent for the nanny and the children as well.searchmaid


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