I used to work as an operating theatre nurse back in my Singapore days. During my 15 months working there, I encountered ghosts many times during the night and day, hence I have to split this into two posts.
This was my second job after I was unhappy working a year in Ortho/ENT C class ward near my home. My friend persuaded me to move to an operating theatre in one of the oldest hospitals in Singapore. It’s one of the largest and busiest hospitals in Singapore and they have multiple disciplines. There are a total of 28 operating theatres on the same floor.
I worked as an ENT/plastic discipline nurse. During the first few months of our orientation, we mainly worked office hours. Then as we got more settled into the job, we were given irregular shifts and nights. I can’t remember exactly when but I know it happened in July 2001. That day, they were short-staffed and they asked me to relieve a senior for an afternoon tea break.
Before I go into details, let me tell describe the room layout of the working theatre: anaesthetic, scrub, prep, operating and utility. The patient will enter the anaesthetist room where the anaesthetist and the nurse will check the patient again. The scrub room is for washing hands. The prep room is where clean equipment, sutures, trolley, linen etc. are stored and also a room for the scrub nurse to prepare their trolleys for the operation. This room only had one door serving as both the entrance/exit. The operating room is where the operation takes place and it will also have an X-ray screen, clock and other essential equipment there. The utility room is where the dirty equipment and trolleys end up to be washed there.
Back to the day in question, after I finished my tea break, my theatre manager told me to relieve a senior from cardio discipline theatre. They had three staff working but one of them was a junior, just like me. She was double scrubbed with her mentor. Hence, there was only one circulating nurse and he was due for his break. I did not know what the operation was for but the room was packed with three surgeons and two scrub nurses on the operating table. There was also the anaesthetist and nurse.
There was a portable x-ray machine with an x-ray clipped on it as the x-ray board on the wall was broken. I went in and stood in front of the prep room. As there was only one door for access, no one was inside the room and my back was to the door. There was a trolley on my left and an x-ray board on the wall on my right.
The senior told me everything was sorted and there shouldn’t be any problems so I felt quite at ease as I went about my duties in the prep room. Suddenly I felt someone pinch my left arm. I immediately looked over but there was no one there, just the door. When I looked over back in the operating room, the patient suddenly collapsed and they had to stop the operation. The pressure bag holding the IV drips burst and went everywhere on the floor. The anaesthetist and the nurse were panicking and started running around. At that moment, I wasn’t paying much attention to the patient as there were so many colleagues working on him and I was still in shock by the pinching. Then the x-ray board on the wall suddenly lit up next to me. It wasn’t turned on as it was broken.
I was totally helpless and shocked at that moment. I was all alone by myself and not sure if I had got in the way of the Grim Reaper, hence getting pinched. Luckily, the senior came back by then and I immediately left the theatre.
I told quite a few of my theatre colleagues and the senior who I had relieved. He said it had never happened to him before and the x-ray board was broken. He also said, maybe he/she didn’t like me or because I was not from the same discipline, he/she wanted to teach me a lesson. Happily, the patient was alright.
This story was broadcast on Mr Zhou’s Ghost Stories podcasts on 6th May 2022. Do check it out if you want to listen to it in Mandarin. Also, check out the don’t dos during this festival and the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival.