Real talk right now you guys- there is an epidemic sweeping the nation as we speak. Or, um, maybe it already swept the nation and I just wasn't around when it started, but I'm talking about the emergence of the man-baby. I am referring the the concerning growing numbers, at least in my life, of men over 35 in the ER accompanied by their very aggressive concerned late middle aged or older parents. Most of these man-babies I refer to are white upper-middle class, but not always- this is a phenomenon that seems to transcend race or socioeconomic status.
New hospital is still basically in the hood, but it's not surrounded by hood for miles like the original Hood Hospital, so a lot of the folks from the nicer areas seem to trickle in pretty frequently. I think this dynamic tends to play out in these families a lot of the time because they tend to be smaller. See, most man-babies are almost always only children, although some are occasionally the youngest sibling, usually by several years. Virtually all are unmarried and childless. Many, but not all, also live at home- all are unusually dependent on mom and dad in various ways without any contributing physical or cognitive limitations.
Man-babies present to the ER for things that could almost always be addressed at urgent care. You would not know this by their behavior or the behavior of their parents. Mom is ALWAYS present with man-baby, but sometimes dad makes an appearance, too. The parent's behavior goes beyond healthy, caring parental concern and into a brand of helicopter parenting that would put modern parents of toddlers to shame. This is their business, I guess, except that parents to man-baby are never happy being the only one to render care to their special guy. No, man-baby's parents will find you in a CPR and bring you in to fluff son's pillow. Their concern for your lack of concern usually manifests itself in various ways ranging anywhere from passive aggressive suggestions about how your job should be done to straight up indignant yelling that things aren't just right. I actually had parents of a man-baby being treated for a scalp laceration last week get upset with me because I didn't wash their son's hair to get the dried blood out. For reals.
Man-baby, for his part, varies in his response to this behavior from his parents. Some man-babies will be obviously embarrassed, but still too afraid of their overbearing parents to shut the dysfunctional behavior down. Most play in to the drama like they've surely been trained to do their entire lives. Applying an air splint to a sprained ankle is comparable in their world to amputating a limb without anesthesia. Parents stand by wringing their hands and critiquing your technique, holding man-baby's hand and talking him through the crisis. Occasionally, I've gotten the super weird parents as man-baby's wing man/woman type of situation, where man-baby will try to be flirtatious and the parents will catch on, flip the switch and start trying to be my new best friend all of a sudden, as if all prior behaviors and their son being old enough to be my dad aren't all huge red flags.
I swear I've seen more and more of this since I first became a nurse, but it may also be that I'm just becoming more cynical and less patient and noticing it more. So grown up nurses, help me out here- are man babies a modern phenomenon, or do you think our girl Florence Nightingale had a couple of man-babies in the tents out there in Crimea?