Archive for the ‘hospital’ Category

Judge Ye Not

February 1, 2009


not a maiden


‘Do not judge,’ a voice inside my key nurse urged.  This was received wisdom and she was beginning to question it. She was beginning to believe that the avoidance of judgement was a dereliction of reason.  ‘Do not impose your values on them,’ she had been ordered by some smug, self-aggrandising nurse manager.  But what if that was exactly what they needed: a framework of values and expectations within which they could live successful and productive lives?  What if, by withholding judgement, she was denying them that?  Imprisoning them in a state of perennial victimhood.  She remembered an aphorism she had once heard: ”Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.’  They were doing nothing and evil was most certainly flourishing.

Addendum: those who believe that the desire to keep ‘at risk’ children with their families whenever possible is confined exclusively to left wing social workers should take a look at this

Promotion and maintenance of contact between child and family


(1)Where a child is being looked after by a local authority, the authority shall, unless it is not reasonably practicable or consistent with his welfare, endeavour to promote contact between the child and—

(a)his parents;

(b)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him; and

(c)  any relative, friend or other person connected with him.

It’s an excerpt from the Children’s Act, 1989.  Now, remind me which party was in power then.  Cyclical amnesia strikes again.

Addendum 2: Oh, and ‘plus ca changeplus c’est la meme chose‘.

Hospital Memories I

May 30, 2008

He had bloodshot eyes, moss-covered teeth and malodorous breath. We were in the corridor. He reached out and tried to pull me towards him.  I hit out at him and backed away.  There was a nurse sitting nearby.  He did not intervene.  He just looked away.

Pollyanna? Moi?

December 8, 2007

During one of my admissions to the EDU (that’s Eating Disorders Unit for those unfamiliar with the jargon) one of the nurses told me that, in her oh so humble opinion, that I was adopting the role of the ‘Pollyanna of the ward’.  She asked me why I insisted upon focusing on other people’s issues at the expense of my own issues.  I hated her at the time but maybe she was more astute than I gave her credit for.  Denial?  Isn’t that a river running through Egypt?  This is the closest I’ll get to a mea culpa.

A Conversation

November 11, 2007

Some prose for those of you who think my poetry sucks like a Dyson:

Aurora was what was known among the nursing staff and patients alike as a revolving door patient. She spent her life going in and out of hospital. ‘I’m treatment resistant,’ she boasted. Each admission was a badge of honour. ‘I black out,’ she told Gemma. ‘Especially after sex. It was with my downstairs neighbour this time. We spent the day drinking. Before he … you know, did what he did he told me he loved me and then afterwards he just abandoned me. Another neighbour – this elderly guy – found me standing in the middle of the road. He put me in a taxi and sent me here. Not all men are total gits.’

Why are you telling me this? Asked the voice inside Gemma’s head. Do you expect me to be impressed?

‘I was really high that night,’ Aurora went on. ‘Higher than I’ve ever been. I thought someone or something was spying on me. You know, like MI5 or something. I wouldn’t settle down. I walked through the ward, searching for bugs or secret cameras. Then the doctor came and gave me enough meds to fell an elephant…although I suppose to someone like you I am an elephant.’

Well, you said it, thought Gemma.

‘They call us failed anorectics,’ Aurora said.

‘Who? ‘ Gemma asked. ‘Who do they call ‘failed’ anorectics? And who’s ‘they’.’

‘Bulimics. That’s what people call bulimics. And ‘they’ are the medical profession.’

‘I’ve been bulimic too, you know,’ said Gemma defensively.

‘Oh, that wasn’t an attack on you. After all it’s not your fault that the medical profession chooses to play favourites.’

Gemma knew that was exactly what it was.

A Response to Anon@5.34

October 18, 2007

(See Dancing on Someone’s Grave is One Thing..)
(See Comments section)
To Anonymous at 5:34:
(Because the first was rather curt)

FWIW I have a lot of respect for some of JHL’s views. I wholeheartedly agree with him when he asserts that ‘We (ex-prisoners) are as human as our victims.’ I just find it odd that he extends the right to be viewed as ‘human’ to every single prisoner and ex-prisoner except Felicity Jane Lowde and (maybe in time) The McCanns.

You ask why I am on this woman’s ‘side’. I don’t regard this as a matter of sides. It’s not a game. It’s not a George Bush post 9.11 ‘With us or Against us’ kind of situation. Felicity Jane Lowde certainly wouldn’t think I’m on her side. I believe she has a serious mental illness and needs urgent help. I’ve been in and out of hospital a fair bit and I’ve seen this kind of situation. I even remember someone with very similar delusions to Felicity Jane Lowde – secret services, connections to government figures – all delusions of grandeur. IIRC one of the newer neuroleptics took the edge off her fear. But I could still see the anguish on her face. Her terror terrorised me. I firmly believe that this woman was genuinely afraid – that her inner world had turned into an inner hell. And it’s kind of hard to escape from yourself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel sympathy for the victims. After all, it didn’t matter to Rochester whether The First Mrs Rochester was mad or bad. The consequences for Jane Eyre and Rochester were still the same. Mad or bad, she was still dangerous.

I’ve more to write but this is kind of draining.)>


February 28, 2005

I awake to hear the nurses discussing me, right outside my cubicle. ‘For some reason she chose to sleep beneath her mattress, rather than beneath her sheet.’

Another nurse whispered, ‘And she had no knickers on when she came in.’

I wonder what they made of me with my nose dripping blood, my red stained velvet dress. What kind of woman did they think I was – some kind of prostitute beaten by one of her clients? No questions, just assumptions. As always. But what else have I come to expect from the medical profession? ‘Ooh, what kind of woman is she, turning up in Casualty at this time of the morning? She must be some low-life whore or something who’s been beaten up by her pimp’ It’s easy to think in such stereotypical terms when your own life is so simple and uncomplicated.

So there I was, speaking to the young, pink-faced junior doctor on his ward round. He was kindly but inscrutable. He asked me to wait for a psychiatrist. Now, I was feeling pain. It radiated up the length of my spine, particularly when I sat down (which was a little inconvenient given that there was little else to do on the ward) and my face felt like a stiff, bruised mask. I spent the time fiddling with the television beside my bed and desperately trying to let somebody, anybody know that I was here. The nurses made it clear that, to them, I was not a priority. So I tried to leave. I imagined myself as a ghost, slipped though the curtains of my cubicles and made my way out through an open firedoor. But soon a blonde female nurse was pursuing me. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ she demanded. ‘You can’t just leave like that.’

‘Why not?’ I wanted to ask. ‘You have no legal basis to keep me here. I haven’t been sectioned. The only authority you have over me is that uniform.’ But I was in no mood to argue so I obediently followed her back inside where a female social worker and a male community psychiatric nurse were waiting for me.

They turned out, as I had expected, to be pretty useless. They questioned me about who was responsible for my injuries. ‘Dr. H’s star pupil,’ I replied bitterly. Dr. H’s is my consultant psychiatrist. Unfortunately, he is also Andy’s and he is a star misogynist so there is no doubt whose side he will be on. The social worker actually tried to make excuses for Andy. ‘I’m sure it was a one off. He’s probably feeling terribly guilty about it now.’ Sorry? Did I imagine that? Is this the Land that Feminism Forgot? No, obliterate that from the record. I know it’s the Land that Feminism Forgot. Dr. H’s ‘Team’ doesn’t think much of me and, frankly, the feeling is entirely mutual. How horrifying it must be for them to have to deal with a young woman who is an openly committed feminist (when did that become a dirty word?), vaguely intelligent and conscious of her rights. I have little faith in Dr. H’s’ ‘team’ I have witnessed a social worker sitting in Andy’s flat discussing the merits of various forms of hashish. ‘Great,’ I remember thinking at the time. ‘Encourage his useless, feckless lifestyle, why don’t you?’ Andy reported that when he escorted the social worker back to his car he commented (referring to me), ‘She’s a nice girl, isn’t she? Very attractive.’ Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match but preferably not to a raving psychopath, thank you very much.

‘I don’t find Dr. H’s team all that helpful,’ I told the bespectacled CPN.

His response stunned me. ‘That’s okay. There are a lot of people who don’t.’

I nearly fell off my chair. Hello??? Did this half-wit realize what he had said, that he’d just admitted to his own sheer incompetence. The social worker, a thin, pale, dark-haired woman who wouldn’t have looked out of place on a long stay eating disorders unit gave me a look of open hostility. It was clear that she thought I was somehow to blame for the attack, that I had somehow ‘provoked’ Andy. At one point she said, ‘Perhaps he was jealous. Perhaps he saw you talking to another man.’ Hmmm, methinks she knows more about the situation than she was prepared to admit. Centuries of feminism had clearly been wasted on her. Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Frieden, why did you bother? I saw the suspicion, I noticed the raised eyebrows.

I’m not much of a psychiatrist (but then neither is Doctor H. His days are numbered. ) but Andy has clearly been misdiagnosed. He is no manic-depressive. He is a psychopath. And they know it too. But to admit it would mean that they would have to deal with the situation. And they are afraid of him so they adopt the ‘blame the victim’ mentality. Who wants to back a loser? I suppose it’s understandable and perfectly (tragically) human. In short, his team is pretty damned useless. Andy has been in their care for the last ten years and he has not taken a single step forward. His life still consists of repeated hospitalisations, unfulfilled dreams and procrastination.

‘Will you be all right?’ asked the social worker. ‘How will you get home? Can we get you a taxi?’

With no money?

‘I’m touched by your concern,’ I responded sarcastically.

Becoming a Statistic

February 22, 2005

I have become a statistic.

I sat on the bed in the hospital cublicle, my face and powder-pink dress encrusted with blood, talking to a cherubic young junior doctor. ‘I suppose that statistic was right.’

‘What? The one that states that one in four women will be the victim of an assault by someone she knows in her lifetime?’

I nodded. ‘Indeed’.

Something I never believed would happen to me has happened – I was physically attacked by someone I thought was a friend. Andy, a person I only ever tried to help. Andy, a person who just a few months ago said I was one of his most faithful companions (I dread to imagine how he treats those he considers unfaithful).

I remember very little of what happened. I’d merely visited his flat for a cup of tea and a chat, just as people do every day without consequence. (One thing I will concede – Andy is/was a damned good conversationalist – something I shall miss). Then some male friends of his arrived and some more and soon the room was filled with the stench of testosterone. I recall flirting with a rather handsome blond guy called David. ‘I’ve always fancied you,’ he said.

The next thing I knew I was being slammed against the wall by Andy. He was hoving his palm into my face. Apparently he was punching and kicking me but I felt no pain – the mind is an amazing thing, they say. I think what I was experiencing is called primary shock. I then remember being pulled out of the flat and dragged upstairs to my own flat by David.

Then there was a long, yawning gap in time.

I awoke in the middle of the night in hospital. I was dressed in one of those nightgowns with a flap at the back. (Oh, how they appear to love humiliating their patients). I stumbled, half-blind, to the bathroom. I stared into the mirror. I looked quite hideous – like something from another world. My hair was fluffed around my pale face – drained of all colour. Blood dripped from my nose. My upper lip was blue as though it was stained with ink. I tried to rub it off before realizing it was a bruise.

I stumbled back to my cubicle and slipped beneath the single sheet. It was like sleeping in an ice box so I slipped beneath what seemed to be another sheet. It was an undersheet. It added little warmth. My mind was still protecting me. I shuddered and fell into a restless sleep.

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