Archive for psychiatric nursing

Vows

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, life and modern times, mental health with tags , on July 14, 2014 by leovineknight

“Hello, there.”
I swivelled 90 degrees and observed the svelte figure of Carol weaving through the coffee tables towards me. She had clearly spent the morning in the bathroom as usual, with freshly tinted hair, sparkling teeth and the intermingling aromas of shampoo, anti-perspirant and patchouli oil intoxicating all in her wake. But as momentary eye contact was lost, my visceral admiration wavered, and I detected that her bonhomie was far too extravagant for the circumstances. She always performed for new audiences like Betty Grable at a big break audition, effortlessly switching her binary personality from 0 to 1 for maximum effect, but this time something was different. As she sat in front of me ignoring everything I said and beaming sideways at perfect strangers, I noticed an extra special esprit in her manner which I hadn’t seen for many years. After 15 minutes of unreal politeness, awkward vacillation and routine fencing, I looked at the right ear which was turned towards me, and enquired:
“Where are the kids today?”
“Sorry?” she said, pulling her attention away from the pink-shirted charge nurse at the end of the room.
“Where are the kids today” I repeated.
“Oh, one of my friends from work has taken them to see Star Wars XXIV at the Ritz.”
“I see. Is it Andrea?”
“Sorry?” she said, abandoning her non-verbal rapport with a tweedy young doctor in the doorway.
“Has Andrea taken them to the cinema?”
“Oh no. It’s one of the others – nobody you know.”
“It would have been nice to see the kids.”
(Silence).
“It would have been nice to see the kids!” I insisted.
“For goodness sake, there’s no need to shout!” she shouted. “I just thought it would be better if they enjoyed themselves for once. It’s no fun for them in here.”
“I didn’t choose to be in here.”
“Didn’t you?” she sneered. “ Quite a few of your work-mates seem to have been in and out of places like this, just so they could cop out. Why not you?”
“For God’s sake, I had a genuine breakdown! It was because I was having to cope with all that low grade corruption and filth and endless stupidity that I couldn’t take any more.”
“Well, in the end it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s genuine or not. You’re still here.”
“It doesn’t make any difference?”
“No not really. “
“But I was fighting for something that was right and fair. Something less wasteful and less rotten…..”
“If the world’s as mad as you say it is” she interrupted “the only sane thing to do is to adapt to it, otherwise you’ll be driven mad yourself.”
(Silence).
“You’ve always been anti-social Steven. That’s your big problem.”
“Well……. if society means a collection of performing narcissists, mindless bureaucrats, animalistic thugs and shameless freeloaders dancing together over the cliff – yes, I’m very much against it.”
(silence).
“Anyway” she said “I’ve got to meet Bil ….er…my friend at 4 0’clock to pick up the kids.”
“Bill who?” I enquired.
“Look, I can’t explain now” she said “I’ll write soon, but I’m going away for a few days break.”
“Whereabouts?”
“I’ll write soon.”
“Take care then” I said, no longer wanting to hear the truth. “And have a nice time.”
For a few moments she looked shaken and contrite, her eyes shining like mine, shared memories holding us in our seats, but then she was gone. And gone for good (or bad), I could no longer tell the difference. Only the perfume, and the image of her catwalk back remained.

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Community Care Isn’t Working

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on October 8, 2012 by leovineknight

Work.
Yes, ‘work’ had become the forgotten word on our unit, even though most people recognised that occupation, purpose, creativity and achievement were amongst the most important things in life. Of course, many seriously mentally disordered people (and others) were unsuited to the individualist ‘rat race’ of a stressful, competitive capitalist society. Sometimes, no amount of ‘rehabilitative’ shopping trips, visits to pubs or excursions to museums would provide the necessary attitudes and skills for them to succeed in mainstream life. But this did not suggest to me that our residents should instead languish in front of T.V. sets all day, or chain smoke themselves into an early grave, or go for endless circular walks like retired greyhounds. It suggested instead the desperate need for a living, productive community which expected all its members to participate in safe, constructive, mutually-supportive activities. Communal approaches of this sort were once normal (sensible) practice, but during the community care ‘revolution’, this baby had been thrown out with the bathwater.
In fact, nowadays, the mother couldn’t even remember what the baby looked like…….www.windowsofmadness.co.uk

Alarmed

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on August 14, 2012 by leovineknight

………an air raid warning siren appeared to explode in my left eardrum. Retreating quickly to kitchen, I remembered that it was the fire alarm test morning, and that for fifteen minutes the alarm would be turned on and off by serious looking, blue-coated hospital engineers with red clip boards who were apparently unconcerned that the main display board had clearly shown ‘fault’ for six or seven weeks. They were also oblivious to the fact that some patients climbed the walls while this performance was going on, and that by the time they’d finally concluded that the alarm was working, most people on the unit were probably too deaf to hear it. It was a superb accompaniment to the workers’ drills and hammers, and my mind felt as though some fiendish oriental torturers had exposed my brain tissue and were now stretching my neurones on a rack. It could not possibly be any noisier, and yet this was supposedly a haven for mentally unwell people……www.windowsofmadness.co.uk

The Toilet Block

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on August 4, 2012 by leovineknight

I told the unit manager that the drains were still smelly and he reminded me for the third or forth time that the system was far worse at his last unit. There, the plumbing had old, small bore pipes which were never intended to handle hospital waste, so the decision was made to pressurise the system with a pump. This was cheaper than laying new pipes, and should have propelled waste material through to the main sewer more efficiently. Instead, the pipes could not take the pressure and waste matter from one toilet area ‘backfired’ through adjacent pipes – blowing toilet seats off their hinges and pebble-dashing the inside of the entire block……windowsofmadness.co.uk

Rehab

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by leovineknight

The kitchen brought back many happy memories, especially of the time when the unit had been a therapeutic community. Patients were expected to make their own meals, clean the unit, challenge each others’ excesses, and generally take collective responsibility for their own lives. In those days, ‘patient rights’ were even more important than bureaucratic controls, and the kitchen was always unlocked to allow patients free movement. But the principle had its drawbacks as demonstrated by one patient who would often refuse to leave the kitchen having once entered it, and another who would examine the contents of boiling pans with her bare hands. One man had a habit of evacuating small pieces of faeces with his fingers, and then entering the kitchen to stir the gravy without the aid of a spoon, while another was famous for urinating in the fish tank, and sometimes feeding the fish with sandwiches, tea bags, chips or (on his birthday) lager…..
http://www.windowsofmadness

The Red Mist

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, careers and work, jobs, life and modern times, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by leovineknight

The next day, one of the nurses told me I had some more visitors and I craned my neck with anticipation as the clattering footsteps echoed down the corridor. The hammer came down and my emotions hit the bell, but on seeing three familiar faces from the unit turn the corner, those same emotions crashed to ground with a sickening thud (and kept on going).
“Christ” I said involuntarily.
“Well, that’s a nice greeting” said one of the nursing assistants, cheerfully.
“What brings you here?” I asked knowingly.
“Oh, we felt like a long run out in the car, and this was a good excuse” he answered with disarming honesty.
“We had a dump on the way here” said Sidney.
“Pardon?” I said.
“We had a bump in the car, but no damage done.”
“Oh, good.”
”How are you, Steven?”
“Well, I’m due to go on home leave soon, but my wife’s decided to divorce me so it’s looking a bit awkward.”
“Bloody Hell Steve” he chuckled. “Never mind though, there’s always a bed for you at the unit.”
“That’s reassuring.”
“I thought he looked as shite as a sheet” said Sidney.
“Still, you’re a dark horse really Steve. I never thought you’d screw the system like this.”
“What do you mean?”
“A nice few months on the sick, most of it recuperating in the pub.”
“But this is real sickness.”
“Ha! Ha! That’ll be the day. God, you’re a droll bugger. How do you keep a straight face?”
“Change the subject will you?” I said, feeling a strange anxiety creeping up on me.
“Oh, well, things are pretty much the same at the unit, with plenty of new initiatives, zero movement, lots of sickness and….”
“Are you still doing the charity walks?” I said, noticing for the first time that all the staff were wearing Telly Tubby costumes, beautifully co-ordinated with Pearly King top hats and antique red noses, dating back to the early din period of charity mindlessness.
“Oh, no Steve. Charity walking is so yesterday. We’re into charity hawking now.”
“Hawking?”
“Yes. It’s dead simple. We all dress up and stand around spitting at each other’s boots for an hour while people queue up to watch. It’s an absolute riot of 21st century fun.”
“Ha ha ha ha” we chuckled.
“Well, as long as you’re having fun, that’s the main thing” I said. “And it’s all for charity, of course.”
“Oh… er…..yes…..naturally.”
“Have you heard about Cecilia, by the way?” interrupted the other assistant.
“No?”
“She died in hospital last week.”
“Oh.”
“Yes, she was in a coma you know.”
“No, I didn’t know.”
“There’s one hell of a stink going on about it. But at least you’re well out of it.”
“Yes” said Sid “There’s a big noise coming down from hindquarters…er….headquarters, to sort it out……”
“I need a cigarette now” cut in a familiar voice.

It was indeed a familiar voice with a familiar question, but for some reason it sent a seismic shock wave running up my back. The tribulations of the last few months seemed to hurtle back into full view, and my numbness vanished. The future opened up nightmarishly around me and a sickly phlegm filled my throat. The air crackled and hissed, and an old enemy returned; refreshed.
“I need a cigarette now! Now! Now! Now” Hettie suddenly howled.
“We’d better be off Steve. See you soon. Sorry it’s all a rush.”
“Wanks very much” said Sidney, pointing at me.
“’Bye Sid.”
“We’re buying a new house you know – I can’t wait to put down a deposit.”
(silence).
“Home is where the fart is….”
(silence).
I wasn’t really aware of the squad departing, and after a while I wandered down to my room and sought the refuge of bed. My head hammered, but sleep seemed to arrive instantly, and I twisted away into a dreamscape of schoolyards, fruit machines, sickly sweet smells, and sadness. I saw my mother’s white face accusing me from the shadows, and the sagging shell of our old house with its cluttered rooms and grates with ashes. I ran through endless streets of rain and sorrow, panting and terrified, until at last a yellow light appeared above a varnished door, and I saw my children looking silently down. I shook the bolts, and circled the house, finding a narrow view inside – where familiar thighs gripped a half-known man, and convulsions merged with spider blackness.
Then all around a pink sea span with hypnotic swirls of crimson, and a bright red sunset appeared before me.

http://www.windowsofmadness.co.uk

The Big Sleep

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, books, journals and diaries, jobs, careers and work, life and modern times, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2011 by leovineknight

On my way down the street, I noticed the old lady brushing the pavement in front of her house again, while the two post-punk wastrels were once more spending their valuable time taunting the old dear with monosyllabic insults and girlish tittering. Without further ado, I arranged for these fine young people to be escorted to the public toilets by four nightclub bouncers, who carefully supervised them cleaning the urinals with cotton wool buds, before enlisting them in the army. I then marched steadfastly on towards the council estate – ready to face my greatest challenge.
Happily, my super powers did not fail me, and I surged through the streets erasing graffiti, repairing fences, replanting shrubs, replacing broken windows, and sweeping up seas of glass shards and rubbish, like Robocop on a mission. The blue police lights were again illuminating the sky above the pubs and shops in the centre, and I observed an embattled young constable trying to control a mass of braying half-wits by wagging his finger at them. It was time for real action, and I transported the policeman to a safe position outside the estate, replacing him with a battalion of seasoned commandos who easily rounded up the gurning thugs and took them away in cattle trucks for a year’s moral retraining on Dartmoor. One jug-eared oaf temporarily escaped, and complained:
“This ain’t fair! They must be breaking some law doing this!”
Pointing out his hypocrisy in seeking shelter from the very law he had flouted with contempt all his half-life, I sent him spinning towards his whining chums with a contemptuous flick of my finger. The last truck moved off with shrill piglet screams emanating from the back, and rousing applause echoing down the streets as grateful residents reclaimed their lives for the first time since 1991. Handing my garlands to a young girl with large green eyes and raven ringlets, I then quitted the estate like Elvis Presley leaving Hawaii, and set sail for home at last.
A heady combination of fairground lights, perfumed air, and the stentorian boom of my own heartbeat, propelled me along the roads of Edwardian houses and down the gentle slope to our little ‘neighbourhood watch’ retreat. I put pink spots on the matching silver cars, introduced the workaholic man to his workaholic wife, and changed our three bed-roomed house to a four bed-roomed villa so that the copyists across the road would have an interesting experience the following morning. I strode into the house, found Carol waiting patiently for me in her dominatrix outfit, and gratefully accepted a glass of vintage claret which she handed across to me, whilst winking a welcome at my hump-fronted trousers.
“Welcome home esteemed husband. May I give you succour?”
“By all means, my dear.”
I settled back and watched the hypnotic grind of her athletic white flanks, while Motorhead played sweetly through my headphones, and a Cuban cigar sat snugly behind my right ear.
“I’m going to discharge myself, in a minute” I said.
All was well with the world; and perversely I slept.
—————————————————

“Wake up” said a distant voice.
“WAKE UP!”
The problem was, I couldn’t. I really couldn’t.

http://www.windowsofmadness.co.uk

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