“I ain’t got nothing but love, babe, eight days a week” harmonises into the locked office on the secure unit in which I find myself sitting. I can feel my foot tapping to the tune, enjoying this musical interlude before seeing the new admission. There is an unnatural pause in the music and then it starts up again, it is only now that it dawns on me that it is one of the patients. Damn he’s good.
My thoughts are interrupted, “do you want a spit mask doctor?” asks the nurse, too nonchalant for my liking. “He spat at the consultant before trying to attack her” he offers by way of explanation. Ahh I see, well this one is a no brainer, there is an obvious solution – haloperidol. He is currently in the blue room, which bears no semblance to an actors green room of this you can be certain. It actually is blue, well the floor to ceiling padding is anyway, the name fits perfectly.
Haloperidol prescribed and given, patient bathed and it is time for my assessment. I don’t want a spit mask, well in fairness if I thought I needed it I wouldn’t be seeing him. Remember I’m a coward, this is a recurring theme. And I don’t want to see him in the blue room, a normal room with chairs would be ideal. I’m met with raised eyebrows. “Hold me, love me, hold me, love me” echoes from the day room, the other patient it would appear has a limited repertoire but nonetheless holds a tune.
I hope I’ve not made a mistake, the consultants words stick in my mind “he’s scared, he doesn’t know who we are”. I’m a great believer of walking a mile in someone’s shoes, I’m not entirely clear if this should hold true in psychiatry but I’m hopeful an injection of serenity and hot bath may just swing it.
In walks a young man with features not dissimilar to Scooby-Doos Shaggy. We exchange pleasantries, my explaining who I am and the purpose of my assessment. Whilst he was pretty guarded in his answers, well who wouldn’t be in these circumstances, he was as nice as pie. Pleasant, polite, accommodating of all the curveballs I threw his way – not by choice I assure you, I was just following the proforma. Just as I was nearing the end of my meandering stroll through his life and recent events something strange happened. He yawned, put his hands behind his head, and fell asleep.
Of course I’ll never really know if he was sleeping. Did he feign sleep in a CB radio ‘over and out’ manoeuvre, did the 96 hours of no sleep render him powerless to fight his lethargy any longer, or was it in fact my generous prescribing of intra-muscular haloperidol that pushed him over? It will forever be a mystery.
“Hope you need my love, babe, just like I need you”, warbles our aspiring star as I turn my keys in the lock and let myself quietly out.