I am an evil snarky bitch. That being so, let me clear the air just a little. Despite my snarky comments about, well most everyone, most of the people working in the MHRF are very good people. They are doing a hard job with little support, no clear mandate, no clear objective, trying to care for people most people would just as soon never see at all. In short they care about the people in their care.
And then there is the evil Dr. Chin.
About three months after joining Nutters U, it was time for my check up. A nurse checks my blood pressure uses that ear-o-scope thing on me, due to the fact that I had stolen some throat swabs for q-tips, I still didn’t have any ear wax. Then I step on the scale.
I had gained fifty pounds in three months.
What The FUCK??!
Sure I knew I had been getting a bit fluffier but fifty pounds? In three months?
I had never in my life had to even think about my weight. I know, I know, really annoying of me but there you go. No wonder they don’t have any full length mirrors in the place.
“Oh dear.” Says the Nurse. “You’ve gained some weight. You should go on a diet.”
(Ok let me get this straight, you all feed me, have a locked gym, give me the meds that have me packing on the pounds like a gerbil facing the ice age. And Now I have to go on a diet? Like this is my fucking fault?)
Well that didn’t put me in the best of moods.
Time for my meeting with Dr. Chin. She is the Dr. in charge. Or so I gather. Ohh I’ve seen her around walking the halls from one office to another. She is a small ( I am in munchkin land, I am even taller than some of the male nurses from the Philippines) Chinese woman, the kind of woman who is thin because it makes her elbows sharper. I have never seen her stop to talk to a patient, never in the three months I’ve been there seen her smile. I saw her flash her teeth once but I don’t think it was a smile.
I’ve seen the effect meeting with Dr. Chin has had on the other patients. They line up in front of her office, head down eyes lowered, hunched shoulder, looking for all the world as though there were a sign above her door “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’. And danged if they don’t come out of her office looking for all the world as if that is exactly what they have done. Strange sort of therapy, where the patients leave thinking about suicide.
I sit facing her, the evil Dr. Chin, I am already not in the best of moods. She has the look of one who very much resents having to use her degree to be a cockroach wrangler. She glances at me then turns her attention to the far more interesting forms on the table in front of her.
She asks me the questions the form requires. In this we are perfectly matched in total lack of interest. I don’t care about the questions; She doesn’t care about the answers.
“If there is nothing else.”
I have been dismissed Dr. Chin has a few more people to ignore on her busy schedule
“Just this.” I hand her a few sheets of typed paper. “Please include this with my medical records.”
“What is this?” She reaches for the papers with nose wrinkling irritation, as though I had just tossed her my very snotty hankie.
“It’s the nice and accurate account of my delusion. The truth the whole truth and nothing but as they say.”
“I don’t care if it’s the truth or not. It doesn’t need to be in your medical records.”
“I see.” I say and I lean back in my chair smiling pleasantly.
I believe that it is pretty clear by now that I don’t believe that I am delusional. ( Which is of course not proof that I am not delusional as it is the very definition of delusional to believe that one is sane.) That’s not to say that I don’t have my charming little quirks.
One of those quirks is in the matter of violence. Violent action is something most people really have to work themselves up to. Blood pressure goes up respiration increases, they get all red in the face and inevitable there is yelling involved. Me? I can go from smiling pleasantly to ass kicking faster than my face can change expression. If I’m going to kick someone’s ass I don’t want them to know about it, till their picking their ass up off the floor. Or in this case Jaw.
The thought process goes something like this:
(There is a motion before the board, break this cunts jaw, yes or no?
We will now hear a report from the morality and ethics board. Is such an action warranted?
Bullies are to me what cobras are to the mongoose. All bullies offend my sense of right and proper, but not all bullies are equally offensive. Boccie was one type of bully and I know this will seem off to you but I considered him one of the lest personally offensive sort. A bad guy yes, a pointless annoying bug on the backside of humanities ass, but at least he never took an oath to be one of the good guys. A crooked cop is far more morally offensive then the Boccie type. They took an oath to uphold the law, to be one of the good guys. Lower in my estimation than the crooked cop is the bent Doctor.
A doctor swore an oath to put their patients first in their care. Not the law, which doesn’t bleed, not the insurance companies that do not suffer, not to the hospital administrators or board of directors that do not need.
Imagine a Doctor telling you ‘I don’t care if you have cancer or not I’m putting you on chemo.” Or “I don’t care if your gall bladder is working just fine I’m ripping that puppy out.”
“I don’t care.” Three words a Doctor has no right to speak to a patient.
It’s one thing to say that in your best professional opinion a particular diagnoses is correct and a certain course of treatment is called for. I may disagree with your conclusion, you may be wrong, but that’s not offensive. Heck everyone makes mistakes. But to not care if what your doing is hurting someone or not, yeh, your waaaay over the line on that one.
I have seen the effect this woman has had on her patients. She is hurting people. She is hurting the most vulnerable the most helpless people I can imagine. Hurting those she is supposed to be helping, and doing so from behind the safety of her medical degree.
Conclusion from the morality and ethics committee’; Breaking the cunt’s jaw is fully warranted. At least if she is sipping ensure through a straw for the next few weeks she will have fewer chances to hurt people.
Report from the feasibility study: I sit there smiling pleasantly, my mind busy measuring it all out like a complicated pool shot, the chairs we are sitting on, the table between us, the precise spot on her jaw to strike for best effect. Conclusion from the feasibility study. Doable to a high degree of certainty.
Finally we have the report from the long range goals committee. The long range goals committee reluctantly and with much regret comes to the conclusion that breaking the cunts jaw would be detrimental to long range goals and create too many possible undesirable complications. I would most defiantly end up with heavier meds under more watchful supervision
Sometimes you just have to pick your battles.
The account of my delusion was put in with my records as arguing with me was more trouble than stuffing a few pieces of paper into a file.
My attitude toward the drugs I was being given was the same as my attitude toward any other drug I’ve run across, curiosity. “Well now let’s see what this one does?”
Sometimes drugs do bad things.
The drugs they were giving me had turned me into a lard ass. Not only had I gained fifty pounds but I was always tired and I couldn’t sleep and I was constipated, (Which since I had gained fifty pounds lead my mind into uncomfortable areas of thought. ‘just how full of shit was I?)
When drugs do bad things stop taking them.
Up to now I’ve been taking my medications like a good girl. A history of easy compliance builds expectations of continued compliance. After my meeting with the evil Dr. Chin, I lined up for my meds like always and I spit them out in the toilet, though as a rule I don’t approve of spitting.
I had a major headache for a few days, cold turkey is never fun. But I after that I could sleep again and the weight began coming off. (fifty pounds it don’t come off as easy as it piled on)
A couple of days after my meeting with the evil Dr. Chin I was heading to the library. On the first floor there is a lovely inner courtyard, the best feature of the hospital in my opinion. It’s a nice little place to sit on the grass and listen to the breeze dance in the silvered leaves of a semi circle of young birch trees.
This morning I notice Merideth sitting on one of the benches in the courtyard. She looked a perfect picture of hunched shouldered misery. Merideth, is a retired school teacher origonaly from Norway and boy howdy does she look like she stepped directly out of some ole’ Viking legend, steel gray hair cut off sharp and practival at her jaw line a face handsome in its unforgiving planes. She has been crying.
I sit on the bench next to her.
“Hey you want some coffee? I just got this from the store, cream and sugar I hope you don’t mind.”
I hand her the warm cup of coffee. We sit in silence for a couple of minutes while the coffee does its work of calming the tide of tears.
“I just had a meeting with Dr.Chin.” She says.
“Ahh.” I say. And now I know why she had been crying.
“She wouldn’t listen to me. She wouldn’t even look at this.” She holds up a file folder stuffed with paperwork and forms that she has been clutching like a drowning victim would clutch at a rope. I don’t know what all the forms and what not are but Merideth is a former school teacher so I know that what ever paperwork she has there it has all been filled out correctly with all the right signatures on all the right lines. As a former school teacher she has spent her life playing by the rules, people listened to her. That now none of that matters and no one will even look at her homework, is a huge blow to her sense of self.
“try not to take it personal. It’s not you, Dr, Chin doesn’t listen to anybody.”
(I hate Dr. Chin)
She takes a sip from her coffee and sighs.
“I like coming here, the birch trees remind me of home. I’m from Norway originally, there are lots of birch trees in Norway”
“Yeh I know. I’m from Maine, once upon a time. We have birch trees there too.” I pause for a moment.
“You know, the birch trees remind me of a funny story. Would you like to hear it?”
She gives me the suspicious squint eye but decides she might not mind listening to a little story.
“Well as I said I’m from Maine. In fact my people have been Maine before there was a Maine. They had been digging the rocky ground and planting potatoes back when Maine was still part of Mass.
Way back in the misty dims of past times a branch of the family broke off from it’s Maine roots and transplanted themselves in Kansas.
You know about Kansas?” I ask her.
“No trees there.” She says.
“Yes, exactly, no trees, all flat. How anyone could want to settle in a place so monotonous and dull I have no clue.” Merideth chuckles, we two women from the ice bound north lands have a shared sense of proper aesthetics.
“Anyway, one day around the time of the depression, a Kansas cousin decided to pay a visit to her Maine relatives.
My grandmother, much pleased by the visit went all out to show her long lost cousin all the best of the place. Day after day my grandmother took her cousin out, showing her one beautiful spot after another. But despite my grandmothers best efforts, day after day her cousin looked more and more unhappy. In fact she got this look pretty much permanently attached to her face like she had been doing nothing the whole trip but sucking on sour pickles.
The last day of her visit came and my grandmother took her to the most beautiful spot she knew of for a picnic. It was a lovely rolling valley with the mountains blue shadows in the distance, a spring fed lake and at the end of the lak a stand of birch trees silver leaves shimmering in the breeze.
The cousin was not impressed. Finally she could take it no longer and she screwed up her face into her most sour pickle expression and points and accusing finger toward the birch trees and says.
‘What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you all have anything better to do then to go around painting your trees white?’
I concluded my little story and Merideth sat there with a stunned look on her face and than her face broke apart like ice calving off from a glacier and she laughed as only a Viking can, with thigh slapping joy. She goes wandering off sipping her coffee, she passes a birch tree and chuckles as she runs her hands over its white bark.
“Hey there Darla, good to see you. Haven’t seen you in a while and I was beginning to wonder if you had gone rabbit and jumped the fence.” I greet Darla with a merry smile as she shuffles into the Library. Darla used to work in city hall, a speech writer. She always looks like she is off on her way to the office, hair always perfectly primed, make up carefully applied (office neutral in rose tones), dressed in lady like office fashion with a string of pearls. Ok no pearls but she is the sort who should always be wearing a string of pearls.
Today she is in her pink bathrobe and hospital slippers and, she hasn’t brushed her hair.
“I’ve been in a coma.”
Dear Abby? No. Emily Post? No. The MadHatters guide to hosting a tea party, index, ahh yes comma, you’re in a comma: no, that’s not it, The dormouse is in a comma: no, Guest, recovering from a comma: ahh yes there we go, Proper response, offer seat and refreshments. Tea and cucumber sandwiches are well thought of.
“Would you like a doughnut?”
Darla takes the doughnut and settles down on the couch with a tired sigh.
“I thought we’re not supposed to have food in the library? “ She says in a dispirited voice without volume.
Rules are very important to Darla. She is a Good Girl. She always say in the front row, raising her hand to every question. Her dog never once ate her homework. I had an Irish Wolfhound with a prodigious appetite.
“Ohh today is doughnut day. Everyone who takes a book has to have a doughnut today So you will have to take a book. Now coffee, your quite right we’re not supposed to have coffee at all.” I take a sip from my coffee and prop my feet up on the desk.
Darla’s arrival at the MHRF had been a very well ordered affair. She had very systematically liquidated her life. She had given away everything she owned, from furniture to pots and pans, then did the same to bank accounts. Then she had gone to the beach, stripped down and swam out for the sunset. The water was colder than she had expected. The whole process of drowning became a far more uncomfortable a process than she could whole heartedly embrace so she swam back to shore.
When she had told me her story I responded as only someone with a deeply compassionate soul could respond.
“Ok, OK, let me see if I got this right. You gave away all your stuff to your friends, your furniture, your antiques, jewelry, pots pans and down comforters then you start handing out checks to all your friends like your Ed McMahon on a bender. Not one of your friends ask you why? And after your swim for the sunset and your arrival here not one of those friends that you’ve given all this good shit too has dropped by to see how you’re doing?
No wonder you tried to commit suicide, your friends suck.”
She sits on the couch a lump of misery. She’s not even interested in the doughnut and it’s the good kind with powdered sugar.
“So.” I prompted, “You were in a comma?”
“She changed my medication. I told her it was making me feel bad. I couldn’t wake up. She didn’t care. I woke up in the hospital. Why did they have to wake me up? I just want to be dead.”
(I should have broken that cunts jaw)
“I tried drowning, but the water was too cold and I got scared.”
“Probably the best thing really. Drowning isn’t a particularly pleasant death.” I tell her. “Freezing to death I’ve heard is not too bad a way to go. Sure the process of getting that cold isn’t all that great but once you actually start freezing I understand you get all warm feeling and just drop off to sleep. Course freezing to death in San Francisco is a bit of a challenge.”
“I could never do that, I don’t like the cold.” Darla gives a lady like shudder.
“Personally I like the roman way of suicide. You invite your friends over for a big dinner party and you sit in a big tub of warm water slit your wrists and sit there bleeding to death, drinking wine and talking politics and philosophy with your friends.”
“I couldn’t do that. Cut myself, I’m afraid of knives and I don’t like blood. I just want to sleep and not wake up. If I could just take some pills and die in my sleep.”
“Unfortunately, most of the shit you take that can kill you upsets your stomach so much you end up drowning in a pool of your own vomit.” Darla shudders at the thought of such an unlady like ending.
“I’ve thought about jumping off a building.” She says.
“Sounds good. Splat,,, lights out. Unfortunately, falling isn’t as sure a death as one would think. You get one guy the trips over a crack in the sidewalk and in falling snaps his neck, another guy jumps out of an airplane his chute fails but he lands in a mud puddle in the middle of a corn field and just breaks a few ribs. Just imagine if you don’t die but just end up paralyzed, than there you are still alive and you can’t even move your arms. Talk about sucks to be you.
Jumping to your death now that reminds me of a funny story I read in the paper a while back. There was the homeless guy. He used to hang out near the tennis courts of nob hill reading poetry. He kept hearing voices, these voices kept telling him that he was chosen to deliver to the world a very important message from God. The Voices kept on telling him this but as to the exact message he was to deliver it was all ‘please stand by.’ The entire situation was becoming annoying so one day the man goes to the bridge.
And he tells his voices’ ‘ok here’s the deal. I’m going to jump off this bridge and if I live I will believe you, that I’m God’s messenger and I’ll just have to wait for the message. If I die, well I guess you all can just shut the hell up.
And with that he jumped off the bridge.
What happened? Did he live?” It’s amazing the power of a story to bring a person out of apathy.
“Yep. Just broke his ankle. I’ve always wanted to meet that guy. See if God has gotten around to giving him a message to deliver yet.’
“You think he really is God’s messenger?” Darla asks.
“Well as to that I cant say. I can say he certainly has better proof of God’s grace than Jerry Fallwell. Which gave me a wizzy cool idea. We take all the self proclaimed voices for the almighty and one by one we check them off the bridge. The ones that live we let them go on TV and talk about God till their blue in the face.”
Darla laughs, the heavy weight of misery lifts just a little. I give her a book to read as she heads off. A cool little story about an English guy who went on holiday paddling his dingy from the canals of Oxford to the Blue Danube in Budapest.