It’s been a long time since I’ve been in an emergency ward so I can’t quite say whether it was busy or quiet. I couldn’t see any empty beds so I presume that made it busy. As my bed was wheeled into position I didn’t move from my cross legged position. I stared straight ahead at the heart monitor and put my hands on my chin. Later on Sister 1 would tell me that I didn’t look very talkative.
I had to go run through some basic questions with my nurse. Why was I here? The police brought me in after I threatened to commit suicide. No I haven’t taken any medications, only whisky. About half a bottle. Twelve years. Escitalopram. E-S-C-I-T-A-L-O-Pram. Whatever mate just do what you need to do.
My nurse had a shaved head with a light scar running across the side of his head. I didn’t really look like he knew what he was doing. Later on Sister 1 (who is a nurse) would tell me he actually didn’t know what he was doing. They kept trying to get me to change into a hospital gown and I refused. I was only going to be in hospital for a few hours and then I’d be let go – I wasn’t going to be there long enough to need a hospital gown.
I was informed that I was to be placed under guard until I had been assessed by a psychologist. I wasn’t too happy about that, however when I saw my guard I lit up a little. It was a small African woman, and she didn’t look like she knew what she was doing either.
“Can you please turn around and face the other way sir?”
“No. I’m quite happy where I am thanks”, I told her bluntly – not bothering to move my head to face her.
“Well then I’ll turn the bed around the other way”, she said smartly and she grabbed for the sides of the bed.
I looked up into her eyes and flatly said, “Look mate. I’m currently quite comfortable where I am, but if you really want me to turn around then I’ll turn around. There’s no point turning the entire bed around. Do you want me to turn around and face the other way? Because I can.”
Her hands jumped off the side of the bed and she backed down. From the corner of my eye I could see my sister smiling at me. Later she would tell me that the African woman was terrified of me. I guess I must have looked quite a sight. Covered in leaves and debris, stinking of scotch, however for the record I was quite amiable throughout the entire ordeal. After a while my leg started to go dead but I refused to change positions purely to spite that woman.
By the time the doctor came around to make her assessment I had already had the basics done by the nurse. She took some blood from one side while the nurse tried to get the breathalyser working from the other side. I gave her a brief rundown of the situation as the nurse struggled to get a reading from the machine. Later on my sister would tell me that the worst part of the emergency department was what happened next.
As I gave her the background information the doctor stared directly at my sister and summarised what I had just told her. “Twelve years of undiagnosed depression”, she repeated. Sister 1 already knew what had happened, but it still hurts her to know that I’ve bumbling my way through this by myself for so long. But I can’t fix that. Nobody can.
One of the other doctors finally came along and showed the nurse how to use the breathalyser. My blood alcohol level came back at 0.086. I wasn’t that drunk but I certainly wouldn’t be driving myself around. After the blood was taken and the crowd started to thin my nurse continued to pressure me to take off my clothes. I refused again, and my sister came in to back for me. I half yelled half told her to go home. I didn’t appreciate her interfering, it was her fault that I was in this place. She left shortly after that.
The nurse checked my blood pressure every half hour and hooked me up to the heart monitor. The finger clip for the heart monitor hurt my finger and the arm band for the blood pressure machine was uncomfortable. I took the arm band off once the nurse had finished his business.
“No no. You can’t take that off. It’s part of your treatment”, cried my guard. I wasn’t really in the mood for this. I took off the finger clip as well. “It measures the oxygen in your blood, it’s very important information for the doctors to know”, she explained as she put them both back on.
I couldn’t be bothered explaining to her what the equipment actually did so I just lay there and grumbled. Instead I decided to covertly lift up the finger clip to make the heart monitor go crazy now and then. I kept the clip on the other side of her chair so she had to get up and walk around the bed to see what the problem was. It kept me amused for at least two hours.
I must have been admitted to hospital at around 7pm and it wasn’t until 10pm that I saw somebody from the mental health team. He ran me through their questionnaire.
“Do you have any visual disturbances?”
I gave a blank look.
“Blurred vision. Hallucinations”
“No I don’t see things”
“Does the television ever talk to you? Does it ever tell you to do things?”
“No the television is pretty quiet”
“What about the radio? Does the radio ever talk to you?”
“Um. Well no.”, I replied. I was about to arc up and ask what else the radio was supposed to do but I recognised that I was probably not in a position to be stuffing around like a jerk.
“Can you ever read people’s minds?”
“Can people read your mind?”
“I don’t think so”
“Do you have any special powers?”
“No. I have no special powers”
And so it went on. By the time I got back to my bed I was getting tired. My guard was too but lucky for her she had somebody to relieve her at 10:30. I listened in closely to the handover.
“His name is Matthew. He gets very confused, and…”, she continued.
“I’m not confused”, I declared, trying to get her attention by waving my arms.
“He doesn’t look confused to me”, said her replacement. She looked quite bright. I was dying to talk to somebody and I thought she might actually be a good guard.
I starting chatting with her about work and so forth. I was due to fly out in about seven hours, and at this stage I was 100% certain that I’d be there for sure. Even in the park I was certain that I would fly out the next day. I even booked my taxi for the airport after I’d drunk a quarter of a bottle of scotch.
When the nurse came around again to check my blood pressure he overheard our conversation.
“Listen”, he said, looking around to survey the locations of the other nurses, “I just want you to know, and this is just my opinion, but I’m 95% certain that you will not be going home for a couple of days. So if you need to call somebody to cancel your flights then please do so.”
That gutted me. I was so certain that this thing would just blow over and I could go back to work and forget it ever happened. It just made me hate the nurse even more.
I rolled over and tried to sleep. All of a sudden I didn’t feel like talking any more.