- Mental Health
FRACTURED – Part 3
Inside Psych Ward - day two
Lynn had learned a great deal from her roommate, Jenny, the night before. First of all, even if she didn’t have off ward privileges, she could give money to another resident and they could buy what she needed. Jenny paid her back the cigarettes she’d borrowed plus more for interest. She also agreed to loan her some money until she got her doctor to give the ok for her to get her own. Jenny was a frequent visitor to this ward, partially for mental health problems but always because it produced whatever she wanted from her parents. A suicide attempt got her a car and lengthened her curfew by two hours. As far as the other residents, she knew most of their stories.
First, Zack, probably wasn’t the best one Lynn could have made an enemy. He was a real woman hater to begin with and was in trying to get sympathy from the court for beating his girlfriend half to death. What he couldn’t handle on his own, he ratted out to the nurses.
James was almost as young as Lynn had supposed, a mere fourteen, but he had his guardian’s permission to smoke and while they wouldn’t let him off ward, he had a stash of nearly anything you could want including some pot that one of his visitors brought in. His parents were dead and he was being moved from an Uncle’s home after allegations of abuse and this was like a holding place for him until they found a foster family. He had his own tutor and plenty of cash.
Pat was a real nut case according to Jenny. She was a lesbian and was trying to get a sex change operation to become a man because her lover was bi-sexual and wanted her to become a him but still be a woman. Trying to please her had driven Pat over the edge and she was in a bar one night and snapped on some cops. No one really considered her violent any longer as her meds kept her mellow but she was awaiting a court date too and her lover wouldn’t let her move back in until all the bullshit was over.
The lady with the knitting, she was Julie and she was in almost as often as Jenny. Her husband had molested her two daughters and when she found out she just snapped. The older one had committed suicide and the younger one testified for her father in the trail and he got off because of lack of evidence. Julie lived alone on a pension of some sort and knit a gazillion pair of pink booties for her two baby daughters when she was in the ward cause that’s where she was at in her head – pre- trama.
Now, Mr. Waters, his was a sad story. His wife suffered from Depression for many years. She used to come up to the ward it was said and he was by her side every free moment he could spare anyway from his business. He used to be an attorney. About a year ago he had to be out of town for two days for a big case and the lady that was supposed to come and keep his wife company had a family emergency and couldn’t make it. When he got home he’d found her hanging from a rafter in the living room in front of the tv. Somehow his brain got things all screwed up and he thinks if he can find the right channel he can talk to her and keep her from hanging herself. That’s why he’s in front of the tv every chance he gets flipping channels.
“It’s kind of a pain in the ass for the rest of us though cause we have shows we want to watch too, ya know? Want a smoke? Its shift change and third shift’s cool. As long as we’re quiet they don’t care if we stay up – come on,” Jenny urged Lynn.
The sun was a brilliant burning pain in her skull and Lynn tried to cover her eyes with the pillow to stop the pounding in her head. She vomited in the wastebasket because Jennifer was in the bathroom so long getting ready. Lynn couldn’t hold it in any longer and even though she’d hollered and beat on the door, Jennifer’s make-up had to be just so and she was trying to put on eye liner when Lynn needed in. You couldn’t lock the bathroom door or your room door so Lynn could have pushed in and barfed in the toilet but since Jennifer was going off ward and would be getting Lynn’s want list she fought down her frustration and grabbed the closest thing she could to be sick in. She had time for a quick shower and to change into her only other outfit just in time to be ready for meds and breakfast.
Lynn tried to swallow some toast but it hung in her throat. She took a mouthful of coffee with the second bite and got it down. When the meds nurse gave her a small white paper cup containing pills Lynn didn’t even question what they were. She did ask if there was anything in there for her headache and the nurse said it was probably a side effect of the medication and should go a way in a few days. A few days? She would have group today and possibly a visit from her doctor. She wanted to tell him that she felt pretty angry and didn’t seem to have much control when it started. She also still felt like she was shaking from her very core and her hands did tremble slightly. A nurse had weighed her and taken her vitals, asking if she has ever had hyper-tension. She had not but her mom had it really bad so the question had her wondering what was going on. The nurses usually seemed to tell the residents to ask their doctor whenever they had a medical question so Lynn would have to try to remember to ask about that too.
By lunch her head was still splitting and she asked if she could get something but was told they would have to call her doctor. She had tried to stay to herself as much as possible and find a quiet place where she could pretend to read a book. No such luck though. Zach seemed to be able to smell a wounded animal and followed her from one location to another not saying a word, just glaring at her. She’d look up from her book and there he’d be with an ugly twisted smirk on his little weasel face. She watched the music room constantly trying to get a turn in the glass booth, hoping she could get it to herself and put on some soothing music to calm the pounding her chest that had joined the drum in her head. Ten minutes before group, she found her chance. She slipped into the booth as two residents left and was looking through the music with her back to the door when she heard it open. “Damn”, she thought, “let it be someone quiet.”
“Well, if it isn’t the little bitch, looking for your funeral music?” Zach’s putrid coffee and cigarette breath seemed to have an underlying smell to it. In this small room there wasn’t much space to move around and Lynn was blocked from the door by him. “What’s the matter WHORE ya too good to speak? You had plenty to say yesterday didn’t you, in front of everyone, disrespecting me?” He was inching closer to her and she recognized the smell – alcohol – probably rum. Old tapes of being beaten played through her brain at warp speed and she saw herself bouncing off the wall, laying on the floor as a shoe smashed into her head, her bleeding swollen face staring back at her from the mirror. As if watching someone else, she moved. With her fist held in her other hand her elbow had become a weapon that smashed into his face once, twice, three times and blood pouring from his nose was her reward. She pushed him aside with the last hit and was able to get out of the door which swung open revealing three aides and two nurses.
They twisted her arms behind her and lead her on tiptoe and knees, when she tripped, to the room with the other closed door. Inside her clothes were stripped from her by the nurse and a hospital gown was left on the floor. Another nurse entered the room and plunged a needle into her arm and then she was alone. She reached for the gown, scooted into a corner and covered herself with the thin garment, her knees drawn up to her chest. She surveyed the room and tried to clear her head. The walls had pads that looked like the ones in the gym in high school. The floor had some sort of padding too but not thick. There was no bed, no toilet, and the only light was a recessed bulb covered with a thick screen and this in the ceiling that was at least another five feet from her five foot five body. The door had the same padding as the walls, a slot and an area that looked like a small window but it was covered. She took stock of her body and saw blood on her arm and elbow. Her elbow had hit something sharp enough to leave a small cut, probably the bastard’s teeth – she hoped so, she hoped she’d knocked them all out. Anger replaced the cold, dazed feeling and she removed the gown as a cover and put it on as best she could. It had Velcro instead of ties or snaps and was almost worn out. She wanted to tear off a strip to fashion a belt but the material was thick and inflexible. She fought the drowsiness contained in the syringe the nurse had shot into her arm and realized ironically her headache was gone and the pounding in her chest was too. She wanted to scream something that would appropriately express her outrage at being treated like a mad dog but nothing came to mind, only peace flowed through her veins as she drifted into a hazy semi-sleep.