Just a wee one

January 10, 2017 at 7:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The medication dispensary is highly sanitary, but frightfully wasteful.

Pills are popped into a 30 ml clear plastic ‘thimble’ (of which there are hundreds stacked in ‘towers’ – ready for use).

The pills are then taken with water in the kind of polystyrene cup endemic to climate-careless corporates.

After the exchange, both vessels are binned.

The process is repeated several times, every day, with dozens of patients and (I assume) in every ward – possibly even every hospital.

Until now.

Having found no evidence of recycling in the facility, I eschew the foam cups for my refillable tap-water bottle.

I also reuse my initial thimble which, on reflection, looks a bit like a shot glass.

Retaining my thimble lets me examine it closely in my room.

Which gives a sense of how easily I’m amused.

The thimble is a masterpiece of design.

A generous lip aids trembling hands.

The measurements are raised like Braille to facilitate grip.

The myriad units seem picked to cover every conceivable medicinal format, geographic deployment and historical period.

They comprise:

CC (Cubic centimetre).

ML (Millilitre. While the capitalisation doesn’t comply with the International System of Units, you get the idea).

TSP (Teaspoon).

TBS (Tablespoon).

FL OZ (Fluid ounce).

and finally

DRAM (From one to eight).

It was at this point that my interest really piqued.

Dram is ‘a small drink of whiskey or other spirits’.

Only in its second sense is it ‘another term for drachm‘.

Drachm is ‘a unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equivalent to 60 grains or one eighth of an ounce’.

Thank you, Oxford.

As an editor, I’m a big fan of making every character earn its place.

But in the context of a psychiatric ward (likely to contain alcoholics with too much time on their hands) I queried the thimble content creator’s quest for concision.

I also questioned several dispensing nurses.

None had noticed the unfortunate word choice, or thought it mattered.

Quite likely,

you and I are the only ones

who ever will.


If you found this interesting or entertaining (and you’re new to this blog) you may like to:

Even a cup of coffee will keep me in the hunt. With many thanks, Paul.


Milk run

January 9, 2017 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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I’m shown the shared kitchen’s refrigerator and told it has strict demarcation zones.

After a ten-year career in human resources (personnel administration), I well know how deadly this field can be.

Beneath the sole common shelf (milks, juices) sits an unruly array of variously personalised perishables.

Yet by an amazing stroke of supply chain good fortune, I note that almost every dairy product already bears my name.

And so I prepare

to revel in my time.

Dischord

January 9, 2017 at 6:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I get my device cords back.

Mobile, radio, laptop.

Of these, the last is most precious.

My Nokia dumb phone can go weeks without charging.

And my interest in radio has waned since the ‘summer series’ began endless reruns of last year’s worst bits.

Once was quite enough.

On admission, I was told the cords had to be ‘checked by an electrician’.

While this was surely for safety, the precise nature of the threat isn’t discussed.

A later survey of my room leads me to surmise that the cords’ potential lethality lies in  unorthodox use – not electrical integrity.

If this is true, I imagine holding strength is pivotal.

If so, they needn’t worry about me.

At my current weight, nothing short of a three-phase (or possibly undersea) power cable would suffice.

Then again, I’m told there are other patients in here who wish themselves terminal harm.

In which case,

the niceties of entering another’s room

probably don’t apply.

And so,

though my weak wires are deemed ‘harmless’,

I hide them well.

Postscript

On return from an accompanied outing, I’m asked to surrender all plastic bags (e.g. with better food and cleaner clothes).

I query this, then recall the movie House of Sand and Fog

and figure

fair call.

Shower scene

January 7, 2017 at 6:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My room is next to the ward’s security portal.

At 2:00 am, I wake to what sounds like agitated people making repeated efforts to get in, out (or possibly both).

My door has no internal lock, so I lie in fear – hoping not to get caught in the moment.

At length, the situation seems to resolve.

Shortly after which, my door handle turns.

I can only hope it’s the night nurse, so pretend to be asleep.

The door cracks open and I feel eyes upon me.

If I overact, I may appear dead – thus triggering entry and further examination.

It’s a nuanced role.

After silicone seconds, the door closes and I breathe again.

I remain sporadically alert for the next three hours.

On a happier note, the hot water’s back on.

A welcome relief.

Alas, the shower curtain doesn’t fully circumscribe the recess.

Either an intruder can see me from the toilet,

or I can see myself in the mirror.

I debate which is worse.

Then I put a bet each way by standing closer to the curtain, with peripheral eyes on the most likely lines of attack.

The bathroom door has an internal ‘lock’ – but this can be overridden from the other side by a key, a coin or even a stout thumbnail.

Also, the door’s hinge pins can be removed by hand.

That said, my shower concludes without incident.

But when I pull back the curtain, I’m dismayed.

The slope of the tiled floor has failed to deter water from most of the bathroom.

I must soak the bath mat to clean it up.

This means the grumpy towel woman (the others aren’t) may have to replace the mat mid-morning.

And last time she stormed out (doubtless with her own travails) she took all my positive vibes with her.

To curtail a repeat, I’d hoped to make the bath mat last the week.

So I set it with the wish

that it’ll dry

in time.

Postscript

I ask the day nurse about the night’s events.

She assures me only one person left the ward – at 11.30 pm – with no disturbance.

She suggests my proximity to the noisy security portal may have magnified things in my mind.

She seems genuine, and I want to believe her, but I’m reminded of a childhood riddle.

If she’s lying, I’m an acute observer, but may never get out of here.

If she’s truthing, I’m a great storyteller, but not ideally suited to the real world.

And so,

may never get out of here.


If you found this interesting or entertaining, you may like to:

Your smallest kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


Night stalker

January 6, 2017 at 6:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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There are female screams in the night.

The like of which I’ve never heard.

I put down my book, turn off the light and strain to listen.

(Is this not what I paid for?)

The strange, strangled ululations seem without end.

Why do staff take so long to attend?

Or have they arrived, only to face some primordial force beyond their control?

The more I think about it, the weirder it seems.

I ask the next nurse who checks on me and she says,

‘You should be pretty safe in here.’

Yet we don’t get banshee caterwauls like this at home.

The longer I ponder, the more possibilities emerge from the gloom.

Is my neighbouring inmate watching a horror film?

Heaps of people like that sort of thing.

Could he simply be viewing the news?

Today’s monstrous bulletins seem bereft of censorship.

In which case,

would I actually be safer beyond these walls?

Still troubled, I ask my wife on her next visit.

She points to a laminated map of the complex:

an adjoining ward deals in maternity.

And with her unerring good sense,

she cuts my twisted logic in a trice.


If you found this post useful or entertaining, you may wish to:

Your smallest kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


Waters of love

January 5, 2017 at 6:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Psyche Ward’s hot water is on the fritz.

And Fritz must send away for a part.

I’m offered a shower in the Mother and Baby Ward.

On reflection, I can’t estimate the likely net hygiene outcome of such a sortie.

I’m tempted to ask if the kerosene baths still work.

But these seem like nice people,

so I spray some cologne instead.

I immediately rue my choice,

as it’s called

Allure Homme Sport

Eau Extrême.


If you found this post useful or fun, you may wish to:

Your smallest kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


Head case

January 4, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The psyche nurse knocks at 7.30 am.

‘Come in’ I say.

She introduces herself

and explains that she’s doing a headcount.

I say it’s nice to meet her.

And that I have

one.

She smiles faintly

but not in a ha-ha way.

Then she withdraws,

quietly closing the door.

And yet,

under the circumstances,

I feel

pretty damn

funny.


If you find this blog useful or fun, you may wish to:

Your small act of kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


Big drama

December 27, 2016 at 8:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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My catholic high school (secondary college) had an approach to teaching drama that modern parents could consider … questionable.

In Year 7 (Form 1), I experienced this method at age 12.

It was 1977. Only now do I appreciate how odd it all was.

The classes were held in a bricked basement, with no view in or out.

The spherical, late-middle-aged man who controlled the (unsupervised) proceedings was known (modified for legal reasons) as ‘Prof’.

Prof never got out of his chair, but seemed forever rotating in it.

We were a gaggle of prepubescent boys – a world away from today’s knowing, sexualised offspring.

The only naked woman most of us had seen was in our black-and-white biology textbook. (And we had to draw straws for that one … but that’s another story.)

In light of our extreme callowness, Prof decided we needed ‘warming up’ before we could stride the stage in earnest.

He therefore announced that each of us would take several minutes to devise a ‘television commercial’

for our own underpants.

And perform it

in them.

This would occur on the dais in front of Prof’s desk.

Reactions in the group were mixed.

A few extroverts relished the chance and fled to corners to rehearse.

Others seemed bemused, but compliant.

I honestly can’t recall my response – possibly because I was fixated on that of one student.

He was low and slight, with a wig of jet hair shockingly matched to alabaster skin. He had buck teeth, red-rimmed eyes and thin limbs that seemed they’d snap in a breeze.

Let’s call him Damon.

Damon was bullied. Cripplingly shy. And at that instant, he looked like the last soul of a wrecked ship on a reef of pain.

By the time Damon scraped enough courage to ask if he could be excused from this ‘exercise’ Prof was already judging performances.

As boy after boy stripped and spruiked his goods, Damon writhed, wrung his hands and became ever more wretched.

Again he begged Prof’s indulgence, this time in tears, but was brushed off.

At last, Damon’s turn came.

Most of the undies so far had been of the jockette style – bought in multi-hued packs at the supermarket.

Damon’s ‘bog catchers’ were altogether different.

They were so white, they gave his skin colour.

They were so big, they shrank him by a third.

They were so ill-fitted, they looked like they could storm off the stage in protest.

All I recall of Damon’s maiden performance was that it was excruciating, and brief.

The mocking laughter that engulfed him from script to stage door lasted much, much longer.

Possibly to this day.

I’m pretty sure Prof marked Damon very low for lack of ‘presence’.

Other boys got glowing reviews.

And

money.

Yes. Prof produced a handful of currency that drew us like filings to his iron desk.

His fat fingers dispensed largesse to those who’d pleased him most.

We later learned this was Prof’s known modus operandi.

One senior teacher even extolled Prof for ‘generously motivating students out of his own pocket’.

I find this astonishing now.

But at the time, I was so in ‘need’ of funds for my next kit model that I got with the program.

Indeed, I once embraced the role of Female Nurse with such ardour that I rode the school bus sporting my mother’s nail polish – to my father’s chagrin and my future bullies’ delight.

Rumours persisted about certain students who pleased Prof beyond fiscal measure and were treated to private coaching sessions – in his home.

In hindsight, I’m extremely glad my best ‘review’ was $1.60.

I’ll say just one more thing about this unusual episode.

When Bing Crosby died, Prof assigned us to write a journalistic article about his life.

Now this was something to which I could turn my hand.

I spent days researching and crafting the perfect piece.

Prof marked it ‘C++-‘.

I asked where my real mark had gone.

He retorted that, while the article was extremely well written and presented (++) it was too good to have been produced by such a young auteur (C-).

In short, I must have plagiarised the whole thing from a source even loftier than The Sun.

You can imagine

my

disgust.

Further reading.


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Your contribution will keep me going strong. 🙂


Save

Psycheling

December 20, 2016 at 9:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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It was with a small measure of rare pride that I entered the psychiatrist’s room.

Not nearly enough to brim over, but sufficient to coat the floor of a 250 ml lab flask if you swirled it.

It felt so different to have something positive to report.

For once.

Two things, in fact.

The first was that my wife and I had downsized to one car.

Apart from cutting costs, I felt this was better for the environment.

I also felt that with my wife needing the car to commute, I’d be forced to walk and cycle much more often.

My old bike had been chained to the house for years – gathering dust, rust and spiders.

I was going to get it fixed, then decided to do something unprecedented.

I bought a new bike, with a rechargeable battery, to help me over the hills that dotted my usual journeys.

The purchase was a success.

I began riding around town at an average speed of 24.1 km/h, with a record downhill sprint of 52.8 km/h.

The website had promised this bike would make me smile.

And you know what? It actually did.

So I considered this sequence of events my second ‘good thing’.

I proudly told the psychiatrist that I’d overcome decades of self-hate to buy myself a gift.

In so doing, I’d also trounced 4000 tonnes of inertia to get my fat, sclerotic body outside and moving again.

The psychiatrist quizzed me about the bike’s battery assistance (which is modest, optional and variable).

I happily filled him in.

Then he said:

‘Why didn’t you get fit and buy a real bike?’

I found this

unhelpful.


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 Just a buck or two will keep me going strong. 🙂

Bee spoke

December 19, 2016 at 11:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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When I was a kid, I sang Silent Night differently to most.

I thought the line was:

Sleep in, heavenly bees.

(Note the early regard for punctuation.)

Bees are a paragon of industry.

Naturally (I figured) there’d have to be at least one etherial species.

And after a year’s hard work, it seemed reasonable that they’d get to rest on xmas day.

Indeed, who needs honey with so much other food laid on by front-end loader?

My faux lyric made arguably more sense than ‘yon virgin mother’.

And so I rolled with it for several seasons.

The repeated line, especially, seemed positively soporific.

Sleee-eeep in, hea-ven-leeey, beeeeeesszzzzzz.

Try it next time you’re at carols by candlelight.

I promise no-one will notice.

You might just get a warm fuzzy.

Or even

catch

a

buzz.

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