Opposites attract

January 29, 2017 at 11:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Secure MRI for TATs*.

Paradoxically, the veiled concerns about electrical cords and plastic bags have me scouring my room for potential anchor points.

I imagine this is like feeling you’ve a bomb strapped on (even though you don’t) when airport guards approach.

In my study of the shower, I note that the newish curtain rail seems attached to the walls and ceiling by strong (but not too strong) rare earth [?] magnets.

The desire to test this theory is countered only by my fear that the rail may also be alarmed.

About 15 cm above the rail are plugged, serried holes that clearly bespeak a forebear.

Was this a renovation, or were even grimmer forces at work?

The shower head is cylindrical, but so angled and embedded that only a slim, slippery crescent protrudes.

Around it, eight tiles that don’t quite match the rest.

The taps look like recessed Alessi juicers, flushed with shiny steel.

I’m impressed that, while these taps couldn’t hold a loop of dental floss, they’re still easy to turn.

The lounge curtain rail, too, is fixed by magnets. I’m almost certain of it now.

This astonishing attention to detail makes my contrary mind determined to find a flaw.

A cheerless game of There’s Wally.

Eventually, I discern three ways to end myself should the occasion require.

Happily, it doesn’t.

I quietly alert staff to my discoveries,

lest they gain

currency.

* Twitchy Arty Types.

Pic by K. Kendall


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Whatever the amount, I’ll be very grateful indeed.


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The great teaspoon mystery

January 25, 2017 at 10:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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spoons-2

What’s your take?

I’m interested in tea, teaspoons and tea rooms.

So it’s with fascination that I survey the Psyche Ward’s cutlery arrangements.

All utensils are metal … except the teaspoons.

These are plastic.

And, like the medication thimbles, they swarm into non-recycling bins.

In addition to regaining mental and physical stability, I resolve to use my time in here to fathom this culinary anomaly.

After two nights, I feel up to making efforts to converse.

At least I have an icebreaker.

I approach my neighbouring patient, detail the teaspoon situation and ask what he thinks.

He believes metal teaspoons would swiftly be stolen and secreted in bedrooms.

‘OK’, I say. ‘But why?’

‘So everyone’s got their own spoon.’

While I immediately grasp this theory’s comforts, a logistical flaw troubles me.

‘So, once everyone’s got their own spoon, the ward wouldn’t need any more.’

The man looks at me, then the wall, then the hall.

‘I dunno … maybe people take ’em …  when they leave.’

I feel this is a good start.

I next ask the Mindfulness Coach why she thinks only the teaspoons are disposable.

Her firm view is that if they were metal, they’d ‘go missing’.

Given the facility’s strong security focus, I find this hard to swallow.

But she’s keen to start her session, so I take her point as a second useful datum.

Time passes at unusual speeds.

It’s 6:10 on the morning of my security scare.

I’m in dire need of two coffee and four sugar sachets.

Not tea.

I go barefoot, so I don’t wake anyone.

Padding the dim, humming passages is one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

I feel like I’m on the Nostromo, but with carpet.

Piercing the darkness are distant islands of light: the nurse stations.

I pass many rooms.

Most doors are shut.

Some cracked ajar.

A few wide open.

Black holes.

In each I imagine a fresh tragedy: awake, fretting; asleep, nightmaring.

At length, I reach the common dining room – which I expect to be empty and unlit save for the predawn.

Only the latter is true.

Sitting at her customary table is a young woman who has been nothing but friendly and helpful since I was admitted.

Before her, a set of bright acrylic paints.

To her right, a stack of white pages printed with winged unicorns.

She is so intent on colouring these that she barely looks up.

She’s been in here for two years.

So I feel both comfortable and confident about relating my quest.

Her brush pauses mid-stroke and she intones while I make my coffee.

‘You know how when you’ve put everything in the cup and you give it a stir.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, see how that plastic spoon keeps spinning, even after you let it go?’

‘I do!’

‘Well, that looks really pretty. Metal teaspoons don’t do that; they’re too heavy. So that’s why they only give us plastic ones.’

I thank her warmly and tell her that’s the best theory I’ve heard so far.

And that when I get out of here, I’ll convey her wisdom to the world.

She seems pleased with this, wishes me well and returns to her work.

Shortly before my discharge, I ask the Head Nurse what she reckons.

She doesn’t have a ‘theory’ about the teaspoons.

She knows.

But what she says next is so prosaic

it’d totally wreck this tale.

And so,

the mystery

lives on …


Got a tip?

🙂


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Much adieu

January 14, 2017 at 9:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Poor soundproofing, my nearness to the ward’s security portal  and my lack of headphones give me little option but to overhear all manner of farewells.

Here’s a particularly poignant one – modified to respect the parties, but intact in essence.

‘Goodbye, Darl.’

‘Do you really have to go?’

‘Yes; I’ve been here for ages.’

‘Can’t you stay a bit longer?’

‘I really can’t.’

‘Please?’

‘Visiting hours are over, Darl.’

‘But can’t we go back to my room, just for a minute?’

‘No, Darl; we really can’t.’

‘But what about my slippers? Are you sure you brought them?’

‘I did, Darl; they’re in your case.’

‘Should we go back and check? Just to be sure?’

‘No, Darl; I definitely packed them. I know they’re in there.’

‘Are you certain?’

‘Yes, Darl.’

‘Do you really have to go?’

‘Darl; yes. I really do. You … you really have to let me go, Darl.’

‘Do we love each other?’

‘Of course, Darl!’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, Darl; I’m sure. And now I really must go. Goodbye; Darl.’

‘I’ll see you tomorrow, OK?’

‘OK, Darl; goodbye. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow. OK?’

The man exits and the portal reseals.

The woman remains.

Frozen in silence.

She’s there for so long that I fall asleep before

her footfalls

retrace the

hall.

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.


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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.


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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.


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


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. 🙂

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