Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Mad Doctor - a true story not for the weak of stomach. (Part 3 of 4)

` Well, part two was definitely not nearly as traumatic to write about than part one - that was really the most frigtening experience I could have ever chosen to write about.
` Now, where was I?

` Oh yes, I was lying on the thin slab of foam, which bent up so sharply around me that the fitted corners of the sheet had probably instantly slid from its slippery plastic edges - which turns out to be the type of thing sheets do on plastic-covered pieces of foam.
` In fact, I spent the next three days on the plastic-covered foam, enduring stinging injections at regular intervals, barely able to move and totally unable to eat: Not only was the pain raging through my mouth, sinuses and ears intensely enough to keep me from laying my head sideways on my pillow, not only did my uvula feel as if it would be ripped off every time I tried to swallow, but I just couldn't open my jaws. They seriously wouldn't move any further than was necessary for tooth-chattering.
` In fact, my teeth tended to chatter like mad - especially because I had developed a chill - and the only facial expression I seemed to be capable of was a perpetual grimace coated in lukewarm blood-spittle.

` The first time I tried to get up was the dreadful morning I'd arrived. I was too dizzy and weak to be coordinated enough to walk - my mobility was actually worse than it had been while I waited in the Emergency Room. I halfway crawled to the bathroom - which was just behind my bed, on the other side of the door to the hall.
` I happened to look up out at the hallway to see a woman with dreadlocks standing there. I said to her something like; "I can't seem to get up this morning."
` "I suggest you try," she said, with a Jamaican accent.
` The 'Jamaican Lady', as I referred to her, seemed to be more or less a bitch, though she did change my sheets every day. That was good at least, as I had a habit of peeing on them once a day from not being able to get to the bathroom.
` She even gave me extra blankets for my chill, which helped me feel less cold. She said I was burning up and probably had a bad fever, but I couldn't take the extreme coldness and shivering on top of everything else. She also gave me these little boxes full of a chocolate supplemental beverage called 'Resource', which I was to drink through a straw despite the fact that it gave me what the nurses there called 'dry sockets'.
` It must have been the second or third day that I was sprawled out on the foam slab, surrounded by my bunched-up fitted sheet, when an actual medical professional came to see me. I was trying to distract myself from the pain by listening to a television set burbling in another room and scraping the caked blood off my neck when a woman with short, gray hair came in holding a clipboard.
` Other than raw sensory information, I remember very little of this incident. I had just been injected with a sedative, so my speech was especially slurred and the only thing I could think of was the pain, the flashbacks, and the fact that I felt too hot and too cold at the same time.
` I tried to tell the doctor that I needed some painkillers and someone to talk about the incident with Benninger. She didn't seem to want to listen to it herself, however, and soon left me to my suffering.
` Well, at least this wasn't quite as bad as having labor contractions for no discernible reason and then being screamed at for it. Nevertheless, it was still somewhat overwhelming.

` A little while after this, I was given some kind of pill, which I took grudgingly with some more Resource. Eventually, I managed to pathetically crawl from the tangle of bedclothes on the floor and get to the bathroom this time. Bracing myself on the sink, I was able to stand high enough to glimpse myself in the mirror.
` I was a mess.
` My face was solid brown with dried blood from the nose down, and my hair resembled some type of bird's nest. Not only this, but I also smelled of a mixture of rotting chicken fat and urine, and my mouth positively reeked of blackened flesh and blood.
` That day, I actually felt quite priveleged to be able to use the bathroom like everyone else rather than pee on myself. I was also somewhat grateful for a severe intestinal blockage I'd had for several days.
` Luckily, I managed to get myself cleaned up before my mom walked into my room, to my great surprise. I don't remember anything about seeing her other than my schizophrenic roommate practically shoving a scrap of paper with a phone number down her sweater in fear that someone else would see this transaction.
` Also, she'd said that Phil and Rhonda were coming soon - which, in fact, happened shortly after she left. It was odd, and I think it was because I'd just been put on this new medication. They seemed familiar at first, and then they didn't, and then they did. Never in my life had anything like that ever happen, though I can remember nothing else about this encounter.
` Phil told me later, however, that he'd talked to as many people as he could about me, and they seemed to think that I was some kind of hopeless mental case - hence my being held in the critical ward. These same people also looked shocked to learn that he was my boyfriend. He said; "She's not crazy, and the reason why she says she was tortured by a surgeon is because she was!"
` This was evidently news to those people, who were certain that I was schizophrenic. And, after Phil came in to visit me, he walked around a natural foods store called Wild Oats, feeling awfully guilty that he was capable of doing so.

` After the third day - the day on which I'm fairly certain my mother, Phil and Rhonda showed up to see me - I was able to get up and shamble around fairly well. A large part of the reason for this improvement was that I felt so helpless that I stopped calling out for painkillers. That stopped the nurses from injecting me with sedatives - which burned quite badly when they spread throughout my body.
` Yes, I had been officially broken by this mental hospital, which was really something I was quite sick and tired of. One of the first things I did, however, was find the large open area at the end of the hall, which had a television set and many lobby-style chairs occupied by the other inmates, a motley crew I'll get to in a few paragraphs.
` Beyond this area was a glass wall and glass door with a hinged window just to the right of it. I swung the window in and stuck my head through - which rather reminded me of Mister Ed. Accordingly, I was in fact treated like a talking horse - not seriously at all.
` I demanded strong painkillers, was denied them, and so I demanded to speak to a doctor, which I was also denied, and then I demanded a therapist, and was denied this as well. So, I blew up and started on about how much I couldn't stand the pain, how much I couldn't stand being denied my rights to medical treatment as an American citizen and how sick I was of being treated like I wasn't. "I'm a human being for god's sake!" I screamed.
` This earned me about three faceless people bursting out of the door, yanking down the back of my pants, and administering another stinging shot into my quite sore hips.
` For probably about a half hour after this, I did nothing but sit on my bruised buttocks in despair, bitterly weeping and drooling blood. Apparenly, the glass wall here was used much like the one at the primate house at the zoo, and there was nobody to ask the animals what was on their minds, despite their ability to speak.

` And yet, as I was in the same cage, I did learn to talk with the other animals. My roommate , Theresa, seemed to actually be quite normal most of the time, and even showed me how to lay towels on the floor to keep the water from coming out of the shower. (Yes, there was no barrier on the floor to keep the water from flooding the entire bathroom floor - but then, my showers were always quite short due to my chill and a consistent total lack of hot water.)
` I also learned that Theresa had made the sparkly blue thing she wore over her hair, and that she's been in a lot of very traumatic situations. Even so, I didn't have many problems communicating with her.
` Like the time she got me up in the middle of the night, teary-eyed, cupping my slimy face in her hands and telling me that her husband and children were being shot and we were next. She suggested we move my bed across the door, apologizing for wanting to barracade me in the room with her, though I decided to act 'the brave one', and scout out around the hallway.
` I said; "I don't see or hear a thing. Everything's okay."
` And just after this was actually when I first really paid much attention to Christina, a beautiful young woman with a head of long, wavy and vivid orange hair. She was still awake - as usual - walking around the TV area. Unable to sleep, I sat down in a chair and, being given pencil and paper by my mother, wrote down the many things she had been saying that night, which were punctuated by tosses of the head with what sounded like the snorting noise a horse makes.
` I noted that she was talking about some sort of business with magical eyeballs that could be put into one's eye sockets. It starts:

` Seeming to reassure someone in a rather monotone voice; "I have been doing this for two days straight. This is my job. This is my job." Then, another, younger-sounding voice; "Seriously, dude? Seriously? I love you dude." Then, the other voice; "Oh, get out, quick! Hgh! One down. Hgh!" "No, seriously! You get it out, you did."
` And then, a not-very happy voice: "Christina, this is Onyx!" Then, presumably whichever one Christina was; "Toss 'em back down to the devil and pray. Toss 'em back down to the devil and pray. I will never put them in your face again, Onyx." And Onyx said; "Free me from hell and I'll keep my promise." "If you keep your promise, I'll keep mine. Hgh!"
` "Yes we will! Yes we will. Yes we will. They can see the scissors. They can. They can see the scissors." "Christina, I don't want them getting them right now."
` Wellll... maybe I wouldn't talk to her just yet. But the next morning, I was once again shambling down the hallway, my new medication now making me shake more than ever along with my chill. Even worse, I was in even more pain because a freak menstural cycle had been somehow triggered by what I'd been through, so I had to stuff my pants with toilet paper to keep it from running down my leg.

` Luckily, it wasn't anything as bad as the contractions I used to have for reasons which still mystify me, but it was still bad enough to keep me from standing up straight. So here I was, doubled over in pain and shuffling along when the other raging schizophrenic - Vicki - a middle-aged woman with a black thing like Theresa's over her hair, came along in her usual pacing.
` "Excuse me, do you have to walk with me?" she spat.
` "Uh, no." I said, through my gritted teeth.
` "Then get outta my way!" Over her shoulder, she added; "We'll see what my father has to say about this!"
` Yes, Vicki was not fun to be around due to her aggressiveness. Luckily, her hallucinations tended to grab her attention away from me.
` Over in the TV area, I saw - wearing a tee-shirt and khaki shorts - Christina, who was Still At It. She said to the floor; "Maybe we would cannibalize them if there was nothing to eat?!" and then; "I was just kidding! Can't you take a joke?" Then, halfheartedly; "Oh, ha, ha."
` Another woman of indeterminate age, dressed in spotted hospital pajamas seemed very interested in Christine. This one had a lot of puffy, brown hair, prominent, rounded facial features, and a thoroughly glazed look - a look I'd found I also had.
` She stretched out her arms and put her hands on Christine's forehead, though one of the other patients told her to leave Christine alone. She lowered her hands and dreamily reminded her; "I'm only doing God's work."
` How could I get along with any of these other people?

` The time came when Vicki was motioning to one of her invisible people, perhaps a daughter, I was thinking. "Now, turn the yellow one around," she said. "There's my gorgeous girl."
` Inevitably, the woman with the bushy brown hair came up and tried to 'heal' Vicki. So, Vicki violently shoved her away and she came and sat down next to me as I innocuously shook and rocked back and forth uncontrollably from my medication.
` I was also wrapped in a blanket from my chills, but I attempted to smile at her anyway. I introduced myself and apologized for rocking back and forth, shivering. I explained that since I'd never done that before, it must me the Abilify - a drug I later learned was causing all sorts of strange behavior in me precisely because I didn't need it.
` She told me her name was Jennifer, and we got to talking. She seemed amazingly normal. Except, of course, she believed that demons were inhabiting the heads of the most afflicted of us.
` Really, we talked about all kinds of perfectly normal things, though at one point, she twisted around and clutched her back, saying; "You know. My back really hurts in this one spot, I think it's because Vicki hit me. Did you see that?"
` "Yeah, I did." I said, "She looked really pissed. Too back you can't do that oo-ooo-ooo.... that... healing stuff on yourself."
` She smiled genuinely and said, "I wish I could, but it doesn't work that way."
` "Doesn't that figure?" I said, grinning.
` It was truly amazing how rational and alert someone like her could seem, I thought, and yet be totally unaware that she was mentally ill. Meanwhile, as we were talking, I scratched the top of my nose and Vicki criticized me for not using a tissue. Luckily, I didn't have to respond because one of her hallucinations had distracted her.
` Surely, Vicki was definitely not someone I'd want to talk to. I'm not sure if Christina was, either, not that she was aggressive. In fact, the only agressive thing I'd heard of was when Jennifer said that once, she was saying to Christina; "I bet you're not even aware of me, are you?" and Christina actually snapped out of her miasma of gods and scissors to call her a bitch.
` How to break the barrier of her own little world? Truthfully, I was so self-absorbed with my own pain and problems that I didn't bother to make an effort, though I kept thinking that this wrongful trip to a crazy house was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe (what else?) crazies.
` Fascinating, yes. But an unpleasant situation, nonetheless.

` Besides having to shower in a flooded bathroom with nothing but liquid soap and icewater, sleeping was also amazingly uncomfortable. My head had to be pointed straight up because my entire jaw musculature hurt like crazy, my erratic hormones caused my breasts to feel like two bulging bruises which hurt if I moved or tried to lay on my side, and yet my poor glutei were so bruised from all the injections that lying flat on my back was not a smart idea.
` Luckily, the drool pouring from my mouth was turning maroon, though the blood from my also-very-painful period caused me to have to get up every fifteen minutes and clean up.
` At one point, I was crying, so I got up in the middle of the night and swung the window in, asking for someone to talk to. The lady who was on the other side said that I didn't have that privelage. I asked who she was. She said she was my case manager.
` After much bargaining, she said she might talk to me if I was good, but first, I had to be sedated if I was to come behind the glass wall. After even more bargaining until after I stopped crying, I was still forced to agree.
` With my posterior newly stinging, she let me wait in a room behind her desk. I sat on a bed with restraints on it, afraid to leave to go into the nearby bathroom despite the blood that ran down my legs.
` Finally, she did come back and I said; "Oh, good you're here. I didn't know when you'd be back here. Listen, I need to clean the blood out of my pants really quickly, my underwear's soaked, it'll be like thirty seconds, it's just... I should have done it earlier, but, I didn't know when you'd come... I really do need to talk about this, and I thank you, you're the first person who's ever offered to talk to me since it happened."
` She sighed, rolled her eyes and said; "I don't have time for this," and walked away.
` I waited for her to come back, but when I came up to her behind her desk, she was still busy with whatever she was doing. She said she wouldn't talk to me because she had too much work to do.

` The next day, I think, someone else behind the desk showed me how to use the red phone in a which sat in a little scarcement in the hallway. It had no numbers in its dial - you had to ask for someone to call the number for you. So, I asked them to call Phil's number.
` He picked up the phone, glad to hear from me, and started telling me how the mental hospital I was in was about the greatest in the state, and that it should be no time until I got to the upper level.
` I was like; "What do you mean?"
` He said; "There's an upper floor, too."
` That was new to me. "Really?" I said.
` "Well yeah, when you come in. Don't you remember going through all those locked doors, before you got all the way down where you were?"
` "Phil," I said, "I came in through the double doors by my room. In the middle of the night. I don't even know what the place looks like from the outside."
` He proceeded to tell me how things weren't so bad upstairs, and that I'd be able to get out if they could see I wasn't a threat to anyone. "You're in the section reserved for dangerous people," he told me.
` Well, that was comforting. But then, I realized, the only direction I could go was up! And so, I spent the next I-don't-know-how-many days working to get myself the privelage of not being considered dangerous.

` Next time, we'll see just what I wound up working for, in Part Four of The Mad Doctor!


cassie d said...

your story is amazing! you're such a good writer! i can't wait to see what happens in part 4!!!!

S E E Quine said...

` Part 4 is coming right up!