Sunday, March 07, 2004

Night on the ward

I was increasingly glad I was in my own room. I was getting used to other patients wander in, though. I’d already had a man fling open my door and march in to use my loo and shower – with dressing gown on, towel and toiletry bag on his arm. He wasn’t happy to see me. Nor was the man in weird orange pyjamas who pushed open the door, shuffled in, glared at me and yelled “What the Fuck?” before shuffling away.

I could hear conversations – there was a man on the ward going onto a methadone programme, and two cheery cockneys ™ determined to be the life and soul of the ward with their larger-than-life personalities TM. In other words they were rude, irritating, and strangely nasty. Sample line: “Oi! Nursey! Nursey! Your food’s shit!”

They had a point about the food. It was bizarre. But their outright rejection of it made me determined to eat my plate of “barbecue pork”. I wish I hadn’t. It gave me the shits.

Night was worse. One old man started whimpering and shouting in his sleep – “No Tom, no! She’s all right!” and “Keep them away! I’ll hurt them.”

The response on the ward to these shouted inner demons was not kind: “Oi, Grandad! Hurry up and fucking die!”

Then, in the middle of the night, someone unhooked his bed from the machines and wheeled him out into the corridor.

The next day, most of the ward were sent home or moved elsewhere as punishment. Except for the Irish Guy they’d lost. He’d last been heard of at six o clock, when he’d switched on all the lights, announced he’d been having visions, and then left.

When they hadn’t found him after six hours, they called the police. He’d only been wearing a surgical gown.

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