April 15th, 2005

Yellow head

Lost Patients

Today we had three admissions in as many hours. A fifty-something year old man, suffering from bipolar-disorder, who although English, lived in Spain and was only over here for a holiday. I thought the guy somewhat histrionic. He was shaking and clutching his head in his hands during in the admission interview. Yet was instantly fine once he'd had medication. I got the feeling that he'd got himself admitted simply to sort out his medication, prior to going back to Spain. Which is all very well, but an admission to hospital seemed a rather over the top way of achieving this. I'll be very surprised if he's still on the ward when I return next week. In his passport, he had a plane ticket for a flight back to Spain on Saturday.

A very unwell young man, recently admitted ran off on me while I was escorting him around the grounds on a walk. This very tall, quiet, preoccupied man, was admitted, probably suffering from drug induced psychosis. For days he'd been requesting to go, but the staff had managed to convince him to stay. We'd been operating a locked door policy in an attempt to keep him on the ward. So I was surprised when one of the staff nurses asked me to take him out for a walk, as he was desperate for a breath of fresh air, he claimed.

He had been out a few times with staff previously, including me, and had returned without trouble. However, this morning he ran off almost as soon as we were out the door. We were just walking past the area where they'd begun demolishing the old hospital, when he suddenly jumped through a gap in a hedge. I followed, getting drenched in the process from the rain-soaked leaves. On the other side of the hedge, beyond a high metal fence (placed there by the demolition contractors) began open fields, running towards the canal. I was astounded when arriving on the other side of the hedge, to see the patient effortlessly climbing over this fence, after which, he was off, running gazelle-like across the fields.

There was no way I was going to be able to get over the fence, so I just let him go, and used the walkie-talkie to contact the ward and tell them he'd gone. I felt a bit of a fool, but what else could I have done? Even if I'd caught up with him, there would been nothing I could have done on my own. Within minutes the response team were with me, but he'd long gone by then. Once off the grounds, a missing patient is the responsibility of the police anyway. Sure enough, a few hours later the police brought him back. When I left at four, they were just waiting for a doctor to come up and section him, as he was clearly not well enough to be informal anymore.

One of our ex-patients was found dead recently. Two junkies died after injecting heroin in a grubby toilet under the market, one of them was this bloke, who was with us briefly a month ago. I remember him as being a monster, often stoned or drunk. We couldn't do a thing with him as he clearly had no intention of ending his drug and alcohol habit. For some reason, even though he was aggressive, the guy decided he liked me and would home in on me whenever he had a problem. A rather unpleasant person, whose death was sadly inevitable, I suppose. But having said that, a grimy, piss-smelling, toilet is no place for anyone to die.