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UER Forum > Archived UE Main > Tales from the Ward: Met State (Viewed 550 times)
Felonious Monk 


Location: Between Bridgeport and Branford
Gender: Male


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Tales from the Ward: Met State
< on 7/24/2008 3:05 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
********
If this is a repost, pardon me, I couldn't dig anything up in search. I know this is from a former Northeastern ward but I figured everyone might enjoy the stories!
********

http://www.goodjobsucking.com/?p=35


CRAZY DAYS AT METROPOLITAN STATE HOSPITAL - WALKING THE LINE AS CAPTAIN KIRK

On the ward, we had a color television that received a few broadcast channels, suspended from the ceiling in the day hall. On the CTG Wards (”Continued Treatment Group” — shorthand for “expected to be here forever”) very few patients actually paid attention to the television, though a handful of the more lucid ones would occasionally watch for a while. Almost nobody except visitors had the skills and inclination to actually watch it for an entire show, though occasionally, whatever happened to be on would feature prominently in somebody’s delusion.

I was in the day hall when Star Trek: The Next Generation came on, which I’d never seen before (not having a VCR, and always working when it aired.) I recognized the words in the introduction from the classic series… and pandemonium ensued. “Donna” ran to the television, screaming at the top of her lungs, “you’re not Captain Kirk!” over and over. She’s so agitated, I reach up and change the channel.

“Was that Star Trek?” yelled “Rob” from the porch.

“No!” shot back Donna, still shaking with rage. “The real Captain just turned it off!”

Uh oh.

She saluted me, adding, “Captain Kirk, you have the bridge. Shall I set a course, sir?”

Again, one walks a fine line between buying into a delusion, and denying it outright. Both paths are fraught with peril. But human interaction is a good thing, and generally people don’t like being ignored, and deflection isn’t always easy.

“Well, I don’t see a need to set a course right now,” I said, walking the line. “I think it’s best if we stay here for a while.”

“Understood,” she saluted, and marched off.

Rob sat on the porch with his new boom box and a pile of tapes, purchased with a social security check he got for disability benefits, listening to heavy metal at reasonably low volumes. Long-haired Rob looked like a heavy-metal weightlifter, and was usually lucid enough for conversations.

“Hey, Captain,” he greeted me with a smirk, having overheard Donna. “Have you seen my sweet boom box?”

“It’s great, Rob.” I was genuinely enthusiastic; it sounded great, and Rob didn’t insist on playing it too loudly or after hours. He’d bought some headphones, too, but during the day, he’d just play it quietly. He had decent taste in music, and the boom box was more expensive than any I’d ever own.

“I need you to get me something,” Rob said, in a conspiratorial aside. “It’s something I couldn’t get myself while I was out on my pass.”

At this point, I was rather assuming it would be drugs.

“I need you to get me a t-shirt. One with writing on it.” Well, that didn’t seem so bad after all.

“What writing?”

“It should say, ‘I murdered your children when you were at work,’” he said, “you know, something to wear around for my next day pass so nobody fucks with me.”

“Do they?” Rob was as big as I was, and heavily muscled. Aside from our giant hallucinating Vietnam veteran, he’s one I’d have concerns if I needed to take him down.

“Well, my dad fucked with me. ‘You need to feed the cat,’ he said. I said, ‘I’m not feeding the fucking cat.’ and a took a shotgun and BLEW IT ALL OVER THE FLOOR. ‘THERE, DAD, NOW NOBODY NEEDS TO FEED THE CAT.’”

“Uh. I’ll see what I can do, Rob,” I told him, walking the line again.

A commotion broke out; I hear female screaming in one of the dormitories, and I ran toward the sound. On the way, I passed Donna, standing at attention. “One of the crew has been possessed, Captain. There’s blood everywhere.” She salutes and steps aside.

I see the blood everywhere first, then I see one of the female patients, “Lanelle,” waving her bleeding wrists and chasing around everybody she sees. She is shouting, “I HAVE AIDS. I’M GOING TO DIE. WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.”

She very well could have AIDS, or it could be a delusion. Due to patient confidentiality, we wouldn’t routinely be told. I notice that the other MHA’s are nowhere to be found. Regardless, she needed to be calmed down and helped.

I grab Lanelle from behind and wrap my arms around her arms, being careful not to slip in the blood. The problem with our usual restraints is that they cover the whole arm, so I wrestle with her as I ponder what to do, talking calmly and keeping her off balance.

Donna appears before me. “Orders, Captain?”

“Go to the nurse’s station, tell him we need a gurney and we have a patient with bleeding wrists.”

“Aye, aye,” Donna salutes and runs off.

Moments later, two MHA’s arrive with a gurney. We strap down Lanelle while the nurse puts gauze over her wounds. “Does she really have AIDS?” one of the MHA’s asks the nurse, trying to avoid the blood Lanelle and I are covered in.

“I don’t know,” says the nurse. “Try not to drink any blood.”

The wounds don’t look too bad, but per procedure, the MHA’s take her away to be examined by a doctor, and the nurse follows. This leaves me alone in the ward. “Orders, Captain?” says Donna, standing at attention nearby.

Screaming breaks out in the day hall, male and female shouting. Oh, shit. There’s still blood all over the dormitory. “Well, Donna, maybe you could see what you can do about cleaning this up, I’ll be back,” as I run to the day hall.

One of the women on our ward, “Clara,” is a very large woman. By that, I mean she’s both quite tall (probably around 6&#8243; 3&#8243;) and has a lot of non-fat bulk to her. She never says anything coherent, but generally lurches about the ward, swinging both arms together in unison.

I round the corner in time to see Rob punch her, hard, in the face, while she swings her arms, clubbing him in the head. “Don’t fucking touch me!” Rob yells, and she’s shrieking incoherently. I hope that if I restrain Rob, she’ll calm down, so I encircle him in our take-down hold, dragging him backwards, as fast as I can get him out of range of her fists. Rob struggles, hard, and we’re too close. ”

“Listen,” I said in Rob’s ear. “If you let me get you to the restraint room, I promise I’ll get you the shirt.”

“Really?” he says, relaxing in my grip. I pull backwards hard to get him out of Clara’s range. She’s still swinging, but not at anything in particular.

Rob walks with me back to the restraint room, and I’ve got him strapped down, sitting outside the room, filling out incident paperwork for Clara’s black eyes. Meanwhile, Donna has managed to clean up all the blood; the ward is spotless. When the nurse and MHA’s return about 10 minutes after they left, they are amazed.

“How the fuck did you restrain Rob by yourself?” asks one of the MHA’s.

“How did you manage to clean up all the blood?” asks the nurse, inspecting the dormitory. “I don’t think it’s ever been this clean in here.”

Donna gives them a smug look. “He did it because he’s the real Captain Kirk. There’s only one, and the sooner you understand that, the better off you’ll be.”
A week later, I handed Rob a paper bag containing a t-shirt silk-screened in capital letters, “I MURDERED YOUR CHILDREN WHILE YOU WERE AT WORK.” Despite the possibility of it being a terrific lapse in judgment, I keep my promises, and I printed it myself, in my apartment.

“Just promise me you won’t wear it around the ward, and especially not around the Christians,” I asked.

“No problem,” said Rob. “I’m going to visit my dad in a couple of weeks and I’m going to wear it. I can’t wait to see his face when he reads I’ve murdered his children while he was at work!”

He seemed so happy, I didn’t have the heart to point out that Rob is an only child. “Are you sure?” was all I could think of saying.

Rob seemed to have second thoughts, “Hmm, you’re right, he might think I meant his cat.” He thought a moment, then brightened. “I’ll wear it when I visit my mom.”

"i've been trying for almost a year to get Colfax to one of my events to give it some credibility" - bfinan0
Felonious Monk 


Location: Between Bridgeport and Branford
Gender: Male


This text is personal.

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Re: Tales from the Ward: Met State
<Reply # 1 on 7/24/2008 3:18 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
CRAZY DAYS AT METROPOLITAN STATE HOSPITAL - INTERNAL STIMULI

One day, a new patient was brought to our ward. This is unusual primarily in that most of our patients were long-term, and there wasn’t a whole lot of turnover. People didn’t often get out or leave, so seeing new faces was unusual unless it was for an extremely-rare family visit or new recruits joining the visiting Christians. The new guy was an older man, who looked like an old southern gentleman, with shoulder-length grey hair and a chin-puff beard. I don’t know if he had a southern accent, as he didn’t speak.

Paranoid schizophrenics don’t all appreciate or understand eye contact and a hearty handshake, so I left him alone. He didn’t speak, and mostly paced back and forth along the day hall, a ritual I wasn’t about to interrupt.

Our largely-Haitian custodial staff (and some MHA’s) were in the obnoxious and dangerous habit of speaking French to each other on the ward. A normal person not fluent in French might have suspicions that they are being talked about. To a paranoid schizophrenic, this is not only an absolute certainty, but it provides proof of a conspiracy against them, feeding into any number of delusions and agitating them beyond belief. For this reason, the hospital had a strict English-only policy. The policy was sometimes just ignored, with the predictable result that French-speaking Haitians tended to get attacked at an alarming rate.

On more than one occasion, I found myself rescuing one or more Haitian rejects. It pissed me off and I wrote them up. Knowing the patient was set off unnecessarily may have led me to be even more gentle when I restrained a patient, even though I might want to punch the jerk who should have known better. I never did, of course, though I’ll admit being pretty slow on the draw if the patient wasn’t in danger of getting hurt.

Sometimes, though, a patient would be set off by nothing in particular. More accurately, nothing external, as schizophrenics often had a disjointed internal dialog that could upset them or tell them to do things. This was referred to as “responding to internal stimuli,” and would appear on incident reports where a patient would appear to go off for no discernible reason. Even with medication, some patients were subject to bouts with their internal demons, so on the ward, one’s guard was never entirely down.

As I sat in the day hall chatting to a patient about one of their problems, the new guy walked back-and-forth, back-and-forth in front of us. Nobody paid much attention, though I tried to keep an eye on “the Colonel,” as I thought of him, without it seeming obvious that I was keeping an eye on him, which can be a trigger for an episode. So mostly, I listened to his feet, and didn’t look at all.

The footsteps halted abruptly near enough where I could see his feet, even looking down. A lot happened at once — he reared back, and his foot came up. With a small measure of pride, I can say that my first thought was how I could keep the Colonel from hurting himself. With a larger measure of embarrassment, my second thought was “here comes a foot right for my FACE,” and since I didn’t want to knock the guy onto the concrete, I decided to lean back to minimize the blow and get kicked in the face. Decided is probably far too strong a word, as ruling out more potentially-harmful-to-the-patient options as his leg was in motion left me with very few choices of action, most of which involved a facially-visible shoe print.

Agitation breeds agitation, so a lot of the patients started yelling and getting upset. The Colonel lost his balance with the initial blow, his fists balled with rage, body shaking, face strangely impassive. I grabbed him and we fell to the ground together. “It’s okay,” I said calmly, “I won’t hurt you.”

Other MHA’s showed up and they walked him down to the restraint room. Since I’d been kicked, I was instead sent to the nurse, who looked at the tread on my face and said, “those look like Converse All-Stars.”
As they struggled to restrain him, the MHA’s noticed dollar bills on the floor of the restraint room, which had fallen out of the Colonel’s many pockets as he tried to wrestle free. He’d apparently had nearly $500 in small denominations crumpled and stuffed all over his person, which was inventoried and placed in safekeeping to be returned to him upon his release.

I didn’t see him for a while after that, but while I was sitting on the day porch, he marched out and fixed me with a wild-eyed look. I was wary, but not openly defensive. After a moment, he sat down next to me.

“Sorry about kicking you,” he said with a sigh. “Money just makes me so crazy.


http://www.goodjobsucking.com/?p=33

"i've been trying for almost a year to get Colfax to one of my events to give it some credibility" - bfinan0
Felonious Monk 


Location: Between Bridgeport and Branford
Gender: Male


This text is personal.

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Re: Tales from the Ward: Met State
<Reply # 2 on 7/24/2008 3:25 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
CRAZY DAYS AT METROPOLITAN STATE - GETTING OUT

We didn’t wear uniforms or special clothes as Mental Health Assistants — aside from a general guideline about wearing comfortable clothing without accessories that could be stolen or used to strangle somebody, we dressed however we liked — for me, this generally meant jeans and a shirt that wasn’t too loose — which is what most of the patients wore. Most MHA’s were indistinguishable from patients, except sometimes they did slightly more work, and always had keys attached to their belt loops.

Therefore, the general assumption when walking around the grounds is that the people you see are staff. As a huge hospital, there were always people outside on the grounds here and there, and little reason to pay attention to them.

As I parked my car in the lot, I noticed a large man on a Harley cruise by. I looked up to see his back as he thundered by. Nothing remarkable in that. However, as I walked from my car to the front door, there he was again, cruising along in the same direction. That struck me as slightly odd. Just as I got to the front door, I heard the familiar engine noise of an approaching Harley, and this time caught a glimpse of the driver as he sped by. It was “Eugene,” a patient on my ward — a 350 pound, 6 foot 6, hallucinating Vietnam veteran.

I hurried upstairs, and located the nurse in charge of the ward. “Hey, I just saw…” I started.

“Eugene?” he finished for me.

“Yeah. I just saw him go by on a motorcycle. Does he have a day pass?”

“Nah,” the nurse said prosaically. “One of the Christians let him out. Apparently he just scared the Hell out of her, and she held the door open for him.”

“The Christians” is how we referred to a church group who would visit the ward. Their hearts were certainly in the right place, and they offered company to any of the ward’s residents who were interested. They’d play games or read Bible verses, and were generally well received. On the other hand, they were often woefully unprepared to deal with our tougher cases, sometimes mistakenly fed delusions, and were often a focus of attacks. When they were around, I usually kept an eye on them, as there were at least a few patients they’d agitate. Occasionally, there would be a new face, and sometimes they’d simply freak out, and beg to be let out of the ward.

The week before, I’d been on duty when one of the Christians ventured from their usual table to offer to read the Bible with “Ed,” who was generally quiet on his daily dose of thorazine. She took his lack of response as assent, so she sat down and started reading. Ed listened for about five minutes before screaming “Jesus killed my parents!” and launching himself at the poor woman. I was nearby, and caught his elbow before he punched her in the face, taking him down; even immobile in my grip, he refused to calm down, so I tied him down to a restraint bed.

By the time I got back out to the Christian table, she was gone, but one of her friends thanked me on her behalf, and offered to pray for me. I hadn’t expected her to be back.

However, she had been back, and Eugene, a huge and gentle man, had startled and frightened her so much, she had let him out. He’d never shown any sign of wanting to get out, nor ever asked for a day pass, or to go out to work.

“So, where’d Eugene get the motorcycle?” I asked the nurse.

“As far as anybody can tell, he stole it. He was a mechanic in Vietnam, apparently,” explained the nurse.

“So… Are we supposed to go get him? Or call the police?” Nobody was chasing him when I saw him, or, for that matter, appeared to be paying attention at all.

The nurse shrugged. “Well, you know Eugene. Unless he’s having an episode, he won’t hurt anybody or himself, and he’s really not capable of living on his own. Besides, he’s a volunteer, and he’s on the DNR list.”

Surprisingly, most of our patients were technically volunteers. It was more rare to encounter a patient who had actually gone through the legal process of being committed. Being a volunteer didn’t mean you could come and go as you pleased — you could fill out some paperwork, and you’d be released in 48 hours if there were no objections. The trick was that an objection was automatic, and the process of commitment would begin — so there was a class of patients who would apply to get out, then withdraw their request when threatened with commitment, often assured that they’d be released when they were truly ready.

Another class of patient included people who didn’t seem very dangerous, and for whom the hospital was a sort of home — people who would otherwise be mildly deranged homeless, living on the streets. Many of these people were on a “do not report” list, which meant that if they escaped or left the hospital, nobody made a fuss. They’d be granted a day pass and wander off, and nobody would look for them or report their loss to the police. Usually they’d be back some time after their medication wore off, a week to six months later, usually on their own, and occasionally brought by the police.

The nurse continued, “he’ll probably put the motorcycle back and come in when he gets tired. Hopefully whoever owns it won’t call the police, that would just mean more paperwork for us. Hey, why don’t you take a patient outside who hasn’t been in a while, and you can kind of keep an eye on Eugene, just in case?”

“Sure,” I said, and got about ten feet from the nurse’s station before “Melvin” drew me aside. Melvin was shy and quiet, slight of build and older, and I hadn’t talked to him much before.

“Do you think I can go outside?” he said hopefully. “I haven’t been outside in fifteen years.”

“Really? Wow. Sure, of course,” I said. “Let’s go.”

Melvin and I walked out and sat on the lawn. We watched Eugene buzz by several times, while Melvin smiled contentedly and picked blades of grass.

“So, Melvin,” I said, conversationally. “How come you haven’t been outside in so long?”

“I can’t get a pass to go out by myself,” said Melvin sadly. “And nobody will ever take me.”

“That’s … well, that’s too bad,” I replied. “How come?”

“Well,” he began, and hesitated. “I killed an MHA. Buried him in the woods over there.”

“Uh. Really?” I was a little surprised that nobody had mentioned this to me, but then again, I didn’t tell the nurse who I was taking outside, and we did have a number of dangerous patients on the ward. It could be true. It might be that the hospital never even found out what actually happened. It could also be a delusion, but even then, if he thought he’d done it before, he might try something “again.”

“Yeah,” he said, a trace of regret in his voice.

I briefly assessed his small stature and thorazine-dimmed reflexes, and decided I wasn’t any worse off with him one-on-one than I was when vastly outnumbered in the ward. Eugene buzzed by a few times before Melvin spoke again. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I like you.”

Eugene went by a few more times. “It’s good to be outside,” Melvin said, standing up. “Do you think you’ll ever take me out again?”

I thought for a moment. “I don’t see why not,” I said honestly, “I’ll check with the nurse next week to see if we can head outside for a while again.”

“Even five minutes would be great,” said Melvin, as we went inside.

About an hour later, I looked up to see Eugene looming through the glass on the other side of the door. I walked over and unlocked the door for him, and stepped aside as he came in.

“Ran out of gas,” said Eugene.


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"i've been trying for almost a year to get Colfax to one of my events to give it some credibility" - bfinan0
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Re: Tales from the Ward: Met State
<Reply # 3 on 7/24/2008 4:11 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Nice find, these are great stories. I am reading more of them now from the website. Too bad I missed Met State before it was demolished. It sounds like quite the place.

Crazyman 


Location: somewhere in Missouri...
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Re: Tales from the Ward: Met State
<Reply # 4 on 7/25/2008 12:25 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
I worked in a dementia unit about ten years ago, and while none of our patients were quite this bad(we were technically still a nursing home, although most of our patients were 40-70), this really brings back some amusing memories! Thanks for the stories and link-I'll have to see if there are more of these stories over there!

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me - they're cramming for their final exam...
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Re: Tales from the Ward: Met State
<Reply # 5 on 7/25/2008 3:16 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Great find.
I never worked in a ward and was never a patient in one, but I had some friends who were a bit off.
I went to Quinlan high school and in my sophomore year I had Ag class with a guy who 2 years earlier had planned to kill everybody at our school columbine style at first i thought he was pulling my leg after all he was a nice guy and as long as i new him he was my friend. Well one day I learned from one of the teachers there that his story was true. She told me how he made a threat to another kid and that they had found a list on him of people to kill. She also told me of the guns they had found buried in his back yard and how he was committed for a year. So I asked him about it the next day he didn't seem bothered by talking about it. He told me that a lot of the kids where assholes to him and that he hadn't planed on killing any of his friends. So i had to ask him "I am I on your list?" he turns to me with a funny look in his eye and says "If I killed you who would make fun of the hicks in the ag department with me." At the end of the year he graduated and I never saw him again.

I had another friend who was always depressed. Sometimes I thought hes was just pretending in order to get attention The reason i thought that was because whenever he was feeling really bad I would do something crazy to make him feel better. This one time I drugg him out at 4am with a wed eater to the center of Greenville where the main road in town crosses via a bridge over a highway. Well theres small fields of grass that can be seen from the bridge the biggest of which was a couple of acres. The next hour and a half I spent wed eating our names into the grass in 50ft letters. The next day when our mums where driving across the bridge i pointed it out to them. My father was little upset but my mum though it was kind of creative.
Well it turns out that my friend wasn't faking it after I left home to attend school here in Dallas I got a call that they had put him in Glen Oaks. He stayed there for 2 weeks. I go back and visit every chance i get. They've got him medicated now and hes become boring he goes to bed early every day and hes worse off than ever. I like to think that my crazy schemes help him out, but I don't get to see him much any more.

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