|Life, Death, Madness - Page 9|
But those moments with Dom were reprieves from the disorder and distress that saturated the psych unit. Brad, a young man with flaming red hair, tattoos, and body piercings, stalked the halls in a palpable rage. One day, he tore 40 felt hammers out of the piano. I arrived the next morning to see them collected in a plastic bag. I felt sick.
Seth, clearly psychotic, also roamed the halls. Boundlessly needy, he knocked at my door 15 to 20 times a day before being accompanied away by nursing staff. Once, early on, when I allowed him in, he ended up on the floor under my desk. He crawled about, slithered up into my chair, and began to sift through my drawers.
I wasn't prepared for this level of personal invasion. The madness and threat I'd known in my prison work had been contained by steel doors, concrete walls, and vigilant guards. My office had been a separate haven. On the psychiatry floor, my office was simply one among numerous patients' rooms. When I wasn't intervening with them, I was fielding directives from insurance companies, physicians, nurses, administrators, and case managers, and family members. Family members were often the toughest lobbyists, each a relentless advocate for his or her particular vision of a relative.
"Release my wife!" "Keep my sister in!"
"Someone has to find my brother housing!" "Hold him until his Medicaid comes through; he's still suicidal!"
"She still hears voices!" "She's just manipulating."