Myself, Cindy and Ariel often sat outside the main entrance of the hospital on concrete steps. Firstly, because the cafeteria smelt like poop and secondly, because the Canteen only sold Food Poisoning. The psychiatric patients on the second floor often looked down at us sitting in the freedom and tended to take a liking to me and would wave at me constantly.
I kept seeing the same patient for a couple of weeks in a row. He would wave at me every time he saw me and he would gesture over and over that I must come up and visit him. No thanks, not ready to be murdered today! I hadn’t seen him in a while. I thought that maybe he was discharged. Or knocked-out by a tazer or all the anti-crazy pills. Or sitting outside my bedroom window right now, watching me.
A Psychiatric Ward in a government hospital is very interesting and very scary. Another nurse and I would occasionally sit outside the Psych Ward during a tea break. We would sit watching the patients through the security bars, walking around expressionless, we’d take photos, prod at them with a pole.. That sort of thing. Joking!
These patients often tried to escape through a locked gate (#logic) but this didn’t turn out well because security guards seriously beat them down with batons. If the patients weren’t running at the gate like a battering ram, they were running up and down the corridors with security guards chasing after them. They were pretty fast.
Once, I had to enter the ward ON MY FREAKING OWN. I walked in and a big, sweaty man ran straight up to me, introduced himself and gave me the biggest hug. IT WAS THE GUY FROM THE WINDOW THAT USED TO WAVE AT ME. He smelt like baby vomit. He then grabbed my hand and gave me a tour of the place. “This is where we eat, this is where we get tazered, this is where we can smoke, this is where the elephants eat the pineapples..” I’m pretty sure I had a couple tears running down my face at this stage. All I could think was “I don’t want to dieeeee!”. I eventually got away from baby vomit guy and walked slowly towards the nurses station with my back against the pale gray wall. The really crazy patients were locked in their rooms behind bars and all I could hear was their simultaneous screaming and laughter. I got really spooked and vowed never to return to the place that my nightmares are made of.
Little did I know that a year or two later, I’d actually be working in a male lock-up ward in a fully-fledged psychiatric hospital, where I’d really have to confront my fears. And my dislike for vomit.