Marcia And The Demons
Itâ€™s coming up to ergot time again. For those who didnâ€™t catch my previous piece on ergot, you can check it out here. In a week from now, I will be back in the hospital for another round of treatment. Am I nervous? Oh yes, but, praise be to the great NHS, I am a lucky man as, without this voluntary toxification/therapy, life would be a hell of a lot harder. Thinking about it reminded me of a very distressing incident when I was on the same ward almost a year ago. Some things make you dig deep into lifeâ€™s challenges and this was one of them. If you can take a minute out of your journey towards the Apocalypse, Iâ€™d like to share a brief condensed version of what happened that night.
Itâ€™s two in the morning. I canâ€™t sleep. The ward is quiet except for the odd buzzer going and the snoring of the other four men on my Bay. A womanâ€™s voice from down the corridor suddenly gets louder. Thereâ€™s a crash and a scream, the sound of running. I get up and look down the ward. A female patient has cornered a nurse and is throwing things at her. The nurse is clearly terrified. The ward Sister appears and says â€śMarcia, come back to bed please.â€ť Marcia picks up a phone from the desk and hurls it at the Sister.
Marcia turns on the Sister. â€śYouâ€™re a Bank robber. I know you. I can see your dogs and your cats and your rats. You went out with her didnâ€™t you? You should be in a fâ€¦â€¦ lesbian mental hospital.â€ť She begins to walk up and down the ward abusing people. â€śYouâ€™re ugly. Why are you so ugly?â€ť The Sister has called security. Marcia is still shouting. She looks at the guard. â€śI can see the dogs. Iâ€™m not going out there with the dogs. They can kill me. I donâ€™t care if they kill me. I donâ€™t care if I die.â€ť The guard is confrontational. He looks like he wants to escalate the situation and is ready to jump on her. Iâ€™m damned if Iâ€™m going to let him do that. Marcia looks at him and says, â€śYou hurt people donâ€™t you? I saved people. Iâ€™ve had a good life. It doesnâ€™t matter if I die. You are going to die a terrible death. I can see it.â€ť The stand-off continues for twenty minutes with Marcia becoming more distressed. Too many people crowd around her. I am frantic with fear for this young woman. I want to help; yet I feel helpless. I understand Marciaâ€™s demons. In a way I have been there. Her world must be terrifying, the dogs so real. I tell one of the nurses that she feels threatened because she is surrounded. They need to give her space. The Sister says, â€śMarcia, if we get these people to move away will you come and sit down. You can have your own room if you like.â€ť She holds out her hand and, as quickly as it began, the incident is over. Marcia takes her hand and sits on a chair in silence, and a few minutes later allows herself to be led away by the hand, like a tired child, to a side room.
Marcia had a brain tumour. The pressure on her brain had caused her hallucinations and abnormal behavior. Confidentiality meant that the nurses wouldnâ€™t say too much, but I managed to find out that, after sedation and a change of meds, she was calm and peaceful. I will always remember that look in her eyes, the fear in her voice. I met some great people on that ward â€“ I always do. What stays with me, though, is the way a ward full of seriously sick people makes me see life and other lives differently â€“ lives all fractured in different ways, unseen by the world that swirls outside. Here are secret hidden tragedies, passion, compassion, fear, laughter, and brief but deep companionship. Marciaâ€™s anguish symbolized all this â€“ how I felt my own problems diminished by the enormity of anotherâ€™s. Marcia, I donâ€™t know where you are but I truly hope all your demons are banished forever.
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