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Enter My Universe

Room 110:  Seeing this patient for the first time, I greet him with: “Good morning, Joseph, what brought you into the hospital”?

 “Doc, my name is ‘Big Joe’, that’s what everyone calls me.”

“OK, Big Joe, I got it; thanks.”


Room 111:  Sarah tells me her mother hates her and so she feels so rejected that she cuts her arms and her thighs. 

 I ask her what her talents are.  Her eyes light up, for a second.


 Room 112:  “Thirty years ago I found myself in an elevator with Stevie Wonder, you know, that famous blind singer.  Well, he stepped on my foot as we were getting out.  He said he was sorry but he did it on purpose.  He’s not really blind, I know it.”


 Room 113:  “Doctor Guterson, there’s this new patient who says I should call him ‘Big Joe’.  What should I do?”

 “Call him ‘Big Joe’.”


 Room 114:  As I walk in, Rebecca is sitting by her bed, her hands folded, praying.  She turns and looks at me and says she’s been asking the Lord for peace in the world.   

 “That’s beautiful, Rebecca. I wish more people would pray.  Thank you.”


Room 115:  “All I wanted was to fly to England to visit the Queen and Ralph The Bunny but my therapist said I’m acting manic and told me to come into the hospital.

I’m telling you - the Queen is going to be SO DISAPPOINTED when I don’t show up, and I’M NOT MANIC!”


Room 116:  “Why did I try to kill myself, doctor?   Well, you see, I’ve been trying to make peace with those poets who write about the beauty of life, but then Shakespeare says this whole stage we’re in is a big nothing.  Sound and fury; sound and fury.  I mean, there’s falsities, falsities everywhere! Surely you know that, doctor, don’t you?   

 It’s all unanswerable.

 So why go on?”


Room 117:   As I open this patient’s door, Jim lunges at me, connects his fist with my nose, and then is immediately stopped by two psych techs.  A fight breaks out.  I yell to the nurses who give him a shot of Haldol and Ativan and, as Jim continues to be violent, we place him in restraints…


 A few minutes pass and, with lots of emotions flowing on the ward, I gather all the patients together in the meeting room.

As I’m holding a towel with blood dripping from my nose, I assure them that I am fine, that all is under control and safe.


Another day in paradise!


 (P.S. - please know that I have “only” been hit three times in my 28 years working in a psychiatric hospital.)

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