During my six month thrown in at the deep end crash course in Mental Health Nursing two cases stick foremost in my mind, one a woman in her late forties and a man in his mid thirties.
The woman in question had been in hospital for most of her life since she was a teenager, when I first met her she was on Charnock Ward at Chorley on level 3 observation when allowed out to smoke in the common quadrangle. I initially broke the ice by calling her ” Whispering Tommy ” as every time she opened her mouth she shouted, and soon formed a good relationship with her. Once I had gained he confidence she told me that a guy called Dugdale had kept her as a sex slave until one of the guys raping her ( Durkin ) got her pregnant and had to marry her. When her child was born it was immediately taken away from her as she was deemed mentally unfit to look after it which in turn made her mental heath worse and put her into hospital.
She had attempted to return to living in her home town community but when she went down to the town centre shopping she regularly saw Dugdale riding around in his posh car. She also lived on a busy route to a local secondary school and the passing kids would taunt her, probably because she dressed old fashioned and like myself was not too bothered about looking scruffy. In a couple of weeks after me gaining her confidence she was off Charnock intensive nursing and onto Yarrow, thereafter soon allowed out down Chorley unaccompanied. However, she was reluctant to return to the community in her own town so after some encouragement from me she agreed to move into sheltered accommodation in another Lancashire Mill Town some distance from her original home.
When I first met the aforementioned man he was completely wild and I can’t exactly remember whether it was before or after I nicknamed him Darth Vader when he tested me by attacking me with an improvised flame thrower. I was sat at the bench in the quadrangle when he came up about eight feet away and lit the spray from a deoderant aerosol with a lighter pointing directly at me. It was hot but I was uninjured and I almost instantly reported it to the staff who subsequently called in Five Police Officers to arrest him yet they went away empty handed and no nurses were harmed. He subsequently absconded and ended up jumping off a 30ft building despite being counseled by one of the best Healey nurses not to do it, breaking his back, knee and sustaining an injury one might expect on someone who had been struck on the back of the head with an iron bar.
When he came back to the ward he was sporting a neck brace, pot on his leg and a dressing on his head wound, he soon disgarded the neck brace, then smashed the pot off his leg with a rock. We soon became best of friends and one day he opened up to me about the kid who he had with his girlfriend had contracted meningitis and lost its fingers on both hands. I suspect that may have made him turn to the bottle to drown his sorrows, it would appear that alcohol was the trigger for him to turn from Dr Jekyl into Mr Hyde. I did quiz him about the flame thrower incident yet he had no recollection of it, likewise other occasions when he had gone completely crazy after the common denominator alcohol consumption.
That will suffice for now but whilst on Healey it became clear to me that many of the worse cases ( including OCD ) were due to the patient suffering from an unspecified and undiagnosed infection. I also encountered the Blackburn Flasher but that’s another story, my favourite Robin Williams film was The Awakening’s even if my blog has more in common with Good Morning Vietnam !