“Take down! They are putting someone in the tank! Come on!”
The nurse sprinted past me as Mickey and Minnie Mouse danced across her pink scrubs. A syringe was in her hand.
I could hear the commotion, but I did not want to see it. Not again.
Out here in the holding area I had watched what had taken place. The staff member sitting on the table, feet resting on the chair in front of her as if holding court. She had pushed buttons, egged on, taunted even… waiting for the explosion.
It was a game of sorts. Toying with “the crazies”. Like anyone was going to believe that it was not their fault.
I found myself standing outside the tank anyway. How did I get here?
The patient, or do they call them clients now, was fighting valiantly, screaming and kicking and clawing. Eventually she was pinned down and the “cocktail” was administered.
In a few minutes she was resting peacefully on the mattress in the bare room, arms and legs restrained by tan colored straps.
Staring at her through the little plexiglass window pane in the door, I could see that her midriff was showing. Dark hair was a tangled mess partially covering her face. No one had bothered to straighten her clothes.
Behind me, I could hear the high fives, celebrating another successful take down.
This scene repeated itself on an almost nightly basis in the psychiatric ER. Fragile people, brought here against their will, broken further by the system.
The next morning as we were giving check out, I was presenting this patient. She was mine. I had interviewed her initially. She was still sleeping off the drugs in the tank so I could not do a follow up interview yet.
I told the resident that it was not her fault, that she was provoked. He just stared at me for a few seconds, opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it again.
It was my last day on psych rotation. I was a student doctor. I walked away.