What The Voices Said To Me

San Antonio 128

The unkempt man before me looked at the floor, his discomfort playing on his face as he hesitated. “Doc, I think I am having a problem with parasites…”

“Really? Tell me about it.” I braced myself. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.

This sort of thing never was.

“When I take a shower, these worms come out of my ass and then squirm back into my body through my toenails.” He went on to tell me how for months this had been going on. He was too scared of these worms to take a shower now.

His eyes met mine. He was terrified. Terrified of them. Terrified of me. Terrified of what I would think of him.

“Oh.” I grimaced. In my head I was thinking “Riiiight…” What I said instead was, “Well, I will want a stool sample, of course….”

He stood up, excited, and started digging in his oversized jacket pockets.

“I’m glad you said that, doc. I’ve got one better. I managed to trap some of those bastards.”

He pulled out a Mason jar filled with…

“Oh, dear.”

“Doc? What do you mean? Is it bad? Can you fix me?” Panic rose in his voice.

I swirled the liquid in the jar. There were white floaty bits.

“Do you clean yourself with toilet paper in the shower?”

“Yeah. I clean my butt crack with it. I wouldn’t want to use my face cloth!”

“Look, this is toilet paper. I can send it to pathology but your worms are toilet paper.”

He stared at me, doubtful.

“Watch.” I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a fistful of toilet paper, dampened it in the sink, and demonstrated making the toilet paper worm-like pills for him using the back of my hand.

His relief showed but I could also tell he was still not buying it completely.

“Tell you what. Stop using the toilet paper in the shower. See what happens. If it doesn’t stop, we will do the poop tests.”

He agreed, reluctantly.

I felt a nudge in my brain. Well go on! There was another question that I needed to ask but I was not sure how he was going to take it.

“Say, do you hear voices?”

Shocked, he exclaimed, “Yes! How did you know?”

“I have meds that can make the voices go away.”

He leaned forward and whispered, “I don’t need meds. I got a dog. When I hear voices I look at him. If he is still and quiet I know the voices aren’t real. If someone is there, he barks.”

Given the opportunity, people will often surprise you with their ingenuity and creativity. There is beauty everywhere, even in the mind of a man terrorized by parasitic delusions.


90 thoughts on “What The Voices Said To Me

  1. Good thing I have Puppy Cody. She not only could hear the voices (if any), but she also loves to eat toilet paper. Both problems solved.

    (Not meaning to make light of someone else’s shortfalls – I simply couldn’t resist the comment. Your post is excellent. But I do wonder how you knew to ask about voices when he was only talking about showers and “worms”?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, such a great blog showcasing an intelligent man even while in throes of a mental illness. That conversation and that dog blessed his life more than medication could. Thank you for sharing his story. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My coworkers and I are often called to deal with folks like your patient. I’m not sure why “we” are called. We try to direct them to the correct services they may need. But we always ALWAYS try to imagine what their reality is. No matter what we think, imagine the true terror some of these people live with. His comments about the dog reminded me of “A Beautiful Mind” when he realized that the people he was “seeing” were never aging.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You really touched me. I used to be a psych nurse. I ran a 42 bed lock down unit. My back was permanently injured when one of the patients picked me up and threw me across a room. I was also working at a DV shelter. I loved those patients. They were a trip sometimes. I learned from them. I learned that our human-ness never leaves until our soul goes home. I learned this by talking to them and listening. Listening was the key to my success with them. Hugs, Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, bless his heart. And how insightful and caring you were in your responses and comments. I loved his answer about the dog; it was a definite sign of intelligence from within his mental illness. And I laughed out loud when you told one of your reader that he sneaked the dog in under is coat one day. You do have a most interesting job, Victo. Hugs, N πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  6. How old was this man? And he never agreed to take medication? …Even the antipsychotics that are tested and retested to show that they lessen the times such a guy would do a psychotic break from reality? I know methods like meditation helps, but just relying on that or a dog alone is just never enough. So having bias or a total mistrust of medication seems to set the person up for a struggle with an illness rather than improving chances of management and recovery by including medication.

    Or I’m just saying that if a Diabetic had a total mistrust of medication like that guy in your story then the Diabetic will always do worse without medication. And the worse outcome is often death of the Diabetic’s nerves, amputation of body parts, starvation or wasting, and death of that person. So having a bias toward medication for mental illness seems to be another bias that has to be dropped. Or to me the brain makes the mind possible, and when the brain is ill it as an organ also needs medication. So like any organ the brain sometimes needs medication to manage or recover from an illness.


    • He had struggled with it for a couple of decades. Meds for schizophrenia do not heal the brain and they carry serious side effects. More often than not, meds ARE necessary. However, there are some who can function and survive despite their illness without meds. He was one of the rare few. He had been on them before and felt he did better without them. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know someone with what exactly I don’t know. He insisted he was not schizophrenic, said he dissociated. Anyway, there are two points that I would like to make. This person is one of the most intelligent people I have ever come across. And he refuses medication despite his many symptoms (hearing voices, loss of visual depth perception, etc, etc) because being as wiped out as they had made him when he took them was worse than living with his symptoms and dealing with them in his own way. I think he is very brave.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Okay. So you did give me pictures in my head that I didn’t want to see (LOL!!!),but this was very interesting and I liked it and what’s really nice is it’s not just fiction but a real anecdote πŸ™‚ (I hope he doesn’t lose his dog, though…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you mean did it prepare me for toilet paper parasites, the answer is no! If you mean did it prepare me for blogging, the answer is some. It taught me that peole are rarely what you expect them to be. In a good way. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on The End Justifies the Journey and commented:
    For some reason, I’ve been hit by the reblogging bug. This must be the week that I’ve reblogged more than once. Well, though I thought earlier that I already met my reblog quota, allow meto do this one last time for this week. I am re-sharing an actual anecdote that is both funny and insightfulL. Do yourself a favor and read on πŸ™‚


  9. This is amazing! People come up with some very interesting ways to cope. When I was in med school on my inpatient psychiatry month, there was an elderly woman who suffered from auditory hallucinations that had been present for decades. She never had a problem with them because they usually just told her how to carry on with her day. She decided to bring herself to the psychiatric emergency department one day because all of a sudden the voices started telling her to kill herself and it scared her. It was pretty amazing because she was completely functional otherwise.

    Sometimes mentally ill people are super interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That was hilarious. HaHaHa. The encounters you have are just incredible. Lol.

    “He leaned forward and whispered, ‘I don’t need meds. I got a dog. When I hear voices I look at him. If he is still and quiet I know the voices aren’t real. If someone is there, he barks.”

    Well, he is not as “crazy” as others may think them. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

      • That’s one side people fail to see about medical professionals. They receive a bad wrap, generally speaking, because they have this stereotype of controlling public policies on fees associated with treatment/care, etc. They fail to see the human side of the profession. Due to my family and several friends, I have the luxury of witnessing the human side. Readers of your blog also receive this from each of your posts

        Liked by 1 person

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