Friday, February 17, 2006

So it began

After my initial worries faded, I relaxed a little as we toured the ward. Most of the patients, about a dozen, were sitting on chairs or benches and watching the television. Few even looked up as we entered and locked the door behind us. Except for a few oddities, the ward looked like all of the others in the hospital. But those differences were telling. The windows had bronze screens on them, on the inside, and designed to absorb a blow to them without breaking. The beds didn’t have the usual wheels on them and the frame legs sat directly on the floor. Wheels could be weapons. The tour didn’t take long and then I was asked if I wanted to move over to work this ward permanently? Sure. Why not?

And so began my final year in the Navy; working on a maximum security psychiatric ward. And it was easy…far too easy. Since our ward was locked, most of the hospital staff stayed away from us. This led to some pretty relaxed duty.

A few of my fellow corpsmen would take naps whenever they felt like it, disappearing into a “quiet room” for a snooze on the mattress. “Quiet rooms” were the Navy version of a padded cell. The walls were padded and there was a lone mattress on the soft floor. These were rarely used so they made a great room to sneak into and nap for awhile. (No, I didn’t…honest!)

We also had a Tub Room, where we could put violent patients into a warm tub of water, where a canvas covering over the tub held the patient in place despite their struggles. The warm water would soon slow them down…that and the injection of Stelazine!

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