Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Night at State Hospital

So.....I'm on call.

Thusfar things have been running at an absolutely breakneck pace. My medical student is also on call tonight (he? Leaves at 10. I'm telling you, Big Hospital coddles their students way too much. Yes, I admit, it was not always the most useful thing for me to sit around at 2am and watch my resident write orders, but at least we got the idea of how things work in the hospital in the middle of the night and what goes on and the difference between the big, open, during-working-hours hospital and the things that go bump in the night, if you know what I mean. I'm a little worried about how these kids are going to do when they have to be actual interns themselves. But, shocking though it may be, I digress....), and until I dropped him off with the attending doing intake, we'd spent our evening having a deep philosophical discussion on the meaning of life while I knit a sock. Which was interrupted a couple of times by the pager, sure, and once by dinner, but needless to say, it's not been one of those evenings of chaos.

So far.

I really think this cannot bode well for the rest of the night.

It's likely my very last psych call at State Hospital. Next month I'll be on call here on Saturdays for medicine, but by the time I rotate back to do either of the state mental hospital psychiatric services (i.e., men's unit or women's unit), we'll likely be far, far away at New State Hospital, to which patient transfer is slated for February. And which is like an hour away from my house, instead of ten minutes, like State Hospital. Unless I move. Which I might. But probably not by then. I dunno. Anyway, that's kind of...well, maybe it's sad. But I'm not sure sad is really the right word. It seems like a momentous sort of thing.

I'm not sure I'm going to miss it, exactly. I guess we'll see what the final setup is at New State Hospital. I'm not going to miss the bug bites I seem to acquire in the middle of the night every time I'm on call (I think there are ants in the call room, but I can't prove it. The whole hospital has an ant problem). Or the 100+ years of smelly funk that sort of permeates this place. Frankly, some of the units are sort of dumpy. But it's also old and full of history, here. There's a unique quality to this place that makes it feel like an entity all unto itself. I don't know quite how to describe it...maybe the place really is haunted, as the lore would have you believe. But it feels like that old person you see on the street, you know, the one you look at who, maybe they look a little roughed up by life, maybe their clothes don't quite match, maybe they seem a little whethered, but you look at them, and you just see a sort of ineffable wisdom, you know the stories they could tell would fill volumes and not be complete. That's sort of how I feel about this place. If these walls could talk they would pour out stories of such breathtaking depth, of joy and pain and madness and unreality and sorrow and fear, in such savage complexity, that it could overtake you. It's absolutely staggering, to think of the number of people who've passed through this place, patients and staff alike. To think of what occurred that now lays silent in these confines, happenings both earth shaking and nearly insignificant, both glorious and horrific. This place has seen so many turns of what defines "mental health", what makes up "normal", and conversely, what qualifies a person's value and worth (or lack there of). This hospital is the stuff legend is made of, and an infinite collection of things that seem tiny but are the whole world to someone. New State Hospital may be shiny and fresh and (at least for the moment) free of roaches, but what echoes in this place really needs to be honored.

Is alls I'm saying.

Hmm. Perhaps my excessively florid verbiage is a really good sign that I need to go to bed while I still can...


TimothyTang said...

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The book also sheds light on a new understanding of emotions such as Anger, Desire, Fear, Guilt, Temptation and Love.

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penguinshrink said...

Not to mention the ghosts at State Hospital...

Robin said...

You got kind of a halfway intelligent (but waaay too philosophical) spammer commenting earlier. If I got that comment, I would wonder exactly what it was about my blog that made someone pick it to post that!! But maybe you're mentally healthier than me. LOL!!

Anonymous said...

Kate- You're a great writer. :-)