The Bastard Noose: Darkness Visible
Eight days in Bay 13 of the Emergency Department. Frustrated, mad and upset at once. A mental health bed waved at me, a glimpse of the future. Titillation.
The false dawn.
A bed in another Trust had been dangled like an eight day old carrot. A carrot another donkey had got to first; hoisted from my hooves and leaving me biting at air like an ass. It all made me feel as if I had to be wailing, shitting in my hands and clapping to get the help the hospital had repeatedly told me I needed. I was lower than I had been since about day two when I had begun to adhere to my captors. Bottoming out, sad and angry at the system. I am sure my face flared when told the bed was gone.
It occurs to me at this point how hard I have tried to avoid mentioning crying, both at the time and while writing this. Tears happen. Tears hurt. After more than a week of teasing and taking bad news I fought tears back with anger alone. I still do that, I hate crying. Writing The Bastard Noose through searing acid has been horrid at times, burning like pointless existential examination.
Given, however, that loudly crying, screaming, urinating on the floor and indecent exposure were unique selling points already snapped up by other ED patients (and also wonderfully ineffective at provoking the staff) I began to feel like I needed a catch. Something snappier than simply suicidal. My brother's girlfriend came up with the best one. Shout spoilers out for popular TV shows, they'd have to move me then, surely.
Bay 13 was tense. Entirely due to my being on edge, desperately wanting the unknown. Mum looked at me nervously. She wasn’t in any danger but one more tactless doctor was going to find out if I knew how to throw a left hook while weeping. Then the curtain twitched. A medical practitioner with some guile, who I’d probably have felt bad attempting to murder. He mumbled.
A private bed in another London Trust.
Private bed is an NHS way of saying the other Trust charges your Trust for your use of their bed. It is not a slightly swankier bed with wonderful food and an en suite bathroom. Put simply, this is cheaper and more importantly a better use of resources than stewing me in the ED while patients who actually need emergency care wait for a bed.
It is exactly the same bed you’d get where you are. It just isn’t where you are.
The Bastard Noose began with me asking you not to lose sight of the people around me. I have tried to keep showing them and recognising the humans behind the experiences they were part of. I was surrounded by nice people, love, care and crazy. They all completely evaporated when the bed was real. There was suddenly nobody but me, just ghosts floating past which I couldn’t comprehend.
This is it son, you’re off. It sank in like leaving home for the first time. Ripped from reality. A sudden loss which I hadn’t expected. What I’d wanted for days, this bed, was now just a transport away and it meant leaving Bay 13 and the nurses and the routine I’d grown accustomed to.
After eight days of stasis I was to be out ASAP. It was a good thing, what was best for me, but there was no sinking in time, barely an hour between confirmation and leaving. Dizzying. I tidied again, blinked in the burning light, tried to imagine what the room would be like in the ward. What the ward would be like with only other mental health inpatients. How I would deal with it. Intangibles.
My notes were checked and I was off. Bye. I didn’t see any nurses to wish well and thank, just whisked away- no family allowed.
The transport crew were big and stocky, understanding but single minded. Not doctors or nurses but candidly professional. I didn’t want professional, my mood had now dipped enough after the teasing of a bed, even in the safety of the ED. ED was my raft. A raft I thought I hated but was my only support. My fingers forced from it. Forced from something I'd rather not be clinging to.
I wanted to be let out for a cheeseburger, smoke and potential runner. Two of them, one of me. I can out run them. Can't outrun me.
The startlingly bright Emergency Department was suddenly shut off. 9pm outside- it was dark and Autumn. Nobody alongside but the transport staff and a vehicle not dissimilar to a police van. The busiest part of London felt completely lonely, empty. I was walked in and sat down with a guard opposite and a driver in the front. Locked doors, escorted.
Reality sank in. I’m alone, I don’t know what is ahead. I don’t want to go, this is all a bit scary. It’s weird admitting that. I’d like to think of myself, to portray myself as rock solid. Unbent, unbowed. My jaw was clenched and I wanted a smoke, but it wasn’t allowed. Dimly lit, the van set off silently through nighttime London.
Falling through ice again, only this time into darkness.