Sunday, February 27, 2005

Neap Tide

Well, things are back to "probably slightly better than normal".

I feel a bit embarrassed about what I wrote, which is normal. Maybe it's even good, I don't know. I know when I started this I believed it would only work as a completely spontaneous thing, every time you have a thought and some time you sit down and bang something out. It's not going to "work" if you go back and edit it.

Lord knows what "work" means.

Anyway. The tide of neurotransmitters that mediates the moods has turned. It's a weird mental image, a clear sea of complex chemicals inside my skull, rising and falling, rhythmically exposing and covering outcroppings of nerves like rocks. And I don't know what the moon is in that analogy, the thing that controls the tides. But whatever it is, the tide has turned, and I am now up and about and back in the ED.

So, last night was fairly low key. I had two of those "maybe it's a heart attack, maybe it's not" cases where the poor bugger has to wait in the ED for eight or ten hours, waiting for the blood tests which will tell him if he's had a heart attack. There was a fair amount of police cases, including one unfortunate girl who stole a car, drove at great speed through the suburbs, crashed said car, fled and was finally arrested by the dogs and subdued with capsicum spray... ordered by her uncle, the police constable. When I went in the atmosphere in the cubicle was fairly tense, and I would imagine it is going to be fairly quiet in that house next Christmas.

That plus a man actually struck over the head with a frying pan whilst robbing a house, like in a cartoon.

And I have to go to court in a few months. I can't remember if I've told you about this, but here goes.

A few months back I saw a woman in the ED, four or five in the morning. Slim, quiet, early twenties. She was south east Asian, had dark hair dyed auburn tied back and she was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt that said "Oxford" or something. She was alone.

She'd been crying, but she wasn't crying now, she had that focussed, clear, "after the storm" look, like people get when some event has passed over them and left them changed.

There is a fair amount I can't say here, even disguised, for about thirty or forty good reasons. But she said that her husband had grabbed her by her throat, choked her almost into unconsciousness, thrown her against the wall. She'd hit her head, but hadn't lost consciousness.

Anyway, the notes indicate that we did the right things. I checked her out for injury, I think we did a soft tissue Xray of the larynx, we kept her for the required time for neurological observations. I documented how she said the police were out looking for her partner, how she assured me that the children were somewhere safe, that she was going to her mother's house at the other end of the city after this.

And I don't know that I documented it, but I gave her the talk. Most domestic violence is chronic, it's almost never a one-off. The longer it goes on the less able you are to leave. It kills people, it cripples people. The usual.

Anyhow, she went off, and that was the end of that, and I went on to the next case, and the one after that and so on.

Then last month I got an email from the police, telling me and about fifty others, mostly police officers, that some guy I hadn't heard of was pleading innocent to some unspecified charge, and they'd keep me informed.

I emailed back saying I thought I was on the wrong mailing list, and they emailed me back explaining that I wasn't.

Somehow, said the police, she and he had ended up in the same place at the same time, three weeks later, and he'd punched her to death. Twenty four years old.

Anyway, this distressed me no small amount. It still does.

It's not what you expect on your wedding day, is it?

I might leave this here. I'll be back soonish with more, probably on an unrelated topic.



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