Friday, June 16, 2006


Housework day today, and the various electrical implements around the house are purring along. I have descended upon the chickens like a deity from on high, bearing fresh hay, chook food and leftover pizza, and the kittens are gamboling in the sunlight.

And hopefully a few very brief blog entries today - some sombre, some not. This is sortof a slightly sombre one.

Yesterday at work I had four people cry on me - including one waiting for me in my office when I got there and one in my lunch break - and I also had a sex worker tear off her trousers to show me (and the wordless "first day on" social worker) the scar where they took her spleen out.

Yes, the spleen normally does reside in the upper abdomen, but the spleen scar was just the first course of what turned out to be a quick tour of scars, spots and funny looking bones that took in her entire body below the heart - including a pelvis with a notch in it that she could slide a cigarette lighter into, and did. Remarkable.

But the three crying women, and one man, in one day.

First up was the pharmacist, a young, Asian female who has been hired to replace our recently fired old, Caucasian male pharmacist. She has been having a difficult time of it, partly because she has walked straight from pharmaceutical school into a morass of irritable heroin users who are used to getting their own way... and partly because of who she is and who she is not.

She is not Alan, the previous pharmacist. Alan is no longer with us because he had a habit of handing out medications as he saw fit, rather than as the script I wrote and as the legislation controlling the dispensing of schedule eight drugs suggested they should be dispensed, and when you are handing out vast doses of take-home medications to people who then inject themselves with them and die, something's gotta give. Last month it was him.

But more damaging than not being Alan, she is not an elderly man, she is a young woman, and she looks, in certain lights, almost ... Asian. Methadone clients are largely a conservative clietele - and it's always seemed odd to me that those who have been most punished by the old order of things, those who spend their lives in prison or twenty years unemployed or have spent their lifetimes working in a steel works for minimum wage and the real possibility of industry mediated death or disfigurement - these people are amongst the most politically conservative people you will meet.

And to this conservative clientele, a young person does not give orders to their elders, a woman does not issue instructions to a man, and an Asian doesn't come to this country and tell us how to live.

So, ongoing racist abuse for her, a few sggestions as to how a young woman might better meet the needs of her clientele, and a difficult time for Ms Cheok. Tears all around, and not a lot I could do but listen.

The next who cried was a friend of mine who comes up to visit me in my lunchbreaks whenever he can. He is having ECT for his bipolar disorder. He has recently been discharged from hospital (but must have frequent contact with his doctor and book in every Thursday for more electroshock treatment) and has had something like sixteen sessions of bilateral ECT in the last month and a half. They lay him on a table, sedate him, and pass a voltage of 150 volts through his brain. It is working, but the suide effects are more disabling than I had previously realised. He has profound, deeply distressing short term memory loss - he can't recognise my office, where he has visited me almost twenty times, he gets lost driving to his house (and this is not normal for him), and he feels certain he commits ten thousand little social faux pas every day.

Again, a lot of reassurance, stressing that he is better than he was, and urgings for him to tell his psychiatrist about his symptoms.

And two other crying people - one of whom was trying to get her kids bck and another who was still on methadone five years after she'd sworn she'd give it up by Christmas.


Blogger Benedict 16th said...

I usually get things in runs of three*

There is a really good pharmacy in the deep south really well kitted out for the 'done clients.
They even have a special "blue room" where the clients can come in off of the street and not go through the pharmacy.
There is a svelte young asian pharmacist on 1 in 3 and the number of clients who really dislike her has always surprised me.... hmmmm

ECT gives me the heebeegeebees, one patient of mine who was seen by Dr Bossman (The ECT Guru of Inner Mordor Private Sanitorium) came and asked me
of my opinion as to whether she should have the ECT or not, I was unable to give her an objective answer, I just cannot cope with the idea...
I can't help it but I always remember the little old dear in the Returned Soldiers Hospital when I was a student, who was having a series of ECT...
On her good days she would cry as she was lead to the ECT room. S'funny, I can cope with blood and guts and horror stories
but ECT** just creeps me out.

Had an interesting hyponotherapy visit today (on me not by me), I'll tell you about it when I
can actually sort out what happened myself.

Keep up the great posts, they certainly evoke strong images

* 3 Gardener's syndrome in 1 week - I haven't seen it before or since (other than those patients coming back occasionally)
** well okay ECT and stinky baby nappies

9:09 PM  

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