Sometimes I reckon I am quite the psychiatrist, even though I certainly am not. Those of us in the medical profession know the persona a psychiatrist needs to possess……pause…… And let me just say, it’s a funny one. In fact, psychiatry is my favourite speciality. Let me tell you why.
I happened to be roaming around the casualty halls (more like sweating and running) on a Thursday evening. We love Thursday calls because that means a post call Friday which may to some translate as a “long weekend”. I don’t know who started this absurd rumour or maybe just needed something to be happy about in the medical profession (since there are so few) and in turn started to sell this dream of a “long weekend” to the rest of us.
While Actually, it means a busy Thursday, packed with the overflow of the midweek cases and yes, a Friday morning spent recovering from the previous sleepless night and then a hung over Saturday recovering from the Friday you spent sleeping and the Friday night you spent awake.. You get me?
I can go as far as saying Over night shifts are a health hazard. The adrenaline keeps you up all night and you spend most of the next day sleeping, albeit with the ring of your heart in your ears. But then your sleeping habits have changed and your circadian rhythm is swearing you for the chaos you’ve created..
But i digress.
So anyway, i was seated plump on my behind waiting for the chaos to ensue when a young gentleman came in with an ambulance accompanied by a paramedic, but he was…. walking!?
It can’t be.
I instantly start looking for the gunshot. I begin cutting his shirt wide open when he stops me just as I placed the scissor to the fabric. This confused me. No gunshot? No stab? No dying?
Then he did something that began to irritate me.. he whipped out his cellphone and began violently texting with his arm outstretched searching for signal.
I was furious.
You see, ambulances are reserved for people who are experiencing a medical emergency. If you are able to walk and talk and look for cellphone signal, i can exclude that 99.9999% recurring of the time, you are a very stable patient. Yes your rash is itchy or your nose is blocked and yes that is important to us, but no, that does not warrant you to call the ambulance. Especially with petrol being R16 a litre.
My first encounter with him made me very skeptical and I decided he wasn’t actively dying so I could be perturbed. He appeared to be completely fine. I assessed his vitals and became even more confused as they obviously turned out to be normal. My suspicions were confirmed.
“Boet, whats the problem now? Why did you call an ambulance when you can walk and take your own transport tomorrow morning?” I probed (almost shouting now).
“Doc, you dont understand…”
He looked around as if there were unsuspecting thieves after him. He stepped closer to me and whispered in my ear while I attempted to move back, but found myself backed up against a cold drip stand.
“Listen to me doctor. You have to believe me when I say There are people out there trying to EAT me. I saw them behind the trees in the shadows. They are trying to kill me and they want me for my meat. oh and im not crazy!!!” He whispered barely audible, just for good measure.
I looked at him waiting for the hidden cameras and Leon Schuster to jump out at me. I wondered if I looked presentable.
I stared at him side eyed for a moment. Things instantly fell into place for me.
This must be a psychiatry case which doesn’t always present the same way as a usual emergency would but nonetheless requires urgent attention.
“Eat you? Like how? Please explain what you mean” I asked, trying to investigate his cognitive function (or lack thereof).
“Heh doc, Eat me like FOOD!! LIKE A BRAAI. EAT MY MEAT. MY LEG IS A DRUMSTICK” He shouted at my face, whilst holding his leg to my face.
I almost burst out laughing.
I decided to give him a few minutes to rest, aided with some anxiolytics and mild sedatives to get him relaxed.
I turned to the paramedic who was observing the whole scenario. I needed some serious answers.
The paramedic relayed the story from the police station. This gentleman presented himself to the police station and demanded to be arrested for no apparent cause all in an attempt to remain safe inside a cell. He mentioned that people were following him and wanted to abduct and kill him. The police dispatched a crew and went searching for these suspects to no avail. So the police then deduced that he had been smoking some hard drugs and became psychotic so they handed him over to us.
As i assessed him i found him to be in perfectly good health. No previous medical , surgical or psychiatric illnesses. Never been to hospital before. Admitted to having sober habits and never touched drugs in his life (apparently).
I admitted him for psychiatric review and a drug and urine tox screen. I pulled all his bloods and awaited his results. He was obviously paranoid as hell.
When I relayed the news that he would be admitted, he thanked me profusely and granted me an apple as a token of a thank you. Something that has never happened to me before. Someone being happy to be admitted? Wow, i thought. The psychs are going to have a field day with this one.
My shift eventually ended and we parted ways. I climbed into my car, turned the radio on and began to drive home to a fresh change of clothes and a scalding shower.
“ECR Newswatch… I almost switched the station as I was no mood for depressing politics when I am post call”
Something caught my attention.
“Today on newswatch,we have a strange story on the south coast…”
The local news blared as I turned the volume up…. Catching snippets of the reporters breaking news headline.
“2 people arrested for cannabilism along the south coast, story still developing. Alleged cult activity using human meat for edible purposes under the guise of traditional medicine use”.
I braked. I was mortified.
Could it be? This guy was telling the truth!? He wasn’t actually crazy?! He really was being chased for his meat!? And we didn’t believe him, the guilt crept in.
I took comfort knowing he is in the psychiatric ward, safe at least for now.
I drove home thinking what a Looney society we live in.
Eager to go back for more tomorrow, ofcourse.