The Doctor’s View: Insanity and Rowdy Patients
By Denise Kavuma, Uganda:
Aggression is one of those deplorable attributes and one never proudly admits to being violent…unless, of course, one is from an oddly specific Ugandan tribe that's nation-wide famous for exactly that sort of behavior. Sometimes though, you barely have enough time to try and find out which part of the country somebody comes from before s/he tries to see if your teeth can be knocked out in one go. Such a case happened to a friend of mine just after her maternity leave. When you're about to or have just experienced pushing something the size of a small sack of potatoes from your body, your view of danger heightens and you learn new and ingenious ways to swerve from any threat. Is it any wonder then that pregnant women and mothers with newborns have acquired this strange power where we feel sympathy for them and just offer up our seats, money, dignity and sometimes even sanity to accommodate them?
Well, that was the case on a certain Tuesday afternoon after a young man with an acute episode of psychosis came in. He'd gone through some deep grief after losing his loved ones and had become rather manic at some point, so the relatives carried him to the nearest hospital. As he was being handled on one side of the ER, my friend sat down with one of those annoyingly secretive patients and tried to take her history. This lady was not budging and was whining how every hospital she went to would ask the same questions and she was tired of being questioned like she was a criminal. She continued making a general nuisance of herself until the gentleman with acute psychosis snuck up behind her and whacked her so hard across the back, she fell from the chair. Then he continued to give her a few more slaps in quick succession as he asked her why she was still talking.
Whether the guy had developed some sort of super hearing and had heard the woman's annoying excuses or whether he'd been planning it all along, one thing is for sure, Karma can take control of whomever she wishes, that b*tch. Everybody in the ER stared in shock for a second before my friend and another female doctor in the room (both first time mothers) powered up to super-speed level and took off with the only pregnant nurse in the area, leaving the rest of the staff to deal with the situation. They huddled in some secluded area as the violent patient started yelling at the woman, asking her whether she really wanted to get treated and if so, why was she talking so much. At this point, he'd stopped hitting her and was instead pointing his right index finger so close to her face, it could have poked out an eye.
Now, what were the medics doing at this point; why were they not jumping in and stopping the fellow? Well, that's because they are not stupid. When a previously quiet patient starts morphing into a relatively realistic version of the Hulk, you don't just dive in there like a brainless Superman, you have to strategize and Batman the situation appropriately. In this case, this included calling the authorities to restrain the patient. Unfortunately for the staff, the security at that time was all of one skinny and extremely reluctant guard who said “nuh-uh” when they told him about the situation. He was the backup plan, but decided he also needed backup and went to work calling in some of his fellow guards. This, of course, took a few more minutes, during which our protagonist had moved on to bigger and better things.
Having made most of the medical staff scatter (including some steely mothers) the young fellow bounded across the emergency room, jumped onto the nurses' station table and tore off his shirt in a very Schwarzenegger-like fashion. I kid you not; he actually ripped it open like it was made from tissue paper and started yelling in Luganda: “Mulaba? Amanyi gazze kati. Gazze nnyo, n'esaati zivaako!” which translates to: “Do you now see? My power has returned. It's so strong, shirts just fall off.” It's funnier in Luganda though. He punctuated every word with a tap to the walls and would even jump to touch the ceiling every now and then.
At that point, everybody was staring with mouths agape, unable to comprehend what was actually happening. This sort of thing is not exactly what you'd expect anyone to narrate when they talk about a hospital visit. In fact, it's not the sort of thing you'd expect anywhere. (Un)fortunately, the drama was soon to end, for the skinny guard had managed to gather 6 more of his fellows and they all decided to go after the patient at once. Seeing that the gig was up the young man quickly jumped from the table, and ran for the exit, all the while, ululating in his mania. The guards caught up to him quickly and managed to restrain him long enough for the medics to give a sedative – a sedative which lasted all of 15 minutes.
They strapped him down in an ambulance and took him to the main psychiatric referral center where the staff there laughed endlessly at the small amount of sedative that had been administered.
Needless to say, the psychiatrists took over, the patient calmed down after a while and the drama ended there.
Now my friend and her fellow mothers got to develop their superpowers some more and the young man got the psychiatric attention that is sometimes needed to deal with the loss of those close to us. At the end of it all, I have an amusing story to tell you and I'm tempted to think that perhaps Karma is not that bad, after all.