hmm. lets just say that i am idealistic. or probably it's the fault of "commercialized" media that we have nowadays. i grew up watching movies about psychotic people and the impression they left on me was that these people are either very very quiet (deafeningly silent) or very very aggressive, incompetent, unmanageable, even HARMFUL.
last Tuesday i was first exposed to a (public) mental institution for my clinical rotation as a senior student nurse. i thought i was well-prepared for everything. I dutifully read my psychiatric books (shives, videbeck, sia) for tips about what to say and what not to say. being a perfectionist that i was, everything i have to say was written on a script at the back of my mind.
my clinical instructor was very strict. we had to wear smock gowns/ laboratory gowns to make us look more professional (since we were only wearing shirts and jeans); also for protection for us girls.
you see, we were assigned to a male pavilion. the male court cases pavilion.
this pavilion caters those male patients who are mentally ill and have pleaded insanity as defense for their crimes.
now that's really scary. especially to a petite, skinny, fragile-looking girl that i am.
i was really nervous, my palms were all sweaty and i couldn't think of anything but scary thoughts. (looking back, i guess i was just plain paranoid.=D')
i was so distracted i couldn't even answer the long exam our dear CI gave us.
(SHEES, really! even if i am not distracted, i still wouldn't be able to answer the questions! it was all about,
"what pavilion has infirmary?
what pavilion has pay ward?
what pavilion receives male?
what pavilion has OPS?
who is the assistant of the assistant of the assistant chief nurse in pavilion blah blah?"
and even: "what is the land area of this pavilion?"
take note: there are about 40+ pavilions? and i haven't even seen 5 of them! how should i know??? would knowing all those things make me an OUTSTANDING psychiatric nurse? sigh!)
anyway, back to my patient.
my patient is a 50+ year-old schizophrenic (undifferentiated, chronic) who committed frustrated homicide back in late 1980s. i really gulped hard when i heard him say this. but my feelings shifted as our conversation progressed. he said that he really liked having student nurses because nobody visits him anymore (he's been there for 22 years now)and that the student nurses are friendly and gives him soap, slippers and toothbrush,which is a scarcity in the pavilion. i kept my professional mask but deep inside i was really moved.
when i looked at his "room" i thought i was visiting someone in jail. because there is no bed or anything personal. the patients sleep on the floor, and they don't get to have any privacy at all because of their large population and primarily because our government has got no funds to help out public hospitals/institutions.
this is a sad reality especially if one lives in a third world country where everyday survival is the main concern of the people. the government cannot allocate funds for the health care system because it is suffering from fiscal crisis. inside the mental institution, our patients are basically deprived. they content themselves with meagre food and facilities while outside, corrupt politicians are sooo busy corrupting money that came from my countrymen's hard labour. i guess this "cancer" has metastasized too far no doctor or nurse can cure it anymore.