Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prison games

It is really not fun in the trauma unit.

From the broken filthy chairs we sit on, to the never-ending supply of emergencies to deal's not what one would call a healthy working environment, or a good night out.

So, we find ways of surviving the onslaught, just to make sure we don't get too depressed and blow our own brains out.

One of these ways is inventing games to play while at work.

This particular game can only be played when the police bring in a prisoner with non life-threatening injuries.

Nobody knows I'm playing the game - that would be unethical of course - I play it with myself and it's all undercover. Under the cover of my skull and inside my own brain.

The opponents are myself, and my cynicism.

What I do is, I don't say anything to the police, except asking them to seat the handcuffed patient in front of me.

Then I play the role of the doctor and ask the patient where it hurts, where it's bleeding, how I can ease suffering etc.

Standard and correct doctor behaviour.

Once I've built up a rapport with the patient, I like to ask how they got their injuries.

Note - I don't ask why they're in handcuffs - just how the injuries happened - for documentation purposes.

What follows is usually a very long story about how the patient was just minding his own business on a street corner when he was attacked, and that the police got confused and arrested the wrong guy.

The prisoner is , without fail, always incredibly polite, well-behaved and upstanding.

I listen, and take all this in. I force myself to believe everything they tell me - hoping and praying with all my heart that this is the complete and utter truth.

Then, comes the crunch point. I interview the police to hear their side of the story.

And I can tell you, they NEVER have the same story. Never.

Mostly , the prisoner was doing exactly the opposite of minding his own business and was either beaten up by the community who caught him, or physically reprimanded by the police while being arrested.

The hard part of the game is not judging the patients when they tell me their story. I like to see how long I can hold off my skepticism. It's especially hard when I examine a prisoner and find the frightening gang tattoos covering his body.

I've seen some insane things tattoed on people's bodies, but these two particularly stand out.

1: If you fuck with me I will kill your wife.

This was tattoed on this guy's FOREHEAD! It had the hangman drawing next to it for further emphasis that he meant what he said. Scary.

2: I rape for fun and kill for joy.

This was tattoed on this man's torso. I could only imagine what he'd done to his victims. Turns out he had been a criminal for many years, until somebody gave him a taste of his own medicine and stabbed him with a sharpened bicycle spoke in his spine. He is now a paraplegic and thus rendered completely unthreatening.

Karma? You've got to believe it.

Unfortunately in this bit of trauma unit fun - Cynicism wins all the time.

I have never won this game.

Which is, I think, exactly why I keep playing it, to force myself to have faith in humanity, despite the gross misbehaviour of its citizens toward one another.

I pulled that last bit out of my subconscious. I don't usually like to go there. There are things in there I've worked long and hard to keep well buried. That was just a little taste. Don't expect a full meal. If you're reading a post and there's a lot of psycho-babble - you know I've gone there and am probably hugging my laptop and blubbering in a corner.

1 comment:

Ketan said...

Lady, what do I tell you!

I may or may not become a practicing clinician in my future career, but as I came to know the typical mentality of humans (humanity, as we call it), I've been finding all this all the more thankless.

I still commend you for how you've maintained your sanity despite applying quite lenient moral standards to people than I do (sic). I'm not trying to imply that you ought to raise the standards you apply, quite to the contrary, it's much more difficult to be so forgiving and calm all the time. And as I said, I truly appreciate your mental effort for that.

TC and have a nice day!


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