Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Doctor Blog!

It has been nearly a year since my last blog. My long absence has been caused by the fact that I've been desperately busy getting my doctorate. Which I have done! I am now a doctor! Woohoo!

The rest of my time in the last month has been taken up writing a novel for the nanowrimo challenge. If you're not sure what that is, you can check it out here.

I thought as I had been away so long I would give a good chunky blog for your consideration and so here is the first chapter of said novel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying writing it!

Notes from the medical records of one Dr Peter Stubbe:
"November 1st 1810
My recent appointment to Lukonus Psychiatric Hospital has been a topic of great excitement for my wife, Bridgette, who spoke of nothing else for some months since my taking of the position. The title comes with no little respect in this community, which has been plagued with more tragic happenstance than perhaps it deserves and keeps the pressure on the walls of my cells high with the bodies of the unstable. My work is not without its dangers. I am surrounded by souls on the brink of pure chaos, an unsettling mixture of powder kegs, waiting to combust and raging firestorms who already have. I must be ever diligent not to put one type with the other, or I might get burnt myself. So far I have given my love no cause to worry; I am good at my job, as my record will testify to, and my wish to alleviate the worry of my wife encourages a great reverence for safety in me. The high level of competence in my colleagues must also contribute to my continued well being. Dr Romasanta has proven invaluable as a friend and a physician in my transition into the leading role of this establishment. I have even found time for my own private research, which I hope might bring new insight into delusion and mania (I hope to elaborate on those ideas in the future, for now I have a more pressing story to tell). In all, I have a hospital of three floors with fifteen cells on each floor, five in each of which are now double bunked. That makes sixty patients in total under my care, half of which at least are violent in their illness, yet up till now I have survived unscathed. Tonight, I fear my wife will find cause for concern.

"The run of the house caused little concern for me today. As the chief physician here I am sometimes more separated from my patients than I would like, swamped in petty administration. Today this was not the case and I found I could spare good time for my rounds and get to grips with my wards to an extent that had been denied me for a week or more. I now take all my responsibilities for doctoring on the lower floor, these being the more challenging cases and those I find most interest in. This is perhaps a selfish indulgence, but one I feel I am owed from the nature of my work and rank. Normally, I take only five cases on myself as my duties to the running of the hospital are demanding. My most intriguing case has been one of a man prone to delusions of a most singular kind. He maintains the belief that he is a godly warrior, sent to Earth to rid it of sin. He calls himself Michael, after the arch angel, but I suspect it a pseudonym. Many a time I have been unable to even approach his cell as he brandished his 'flaming sword' and swung wildly at my sinful frame. Today the man was calmer than usual. I discovered him sat quietly in the corner of his room, seemingly meditating over some terrible conundrum. I have noted our conversation from memory:
Myself: 'I see we are having a good day. Perhaps you are ready to talk?'
Michael: 'Trouble me not sinner, I have trouble enough!'
'Why don’t you tell me about it?'
'I shall not discuss the work of the Lord with a servant of the Devil!'
'Well, why not discuss it with me then?'
'I see you have your master's sharp tongue! Still even you are tame compared to...'
'Compared to what?'
'An evil we should all fear, saint and sinner alike!'
'What evil?'
'I have said too much!'
'And this evil is combated by you sitting motionless in your cell?'
'This cage can not hold me minion! I only await you to let Satan into your home!'
'And what will happen then?'
'I shall destroy him, and all his evil servants!'
'Well I shall make sure to leave Satan at the gate then. Does that put you at ease?'
'Leave your own in the cold? I think not!'
'What do you suggest?'
'Fiend! You fool me not! The Lord gives me wisdom to see past your treachery'
With this I was forced to vacate his cell as he lashed his nails out at my face. His feeble frame was all that kept me from harm and allowed me to flee his cage intact. As I moved from the bars which he stretched his blood thirsty fingers around, he cried out to me in horror that this very night would see Satan's entrance into my hospital.

"My next patient was a far less exciting case, but no less challenging and, to me at least, there were none more interesting until tonight. A man in his early thirties, he fancied he heard the voices of the dead speak to him. So fraught did their conversation become that it led my patient to pierce his own eardrums with a knitting needle, thus now his hands are kept bound to prevent him causing himself further harm. Now deaf, my usual avenue into his psyche are beyond me and the man is less than forthcoming when we try to explore more outlandish possibilities. The voices still plague him, as is made evident by his screams in the night, their being a product of his mind and not the air around his skull. I discovered the wretched creature slowly pounding his padded fists against his own head, the food at his feet untouched but by the rats. Despite his bonds and cushions he still managed to draw blood from above his eyes. I have seen a similar vision in that cell on many a night, but tonight, perhaps in an effort to ward off evil from my walls, or perhaps as I am tired and less constrained in my emotions as I might desire, I took pity on the monster. I prevented the nurses from administering their usual approximation of care to him (Nathaniel is his name) and ordered they allow me access to his cell. Despite their protests I came to no harm from Nathaniel and my tender compassion to his grief allowed him to take a small meal. If he can keep his calm in my presence with any consistency, he may be a perfect specimen for my research.

"I had intended to make way through the remainder of my rounds in a single effort but found myself disturbed from this endeavour by an orderly's report of a new inmate arriving and causing something of a scene. I was informed that my presence was immediately necessary and lost no time in making my haste to the reception area of my asylum. What I found there confounded me. The orderlies and nurses under my employ are for the most part hard and brutal men. I do not blame them, it can be necessary in this line of work and they haven't the schooling nor the emotional control that comes with the medical training that I or my colleagues have. They resort to violence and hate, where I would use logic and science, to protect themselves from the horrors that they witness on a daily basis. These are not weak men. So it will be understood when I describe my surprise at seeing a single, seemingly ordinary man hold off a half dozen of my employees without difficulty. I immediately ordered all other inmates to their cells and any available hands to come and assist. I saw in this a perfect opportunity to test my new 'pacifiers', a small innovation of mine I designed to control our more troublesome guests. It consists of a loop of rope on the end of a metal rod, the rope tied so as to tighten when struggled against. A small point lies at the end of the rod so as to press into the patient should he continue to struggle and persuade him against such agitations. I handed out the three of these devices I had constructed and bid there use against the brute that was shattering the furniture outside my office. Even with these instruments in hand, my men lacked the strength of character to risk injury in assaulting the beast. I saw that my company required still more leadership and took a pacifier up myself. The new inmate brandished a broken chair leg towards me as I approached him. I made a few test thrust with my stick and he made a few sloppy parries with his own. Another mockery of attack and I managed to disarm my opponent with a quick swipe of my pacifier. Another sharp turn of my wrist and my rope was against his neck. His struggles quickly tightened the noose around him and my invention began its work. My victory invigorated my supporters into action and soon an arm and a leg were captured in the same trap and we dragged the vicious imbecile to the floor. Despite three cold hard spikes driving into his flesh and despite his blood flowing freely onto the hard stone floor, our quarry did not cease in his tantrum and it took all our strength to keep him still. Presently, the loss of blood overcame his rage from the pain and he began to lose strength. I ordered a calming tincture to be brought to me from my cabinet and, giving an orderly control of my pacifier, moved towards the patient. I easily managed to get a hand around his jaw and started to pour the potion into his gaping mouth. I did not know if he had been more cunning than I might have allowed or if the sudden fright of realising his capture gave him strength, but just as I managed to administer the concoction he lashed out with his head and bit my hand hard. Despite the best efforts of my nurses, it was not until the calming medicine took affect that I managed to regain my fingers from his jaw, bruised and bloodied.

"The excitement over, I sent the new inmate to what the rest of the patients refer to as 'the pit'. This is the cell I use when one of my patients requires educating in the rules of my establishment. A large cylindrical well dug into the courtyard where the patients take their exercise, 'the pit' serves to isolate those who might do harm to others as well as to remind them of the small amount of freedom they relinquish when their behaviour is particularly poor and brutish. I rarely venture out to it myself, the care of those in the pit being a job more suited to the nurses and the orderlies than to myself or my staff.

"It has become late and I have been forced to abandon my other charges until tomorrow, but I shall be sure to call on them first thing as well as beginning a full report on the new arrival. My hand aches peculiarly where I was bitten and I find that my eyes are closing even as I write. When dressing the wound I noticed an odd depth to the punctures from the canines of the man, most likely due a diet of gristle and hard bone. I shall investigate this further in the morning, also. For now, I am tired and in pain and my lovely Bridgette will no doubt be concerned for my safety should I not return home shortly. I shall leave orders for the beastly pit dweller to be fed before I arrive and hope that this will allay his appetite for my flesh. The moon is full tonight and the air brisk; were it not I might remain in the sanatorium for the night, but the walk will be well lit and shall do me good. Tomorrow we shall see what nature of beast the moonlight has brought to my door."