I am working as a Psychiatric Technician on an adolescent crisis unit.
Previous posts on this subject are as follows:
- Before I Tripped Over a Stone, Fridays, #8
- Before I tripped OVera Stone, Fridays, #7
- Before I Tripped Overa Stone, Fridays, #6
It was on the 5th day After “N” was released I was reporting for my regular shift. The unit director called me into the office and told me, “N” had committed suicide. She told me how he had done it and where. There was no note. Would I like the day off? What. What? What? No, I didn’t want the day off, and I would be fine, I excused myself.
I went to the staff meeting, I was given my patients and was not assigned any intakes, nor assigned to a response team. I just needed to make it through the shift. My co-workers knew that was my goal too. I didn’t want to think about “N.” Yet, I saw him on the unit everywhere I looked…
I made time to speak with “A’s” psychiatrist. Her boyfriend had been calling me threatening me with beatings, rape, blowing up my car ever since I had her put in the time-out room. I asked her psychiatrist if I should take these calls seriously? The psychiatrist said calmly, oh, “A”? She will definitely kill someone someday. He said he would take some precautions. I asked if there was anything he could do. He just brushed me off and reminded me I chose this line of work.
(F**k you very much!)
The patients on the unit had heard of “N’s” passing. There was a definite division happening on the unit; the angry, the grief-struck and the destroyers…
“Dr. Red Crisis Unit. Dr. Red, Crisis Unit immediately.”
We had three restraints that day. I had been down for dinner and heard the code, for the third time and took off running for my unit. “Kim, this one’s yours!” It was one of mine that was going off, I assembled a 6 point restraint team, and I walked in to begin. I looked at my patient and asked him to sit on his bed and show me that he was calm, or we would be taking him to the time-out room. He wouldn’t comply. I looked back at the door of his room where my team was waiting, they looked like they were a mile away! I was in trouble. I broke protocol and called out to Rick who was my point man on the restraint to take over. I started walking for the door, it felt like it took me an hour to get to the door frame. Rick stepped in and lead the restraint.
I went to the nurse’s office, put my jewelry back on, took my purse out of the locker and said tell the director I won’t be in tomorrow either… I walked off the unit.
I would end up taking three days off. I had to deal with those death threats. The police were not that helpful. One savvy telephone operator taught me a few tricks to make the caller believe he was being recorded by a security agency. I let my anger loose on him a few times, especially when he would say creepy things like, “I like the red sweater you wore today.” I knew I wasn’t supposed to engage with him but I would. I would tell him, “I am not in the mood to be played, do something or get the hell off my phone!” (The phone calls lasted for about two weeks then stopped abruptly.) But. I kept having nightmares that “N’s” parents were at my apartment telling me I didn’t do my job and “N’s” death was my fault.
“N” was the very first patient I ever knew personally that actually committed suicide, but he wouldn’t be the last… I remember them all. Devastating is the only word I can think of.
I called into scheduling on the fourth day and asked to float to 6-bed for a week. “WHAT?” The staff scheduler couldn’t believe it.
- “Why on earth do you want to work 6-bed? Not a whole week Kim.”
- “Just give me three shifts Rhonda, I want 6-bed, then I’ll go back to crisis.”
The unit we referred to as 6-bed, was feared by all staff, (if you had a brain). The team stayed pretty much on the other side of a reinforced glass window. When you went into the unit, you had to wear a pager, and if that pager alarm was pressed, you had back up right away. I needed to test my skills. I needed to see if I was still sharp or if I missed something with “N.” Was it my fault? I had to find out.