FRIDAY 25th JANUARY
MOOD: minus 4
5.55am I woke to the sound of wheels clanking across the floor transporting me to the basement where a certain Freddy Kruger lurks sliding one of his steel claw gloves across a bare pipe and distant nursery rhymes fade away.
Oh no ! I’m dreaming, it’s just the ward trolley that carries the blood pressure machine.
It’s becoming a bit of a joke now : extreme tiredness from the potency of the medication leaves me with blood shot eyes reminiscent of Christopher Lee in Dracula scaring some of the patients but who cares, I’m mad. On a serious note the heaviness from my meds when I have woken in the past few mornings is leaving me exhausted, then I have to take my morning dose – BOOM!
7am. I head to the dining room on auto-dracula-pilot for breakfast of sweet congie, an egg and a small bread roll.
7.20am. I try in vain to get some extra sleep but the doctors are busy in my small six bed dorm with a patient opposite me who is hang cuffed and strapped to the bed. He’s been screaming, groaning and moaning all night that eventually cascades into a repetitive haunting sentence, “a tissue a tissue we all fall down”.
9am. I’m now sat back in the dining room in a meds induced sleepless zombie state while listening to the Cantonese news on the TV, suddenly Johnny appears glides over to the TV and starts flicking though the channels with his nose virtually touching the screen and singing loudly to traditional Chinese songs.
I worked out last night that if I stay the four weeks as advised by my case doctor on Wednesday then I will have been confined to the Queen Mary’s Psych Ward for thirty-one days, without smelling the scent or hearing the sounds of Hong Kong.
Yeah ! Johnny has channel surfed to the English speaking Pearl TV and the two of us are now watching a kids program called “Miffy’s Adventures Big And Small”, while I’m drinking an orange juice – in pyjama’s – on a psych ward – in Hong Kong – where only five percent of the patients are able to speak English.
Now who’s fuckin’ crazy?!*
That didn’t last long as Johnny realised he didn’t understand Miffy, though I’m not sure he understands any of the channels, or can visualise them, with his eyes five centimetres from the large flat screen. Ah ! Here we go, back now to RTHK the channel I’ve been zoned into since I was admitted onto the ward 10 days ago, which is beginning to remind me of a not as intense Ludovico Technique used on Alex in a Clockwork Orange. In short bursts over lengthy periods of staring hypnotically at the channel I am convinced I can hear the Chinese actors speaking English.
“We’re gonna do this the scanner way, I’m gonna suck your brain dry!” Scanners (David Cronenberg 1981)
9.45am. Shower time. Fresh. I tried to trim my toe nails but I hardly had the strength or coordination to undertake such a demanding task, it eventually left me dizzy and out of breath.
9.55am. I’m already starting to look forward to getting out of here and getting my life back…Easy speedy! I must remain vigilante remembering my bipolar is why I am here, remember I was powerless against it and my life had become unmanageable, remember it is cunning, devious and baffling and to take one day at a time.
10.30am. I sit and talk about my bipolar with a young university student who is studying to be a doctor.
11.30am. Lunch Time. Two scoops of mashed potatoes, chicken in curry sauce and cabbage. Oh ! I almost forgot to mention the orange too.
Midday. Cassie called and we had the best conversation since I’ve been in here. It is so nice to hear her voice emanating from the worn mundane cream plastic hospital phone sounding like the ivory keys on a Steinway Grand Piano playing Arvo Part’s divinely beautiful “Spiegel Im Spiegel”. I found it hard to put the phone down. I love you baby.
1pm til 2pm. I have a little snooze that is eventually woken by a new patient being moving into the bed next to me.
3.30pm til 4pm. Through exhaustion I’m drifting in and out of sleep sat upright on the sofa in the lounge accompanied by the familiar sounds of RTHK playing quietly in the background. Possibilities of dribbling from mouth too.
5pm. Dinner Time. Today it is two scoops of mashed potatoes, beef strips and rounded off with boiled cucumber.
5.25pm. I’ve got back to my six bed dormitory to discover that the empty bed next to me is now inhabited by a new patient which makes two new patients on the dorm in a single day. They are closing in on me, man the towers and pull up the drawbridge!
I asked could I move beds to a quieter dorm so I can get a better night’s sleep only to find out from a doctor that the dormitory I’m on is for the most high risk patients on the J7 Psych Ward. Ah ! Now it all makes sense, though I’m not sure whether I feel good or bad with this breaking news.
7pm. Cathal turns up with a Big Mac Meal for each of us and nuggets too. He then goes downstairs to Pacific Coffee to get me some munchies and a cuppa tea. Yummy!
7.30pm. Cathal leaves and I make my way to the dining room because it’s just been announced over the tannoy system in Cantonese, it’s medication time followed by cookies and warm milk. I’ve began working out how things operate on the ward and I need speed and cunning to get my cup full of warm milk, if I’m too slow, it’s cold and not good for a biscuit dunk. I’ve got a lot to teach these Chinese when it comes to the art of biscuit dunking.
8pm. I am patient number six on ward J7 with the two new arrivals today being number one and number five.
9pm. Medication time in the dining room followed by a swift move to my bed. I need sleep. KO’d.