They call me Houston at the hospital. Sometimes they add “ Dr.” or “Dr. Miss” before Houston, but either way, I’m still Houston. As in, “Houston, we have a problem.” I work at a behavior health facility. I said I would work the trenches for a semester about 15 years ago and I’ve never left the hospital setting. I love the clients! I promised to share some stories and quotes of the day I’ve collected over the years. I thought of this story today when this particular client returned, as she has multiple times over the years. When she is stable, she is quite interesting and intelligent. But when she is not—well, let’s just say she is never boring.
One of my very favorite stories happened years ago. Then I had an office in the outpatient setting. So the front door was always unlocked. I was coming back from lunch, sandwich in hand, and as I stepped through the door the clerk eyeballed me, motioned with her hand and whispered the familiar “Houston…we have a problem.” Coming down the hall was a fit middle aged woman wearing spandex shorts, spandex top, black leather bikers vest, and black leather boots that went up to her knees. Her hair was long and curly. Her eyes blazed as she came right up to my face and told me how lovely I looked. Oh My! I put on my most pleasant professional voice and asked how I could help. Out streamed a whole bunch of words that made no sense, stuff about the Devil and God. In between she made sexual comments about most everyone that walked by. I knew immediately she needed our help. As I was trying to gain her confidence, I was also trying to figure out how to get her to a safe place out of the milieu.
My first thought was to offer her lunch. In a surly voice she replied, “No thank you, I ate Tabasco sauce for breakfast.” I have to admit, at this moment it was almost impossible for me to keep my composure– I just wanted to burst out laughing! I offered something to drink and she chose coffee. I slipped out and over to the intake department to give them a heads up and to clear a room. I nabbed the coffee, adding some cold water, just in case it went flying. One learns these tricks early in the field of mental health. Upon return I offered the coffee. In a surly husky voice she asked “Did you put poison in this?” Her eyes narrowed to a glare. “No.” I replied, “You didn’t ask for poison, just coffee.” “Ok, I’ll drink it then.”
As she sipped her coffee, I offered to allow her to stay so she could have a warm bed for the night. She liked that idea. I was able to walk her over to the intake room where we started paperwork. First, I started the form where we asked for another contact–a relative, or perhaps a good friend, in case of emergency. After she tossed out several names she finally decided “Lucifer!” I repeated, “Lucifer?” She said, “Yes, Lucifer– you can trust him.” I wrote down Lucifer on the form and asked for a phone number. That glare came back and she hissed, “YOU know his number.” Suddenly an angel appeared, backlit by the light of the doorway. To my relief, it was an intake person who swiftly and thankfully took the client up to her room.
Miranda here–This is from my friend Rhonda, and should probably rightfully be called ”Why I am Not a Psychiatrist #4.”