I grunted as I held the man down on the couch that was in the school clinic and yelled over my shoulder “I will need a four point restraint”
The nurse just looked at me, like I was speaking in French. She couldn’t comprehend what I was saying and that made her nervous; I saw her twiddling her fingers. I remembered where I was and sighed
“I will need some strip of cloth to tie him down to the bed” I explained to her. It was not ideal but it would have to do. This was no psychiatric hospital and I didn’t expect them to have proper bed straps for restraining an agitated patient.
I sighed again. I was supposed to be on leave and not think about medicine or psychiatry!
The nurse came back with an old bed sheet and I instructed her on how to cut the strips to the appropriate size that would be suitable for the purpose. I would have to hand over the task of holding down the patient to another while I secured the knots on the restraints. It had taken months of practice to learn the art of securely fastening a patient to a bed and I was sure the nurse on duty wouldn’t know how to.
I looked at the nurse again, she was about five feet and four inches and weighed about fifty kilograms. She wouldn’t be able to hold the patient down.
“Erm Matron, could you please go outside and see if any of the boys that assisted in bringing the patient here are still around, I will need help in holding him down”. She nodded and left. She returned with two guys.
When the patient had been firmly held down, I proceeded to fasten the patient to the bed, making sure the straps were not too tight as to cut off blood flow to his limbs and not too loose as to give room for him to maneuver his hands to be able to loosen the knot.
I was perspiring by the time I was through. This was not what I had in mind when I decided to visit my elder brother at the university.
The visit had been going fine up until we decided to go out for lunch. We were walking down the stairs when we heard a commotion from the corridor below. By the time we got there, a crowd of people had gathered round. My first instinct was to ignore them and move on but my curiosity got the better of me. My life had revolved around the hospital for six months and I was in need of some excitement and drama.
The centre of attention was a young man, about twenty two, fair skinned and slim. The first thing that caught my attention was his dressing. He was dressed in an orange shirt over a blood red trousers and brown shoes. I found that odd. Unconsciously, an alarm went off in my head, something was not right.
He was addressing the crowd that were now gathered. “the end of the world is near, hear the word of God, God is going to destroy the earth, the earth is made up of water and clay, lay up treasures for yourself in heaven” Some people were sniggering while others hissed and were leaving. I noticed three guys very close to the young man and one was whispering to him and trying to steer him away.
“Leave me alone” the young man screamed at his friend “you are all servants of the devil and you want to subjugate my destiny. Don’t you know that I am the son of God? The sun is the largest star in the galaxy, Milky Way, it is filled with milk and honey”
I closed my eyes and sighed. It was all coming together. The unusual dressing; the loud, rapid speech, looking jumbled and with flight of ideas with lots of clanging; making false claims of power….
“You are mad” a voice from the crowd interrupted my thoughts. It was followed by a roar of laughter.
“It is your father, your mother and your entire village that is mad” the young man retorted. All hell broke loose as the student from the crowd rushed forward and aimed a blow at the young man’s head while the young man’s friends rushed forward to ward off the blow.
“That young man is sick” I said to my elder brother and rushed towards him. If there is no intervention now, he was going to be assaulted for no fault of his. I tapped the student that was about to attack the young man and when he looked back I said “hey, calm down, I am a doctor and this young man here is not feeling fine. He needs help” I saw the hesitation in his eyes and added “trust me”
I turned to the three young men that I presumed were the young man’s friends and said “your friend is sick. He has acute mania”.
One of them nodded and said “that is bipolar disorder right?”
“Yes” I replied “you know about his condition?”
“Good, then help me get him to the school clinic, he needs urgent help”
On arrival at the clinic, I had introduced myself to the doctor on duty and explained all that had happened and what I thought and he had accepted my help. It wasn’t every day that a school clinic sees such cases.
“So what next now?” the Matron cut into my rumination
“We sedate him and then get a full history from his friends and then contact his family. He will need specialist treatment”
I gave instructions on the dose and types of sedative and when it was administered, I left the clinic and continued to lunch with my brother.
“Somehow, you can’t seem to keep off work even when you are on leave” my brother teased when we were settled down at the restaurant and awaiting our orders.
“Like that is my fault”
“Maybe you attract them crazies everywhere you go” he said and burst out laughing
“Now that is a scary thought” I joined in the laughter too. Deep down inside, I felt satisfied that I had saved an innocent soul from being lynched. But with the satisfaction also came a sadness at the level of ignorance concerning psychological illnesses prevalent in the society and the need to spread the awareness and reduce the stigma of people suffering from these illnesses.
“So what are your plans for the rest of your leave?” my brother’s voice cut through my reverie. I pushed back the thought for now and decided to focus on enjoying my leave. I knew that soon, the idea would come back to my mind and then I would be ready to deal with it.