The closeness of abnormal

When Harborside Hospital in St. Petersburg Fla was slowly changing streams they opened a psych unit on one floor.  On occasion I would be asked to see a patient with a possible surgical problem.  I did not go to that unit on any regular basis and that everybody smoked there was a real turnoff.  They even used cigarettes to gain patient control on occasion.  There was a Code (grey or some other color) that they would call on occasion to get enough man power to control a patient and they did have one room padded for violent people.  Generally I stayed away from that floor.

So, one day, I was asked to see a patient on that floor.  I arrived and went to the nursing desk and from there was guided by several nurses to the patients room.  Most of the rooms were for 2 people, but this one was a single.  The patient was a black woman in mid 30s.  I sat down and started a conversation regarding the reason for which I was invited to consult.  The lady was very quiet and acted withdrawn and timid, but not especially abnormal.  In the midst of that, I casually asked, so what problem brought you to this ward.  ALL the nurses…who had stayed in the room with me (a bit unusual)..did a quick aspiration of air…loudly as in shock.     One of the nurses grabbed me and hastily took me outside the room.  She asked, “you don’t know why she’s here?”.  I said no…and then they told me she had bitten the ear off her baby because a voice told her to do it.  I guess I don’t recognize crazy as well as I thought.  I don’t remember any more of the interview.

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