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A Cute Receiving Ward

Author: J Philip Magennis
Year: Adventure

In 2023 I got excited about machine learning, and by March I was sectioned and detained in QEUH under the Mental Health Scotland Act of 2015, whose articles allow the 1679 Writ of Habeas Corpus to be overwritten where the individual is considered at risk of harm to themselves or others. In my case, my doctor said I had Thought Disorder, that risked harm to myself. My mother though…

As we sat in an especially cute receiving ward reception, a television showed the quiz show Pointless. I, as usual, answered most of the questions, and was delighted to see two fellow Ulstrian Irishmen take the grand prize home (an unusually high £5750 for that famously miserly show) for taking a guess on a Princess Diaries book title, their third gambit for a pointless answer after two failed attempts before it.

Immediately after, the BBC news headlines showed the former failed health secretary, failed foreign secretary, failed husband, and failing chancellor of the Exchequer, blaring across the aisles at how "Inflation is down, cost of living is down, debt is falling: this conservative government is delivering" said to raucous applause. Jeremy Hunt deigned himself worthy of writing a book to fix the health system, despite having murdered its least appreciated, most necessary, and ever endangered quality - charity; of the doctors, the nurses, the healthcare assistants, volunteers, cleaners, who he dragged through the dirt, fired, and demanded the remainder work 12 hour shifts where three nurses could equitably work 8 hour shifts.

I was inducted into a very cute receiving ward and have met nothing less than the human condition expressed as living charity and loving grace. From Sharlene, who feared driving dangerously home to treat her son's GI tract infection: to Raymond, who is leaving to work on a cruise ship because the stress of needing a degree on top of his diploma was causing his teardrop psoriasis to flare leopardine.

I moved later to a corner where I watched, listened, and observed the diligence behind Hunt's veil. MTW who trusted me the moment I recited the Shema. Jane Doe-Rafferty-Daly who lights up the ward with halos. The Red Heron, who knows exactly when to work, and precisely when to take a wee walk. Anastasia, Scott, Ronan, Gianfranco, Cogan, Louises, Lindsays, Annes, Sophies, and Johns, even an Elvis!

When I arrived into their care, having been stripped of my habeas corpus by Peter the social worker, I was fearful of the Leverndale hospital they threatened me with. I argued rationally first, elated then, and manic after, as to how they are imprisoning me for being neurodiverse, disciplining the quirky with democratic tyranny, that John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Peter Singer, would never tolerate such treatment.

Then Craig the locum tried to take me to the donut machine for a CT scan, wailing and weeping to MTW as I trembled before the machine whose jam centre might be my brain (the machine does no such thing but who am I to know?)

Then, before the last moment, I saw the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling, that nature hidden from me by concrete, steel, and glass, restored ad facsimile to me in my last moments before the donut machine ate my brain jam…

I closed my eyes…

Breathed deep…


And returned, a calcifying pilar cyst identified and nothing more.

Why was I so anxious then, going for this easy, noninvasive machine analysis of my skull?

No one could tell me what CT meant.

Like no one could tell me what Olanzapine was.

Or whether euthymia was Greek or Latin?

Or their surname, or in the case of Olainka who insists on 'Ola', to anchor them to my memory.

Or the fear of being discharged to mater's care when she is not qualified…

I am glad now that I saw the light before I passed through the donut machine. I look forward to Leverndale now, I seek wellbeing and wellness.

But unknown to all but you and I, reader, is the real breakthrough. The miracles, the mysteries, the faith emboldening radical agency.

Like how mum lost her phone and took mine away with her. I needed no phone, and she found her one later anyway. Why worry about the phone then?

Sharlene took a blood test and gave a '6' to Louise, who checked it wasn't misread (it was). Unknown even to Louise, that night I learned how to induce REM sleep, and had my first ever lucid dream when she, my eyes closed, reached out and pulled me from dreamless sleep to sleeping wake.

Or when I answered the telephone that rang unheard at 5.25am, only to have my mother on the other end. That phone, whose battery was critical, that I ensured was charged for all such calls to attention, that any ear might hear.

All in all, I could never fully describe the delightful holiday I had in a cute receiving ward somewhere in Govan, but I know this much - angels alone glide those halls on radical currents, bled by the Hunt but not changed, eroded but stable, a Jenga tower falling as fast at the base as the top can be built. Let these angels love freely and radically, have faith in the nurses, the Hunts are hunted, the patients patient.

So let us take a hymnal silence for the diligence of their science and philosophy, their Res Hippocrates;

'No harm shall I do, not to me nor to you, that I can't say for certain, won't someday be my shoe.'

(John died of preventable suicide as a happy man, physically sound and in euthymic security, because his tensor could bear no more stressor burden. He was found, by those angels, smiling ear to ear, tears weeping freely across his worn face only 14 days into his detainment. Mourn him not, instead give that charity of your heart, "to the nurses", in accordance with his last words spoken at the cute receiving ward.)

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