Just be patient

 

I stare down at four weeks worth of pills in the palm of my shaking hands.

My mind grows hazy again as I try to make sense of myself.

I am not a stupid man, earning degrees that allowed me to earn a position in medicine.

So why am I here in the place full of lunatics, as if I am a lunatic, too?

It hurts to part fog that keeps me from clear thoughts. I still canít recall the moment people brought me here, or hear the voice of some judge committing me to this place.

Months, maybe even years passed before I could even clear the fog to know where I was and began to think how little I belonged here.

I might have protested once I understood my situation.

But I heard so many others in this place saying how they did not belong here, I knew that I could not just blurt out my feelings and have any of the sane people believe me.

Vague memories of my old life haunt me like dreams, interjecting into my daily routine at odd moments. So sometimes, when I am in the lounge with the other patients, I see myself as a doctor again, making the rounds at some dreamlike hospital of the past, my stethoscope around my neck as I greeted those in my care.

More than once, I was jerked out of such a moment by the doctor here, a man snapping his fingers at me and asking me how I feel.

I feel fine, I said, even when we both knew differently.

Each time, I ask him why I am here, and why I canít clear the fog out of my head.

I know I was someone at sometime in the past, I told him, and I want to be that person again.

Each time, he told me, to just be patient, as if time in a mad house could do anything to cure me when each day seemed to go on forever, stretched out by sane and insane rituals of people around me, breakfast after showers, pills before lunch, games after supper, and more pills before sleep.

Then came the dreams, haunting me with familiar things I could not touch, things that I needed to touch.

I decided the pills were the problem and stopped taking them, palming each one and depositing them in my night stand when no one was looking.

And yes, the fog veil lifted a little. Yet not without pain.

Whole days passed with pain so intense I could barely lift my head in the morning and feared to lower it to the pillow at night.

If reality of the ward didnít come into focus, the reality of my dreams did.

I sometimes woke up screaming, nurses rushing to my side to ask what was wrong, scheduling me to see the doctor each morning.

He always eyed me with suspicion, leaving me to suspect he knew I hid my pills instead of took them.

He always grilled me about my dreams and what I remembered.

I always said I saw faces in my dreams, but I did not know who they were or what they wanted, except for the pain in the eyes of each.

And as usual, I asked him why I was here, and as usual, the doctor said for me to just be patient.

I stopped sleeping and ate almost as little as I slept.

The moment the lights went off and the beds were checked, I rose, paced from one end of the long room to the other, passed the snoring and the whimpering, up to pale lighted room where the night nurse read then back.

I became obsessed with finding out why I was here, believing that if I knew I the fog would lift finally, and I could go back to the life I lead before.

So by day, I watched the doctor and nurses, seeing where they went and where they put the records of each dayís questioning and other data.

Then by night, I worked out how I might get into that room, and eventually, by luck, I saw the night nurse one night use the key to get inside to check on a record of special medication for another particularly troublesome patient.

Another night, I stole the key, eased into the room where the files were, then stole the file.

I didnít read it right away. I didnít dare. I just slipped back to my bed, after returning the key and hid the file where I hid the pills and waited for my opportunity to look it over when no one was looking at me.

Days passed before I worked up courage to open the file, and just as I did, the doctor swarmed into the room and screamed at me, ďNo.Ē

But I told him I needed to look, I needed to know, I needed to be what I once was.
Maybe the doctor understood that I would never stop until I found out, driving myself even crazier with each day until I learned the truth.

So he told me to look, and I did.

At first I didnít understand, reading words that seemed like fiction, about a doctor that looked like me and had the same name as me, but who had in some fit of madness killed 15 of his patients so savagely that even civilized society cringed.

It took me a long time to realize that doctor was me, as the faces from my dreams became real again.

The doctor took the file and led me back to the bed, ordering an injection for me.

But I could not sleep.

I am awake now. I am saner now than I have ever been, but know this cannot last.

This is why I have gathered all the pills I have not taken for months and intend to take them now, all at once, hoping that they will be enough to cure something in me that cannot be cured in any other way.

As I take them one at a time, I know I will have to be patient Ė these things do take time.

 


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