Thursday, March 3, 2016

When the Numbers Do Not Add Up

One of the orderlies stood in the doorway, squinting inside.  There is something really wrong with her.  She asked, "What are those numbers on the wall?"

"I don't see any numbers on the wall," I answered.

"On the paper," she explained.

"That's a calendar," I answered.

Dumbfounded, she said, "What are those numbers for?"

"They are the days of the month.  We are in March, which has 31 days.  That is why you see the numbers one through 31 written on that piece of paper on the wall," I explained.

This was not stupidity.  She knows what a calendar is.  Her next remark clarified that her craziness was worsening.  "Those numbers are going to come out tonight in the draw.  You will see.  Big money."

I heard that she has a gambling problem.

She walked over to a chair and plopped down.  She pulled out scraps of paper and several notebooks and began furiously scribbling.  I waited a few minutes and then walked by her to see what she was writing.  Numbers.  She was writing numbers in all directions on the papers.  I have seen patients doing this.  They associate deep meaning to random events.  So many thoughts fly through their head at once that they try to gain control by writing it all down.

But she is not a patient.  She is employed here.  As I suspected long ago, she should be a patient.  It's not funny.  She has harassed me for years.  She made another nurse quit by threatening to make false reports.  This woman is deeply troubled and she has negatively influenced people and events at the hospital, enabled by those in charge.

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