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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why I DON'T celebrate Halloween...

I was working at a BIG private psychiatric facility just outside Baltimore... My unit treated adults with all kinds of problems, but one of our specialties was Multiple Personality Disorders (As in "Sybil" - Very controversial stuff... Google it for more info)

Most cases of MPD we dealt with were the really high-speed ritual abuse cases, satanic type stuff, WAAAAY beyond the MOST fucked up nightmares of mere mortals...

You really don't want to know the specifics here, I often wish I didn't...

So I get to work by 1500 on Halloween, I'm immediately asked if I could work over the night shift as Charge Nurse, a colleague called in sick or something equally dubious. (It was a weeknight, but still a big night to party...) "Uh, okay..." said I, not having concrete plans for the night and I was ultimately swayed by the thought of the approved overtime pay I'd get for pulling the second half of the double shift. Nights tended to be very quiet around there too... I thought it would be cake!

I started getting concerned during report, our three "star" patients (we had 12 total) were all starting to escalate (get worse) and were on increased observation levels for their safety. They all had a deep history of harm to self or others and during bad episodes, had to be isolated and physically restrained until they could regain control. So we were told to expect a bumpy night...

It didn't start out so bad... We had visiting hours and that went well, then one of the three women we were watching closely went off, followed in rapid succession by the other two! We had the first 3 "staff calls" (when assistance is summoned from all parts of the facility to subdue a patient that's in danger, usually a guy from each unit) and it was only 2000hrs.

By 2300, we have all three in secluded restraint, the evening shift is bailing out and I'm left in charge... The next eight hours would be the longest of my career...

Let me fill in a bit of local color for y'all... This hospital was originally built in the 1800's and looks just like a Victorian horror movie set, (with better maintenance, tho ;) especially with the full moon that cast it's eerie glow over the scene through broken clouds. The old trees were swaying in the wind that was whipping through the grounds, gaining in intensity as the hour approached midnight...

As the winds picked up, so did the intensity inside...

I simply can't go into excruciating detail here... The record probably still exists and Stephen King does it SO much better anyway! (Maybe we'll save that for the movie ;) Have you ever seen "The Exorcist"?!? Suffice it to say that I had three Regans of various ages, all climbing skyward on a very scary trajectory. The drugs didn't work to calm them down and they almost seemed to be competing from separate, isolated rooms! It wasn't the pea soup and special effects of the movie, but it was infinitely more chilling because I was actually there! I felt the actual presence of Evil that night, it wasn't the first time and wouldn't be the last, but it was never as overwhelmingly strong...

When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you...

It was pretty much over by 0600, except for the mountain of paperwork that the night's events generated...

The abuse that they suffered became something so malignant and malevolent that it took over every part of their lives (and ultimately ended at least one, within a year of this night) You could feel the tangible waves of pain radiate from them, like a really badly modulated radio broadcast that was only diminished by time and distance from the transmitter...

The fact that their lives were so thoroughly and completely wrecked before they even got a chance to begin, by people they should have been able to trust, in the name of their "higher" power, still sickens me deeply. I just couldn't even be a tiny part of that on ANY level anymore... It's not a religious thing, I'm not that kind of guy...

I just had enough Halloween for the rest of my life that night!

I also don't make judgments about anybody else's choices about celebrating Halloween, (as long as nobody gets hurt, that is...) it's been over-commercialized and thrashed into a mere shadow of it's former existence anyway. Besides, costume parties are fun! (My career history has always been a costume rich one... ;)

Most of us haven't given this a lot of thought, I certainly hadn't and probably wouldn't have had this experience not occurred.

So I truly hope I didn't kill your buzz for tonight here... It wasn't my intention!

HAVE FUN TONIGHT, KIDS!
(But please, stay safe... ;)