The Forgotten Ones

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I heard a story the other day that touched me to my core, and I thought I would share it here. A lady was talking about her son who was in the local hospital. Her son didn’t have a broken leg, or a bad appendix. Her son had a mental health issue, and he was admitted to get his medications reevaluated.

In our local hospital there is a special psychiatric ward, which is a locked down section of the hospital, and security needs to be in place as some of the patients are or can be violent. Some patients have tried to commit suicide, or are very depressed. Whatever the mental illnesses or issues, this ward has very different tools for patient care. One of those tools is a pool table and a ping pong table. There is also a PlayStation 3 and one or two games. What the ward doesn’t have, like the rest of the hospital, are the personal toiletries we all take for granted. If we get sick and have to spend time in the hospital, we still need to bring our tooth brushes, soap, shampoo. All these items most of the patients who are in this ward don’t have access to. They were either homeless or near destitute or they have no family to bring these things to them.

The most amazing thing happened when this lady asked her son what he wanted for Christmas. He told her he didn’t really want anything, but that he did have a couple of items on his Christmas wish list. He wished the pockets on the pool table could be fixed, because the balls kept falling on the floor. He wished they had another ping pong paddle to replace the one that was broken, and maybe one more ball. He wished for some comfortable seats for the TV room. Not one thing on this young man’s Christmas wish list was for himself. It was all small things to make an already really bad time just a little bit better for everyone else.

Every city has at least one major hospital, and I bet there are things their psychiatric ward could use but never get. A simple call can get you all the information you need. Just call them up and ask what they need for their patients. Some of the things mentioned were toothbrushes and individual or small tubes of tooth paste. If you tell your dentist what your plan is he would likely donate some things like brushes or dental floss. Playing cards from the dollar store, or an old board game you have kicking around. Even books and magazines might be very welcome on a floor or ward that doesn’t see many visitors. Ask them what they need or if they can accept certain items. In some cities this secure ward is also the place in the hospital where they may escort criminals, so the restrictions could be different from place to place. I thought about this lady’s story and I called this piece The Forgotten Ones because this is such an obscure place that for most folks, if they knew such a place existed, they never gave it a second thought. This is my second thought. Before you go visit Aunt Jane in the hospital, take a minute to ask the switch board for the nurses station on the Psych. Ward. They’ll know where you mean.

21 thoughts on “The Forgotten Ones

  1. I’ve worked in psych hospitals for years. Jigsaw puzzles are hot ticket items because they can work on them together and come and go to do so. Many have anxiety issues and can’t sit still.

    • Yes Susan, I was thinking along those lines, word puzzles, Sudoku, anything to help them use their minds and to not be bored. It is an obscure segment of the population, tucked away so ‘sane’ people don’t have to see how fragile our mind really is. Thanks for commenting.

      • I’ve been the nurse and I’ve been the patient. I thank you for this post. This is a good reminder for Holiday time or any time. You don’t mind if I reblog?

  2. I’m going to reblog this Lockie. I agree that this is the best kind of message for this time of the year. My husband has been hospitalized for bi-polar disorder. One hospital my son took him to for treatment and tests for another physical problem said for that reason he couldn’t be admitted to a hospital without a psych ward after that. They now don’t want him in a regular ward even though he was well enough to come home. Apparently after being in a psych ward, a person has that on their record and are treated differently. This is India. I don’t know about the U.S. People here tend to hide the fact they have any kind of mental problem because of the way they’re treated by others. It’s a kind of strike against them. Well written piece. Suzanne

    • Thank you Suzanne. I appreciate your kind words, and for re-blogging. We tend to want to hide people away who are struggling with mental anguish. We need to change and start offering help because the hospitals’ budgets set aside for these patients seems to be shrinking into nothingness.

  3. A couple of years ago, I read about a woman from Ontario who wanted to travel to the U.S. to visit her physically sick sister – she was denied entry because about 5 years before, she had attempted suicide and her husband had called 911 (and police as well as ambulance responded). If anyone has had any encounter with the police for a mental health issue, even for non-violent reasons, they are entered into a database which the U.S. Customs check. This is so sad. I read the story (in the newspaper) and could not believe it. So I approached a friend who is an RCMP officer and he confirmed they do have such a database and the RCMP do have to report such incidences if it is for a mental health issue even if it is non-criminal or violent, and share it on a national database which is accessed by Customs officials. However, it does depend on whether it is RCMP or local police forces. In Ontario (where they have the OPP ..Ontario Police … they recently changed the rule of reporting mental health issues that were non-criminal or non-violent, so the OPP no longer have to report these incidents. Stigma is alive and thriving in Canada. Can you imagine not being able to travel to another country because, say 7 years ago, you were depressed and called 911 for help? Sad. (I know I digress from the point of your blog, Lockie, but some things do need to see the Light of day).

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