Everything is Tammy by Ms. Dangerfield

Me alive apparently – not sure.

Jonah potential danger Dr. Ivorchuck is being paged.

That’s Shawn’s voice. Dr. Oram- or him? I might have HIV so I better not go home.

Everything is Tammy.

Meghan. I think that was Lyle or Donald Cameron

I understand what I was referring to in all the notes except “everything is Tammy”. What did I mean by that? I really did think that I might have contracted HIV in the hospital and had myself tested once I was released from hospital. Some of my fantasies were sexual and I wasn’t so sure that they were all imaginary. That was hard to explain to my family doctor, but he said they’d do the test if I was really worried about it.

I was lonely at night and would listen to my headphones for hours. The sounds of the hospital were becoming familiar, the flushing of toilets and beeping of machines, soft talking at the nurses station. (song playing: Dream Letter by Tim Buckley: “Oh, please listen darling/to my empty prayer/Sleep inside my dreams tonight “) The sliding door to the washroom was always a bit open with the light on as a night light. I had it all to myself since I had no roommate. Sitting on the toilet, I remember looking up at the sign next to a pull cord that said something like, “Ring if you need assistance”. I took note but hoped I wouldn’t have to use it – too embarrassing. In the middle of one night I fell down near the sink. I looked up at the towel rack high above my head and attempted to reach for it but I would have been too weak to pull myself up anyway. So I lay there for hours. In the morning my husband wanted to speak to me on the phone – a nurse searched for me when she found my bed empty. I don’t remember the rescue but I do remember being cold on the tiled floor.

One day in early October I am tied to my bed to keep me from wandering into other patients rooms – not happy with being trapped, I call 9-1-1 from my beside phone and ask for help. The emergency people can tell where I’m calling from, that I’m located in the neurosurgery ward of Victoria General Hospital, and politely dismiss my plea for help. I notice that the nurses never tie me to my bed again but my husband has to give me a lecture on not calling 9-1-1. What they must have nurses scen: an overweight mental patient in a short blue gown and unshaven legs, staggering into people’s rooms. How I saw myself: a spiritual being who could bring healing energy to others – I was lighter than air and my feet hovered several inches off the floor.

Later I realized that nurses stared critically at my feet because I usually neglected to wear slippers, not because they marveled at the way I floated. I ran away the day after I’d been tied to my bed. It was dinnertime, getting dark, raining and cold so I took off my blue gown and put on warm clothes, a new ivory wool sweater that I’d got for my birthday. And blue jeans that were loose on me now. I was in disguise and could slip out without the nurses noticing. I covered up my hospital bracelet, but with a shaved head revealing obvious scars I attracted some attention in public. One person said to me: “All ready for Hallowe’en eh?”


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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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