I walked along the corridor of the main hospital staring into the glossy floor, music playing through my earphones into my ears; I felt a deep sadness as I tried to hold myself together for the journey home. Ward round had taken its toll on me and I was now emotionally exhausted. I made my way to the main entrance and propped myself up against the wall, I automatically rang for a taxi, and then while I waited, staring into the red paintwork of the car parked in front of me I battled once again against the tears.
Ward round had once again started late, and I had once again been called in first, this tends to worry me slightly as I know things aren’t good if they call me in alone before Chris. I walked along the corridor to the lounge where ward round was taking place, the consultant psychiatrist for that ward talked over the events of Chris going AWOL and taking the overdose and ending up on a general ward, and his behaviour since. Then we got to talking about the next step, which had been mentioned at his ward round and that was therapy that is what Chris needs to move on from everything. The consultant had left it last time that he would speak with the psychologist but if they couldn’t get him prioritised for therapy that we could well be looking at an inpatient unit miles away that would keep him safe and give him the therapy he needs. He told me what I had been dreading to hear, that the psychology would still be months away, even if he was priority because the lists are just so long and we would now be looking at a unit miles away, he would need an assessment first to see if they could help, followed by an application for funding and then he would be transferred. My heart sank, all I could think of was my girls.
I tried to process what I was hearing, while trying to think of how I was going to answer the question, I felt so sad, I didn’t want him torn away from our family but they were implying that it was this or Chris is going to successfully commit suicide. I asked what would happen though if he got used to being in hospital and then when he did come home he couldn’t cope with living with me and the children because he had almost become institutionalised. They said they have half way houses where he would go before he actually got back home. When I asked about time wise, for how long he would be there, he said you are usually looking at one to two years. My heart sank more, all I could think of was Cora, and she wouldn’t even know who her dad was. I started into the newly painted orange wall as they sent the ward staff down to get Chris, the consultant said ‘now all we have to do was sell it to him’ all I felt was there was no WE about this, this was their idea, I don’t feel happy with it but really what choice have I got in it?
Chris entered the room, still teary from when I had left him ten minutes previously. The consultant started talking to him about all the things that he had just discussed with me, he got to talking about the transfer to a different hospital and as I looked into Chris eyes, they told me everything I needed to know about how he was feeling, it was like watching his heart break. The consultant asked him how he felt, he couldn’t speak, I could tell it was taking everything he had to not cry, I wanted so much to put my arms around him and never let go. Ward round was left with the consultant gathering more information on where to get an assessment from and then making another ward round to discuss where that was and what would be happening next. I followed Chris out of the room and along the corridor, he looked so upset walking into the little kitchen to make himself a brew, I told him I would meet him in his room and went to find his named nurse.
I went to the nursing office, I couldn’t speak, when asked what was up I just pointed to his nurse, who came out and showed me to an office down the other end of the corridor. I told her everything that had just happened while she listened to me, my worries about the fact Cora wouldn’t know who he was, the fact that no one seems to understand the massive impact that this would have on me and the girls and everyone loses sight of us. I knew I should be with Chris, I knew he needed me but I was trying desperately to hold myself together so he didn’t see the extent to which I was too, struggling with the situation. I managed to build up enough courage to put on a brave face for him and go and comfort him and see how he was feeling. It wasn’t good as I had expected and I really struggled seeing how distressed he was, I stayed with him awhile, before I had to go home and sort the girls tea out, promising I would be back later that evening to see him. On my way out I told the nurse I had just left him very upset, she said things must be tough. I nodded.