Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Fit From Finola
My job entails a lot of waiting, interspersed with periods of chaos and disorganization and frustration... which makes it pretty similar to the rest of my life, except I have to dress nicer and I get paid for it.

In a nutshell, I sit and wait for phone calls; sometimes from clients having a hard time and needing some support, and sometimes from an emergency department (seriously, DON'T call them emergency rooms, the look of contempt you get might just slay you in your tracks) asking me to come down and assess someone who is in the middle of some form of mental health crisis - suicidal thoughts, a psychotic break, delirium, voting for Bush, watching too many football highlights, driving cars with too many bumper stickers, whatever.

I'll go in, collect reams of paperwork because deforestation is not an active concern in the collective New England psyche, and sit down with the person and try to figure out where they'll go from the emergency room department. Some people go home, some go to hospitals, some to homeless shelters, rehab, a bar, their mother's house, and so on. Most of the time it's a case of reaching a decision together, so I don't get a ton of irate clients. Every once in a while I end up hospitalizing someone involuntarily, or not hospitalizing someone who thinks that's where they want to be, and I get dirty looks and insults. I just figure that's their way of expressing love and gratitude, free-floating hostility instead of a hug. Which, honestly, in most cases, that's what I would prefer.

It's often an intense situation, because you're seeing people as sick and miserable and in pain as they can possibly be, and once you start to push someone to the edge of their emotional capacity they start to react unpredictably. Usually it's a privilege to be invited into someone's life at their worst; sometimes it's an imposition or a disappointment.

And sometimes it's unintentionally hilarious. Like the woman I saw yesterday, who informed me, "I committed suicide two years ago." I'm fairly certain she meant "attempted," and I was able to prevent myself from a wisecrack about sitting with a godhead (or breaking into Rob Zombie).

I was also about to contain my snickering - barely - when I learned that one of the area doctors' first names is Finola. How many times in her life do you suppose she's been told she don't know fit from Finola? I can't be the first to think it. I just can't.