My favorite patient of all time has to be Fiona. I met her at Aurora. She started out as a patient on another unit, but was transferred to my unit because her behavior was too disruptive. She needed to spend some quality time on the Canyon. My unit had a reputation for taking care of ‘problem’ patients.
Fiona’s reputation had preceded her arrival. We had all heard stories about her. She was bipolar, totally manic, and pretty much a hot mess. In fact, the day I met her she was screaming at the top of her lungs when I walked onto the unit. I walked in her room, sat down on her roommate’s bed, and waited for her to come up for air. She screamed for about another forty-five seconds.
“Who the hell are you?” she demanded, once she caught her breath.
“My name is Mark. I’ll be your nurse today.”
“Excellent. I suppose you have some shots to shoot in my ass, don’t you, Mr. Maark?” And she showed me her ass. She had a funny way of saying my name.
“Then what the hell do you want!”
“I want to know what you’re so afraid of.”
Fiona ran a hand through her tangled hair, and sat down on her bed. “What am I NOT afraid of! People are trying to KILL ME!!”
“Because…I’m the QUEEN OF THE BLOODY WORLD!”
Fiona was from England, so she had that whole British royalty accent thing going on.
“Your Majesty,” I said, and bowed to her. “I am here to protect you. I am here to keep you safe. I will not allow any harm to befall you while you’re under my care.”
“Really. Would you take a bullet for me, Mr. Maark?”
“Only one?” I gave her a little smile.
“Oh, thank God!” Fiona sighed. “It’s about time I get some decent help in this dump.”
I wish I could say that’s all it took. Fiona was a handful. Team Canyon had to scramble to keep the peace. I ended up giving her shots in her ass, probably more than once.
“Man, that gal’s a trip! She thinks she’s a queen!” one of my techs said, laughing.
“What do you do with someone like that?”
“Treat her like one.” I said.
“For reals?” he asked, and he stopped laughing.
“Yep, for reals.”
So, Fiona got the royal treatment while she was on my unit. We changed the name on her door to Queen Fiona. One of the evening shift staff brought in a plastic tiara for her to wear. She steadily settled down; her mania wasn’t as tenacious as some I’d encountered, and she was a whole lot better by Day Three.
The Queen also liked to hang out near the nursing station and chat, but she didn’t monopolize the counter. She had other subjects, and they needed to see her, too. However, she was quite taken with me, and even offered to make me her personal Beefeater.
“Do I get a hat? I like those hats.”
“We shall see. You have to earn it.”
Once the Queen was stabilized, we discharged her. It was a sad day for me. However, she did return to Aurora at least once afterwards, maybe twice. But she had graduated with honors from the Canyon, and she would never be my patient again. She’d stop by and chat briefly as she walked past my unit.
“Mr. Maark,” she would say, and extend her hand.
“Your Majesty,” I held her hand, and she would flash her crooked smile. Half of her teeth were missing, but she still managed to look regal somehow.
“I haven’t forgotten about the hat!” And she’d have to dash. “Ta ta for now, Mr. Maark!”
I wasn’t present on the day she died, but the story goes something like this: She went to a Psychiatric Urgent Care, begging for help. There was something wrong, she claimed. The staff at the Urgent Care disagreed, gave her a bus pass and more or less pushed her out the door.
I can imagine her, distraught and crying, walking to the bus stop, then screaming for help as she collapsed. Someone on the scene called 911, but by the time the ambulance arrived, Fiona, the Queen of the World was dead.
She always said people were trying to kill her, maybe she was assassinated. More likely, she had a heart attack. Either way, part of me felt like I had failed in my duty as Queen Fiona’s personal Beefeater.
But the other part of me felt God had taken her out of her imagined kingdom, and had welcomed her with open arms into his Eternal Kingdom.
It’s only fitting. After all, she was a queen.