Sandra had been called downstairs. It was early morning, and she had just used the Keirug to make a cup of coco since the center discouraged coffee drinking. Sandra found that particular rule hard to follow since all her life she had begun her mornings with a cup of a coffee and a stack of patient files. Now she found it especially difficult to concentrate without her coffee. The coco had become a hot substitute and she found the act of just holding the cup in her hand helped her adjust.
Just as he got to the top of the stairwell she heard a loud crash and a lot of loud voices. She peered downstairs to see what looked like a homeless man thrashing about as the orderlies Stu and Paul tried to get him restrained. Sandra rushed downstairs just as Paul got the man under control. The resident nurse Karen, who staffed the reception area, was standing off to the side with her clipboard. Just as the orderlies got the dirty, grungy man under control Sandra got to Karen’s side.
“Take him to Detox room one,” she ordered. “Strap him down too. It’s going to be a nasty night.”
“Is that … that our MIA?” asked Sandra feeling shocked.
“Yes ma’am,” asserted Karen.
Suddenly, the man started howling like a dog. As they pushed him through the double doors that went off in the detox wing everyone could still hear the howling.
“Maybe this isn’t the place for him,” quietly said Karen.
Sandra peered over Karen’s shoulder at the clipboard. “He was an attorney?”
“Wow! Well, they don’t call it rock bottom for nothing.”
“Are you going to do his protocol?” asked Karen.
“No, I am,” said Craig as he walked in from behind. “We’ll make a better assessment after detox. Anyone have any idea what he’s on right now? Heard they found him drinking water out of the gutter. For all we know he’s got a parasite, too. Better give him some antibiotics just in case.”
“You mean the street gutter?” asked Karen.
“Well, antibiotics will clear up whatever he picked up. And Karen can you find him some clean clothes. Doesn’t look like he came in with anything. He smelled.” As she said that she wrinkled her nose and could still catch a faint waft of what she was sure was a mixture of piss, vomit and shit. They didn’t usually get them this bad. Most patients arrived all cleaned up from either lock-up or probation. Few showed up looking disheveled and acting psychotic. Although once in a while the meth heads would go a little crazy on the staff, but mostly they ripped at their own hair and picked sores. Even those folks came out of detox pretty stable and quiet.
Just then Deacon ambled in from the main recreation room. Everyone turned to look at him. He had a strange vibe about him this morning. Sandra had been working with him in private sessions. He was such a handsome man, but truly one of those broken-down souls with no sense of self. He had spent his life relying on women for comfort since his aunt had protected him from the world. He still missed his mother.
“Is it possible for me to use the phone?” he asked.
“Why?” Sandra cut off Karen.
“No? I didn’t even …”
“You cannot call Violet. No. When you’ve finished the program you can call her all you want, but not in recovery. I guarantee it will set you back. You’re too vulnerable right now.”
“I need to talk to her,” he said as tears welled up in his soulful eyes.
He suddenly broke down sobbing. Karen rushed around and put her arm around his broad shoulder. She started guiding him off. “Let’s go get breakfast. A cinnamon roll will taste great.”
Sandra watched them go. Tears and sobbing were the most common part of the day for almost everyone in the center. When she was a young counselor it would get to her. She had to fight the urge to cry with them. Now though 15 years later and thousands of patients come and gone, the tears hardly made an impression. That wasn’t to say that stories like a 20-year-old girl who had been gang raped and then poured gasoline all over didn’t still get to her. When she gazed at the girl’s once-pretty face now scarred and grafted with skin from her thighs, it moved her. This once-beautiful girl’s life was in ruins. She had become addicted to painkillers, but given her situation what person couldn’t understand. Burns were the most painful thing in the world now add to it emotional hurt and addiction seemed actually kind. But her starting to steal prescription pads from her doctor made rehab inevitable.
Now Deacon was yet another person on the assembly line of tears. Sandra didn’t mean to be so indifferent, but she felt a calloused cynicism toward this gorgeous Italian who cried over some young girl named after a flower. He could have any woman around and yet here he was crying in rehab over this particular one. Of course, Sandra knew his demons weren’t really about the girl. It was about the deep inner pain over the loss of his mother. This girl symbolically represented that grief and abandonment even though his mother wasn’t given a choice. He also had to deal with the reality it was at his own father’s hand, and the actual abandonment of his male role model. Left with no role model or firm fatherly guidance, Deacon had no basis to go on to anchor his self-esteem. Now it would be Sandra’s efforts along with the team’s input to help get him back on track.
Sandra was about to go back to her office when Frank Haley, the CHP officer, appeared out of his room. Even though he looked tired Sandra could see his handsome, good looks shine through. She had to refocus on her professional side. She was attracted to him, and that was never a good idea. She sighed and pushed back her desires. Frank looked like he had some urgent matter on his mind.
“I can’t sleep,” he said. “Is there any possibility of some Ambien … something?”
Sandra shook her head. “No, I’m sorry. We can give you warm milk or melatonin, but any chemicals are off the list.”
Frank nodded. “I’m going crazy. Four days and no sleep.”
“I’m sorry. Warm milk helps me.”
“What was that commotion I heard earlier?”
“Oh, patient number eight.”
“Hmm … well, I have group with Craig soon. I should get up there,” he paused. “Nothing at all?”
Sandra shook her head. Craig looked disappointed. Sleep deprivation was no fun. Sandra had more than her share of sleepless nights. She did feel concerned that Frank be able to sleep sooner or later. Lack of sleep could really set people over the edge. She looked at her diamond-studded watch her father had given her for her 16th birthday. It was time to start her one-on-ones. She had Darian Masterson up first today. She briefly thought about Frank again, and then slowly made her way to the lobby elevator. Her office was on the top floor very close to Merry’s wing. Merry was definitely an interesting character – very quiet and reserved. She never talked about anything but work. People gossiped about her to fill in the gaps of what they speculated was her life, but no one knew any real facts. That is what people did when you didn’t talk about yourself – they talked about you for you.