Gradual Recovery on Drum Ward

The transfer to Drum Ward on 7th December 2021 was a turning point. This was a ward for older people and I was in a room with three other men who I could talk to. In Fyvie ward the nursing staff had not gone out of their way to reassure me or treat me as a human being rather than as a suicide risk who was being looked after temporarily. In Drum ward the staff were more caring, and the rituals of them serving meals three times a day and teas, coffees and snacks also three times a day meant that there was social interaction with them and with fellow patients, both men and women, throughout the day. The ward GP eventually took my concerns about constipation more seriously, and after two sessions with an enema and suppositories my bowels were moving properly again. I was still unkempt, partly because my cousin was too far away to visit and bring me fresh clothes, but my condition was slowly improving as my body adapted to the drugs that I was made to take and which I am certain were the main cause of the deterioration in my mental and physical state. I knew nothing about these, but the drugs trolley was a major part of life on the ward. In the morning and at night two nurses came round, parked the trolley and gave out the pills, with one nurse calling out the names of the drugs and the doses and the other dispensing. All of us were simply handed a small plastic cup of pills to swallow with a plastic cup of water. At some stage Mirtazapine was added to the mixture of drugs, and after I complained of a constant tremor in my hands the dosage of Olanzapine was reduced. No other therapy or information about living with androgen deprivation therapy for cancer was offered.

At a later stage a therapist came with an old-fashioned CD player, sat on the chair next to my bed, and invited me to listen to a relaxation exercise. I humoured her for the first session and lay on my bed for ten minutes as she sat playing the disk. I was already completely spaced out by being given three tranquillising drugs simultaneously and the last thing I needed was more help with relaxing, but I closed my eyes and pretended to relax the parts of the body suggested by the soporific voice. It was laughable that the only psychological therapy offered to someone in my situation was a corny old relaxation CD. I politely declined further therapy sessions.

Visits by Doctor Hannah Badial, or sometimes one of her colleagues, seemed to follow no particular timetable that would have allowed me to prepare questions, but I do remember her telling me that she was pleased with my progress and that at one stage they were so worried about me that they had been considering ECT. The thought of this horrified me but I felt reassured that this was not going to happen and thought no more about it.