Jenny had received the call about her brother just after 2 on that day.It wasn’t so much of a surprise,as he had had a number of admissions to the Maudsley over the years,but had recently been going through a more stable time of it,with his life his life having more direction as such.
Now,as she instructed the ward staff that she would be out for a few hours and that she might pop back to check on the children,she walk out into the street towards Russell Square.Passing the British Museum ,she thought of the times that her brother would almost live there as a child drawing ancient objects that fasc8nated him.She always marvelled at his innate ability to capture the spirit of these objects,and how he could make them live again wth seemingly just a few lines of his pencil.Oh how she wished that he were well but it wasn’t to be.As she hailed a taxi across the river she didn’t quite know what she would be confronted with on her arrival,just that the Doctor said that it had been quite a bad self inflicted episode and that his medication would have to be looked at afresh.He had always tolerated the chemicals that had been pumped into him well enough,but you never fully knew the affects of very strong medicines as she knew only too well with the drugs that she administed for the children on her ward.
Her driver was in quite a jovial mood and somehow she found his talk ,or as the local cab drivers called it,banter,made the journey more palatable.Jenny wasn’t a snob,far from it,and she liked the talk about how congested the city had become,and his moans about Ken Livingstone and the GLC and the usual jokes at the politicians expense.
As they neared the hospital,the driver suddenly changed his tone from one of light hearted ness to quite a concerned tone.”Now ,you take care,and just so as you know,my dear wife was in the Maudsley on and off for quite a few years,and they was the bees knees to her and me and I won’t pry but if your husband is in there,they will sort him out,Mark my words.Jenny smiled,said thank you,and paid the fare with a generous tip.
As she walked up to the entrance,she felt a rumbling in her tummy ,a feeling,partly of dread and also fear.This had been an episode that might have ended his life as he had cut a main artery.He had been patched up at Guys first before being transferred here and she knew that he had owed his life to Clarissa his neighbour who called the ambulance.Checking with the receptionist,she was allowed to wait in the visitors room because it was outside of visiting hours and she would have to wait to see the duty Doctor.As she sat in the room,she realised that the only food that she had had today was the lovely breakfast that Brian had prepared for her,As she looked back on this morning,she mused that life can indeed change in a heartbeat,It wasn’t that things could ever be predicted,but she had got to hoping for Brian that he might find a sort of peace if he moved down to Cornwall in Aunt Lucy’s cottage,but that seemed all up 8n the air now,
Looking at the walls of the room,there was a picture of John Ogden,Brian’s favourite pianist playing for the patients.He was such a giant of a man,and Brian loved the way that this gentle giant played so delicately.Brian had met him a few times because they had both had stays at the hospital at the same time,and Brian was very taken with the great musician.For what seemed ages,Jenny looked at those faces in the blown up photograph,wondering where they all were now.She hoped that some could be like the cab drivers wife and beagle to live a reasonable life ,away from the hospital.Many she knew would be almost permanent residents here .Oh boy,she thought,her brother wasn’t an old man,in fact he was still quite young,handsome,and to all intents and purposes,healthy.That was the cruel cruel blows that mental illness inflicted on its sufferers.She knew that her training hard wired her to be positive,but it was an entirely different matter when your own family was involved.
Her waiting somehow had a purpose to it she knew,but as the minutes went into sections of minutes ,then into half hours ,until,the clock struck 6,signalling that she had been in her seat for over an hour:Just as she was thinking that she might fall asleep,the door opened ,with a quite unassuming man saying her name and inviting her into his office,She knew from this invite that this wouldn’t be straight forward.His words were measured,his tone distinct,but his care for her brother was just wonderful.She could see from him that he wanted to help Brian get over this latest ,to use his word,”hiccup”.Even though she knew that he was being ultra positive,she clung on to his words ,almost like you would to a buoy that had been thrown to you to stop you drowning.He spoke for absolutely turn 10 minutes,all the time reassuring Jenny that he was in the best hands and that they would stabilise him in the next few days,and then begin to see if they could help him recover from the trauma that he had suffered.He asked Jenny if she could pinpoint anything in particular that could have led to this episode and Jenny related how they had had a family death,and she wondered if Brian had taken this badly.”Could have,could have,and especially if the circumstances have been troublesome to him”.Jenny refrained from giving any more details,as she didn’t want to be stopped from visiting him.As the doctor left,she thanked him and with that look,that unseen language that medical expel have when they know that this won’t be the last time that they talk he led her to Brian’s bedside.
Jenny was always Oh s strong,resilient,an emotional Tomboy in their relationship.Just seeing him was such a huge relief.As she spied him ,he saw her too and as he did ,he uttered:”Jen,I’m so glad your here,the bloody food is awful,can you pop out and get us something”.She looked at him as if to say “Thank god you didn’t succeed”.There was a kiosk opposite where they made sandwiches that weren’t of cardboard and they had fruit too,so Jenny purchased at least 4 sandwiches and all the fruit that she could in the hope that it would satisfy her brothers appetite.His medication ,along with his exercise regime ,meant that he consumed loads of food,but he also burned the calories too.
Something occurred to Jenny as she walked back to the hospital and that was the sheer time recovery from a severe mental breakdown took.His Doctor intimated as such today,but as Brian was well aware,something wasn’t right ,in fact,it was broke,it just was.No amount of positivity would change the recovery process and you just had to give it time,and Jenny was so so pleased that she still had him,still had him going on about the food,the drink,the rough towels,the bedding.She dis don’t care about the moans,she just cared profoundly that he was still with her.
Later that night,a child in her care passed away,and although she had witnessed the passing of such brief lives,she felt the pain of the parents,and it generated a sense of just how lucky she was that she still had her brother.Yes,to many ,he was quite fragile,broken almost,but to her he was oh so talented,and he had the best of hearts,and would walk on hot coals for his sister and she knew he loved her.
That might ,as she returned home ,the scene of the breakfast things and the dishes from this morning awaited her.As she put her coat down in the table,she looked at some sketches .At once,she recognised the hand of her brother,As she did,she saw that the sketches were of Aunt Lucy’s and the cottage was drawn to perfection .As part of the detail,Brian had written his idea that he was going to show her,his big idea.
As she took it all in,she knew that she would do everything in her power to help make Brian’s idea a reality,but first ,he had to get better,just get to the point of being able to come home and that was everything to her tonight,everything.