Week 6- Notes on visit to Di at Seaton Hall secure wing.
I have been visiting Di every day for a month now and the repetitious nature of our interactions is, frankly, beginning to irritate me. I have, once again, spoken to Dr H at Seaton regarding her level of medication but Dr H insistent that this cannot be the cause of her apparent lack of memory. It is, however, a reported (and not infrequently reported at that) side effect of Secolent. Dr H maintains that she is a clear suicide risk; if one accepts that (I’m not sure I do, as I rely on the evidence before me, not ‘what ifs’) then the dose is not unreasonably high. It is his opinion that the memory loss is the result of trauma; he points to the injuries sustained at the time of her arrest as the most probably cause. That was two months ago – scar has healed and her scans are normal. She has never mentioned her arrest to me so I know nothing of her view of events. But it was certainly traumatic, no question. And several of the officers involved have been diagnosed with ptsd so what it must have been like for her, who knows? Really, who knows? She may very well have enjoyed it.
Our conversation, along with the previous 28, was recorded without her knowledge or permission. This, to me, is breach of trust – I would never countenance such a thing in my normal day-to-day practice. It is of paramount importance that those who come to me know that I can be thoroughly relied upon to deal with them as openly and honestly as I am asking them to deal with me. However this is policy at Seaton and Warden “B” assures me that informing the interviewee is no longer a legal requirement for some categories and Di falls into one of those categories. He does not make any therapeutic case for keeping her in the dark – I sometimes think he is a little afraid of her. Certainly, she has been aggressive with staff and is now physically restrained as a matter of course. But how much of the blame for this lies at her door and how much at theirs I cannot calculate. I’m sure they have their reasons, but personally I wouldn’t keep a dog this way. She has always struck me as very ‘normal’, a bit sparky but nice, a ‘nice’ woman, the sort you’d be glad to have as a friend, someone you could go to to talk over a problem, or when you needed a recipe or a gardening hint. Given other circumstances.
23rd July, 10 am. Cell 179 Seaton Hall Secure wing.
(On entering the cell, Di was curled up on the bed, to which she is secured by plastic chain attached to her left ankle. It’s a rather vivid pink. Health and safety I suppose, one wouldn’t want a warder tripping and breaking her/his neck.)
Dr K Hello (subject’s name)
Di You scared the life out of me.
Dr K You weren’t expecting me?
Di Any reason why I should?
Dr K I’m sorry, may I come in?
Di Seems to me you are in. Where are my clothes? I need to go home.
Dr K When you’re feeling better we can discuss the various options open to you.
Di I need to go home! I’m perfectly fine!
Dr K Are you?
Di Aren’t I?
Dr K That’s what we’re here to find out.
Di And we are?
Dr K I’m Dr Klauber, (subjects name) we’ve met before.
Di Have we?
Dr K Yes. In fact we’ve been meeting every day for the past month, you don’t remember any of those meetings?
Di What on earth are you talking about?
Dr K You genuinely have no recollection of our having met previously?
Dr K Right. How’s your head?
Di Securely on my shoulders. Why?
Dr K You had an injury to your head.
Di Did I? (her tone very much implying that she doesn’t believe me)
Dr K And you slept well? Last night?
Di Think so.
Dr K Any nausea?
Dr K Drowsiness? During the daytime?
Di Not so far.
Dr K Bowels open?
Di Not so far. Oh, for God’s sake! For the last time, there is nothing the matter with me.
Dr K Perhaps, perhaps not. That’s something we need to explore.
Di Explorers, are we? Tell you what, bring me my clothes and we can explore anything you like.
Dr K I can’t do that.
Di Right. Then you can piss off.
Dr K Please, try to accept – I really am here to help. If I am able.
Di Then bring me my clothes! Why am I dressed like this?
Dr K Why do you think you’re dressed like this?
Di I don’t know. This is outrageous.
Dr K I’m sure it seems so to you.
Di Why don’t you just tell me? You. Why am I dressed in this horrible, clammy, plastic babygro? Where are my clothes?
Dr K That’s not the way it works, I’m afraid.
Di Why the fuck not? (she seems to find it hard to swear, as if it’s not ‘her’)
Dr K Because it’s important for you to try to remember.
Dr K I can’t go into that but I do assure you it’s in your own best interests, Karen. If you want to get better.
Di How can I get better? I’m not sick!
Dr K So you say, but you do seem to have a problem remembering things, might that not be symptomatic of – something?
(4 minutes passed entirely in silence at this point in the interview; this was not something that I’ve previously witnessed and I got the impression she was, this time, trying to figure something out, trying to remember. Or that might just have been the impression she wanted to give me. Part of the game?)
Dr K Perhaps we could explore that?
Di Okay. Explore away.
Dr K That’s it. Just lie back and relax.
Di If it makes you happy.
Dr K How about closing your eyes?
Di No chance.
Dr K You still don’t trust me.
Di Are you trying to be funny?
Dr K Understandable. So. Anything?
Di I woke up. The light was on. I was naked. Some person brought this suit thing into the room and I was forced … (at this point, she did appear to fall asleep, albeit briefly. I really do think the dose must be reduced if we’re to make substantial progress)
Dr K You were forced?
Di Some ‘person’ came in and she said let’s get you dressed, and I said where am I and why am I naked, please? And she replied, I’m just here to get you up, dear, not to answer your questions and she held out a flannel and a plastic bowl of water and I said, I’m not getting washed in front of you. Dear. And she said your choice, dear and put the bowl to one side and held out the suit thing for me to put on and I said, I’m not putting this on, bring me my proper clothes and I will put them on, but I’m not putting this on. At which point, having sucked her teeth and sighed and rolled her eyes up to heaven, she went to the wall – there, over by the door and she pressed a button and said assistance in a very bored voice, shortly after which three more persons arrived and, without a word, or a smile, without as much as looking me in the eye, they held my arms and they held my legs and the first ‘person’ wiped me all over with a wet cloth, and I mean all over, after which the four of them dressed me like a dolly. They then went away and came back a short time later and tried to feed me some sort of slop with a spoon. As if I were a baby. Which I refused.
Dr K I’m sorry, that sounds like as extremely unpleasant experience.
Di It was.
Dr K What about yesterday? Any recollection of what happened before you went to sleep last night.
Di I was at home.
Dr K And where’s home?
Di Palmer’s Green.
Dr K And what were you doing, yesterday? In Palmer’s Green?
Di I don’t know. Usual stuff. Gardening maybe, watching telly? Cleaning out the rabbits? Who knows? Is that enough exploring ? Can I go home now?
Dr K Not nearly enough, I’m afraid.
Di No? Find me fascinating, do you?
Dr K I find all my patients fascinating.
Di Is that what I am? A patient?
(the word ‘patient’ seemed, as it has on previous occasions, to have hit her genuinely hard. If the rest is an act, which it could be, although, if it is, she really is remarkably good at keeping it up, why does this moment always strike me as genuine?)
Dr K As far as I’m concerned, yes.
Di I thought I was a prisoner.
(this is new, she’s never previously said this)
Dr K Why? Have you committed a crime, do you think?
Di Certainly not.
Dr K Then how would you account for this – supposed incarceration?
Di I assumed – (big yawn) false imprisonment.
(At this point she became silent, curling up into the foetal position and closing her eyes. I left. Ninety nine percent of the above conversation has been, with minor variations, repeated over and over again for the past month. But there is a crack in the armour, I think. Progress. I hope.)