Roger Hargreaves was the creator of that famous band of brothers…the ‘Mister Men’. Millions of children, and quite possibly adults, have read the books and listened to Arthur Lowes lilting tones on the telly. The many various characters with their individual talents such as ‘Mr. Bump’, ‘Miss Tidy’, ‘Mr. Noisy’ and ‘Mr. Tickle’ to name but a few showed us in an informative way that it takes all sorts to make a world.
Here is my nomination for a new ‘Mr. man’.
Heading back to base the MDT started to crank out its incessant noise alerting us to another job. ‘Almost made it back to base’ I thought. I was looking forward to that mug of tea and chucking a sandwich down my neck. The MDT stopped its shrieking as we pushed ‘Mobile to Incident’. The screen gave us an address near to the city centre, the ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here’ community mental health hostel. The reason for our attendance? ‘DSH’ or ‘Deliberate Self Harm’. No further information was displayed as to the exact nature of the DSH. It could be an over dose or cut wrists, or it could be a hanging!
‘Blues and Twos’ were put on and gloves made ready for the short journey to our incident. We arrive at the address and make our way to the entrance with trauma bag, resus bag and monitor/defibrillator to cover all eventualities. We still had no idea what we were going to even asking control to get back in touch with the caller. The building was a late Victorian hospital annex which would not have looked out of place in a Hammer horror picture. Ringing the bell we await the arrival of either Vincent Price or Peter Cushing to open the door.
Everything sounded quiet…too quiet. A sudden ‘Caw’ from behind had us spinning round looking up into the dark trees over hanging the pavement. A huge fat, black raven sat perched on a branch squawking its protestations at us for disturbing its sleep. ‘Shit! I wish I had my air rifle with me. I’d soon sort that noisy twat out!’ My crew mate imitates taking aim and pulls an imaginary trigger. ‘Don’t be daft! You couldn’t find your arse with both hands let alone get a target in the cross hairs!’ Disgruntled at his gun toting prowess being called into question my crew mate huffs and turns back to face the door.
‘They don’t seem to be in a rush to let us in do they?’ I mutter more to myself as ‘Billy the Kid’ leans against the wall. This could mean any number of things. First…its the wrong address, second…there’s no-one in, third…all hell has let loose inside and members of staff are frantically trying to stem the flow of blood from slashed wrists or struggle to cut down the body from the ceiling! Or fourth…its sod all and the staff are still finishing off their smokes outside the back.
At last after several assorted knocks on the big solid, timbered door we are bathed in light as the hallway comes to life. We can make out a shape through the stained glass windows behind all the wire and mesh grills. Bolts are slid back, chains are undone, keys are turned and the huge door lumbers slowly open revealing a woman holding a set of keys, pager, hand held radio, papers, cigs and lighter. (She had big hands!) ‘You rang?’ I say in my best Vincent Price accent which comes out more like Joe Pasquale. My crew mate tries not to snigger and does an excellent impression of ‘Muttley’ from the ‘Wacky Races’ in doing so.
‘Come in please. I’ll just lock up and show you where to go.’ Whilst the rather nice looking lady warder, although with big hands, secures the front door I ask what we have been called to? ‘Oh its Mr. McNumpty-Numbnuts. hes stabbed himself…again!’ After asking if its safe to see him and being assured that he is harmless to others, we make our way to the back of the property where a communal lounge echoes to the sounds of the telly and people coughing as they smoke their way through to various chest infections. ‘Hes in there, I’ll just go and get his records from the office.’
The room is semi dark and shrouded in a fog of tobacco smoke. The big old heavy curtains (fire retardant material) keep out the light from the lamp posts standing outside. The walls seem to be dull, yellow with a hint of brown on the ceilings. I think the carpet is dark red, or maybe off black? The furniture is plain, functional and occupied by people of various shapes and sizes all doing a very good impression of experimental smoking beagles. I try to locate our patient. Thinking that some one who had stabbed themselves would be easy to spot we look around at the dozen or so people in the room.
‘Are you looking for Mr. McNumpty-Numbnuts?’ a tall person standing in the centre of the room, watching the late News on the TV and holding a cup of coffee asks us. ‘Er…yes. Can you tell us where he might be?’ Finishing the coffee in his cup he then pulls out a roll-up from behind his ear and lights it (the roll-up not his ear!). Taking a big drag on his cig he turns half to us, cocks his head to one side and with a smile of someone not playing with a full deck says ‘Its me lads!’ I step back involuntary with my crew mate, scanning at the same time for weapons or threat of attack. No weapons seen…no threat as of yet!
Its at times like these we have to remember that things don’t always appear as they seem. A quick recce of the possible scenarios play through my mind. 1/ This is not Mr.McNumpty-Numbnuts but someone obviously with a problem of some sort? 2/ This is Mr.McNumpty-Numbnuts but the staff have panicked and not investigated properly the alleged ‘self stabbing’ . ‘Er…how you doing?’ I ask, still scoping the area for possible threats. I remember years ago being attacked with an axe by a psyche patient, and I was lucky that time that my ‘spidey’ senses were working properly.
‘Yeah! I’m alright! I’m fine lads! Bit pissed off like but yeah I’m fine!’ He seems in control, but that just makes me even more careful. ‘Someone says you’ve hurt yourself Mr.McNumpty-Numbnuts?’ I cant see any obvious wounds or outward signs of circulatory compromise. Slowly he turns to fully face us and gingerly lifts up his sweatshirt…‘You mean this?’ Sticking out of his belly is a pair of scissors…that have gone in right up-to the handles! He flicks the handles expecting to hear a ‘Twwaannngggg!’ to prove that the scissors are well and truly stuck! ‘Er…do you mind not doing that please!’ I ask as I look at where the scissors have gone in.
They have entered his umbilicus (belly button). ‘Erm…how long are these scissors Mr. McNumpty-Numbnuts?’ He uses his free hand and spreads his fingers apart and stretches his thumb out. ‘I guess about 6 – 8 inches!’ he states quite calmly. It doesn’t make sense, he should be bleeding like a stuck pig! He should be white as a sheet and not standing up drinking coffee, smoking roll-ups and watching the telly! ‘Do you mind if I take a look?’ I ask as I move towards him. ‘Not at all, feel free, help yourself!’ he says.
Looking at the wound, the scissors have indeed gone right in but I can see the outline beneath his skin of the blades. It looks like he has inserted the scissors in and then up towards his chest! ‘Right…I think we need to take a trip down to A/E to sort this out, is that okay with you?’ Mr. McNumpty-Numbnuts nods and then quickly moves around the room shaking everyones hand saying that he’ll see them later. Half of the residents tell him to ‘**** off’, the other half seem oblivious to it all and continue smoking their cigs and watching the telly while maintaining a constant cacophony of coughing.
Thinking that we really need to get him on a stretcher and not to make any sudden moves I ask him the obvious things..‘Dizzy?…breathless?…any pain?’ All are answered in the negative and he insists on walking out to our truck. The female member of staff, the only member of staff we have seen, comes back with the paperwork and motions us towards the front door.‘Are you sending a staff member with him for continuity of care?’ I ask. ‘No we dont tend to send anyone with him as its such a regular event. Have a look at his file at A/E and you’ll see what I mean!’
Our patient refuses to get on the stretcher and insists on sitting down on the seat opposite. Before I have chance to explain that due to the position of the scissors sitting down might cause them to piece his diaphragm or other organs…he plonks himself in the seat…and lets out a blood curdling scream! I go to catch him as he falls to one side as as I do he sits bolt upright and starts to laugh like a drain! ‘Gotcha!!!‘ The smile and his nicotine stained teeth flash across his face. I’ve had enough of this joker and tell my crew mate to get going and let the hospital know were on our way.
Travelling to the A/E I ask Mr.McNumpty-Numbnuts why hes done what he has. The reply…? ‘I was bored and fed up so I thought I’d have a little trip out for the night!’ Arriving at the hospital again he insists quite forcefully on walking in. I show the wound to the triage nurse who almost faints and points to resus. Inside resus he bimbles over to the trolley-bed and leaps onto it, crossing his ankles and gets comfortable putting his hands behind his head. In walks the consultant and before I get chance to give a verbal handover he lifts up the sweatshirt and flicks the handles of the scissors. I wish people would stop doing that. ‘Its alright…me and Mr. Mc Numpty-Numbnuts go back a few years. Hes done this that many times he has a pocket of skin inside like a sheath. That’s why he does not bleed.’
Completing my paperwork I nod to our patient and wonder how he discovered this feat in the first place. Later on in the shift I discover that he had used ‘hairdressing scissors’ which are lethally sharp. They were removed, he was seen by the on call psychiatrist and then discharged back to the hostel…only to do it again before the end of my shift. This time he was seen by another crew who said that he’d used a steak knife! Its only a matter of time…!!!
He is my nomination for a new ‘Mr.Man book!
Foot note: In no way do I mean to decry or belittle the many thousands of people who self harm. But on further investigation I found out that this chap had a severe form of attention seeking which causes him to be totally selfish and treats it like a ‘get out clause’ for when he cant get his own way in life. He has not been diagnosed with any significant disorder and continues to be a drain on all around him.