Doctor Miui was not happy with Maude’s progress. She had started Maude on a series of antidepressants, diazepines, and low dose antipsychotics to aid her in her sleep. But, the effects of the antidepressants would take a while to work, and until they did, she wandered around as if she was in a dream. Maude would come into the clinic, get settled in over the weekend, and start the following Monday.
Maude was admitted into the Hollywood Clinic, North Wing, under Dr. Miui, and she was anything but happy. The first upset came when she had her knitting needles removed, as they were an apparent threat to not only herself, but others. Next she was forced to stand in ridiculously lengthy queues, tray in hand, for every meal. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the demoralisation she felt at the hands of those running ‘Groups’.
Initially assigned to ‘Purple Group’, Maude was forced to undertake ‘Art Therapy’. She most definitely appreciated art, and adored art history. But, when it came to putting paint to butchers paper, she found herself in a place that sent her mind careening back to primary school teaching, and the loathing she had felt for painting then, rekindled into the raging furnace of now. As if that were not bad enough, the following day she attended ‘Activity Based Therapy.’ This involved a series of photocopied pieces of paper with circular pictures, Mandala’s, on them. She was told, not unkindly, by the lass running the group that “We don’t call it colouring in. We call this activity Mandala’s”, as far as Maude was concerned, it was colouring in, nothing more, nothing less. Feeling that being near enough to retirement age, she wondered how anyone could treat her in such a belittling manner, and she felt herself fast descending toward the bottom of the barrel known as misery.
Five days post admission, Dr. Miui came in one evening, and spoke to her about having Electro Convulsive Therapy, or ‘ECT’ as it was known. She discussed it at length with Maude, as she thought it might be the most beneficial and therapeutic option for Maude and her path to recovery. Maude wasn’t convinced. Two days later Keith dropped in to see Maude. A few well planned minutes later Dr. Miui appeared for Maude’s daily check in. With Keith there, Dr. Miui revisited the notion of ECT. Initially Keith was dead set against it. His wife wasn’t some mad cat woman that lived out of a shopping trolley, why the hell would she need it? After half an hour of discussion, and being shown a handful of brochures, plus the acute benefits of it as shown statistically, Dr. Miui had talked the pair around.
At 6.30 Monday morning, Maude was awoken by her nurse, given her day med’s, and told to hurry up and wait to be collected. Two and a half hours later, a young Primary Care Assistant, PCA, knocked on her door, waited, and then entered.
The walk to the ECT suite was no more than fifty metres from Maude’s cabin door. Bedecked in floral flannelette pyjamas, pink dressing gown, and slippers resembling ‘rabbit’s’, Maude was lead to a waiting room. She was seated, and told that she would be summoned momentarily. Four and a half minutes later, a smiling thirty something year old balding anaesthetic stuck his head around the corner of the waiting room door, and said ‘Mrs. Maude Smith?’ She stood, and followed him into a room resembling a small operating theatre. After being asked to remove her slippers, she climbed up, and lay down upon the theatre bed. An anaesthetist asked her if she had any allergies, then said ‘a little scratch………….now’ as he inserted a cannula into her cubital fossa. From there, her vision slowly blurred, a dizziness overcame her, and a young chap dressed in theatre scrubs held an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth. The next thing Maude realised was that she was sitting in a chair in what appeared to be a recovery room. Still groggy, she was asked by a bright and bubbly twenty something year old Registered Nurse if she would prefer toast or a toasted english muffin, and then what would she like on them? Stating figuratively that a muffin would be just the ticket, with marmalade if they had it. Three minutes later, Maude was eating a toasted muffin, savoured the tartness of the marmalade, and was surprised to find the dryness of her mouth made eating no easy task. Once completed, she was handed a cup of white tea strong enough to stand a shovel upright in, and relaxed. The same kindly nurse who had produced her muffin’s checked her pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen saturations. Finding them to be within normal range, Maude was shifted from her seat into a wheelchair, and pushed back to her room.
Thanking the nurse, Maude stepped out of the wheelchair, and plonked herself down on her bed. Wondering what to do next, she stood, wandered into the ensuite, and showered. Taking her time to wash her hair, brushing her teeth, and examining herself in the mostly fogged up mirror, she truly saw herself for the first time since Brooke’s death. The naked woman staring back at her looked vaguely like someone she once knew. Although someone older and more drawn. Her hair, even though entirely soaked from the shower, was greyer than she had ever seen it. She had lost weight, her breasts looked smaller, flatter. She could see her bottom ribs just showing through her near translucent skin. Long forgotten stretch marks, tiger stripes of pride hard earnt by heavily pregnant women the world over, showed. She didn’t remember the last time she had noticed them. Was this woman, the woman in the mirror, really her? The mother of three? The wife to Keith? A primary school teacher who had taught generations of children.
Yet this wasn’t her. This wasn’t the person she knew. This wasn’t Maude Smith, nee ‘Ross’.
This was someone else.
The woman’s name was on the tip of her tongue, yet it escaped her. Was it the ECT? Short term memory loss was a well-known byproduct of it, as was the lessening headache still lurking behind her eyes.
Drying and dressing, Maude sat on her bed, gazing out of the wide tall garden facing window. Sun shone, clouds romped across the sky like sheep fleeing the wolf. She saw birds, yet the glass rendered birdsong obsolete. Slipping a pair of closed toed, well worn Birkenstock slip on’s onto her feet, Maude went exploring. She found a ‘brew room’ and made herself a black sweet coffee. Next, she wandered down the hallways of the North Ward, smiling at all of those she passed.
Over lunch, Maude asked if four ladies at a table would mind her if she joined them. When, smiling, she was invited to sit, she planted herself between an empty chair, and a red-headed lass roughly twenty years her junior. Striking up a conversation, she went to introduce herself as Maude, and stopped herself. The name, her name, ‘Maude’ sounded like a lie to her as she caught herself.
“Call me Pam.” she said with a genuine smile on her face. She oddly felt happy. “Have you ladies been in patient’s long?” was the continued reply, and in that moment, Maude Smith died forever, and Pamela Trout was born phoenix like from her names ashes.
The after effects of the ECT had absolutely nothing to do with her identity transference.
Click the picture, one of my favourite tunes. The inimitable Kavisha Mazzella, magnificent; sadly this isn’t the best audio copy.
(+61) 0418393742 – text only
All posts and associated intellectual properties regards ‘’ remain ©The World Turned Upside Down.
Any associated artwork is sourced through ‘Pintrest’, all music through ‘Youtube’. Neither are owned by ©The World Turned Upside Down.