3/4/14 - ECT
I, along with my RLE, went to visit the chronic pavilion at NCMH to witness a live ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) being done on an actual patient. When we entered the pavilion, the putrid scent greeted us the second we walked through the poorly lit halls that led to what they called “wards”. The condition of the patients was very pitiful, because they are literally behind bars. They don’t have beds or pillows or blankets, and by the looks of it, one tiny cell holds about 15-20 mentally-ill patients. And for the first time since our first duty day at NCMH, I actually felt like I was in an asylum. It looked like as if the place came straight out of an Outlast game, like maybe if you’re trapped there alone or maybe stayed through the night, you’ll probably go out of your mind yourself. Patients were laughing all by themselves, rocking back and forth alone in an isolated corner, cursing and spitting at the nurses, and just plain going crazier and crazier by the minute. Pavilion 5 was indeed the epitome of a mental health facility.
Before we entered the pavilion, our clinical instructor warned us that most of his students who have seen a live ECT became frustrated afterwards, and boy, he wasn’t wrong. For the sake of gaining experience, I volunteered to support a patient while volts of electricity ran through her brain. She was crying and laughing at the same time, and her arms and feet were restrained down to the table where she laid waiting for the doctor to reset her neuro pathways. I was anxious, and all the while, I was trying to imagine how it must feel like to be in her position. And then it happened. The moment the probes touched her temporal area, she started convulsing, and I was there, just mere inches from her, feeling her body shake violently, and seeing saliva flow out of her mouth. I was there, and I was able to see and feel it up close.
When we were about to leave the pavilion, I told my RLE mates that I was frustrated about the whole thing. I told them that I pity the patient, because she had to go through this barbaric, yet medically-acceptable procedure to get well. And then this one person told me, “Bakit ka naaawa sa pasyente?” (“Why do you pity the patient?”) I looked at him, and said, “Malamang maaawa ako, Tao yun eh.” It would’ve been fine if he asked me once, but then another RLE mate expressed her sympathy for the patient, and he repeated it again, asking why we pity the patient. I mean, what in the world is wrong with him? Doesn’t he feel anything for the person? The patient just went through 150 volts of electricity given to her, and he doesn’t even care. One of the values our college is trying to instill on us is the core value of Compassion, but this person, he doesn’t have it. And if his attitude towards patients is like he doesn’t even want to care, I don’t think he should be in this profession at all. But the thing that really pisses me the most is the fact that it’s as if he’s trying to question how I feel. I mean, what is it to him anyway? If I feel pity for the person, I feel pity for her. It’s not his business to meddle with my feelings or to question me about it. Disappointing, really.