From Jester To King LXXVII
By Simon Barget
They wanted to inject me in the head when I was younger. I was never sure whether it was the depression or that they thought I was full-on mentally ill, at least the way they treated me made me think there was something gravely wrong with me. The clinic was set up like a conveyor belt. There were a few people in front of me hung on what were a little like meat hooks, and then this automated machine would bring them round closer to the doctor who was to administer the injection. The machine was just this very basic contraption configured on those curtain runners all of the partition curtains in our hospitals are attached to. They clipped you in and then there was a very basic support so that you were able to sink into somewhat of a seating position. And having all that time to watch the people in front of me undergo it made me naturally more averse to having it done to myself. I don’t know why the injection had to be in the head. Anywhere else and I’d probably have gone for it. And so my time came up and the doctor was preparing the ampoule and the syringe all in plain sight, not really talking to me much at all – there was no nurse – just really in his own world and waiting for the conveyor to bring me round. And I’m not sure whether he was expecting me to comply as possibly everyone else did -- which might have explained his tendency towards silence -- but the guy ahead of me who I recognised from previous visits to the hospital is up for his turn, and not that I have decided either way at this stage, well to my surprise this guy doesn’t submit completely, he actually gets up and out from the contraption and remonstrates before clipping himself back in and letting the doctor administer. Some strange fruitless show of defiance. That he put up a fight probably emboldened me, and where I’d previously thought that you couldn’t decline the treatment, I was starting to think that if I didn’t want this injection then I damn well didn’t have to have the injection and when the belt comes round to very near where the doctor is standing, I immediately tell him I will actually not be having the injection thank you, I say it very calmly but emphatically, perhaps too calmly so that when I am enunciating the words, the doctor is still in the throes of his administration procedure and is just about ready with the syringe just behind my neck, when I realise I have to move as well as talk, so I haul myself up awkwardly into a standing position and manage to unclip myself. I could and perhaps should have run out of the room there and then. But I always felt a duty to explaining myself, so I start telling the doctor why I won’t have it, giving him all these reasons and back-stories, when the basic truth of it is that I’m just really scared, I don’t want to be injected in the head, and far from being swayed by my reasons or even softening towards me, it seems to make him even more determined to inject me. And then a nurse does come in and stands right by me to try to stop me moving, now with the benefit hindsight I can see this was all part of the protocol and that people of course did resist, and she starts telling me that I need to have it etc, and the doctor is telling me I need to have it, and it all starts to sound very persuasive and convincing and it is at this point that I realise that if I don’t go out now I’ll end up talking myself into having it so I dart out into the corridor.
But there’s no sense of liberation, none at all. No sense of feeling I got what I wanted, because now I’ll never now know what that injection might have made me. Maybe it was an elixir, the magic pill as it was touted to be, maybe this was the thing that could really have healed me, all these thoughts are going round in me as I walk through that corridor, weighing me down, that way a set of thoughts tends to congeal in your head and you can’t get those one or two thoughts out, and I wonder now that there was something about me that would set myself up for the treatment, I mean I voluntarily got as far as going into the room and getting into the contraption – true I didn’t know necessarily that the injection would have to be in the head – but I put myself in the situation and then refuse to go through with it at the last minute. Surely this was a bit pointless and waste of everybody’s time. But it is the tantalising nature of the treatment that takes you that far, that keeps taking you back, I mean if something promises so much, who are you to be able to resist it?