Tedda, I can’t stop thinking about you. I read your article in yesterday’s paper about being released, in 1974, from the Michener Centre hospital. You had been unjustly imprisoned for nearly 20 years. I worked at that hospital while you were there. I am sorry, I don’t remember you. There were so many patients back then. Were you one of the silent ones, I often saw, your forehead pressed tightly against a tiny window, planning your escape?”
You write that, without warning, you were taken from the quiet farm you were brought up on and sent to live at the hospital. You couldn’t even ask why. Words, that sounded clear inside your head, became garbled when they came out of your mouth You were sent to a hospital for mental defectives because…show more content…
A patient regurgitated. The food was scraped off her face, much like feeding a baby, and shoved back into her mouth. The patients were relentlessly noisy, continuously struggling to bite the hands and spoons that fed them. Conversely, the staff were silent, eerily devoid of any expression, their movements minimal and purposeful. They bobbed and weaved gracefully, like in a dance, avoiding food that was spit at them.
The next room should have been, but was not, outfitted like a hospital room. I held my breath and listened, in awe, to deep laboured breathing fill the cramped space. All alone, on a tiny cot in the corner, the patient looked abandoned like an afterthought. Skin-coloured lumps, of differing shapes and sizes, smothered the patient's face and body wiping out any evidence identifying age or gender. The guide explained that the lumps were also inside every organ. She offhandedly, remarked, "This woman is 20 years old and will die sometime today." Horrified, I whispered, "Please don't talk like that in front of her." The guide shook her head and said, "It doesn't really matter. She can't hear us and even if she could, she wouldn't understand.”
On the children’s ward some children wore short, white, gown-like, straitjackets to stop them from biting themselves and to protect the staff. One little boy was so thin I found myself counting his bones. He was covered in weeping bed sores and numerous large