It’s Early Yet

It’s story time again! Another good one from my days working at the psych facility. Just like my Steve story (if you haven’t read that one yet follow this link: as he plays an important part in this story too), it’s another one from the Adult Unit. Honestly, that’s the unit that provided the most entertainment at the hospital – for patients and staff.

Our story begins upon the admission of one of our frequent flyer schizophrenics. Let’s call him Tom for confidentiality purposes. Tom was in and out of our facility on a regular basis. Schizophrenics are notorious for going off their meds thus requiring hospitalization. Over and over. It’s a truly heartbreaking thing to watch and that’s why it’s important to find levity when you can. Back to Tom.

Tom, a Vietnam vet, was fixated on drawing pictures of attack helicopters. He spent his time in the Day Room either staring off into space, or drawing helicopters in his notebook. One indication his medication cocktail had kicked in was when he began to walk around the room, chatting to people, usually of the real variety. He liked to come up to the Nurses Station every once in a while to chat quickly with staff and ask us questions. It was always nice to see him making progress.

After Tom had been with us for a couple of weeks, he was more interactive. On this particular day, the charge nurse and I were sitting behind the Nurses Station charting. I heard a patient walk up and was pleased to see Steve with a smile on his face, asking how my day was going. We chatted for a few minutes, with the nurse joining in on the discussion, and before I knew it Tom had sidled up to the desk as well. Politely waiting for a lull in the conversation (more evidence his meds were working), Tom inquired as to how our day was going. It was quite pleasant. Truly. 

Just as Steve was about to excuse himself and go about his day of wandering the unit, Tom stopped our conversation in its tracks when he asked, “Shot any patients today?” Stifling a giggle I replied, “No sir.” to which he quickly replied, “It’s early yet.” And with that Tom departed.

At this point I was proud of both myself and the nurse for not bursting out into laughter. It was a truly herculean effort to not laugh out loud.    

Thankfully, Steve found the conversation amusing as well, however he was responsible for breaking our resolve to control ourselves. “Oh man, I thought I had problems!” he exclaimed and then walked away shaking his head. (Hopefully you took the time to read the earlier post about Steve, if not, here’s a quick recap – he thought he was God. When you’re done with this post, click that link above for the whole story. I swear it’s worth your time.)

That was it – the proverbial straw that broke the anti-laugh camel’s back. I was slightly surprised that I didn’t hear about an earthquake that day epi-centered at that very desk as the nurse and I were shaking with laughter so violently. At first I felt terrible for laughing, but then I looked up and saw the glint in Tom’s eye and the huge smile on Steve’s face. Even in the midst of their own struggles, these two men found relief in laughter – just like I do. 

Life is hard. But it’s a whole lot easier when you choose to laugh.

Thanks for sitting a spell with Tom, Steve and me today. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. Have your own story about a time when you chose to laugh? Let us know in the comments!

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