i don't know what her real name was. i never learned it. a lot of people up there got nicknames, like all the bobs, just so we could keep them straight. i mean, you're up there and in the space of a week there's five guys named bob so you give them nicknames. you have to. it's not the sort of place where you're on a last name basis.
but tornado girl was special. really special. you know she's special when a roomfull of junkies looks up and says: "wow. this one's special."
it's hard to convey in print what it felt like to be indoors with her, much less indoors on a locked ward with her. she had obviously stocked up but good JUST before she had come in and the check in process had gone just a little too long and she was expecting the people in the hospital to replenish her supply of drugs immediately upon her arrival on the ward.
that was her approach to detox.
a refreshing approach, actually. a lot of people when they come for "detox" from one drug ask for substitute drugs or drugs that will ease their pain and take the edge off their discomfort. but not tornado girl.
"i'm here because i really need to get off of adderall", she would tell you, very loudly, and about two inches from your face. "and i NEED MORE ADDERALL. MY DOCTOR SAID I COULD HAVE MORE ADDERALL. OH, MY GOD! I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH A DISORGANIZED HOSPITAL. I HAVE A LIST OF DRUGS MY DOCTOR SAID I COULD HAVE. IT'S TIME FOR MY XANAX. I'M SUPPOSED TO HAVE PLENTY OF XANAX. AND I'M SUPPOSED TO BE GETTING OFF ADDERALL. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT WITHOUT MY ADDERALL????"
among us, we had a combined great deal of experience of a great many witnesses of a great many detoxes, and we all agreed that this girl was special. we had to hand it to her that this was one approach to detox that we had never seen before.
and we were lined up for dinner, getting counted, a thing you have to do because they count you against the list of who has walking privilege and they count who shows up at the door and they round up the tardy ones and then they have to hunt up four staff for each traveling patient and they count you again and a nurse has to sign off on it andjust as thy're putting us through the "airlock" tornado girl's psychiatrist comes to meet with her for the first time and we all look at each other and we say "is that who she go assigned to? oh, that's not good" because when you come in the first time you're assigned at random to one of the floor docs but tornado girl has a sense of entitlement slightly longer than all of her DNA if you unwind it and lay it end-to-end and the doc she's been assigned is the one i have cheerfully nicknamed "the arrogant bastard".
now, "the arrogant bastard" is a crack psychiatrist. the man knows what he's doing. i just think that his personality style and tornado girl's sense of entitlement are going to meet in a perfect storm and it's going to be a bumpy ride on the ward.
which of course it is.
the farther tornado girl goes into withdrawal, the more she likes to talk about it with me and anyone else she can buttonhole. and her idea of the perfect conversational distance goes from four inches to about two, and her idea of a perfect conversational volume has increased proportionately.
at some point she starts making a lot of phone calls and we all pretend we can't hear her but we're secretly taking bets as to whether or not anybody will try to dissuade her when she tries to check out.
we hope not.
and nobody misses her when she leaves.
we just clean up the trailer park and get on with it.