This is how it started. It was five years ago and I was a newbie partner still finding my feet around the council estates of Bristol. The call for a late visit came at 6:25pm. It was the police who had been called out to Jack’s flat by the neighbours who had noticed that he was running around the block screaming blue murder.
I hastily convened a GP meeting in the corridor, and after we had scratched our heads together, it was decided that I would pay Jack a visit. After all it was going to be perfectly safe with the police in situ.
There were only three police cars in the car park when I had been expecting some half a dozen. As I went up in the battered lift I looked at my own reflection in the mirrored wall - I looked terrified.
I squeezed my way past the neighbours to several police officers who lined the corridor. There was another huddled meeting, the long and short of which was that Jack was ‘off his head’ and needed to be sectioned now, but as he was in his own flat the police could not section him, and my services were required.
At this point I was shepherded into the flat with the police officers in tow. Jack was staring intently at the mute TV where Channel 4 news had just started. He refused to look at me.
I cleared my throat a few times, opened and closed my briefcase loudly and called him by name - to no avail. There was only one chair which housed Jack so I dumped my briefcase loudly on the floor and sat on it to think.
A police officer turned the TV off and Jack catapulted out of his chair to land inches from my face. I gulped in fear. He smiled.
‘I like your glasses,’ he said suddenly.
‘Thank you. I got them in a two for one from Specsavers, although the nose pad did fall off after two days,’ I blurted stupidly.
He laughed. A police officer smirked. I gestured for everyone to move out for another team huddle outside.
‘He doesn’t seem that bad. I need to speak to a psychiatrist.’
Jack did get sectioned that night by the psychiatrist who I called in. Thankfully he got better after a sojourn as an inpatient, and has forgotten and forgiven everyone associated with that eventful evening - except me.
As he walked down the corridor today after seeing a colleague, he gave me a wide berth.
- Zara Aziz is a GP in Bristol