Peggy McDaniel, BSN, RN, an occasional contributor to this blog, works as a clinical liaison support manager of infusion, and is currently based in Brisbane, Australia.

800px-Billiards_balls By Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry)/via Wikimedia Commons

I see, crossing my path as I ride my bike along the beach, a man in his mid-20s with sandy, sun-streaked blond hair and a long sharp nose that’s a dark, angry red. His gait is deliberate, arms and legs moving in sharp angles. Occasionally I’ve seen him sitting along the path, eyes staring out across the sea, chin on fist, always alone. As my bike glides by, I glance over at his face, which lacks all expression.

It occurs to me that the reason, perhaps, that I take notice of this man is because he reminds me of a patient I once had—Charles (not his real name)—who shared that expressionless gaze and deliberate gait, one that took him nowhere in particular as he covered miles every day.

I was working as an inpatient psych nurse and attending school to finish my BSN degree. Charles was intermittently admitted to our unit. He lived on the street, for the most part, and since I lived downtown, I’d occasionally notice him walking. It’s been too long for me to remember what brought him into the hospital. I’m sure it was a variety of things. A person had to be a danger to themselves or others to stay very long in the unit, […]