The back entrance to Action Ward was through the old front door entrance then turn sharp left
Into the male dorm
Today I've been clearing out old cupboards in the living room and I found an old photo of me and several staff and patients from Acton Ward at the West Cheshire Hospital from my student nurse days. We were all posing uncomfortably at a table in a cafe near the Delamere Forest . Four of us were raising tea cups , as if they were cocktail glasses.
I had thick brown hair and looked gauche
Even now, 34 years later I can't show the photo here....which is a shame
She'd been in hospital 16 years,
Ever since she was just 17
And she was still unfit to be discharged home
She had been living on action ward for a decade
Her name was Heather and she wore a purple home knitted cardigan and too much plastic jewellery , the kind little girls wear when they are 5
Her hair was short brown and she had bald spots from rubbing her head on the ward walls.
I was told she was schizo- affective whatever that meant
All I knew was that she a "nasty piece of work"
She was unpredictable, emotionally labile and at times very unsettling to talk to
I was 21 years old and she had slapped me twice already during the first week of my 12 week placement .
She had slapped me very hard too.
It felt a baptism of fire and I was frightened
One morning she cornered me in the vast ward kitchen when I was stirring a large metal container full of porridge .
There were no alarm bells back in 1984' you just yelled if you needed help
Heather lent back against the door and purred like a cat
"What would you do if I slapped you again ? "She taunted, confident in her position of power
It was now or never I thought grimly
And I lifted the porridge covered ladle slowly out of its tin and wagged it until the slops fell on the floor
" Come near me again......... and I'll whack you very hard with this" I told her seriously
And we looked at each other for an absolute age
Finally, Heather smiled and waved a hand encrusted with plastic rings like Henry the VIII at the Royal Court
"you'll do " she sang out with a smile
And she never EVER slapped me again