I sitting opposite my patient, the patient that the police have managed to stop from killing himself. This wasn't a cry for help, he had chosen three different suicide techniques, and then tried them all at once.
Blood drips from him onto the floor, he's crying as well so his tears mix in with the blood. Mucus is dribbling from his nose as he lets out huge heaving sobs. The police officer with him rubs his back with a gloved hand with her other hand she holds his arm, to stop him beating himself. The officer has formed a bond with my patient, one that I won't be able to replicate in the short time he is in my care. I leave the police officer to it as she's doing a fine job, one perhaps not in her normal job description.
We let him have a cigarette in the back of the ambulance with the doors open to let the smoke out, we are thankful that it's not a cold night. It's not 'allowed' but sometimes you have to break the rules for the patient. This is only the second time I've let someone light up in my ambulance. I'm away that the curtains are twitching in the tower blocks around us. A real life soap opera, entertainment illuminated by blue flashing lights.
He tells us the story of his life, one of pain and the worst forms of betrayal stretching from his childhood to the events that have brought him here tonight. Sometimes he has shown weakness, at other times a strength that I'm not sure I would have had. Often I wouldn't believe such stories, he won't meet my eyes as he talks but, instead of signifying deceit, it only makes his words truer. As his story comes to a conclusion I can see why he would want to kill himself. Everyone he has ever trusted has turned against him, not from simple neglect but from active abuse.
We leave him at the hospital, a side room with privacy. I thank the police officer for her help. I book him in, then head back to station to mop the floor of the ambulance – to remove the blood and the tears. It's my last job of the evening so I drive home. My car radio stays off, I drive in silence.
I have known him only for a moment, the police will know him for a little more, the nurses longer still.
But what he has told me will stay with me.