Meet Harry

Meet Harry. He’s 20. He’s got severe learning difficulties. He has epilepsy. He’s a pleasant chap. Lies in bed with his etch-a-sketch and sleeps a lot.

Harry has a broken jaw, a broken fore arm (known as a night stick fracture, like putting your arms to defend yourself), he has bruises all over his body, a bloody and swollen mess, so much so he’s lost half his blood volume into the bruises and needed transfusion. He has 4 old fractured ribs, an old fractured femur (the longest, strongest in the body), old fractures of his spine and his back is covered with whip marks from an electric cord. He has a pneumomediatsinum, a fancy term for saying his chests been battered so bad that he’s punctured his lungs.

Harry’s dad did this to him. Harry lives with his dad. Harry dad is meant to be his care giver, meant to be the one to take care of him, to look out for him.

On his wristband it doesn’t say his name as a patient. It says Mr Unknown, so that in all the computer records he appears as an unknown, so that his family can’t find him and visit him and finish the job.

Harry’s dad brought him to A&E saying he’d been having seizures all weekend and injured himself with them. He disappeared pretty quick.

First time I met him he told me he didn’t like needles and to be careful cause he needed to stay safe and would he be safe here? He told me his parents did this to him and he needed to be safe from them. He said he didn’t want to see them and he didn’t know why they did that to him. Then he cried and said again that his parents did this to him. And I sat at the table opposite and squeezed the pen I was writing with so hard that I cracked it. I stared at the page so hard as I cursed his parents very existence with all the curses I could think of.

I live in an insulated bubble where things like this don’t happen. I live in a nice, peaceful, middle class world, in a nice western country where I don’t have to see things like this.

Me and his nurse spent the next hour discussing morality and God and existence. Yeah, I’m not perfect (who is?), but I’m not that. It resonated that I’d heard this from countless alcoholics in the middle of the night in A&E, who weren’t ready to admit who they were. Who lived on a slippery slope where there’s always someone else nearer the precipice. If there’s someone you know who drinks more than you then maybe you’re ok.

I realized, in a rare and brief moment of clarity that perhaps I’m not that far away. In a different country, with different parents, with a different psychology then maybe I could have done the same. The Nazis loved their kids. We all bleed red when we’re cut.

There is a difference between an excuse and a reason. One provides the potential for pardon, the other is merely observation. I’m in no doubt of my arrogance and pride. I’m in no doubt that I fall short of what I should be. But in my head that should be over looked. Cause yeah, I’m not perfect (who is?), but I’m not that…

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March 2007
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