Photo by jurien huggins on Unsplash
There are two very important people responsible for the discovery of Kevin on Unit A4. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Karl spent much of his time throughout the day sleeping. He did not sleep well at night and struggled tremendously to have clear thoughts that were not ruminating. He was anxious while awake, and he did not appear to be able to focus, probably because of the cloudy thoughts. Because of his need for sleep, some people did not know him well. Some of the other patients did not know his name. For those of us who were able to get to know him, he was very clearly an adventurous and creative young man. Each morning, we were asked to choose a goal to accomplish during the day. On one particular day, he chose a goal to think about something on his bucket list. In the evening, his answer produced quite a discussion. Karl would like to hop a train from Pennsylvania to California. He has no intention to buy a ticket. He wants to jump on the Union Pacific and go on an adventure. Of course, one of the other patients attempted to convince him to buy a ticket and do it legally to avoid a felony offense. He smiled and said it would miss the point.
Penelope was equally interesting but in a completely different way. Penelope may have been of slightly lower intelligence, but she was compassionate and motivated through socialization. She did not know Karl except in passing. She spent most of her time interacting with those of us who played with Corona (the red soccer ball). Penelope had a great sense of humor with the ability to laugh at herself and her inability to kick, throw, or catch the ball. Specifically, her ability to kick the ball was frightening. When she was not playing with the other patients on the unit, she was making phone calls. Penelope had been devastated by a boyfriend who stole all of the money from her bank account while she was in the hospital. She was hurting and trying to convince herself that everything would be fine, so she was doing everything she could to create joy.
The day Karl and Penelope had their first real interaction was the day Kevin was born. While the majority of the patients were playing Corona ball, Karl was sleeping. One of the other patients asked Penelope to wake Karl up (without using his name). Penelope walked to his door and began shouting, “Kevin, Kevin, wake up.” She said that he stared at her with confusion and did not move, so she told him he had a phone call. Karl sleepily walked to the nurse’s station to ask about his phone call. The nurse on duty informed him that he did not have a phone call. As he walked into his room he muttered some expletives at the group. Penelope had no idea that she called him by the wrong name until everyone erupted with laughter and told her what she had done.
From that point forward, every incident on the unit that went wrong or seemed off was blamed on Kevin. The sprinkler incident and two other fire alarms were a result of Kevin goofing off. The extremely disruptive art therapy time was a result of Kevin goofing off. The confusion of the group therapists, art therapists, and techs or nurses were because of Kevin. On one occasion, Kevin was being rather boisterous. The art therapist stated that she could not hear the person she was speaking with. Kevin spoke about this and was interpreted by Madison, “I made ‘Gram’ (art therapist Linda) yell at us.”
Additionally, we convinced some of the people who do not typically work on the unit that Kevin was a patient. When they checked for the chart, it was no where to be found. Imagine the confusion for everyone who could not see or hear Kevin. Kevin was a joke among all of the patients, but he stood for something far greater. Kevin was a scapegoat for each of us to say what we were thinking. Kevin was an opportunity to create joy, comedy, and fun. Kevin was an opportunity to create personality traits in someone that represented the traits we wanted in ourselves. Kevin was a bad ass on Unit A4.