I was stuck at St. Alban's during Christmas. I made the mistake of staying at the hospital rather than going home. My fear was, despite how well I had been doing, I would go home for Christmas and not want to come back to the hospital. I knew that I still had to make more progress.
Since I was the only kid left in the adolescent unit, I would have to be shipped off to another area where there were actually nurses working on Christmas Eve. But before I got there, I got to take a field trip off campus.
Hank was one of those really cool guys. He was one of those guys that wasn't afraid to take risks if it meant making the kids he worked with feel a little normal while they were in the hospital. So while I was stuck there alone, he decided to take me to see Star Trek: Generations at the theater in Christiansburg. To this day, I don't know if he got permission to take me or if he just did it. Either way, it meant a lot.
And it was all okay until I was sent up to C-3. C-3 was the unit where they sent folks with the severe psychological issues. These were people who were possibly a danger to themselves or others. I wasn't allowed to bring anything from my room with me. I begged to bring my radio and was only allowed to do so when I explained that the cord was removable and it could work with batteries. Apparently a cord was a dangerous thing in a place like that. That sure didn't make it less scary for me.
I didn't see too many people up there that night. I saw a few of the nurses and only one patient. The patient was an older man in a straitjacket. He was in a bed that was literally chained to a column in the middle of the common room. He was singing Jingle Bells. God bless him... he knew it was Christmas.
I was a little afraid to go to bed that night. But once I did, I was really glad to. I knew that once I got up it would be Christmas. My family would be coming to visit me and I would be able to leave C-3. Christmas was the beginning of the end for my time at St. Alban's. But it definitely got worse before it got better.