Thursday, November 06, 2008
"Are you good at forensics," my client asked as I was on my way out the door. "Uh...what do you mean...forensics?" I was thinking chalk outlines, dead bodies in the basement and, perhaps, maggots. "I think someone is breaking into my house and poisoning me," says my client. She was calm and her tone was a lovely-day-we're-having tone. She showed me the rat poison scattered in her cupboard. "I put this here, but I didn't put the borax over here," she said pointing to a trail of white powder, all of it looking the same to me. I was standing in the kitchen with her and the flies were buzzing around the open garbage can and her little body was in front of the door and I looked over and...
why didn't I notice the lawn mower in the dining room before? It may have previously been concealed by the boxes leaking clothes and magazines. And here, folks, I don't mean a svelte push mower. No. This was a full on gas-powered mower (w/ clipping bag attached!) sitting right there.
"Rat poison is warfarin." She said cheerfully. Yeah, I guess so. Basically, rats eat it and bleed to death. And she pointed out that she's been having inexplicable bleeding. Sooooo, here's the thing: I've come to realize lately that I haven't always been asking the right questions. What do you say, here, when someone with a lawn mower in their dining room tells you that they are being poisoned? "Who is poisoning you?" was what I asked. That was probably the wrong question. I probably should have asked where she kept the rat poison motherlode and taken it away like I should have taken another client's 5 untaken Cipro pills away. Or hidden it. But, no. I got to hear the whole story.
And then she took me to her room and showed me the necklace in the vitamin bottle. "This was stolen from me and then I, later, found it here." And, so what is the wrong question to ask here? Yes. I asked it, "Uh, are you sure that *you* didn't put it there?" That took my client from pleasant to agitated. I should have asked how she thought it got there. I should have said, "Interesting." I should have asked about the lawn mower as a clever change-o-subject. So, to calm her down I said, "Maybe you have a ghost." and, weirdly, that did calm her down because she may have realized I was feeble-minded and that I just didn't understand. "No, I don't have a ghost." Flies buzzing in the kitchen and lawn mower looming I fuzzily lost all therapeutic communication abilities. I just nodded.
So, on the one hand, I'm glad my client is opening up to me a bit more. On the other hand, now what? Geez, what if my (I now realize) demented client is poisoning herself? And what's with the lawn mower? I'm back in over my head.