06:56, February 04 115 0 theguardian.com

2019-02-04 06:56:14
My working week  'The x-ray of one man in custody shows 22 drug packages in his colon'

Monday

I’ve been called to see an 18-year-old man in custody. He threw a brick through a window just to get arrested because he had nowhere to go and wanted some food and somewhere to sleep. He looks likes a scared little boy, much younger than his 18 years; he certainly isn’t one of the hardened criminals I was expecting to see when I started work as a police doctor. The custody sergeant wants to release him as he has been in for 23 hours, but he’s threatening to kill himself if they do. After a long chat, he opens up to me, and I don’t think he’s suicidal. I make the difficult call that he is fit to release. I send him back out in to the dark rainy night, wishing there was somewhere nicer for him to go.

Tuesday

I am taking forensic samples from a man accused of rape. My job is to provide the evidence, not decide guilt. I tell him this, but he still works hard to convince me of his innocence. After four years in the job I’m still no better at knowing if people are lying to me or not. I generally want to believe them when they tell me they’re innocent.

Wednesday

A man has been picked up in the airport with a belly full of drugs. The x-ray shows 22 packages sitting tightly in his large colon. The police are jumpy because if they are bags of heroin or cocaine and they burst, he’ll die. The hospital won’t take him and so he sits in a cell while we all wait nervously for him to poo. I prescribe him some laxatives but he refuses to take them. Anything I can do to speed up the passage of the drugs from his body to the toilet could save his life.

Thursday

The police call me to see a regular who wants diazepam. He tells me he has just had an epileptic fit and must have it straight away. I’ve just been watching him taking flying kicks at the cell door on CCTV, so I know he’s lying. I tell him I won’t be prescribing him anything and he shouts, swears and threatens to kill me. I leave the cell quickly and share a light moment with the sergeant as we compare the insults we’ve had hurled at us over the years.

Friday

A well spoken 45-year-old woman is brought in to custody distraught. She is some way from my normal clientele. She lives in a village and was just popping out in the car to the nearest shop when she was stopped by the police and found to be over the drink driving limit. She uses her car daily for work, school runs and to visit her elderly mother. She is devastated to suddenly find herself in these less than respectable surroundings and she is also in despair at the catastrophic consequences of losing her licence. I do a blood test to confirm her alcohol levels. “I’m not a criminal,” she wails. “Anyone could have made this little mistake after two glasses of wine. Even you!” She points at me accusingly. I make a note to always live within walking distance of a shop.

* Ben Daniels is a pseudonym

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