Is this a hospital?

Is this a hospital?
I shout to someone passing by
One arm in restraints,
No, so is this one but it has tubes running into it
I have never seen tubes that big
Hey! is this a hospital?
They don’t even look at me
Am I making any sound?
My ankles are stuck down too
I….
Here comes someone
Am I in a hospital?
She nods but I can’t understand what she’s saying
I feel OK, can you let me go home?
She shakes her head, then she leaves
I feel sleepy, what did she do?
My eyes can’t stay, I need to…..

It’s bright, too light, I can’t see
Wait, is that my mom?
What is she, no, she can’t be, dad?
What is going on?
“You’re in the hospital” she says
Why?
“That’s what we’re trying to find out” he says
When can I go home?

— GB

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Psychiatric or General

Some times I think about a giant what if relating to what happened and the end of my big psychotic break.  What would have happened if I had been to Sharp Mesa Vista hospital instead of Sharp Memorial hospital.  The difference, in case you’re asking is that Sharp Mesa Vista is a psychiatric hospital while Sharp Memorial is a general hospital.  I’m really not sure what would have happened if I had been taken to the psychiatric hospital.  I only imagine that I would have been required to stay there for a longer period of time.  Whereas the general hospital treated me with IV antibiotics for a urinary tract infection and released me to the custody of my parents after a week.  The reason I taken to the regular hospital instead of the psychiatric hospital is that my regular psychiatrist did not have privileges at the psychiatric hospital.  That should have been my first clue to drop his pill-pushing ass.  Anyhow, I don’t know of I would have been better off or worse off going to Sharp Mesa Vista, but given my categorical dislike for psychiatric hospitals, the ones I have been in, including Sharp Mesa Vista, haven’t been all that pleasant, I would have to say, I am probably better off.

Does anyone feel one way or another about their stays in psychiatric hospitals?  I’ve heard that some of them can be quite pleasant and rewarding.  Let me know what you think.

Back to “Level”

I was reticent when it came to getting ready for my last ECT treatment.  To begin with, I was already living North Carolina and I was going to have to go back to Sacramento, CA to have the treatment performed.  In addition, it had been four months since my last treatment and I was feeling pretty good.  Part of me was feeling that the treatment was unnecessary.  Furthermore, the doctor and staff had changed facilities since my previous treatment and I was nervous about how well they had worked out any glitches and issues that invariably go along with such a change.

The thing that bothered me the most was that after this treatment, I was going have to be responsible for myself.  For the previous two years, I was under the care of a psychiatrist who performed ECT, first in San Diego and then in Sacramento.  In both cases I received treatments on an outpatient basis.   Throughout that period, if I had a hiccup in my mood, I could have an ECT treatment, that day, which would bring me back to “level”.  That happened twice when I was California, once in San Diego and once in Sacramento.  In September of 2012, my parents and I flew to Sacramento where I had my last ECT treatment.

Now I’m in North Carolina, and while I have a Psychiatrist that performs ECT, local regulations require that ECT be performed on an in-patient basis.  So, I don’t necessarily have that quick ECT parachute that I did in California.  That’s not to say that I was more reckless when I was living in California, I just didn’t face the immediate possibility of having to be admitted to a mental health facility.  I don’t have the cushion of an “easy” ECT treatment as a backup.

These days, I have to be more vigilant in monitoring my moods.  If I find any issues, I can immediately get in touch with my psychiatrist who will fit me in.  We can decide what actions to take.  Medication change is the one that we both prefer.  ECT is not off the table but it is a choice we would both prefer to avoid.

I do need to say here that no matter how much I am opposed to ECT and hospitalization I am confident in my self and my psychiatrist that we will make the right decision as to what action to take.  If it should come to a situation where I am not competent to make a decision I trust that my parents would do whatever is in my best interest.

Let’s just hope it never has to come to that.

The Perfect Storm

May this be a lesson to all. Unless you’re a ninja, gymnast or MacGyver, if you should be handcuffed behind your back, DO NOT try to get your hands out in front of you by trying to pull them up and over your legs and feet. You will only find yourself upside down on the floor of the police car with the officers belly-laughing at you. They might even take pictures.

This happened to me in October of 2010. I had been undergoing ECT treatments for several months and I was feeling good. My employer had laid me off in September and I was looking for a new job. I talked with a guy I met through work, who worked for another company but we were on the same project. He arranged for me to talk with someone in his company and after several conversations with his hiring department I eventually set up an interview.

The meetings were scheduled to last a whole Friday. I went out and bought a new suit and crammed for the types of questions I expected to have thrown at me. I was very nervous for a few days and hadn’t been sleeping very well. When that Friday rolled around I arrived early for my day of examinations. I was relaxed and felt comfortable in the first meeting but as the day went on I could feel myself tightening up. As the meetings became more intense I was getting more uncomfortable. By the time I got to the last one I was just a ball of nerves inside but, I held it together for another 40 minutes or so. When we were done, I was asked to wait in the reception area for a little while. After about 20 minutes, the gentleman I had met last came out and told me “We just don’t think you’re a fit with us. Thank you for interviewing”.

The only other time I had felt so demolished was when I was told I had cancer. Still, I kept myself together, thanked the man for meeting with me and left the building. I drove straight home and took off the suit. Then events get a blurry. My parents had been staying with me this whole time but they were in Northern California for my mom’s high school reunion. I was home by myself, feeling very distraught. That is when my first “mini-break” happened.

I do not recall as to whether my encounter with the police was on Friday or Saturday night but I know that they detained me on the sidewalk across the street from my apartment and called an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. I’m still not sure who called the police on me but I have my suspicions. I’m also not sure as to why they were called. It will probably always be a mystery. It was while I waited for the ambulance that I tried the amazing handcuff trick and failed.

After I was released from the hospital, I assume I took a cab home, I got in touch with my father and they cut their trip short and raced back to San Diego. He told me not to leave the apartment again.

After they returned, an emergency ECT appointment was made. After telling the doctor about everything that happened and all the circumstances surrounding the “break” he pronounced my psychotic episode as “The Perfect Storm.” The stress and big disappointment with the job interview coupled with the absence of my support system and a few nights with little or no sleep, was all that was necessary to push me over the edge.

These days I make sure I get good night’s sleep and keep tabs on the support system I’ve built. I’m getting more and more independent and feeling safer and safer in my own skin.

The Show

“I saw weird stuff in that place last night — weird,
strange, sick, twisted, eerie, godless, *evil* stuff!
And I want in!”
— Homer J. Simpson

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends (ELP).  How do you gain admittance?  Just stop taking your meds for a while or you can work it old school and stay awake for 72 or more hours.  Given time, both are likely to get you a trip to the hospital.  And if you’re really on your game, you might get the deluxe, extended stay package.

The package includes one or more of the following:
a) Time to reflect in your own private room – sometimes it’s padded for your comfort
b) Exclusive vital signs checks at 1:30am, 3:30am and 5:45am
c) Medication special delivery (or retrieval depending upon your package) at 6:00am
d) All meals delivered directly to you room
e) Daily meetings with one or more doctors and counselors… whether you want to or not

If you mind your manners, take your medications and refrain from talking about little men that are trying to get you, you’ll be released after 1-3 weeks.  Once you’re released you’ll be thanking your lucky stars and your “cruise director” that you didn’t get the regular package.  That one is filled with roommates, discussion groups, regular interaction with one or more of your “fellow travelers”, exercise time and meal time.  Whew!! You should be glad you dodged that bullet.

Now just where did that little man go? I think he stole the keys to my house.

Still in the dark

When I start to go anywhere near that time, walls start going up and I start shutting down. I’ve only even been able to approach it in the company of my psychiatrist, therapist, or peer support group. With that in mind…

It was in early August, 2009. I was flying high. I was living in San Diego and I had recently gotten a BIG promotion. My company was putting me through grad school. Things couldn’t have been going much better. I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I really needed but with everything going on, I was getting enough.

It was early Monday morning and my work cell was ringing as I stepped out of the shower. My boss was on the other end and she said that everyone was worried about me and that she and another one of my co-workers where there to take me to the hospital. For some reason, I didn’t argue with her. I must have known that things with me weren’t exactly as they should be. It wasn’t until much later that I found out how bad “exactly” was.

That Monday was a blur of doctors and nurses and emergency room attendants. When all was said and done, I found myself in a private hospital room, hooked up to an IV and a pulse monitor. My boss showed up a little while later. She told me that she had called my parents and that they were on the way from North Carolina and that the hospital had called my psychiatrist (though I hadn’t seen him yet).

When the hospital doctor made his rounds, he informed me that I had a very serious bladder infection and that I would have to be on IV fluids and antibiotics for a few more days. It wasn’t until my psychiatrist showed his face on Tuesday that things became a bit clearer. He explained to me that the bladder infection was interfering with the antidepressant that I was taking and that this is what had caused me to act the way I did.

Act the way I did? I was still in the dark about that. I would stay in the dark for some time to come.