Archive for February, 2007

Some symptoms you can alleviate and some you just can’t?

I’ve met a lot of mean people in my life and well, I don’t think their stripes will ever change.

Edit: There was a hyperlink here but the NYT archived the article. So for those of you that do not have online access to read said archived articles, here is the story:

Further Edit: You know, contrary to popular opinion(?) PA does have a conscience and you know, I just can’t bring myself to post the damned copyrighted article!

So I will give you a choice. You may either link to the NYT and just type in your personal info to access it (it’s free, no biggie) here. If it doesn’t take you directly to the article it is called “About That Mean Streak of Yours: Psychiatry Can Only Do So Much”

Conversely, someone else on their blog has posted it so if you wish to engage in illegal copyright perusal, you may read it here. They apparently have more chutzpah than I do.

This post has obviously been more stress inducing than intended for me. Maybe time for a yet another blogging break?

Hospitalization #5: Cutting – Medically Helpful Yes, Psychiatrically Helpful No

I had self harmed for the second time and required stitches. I knew that this would result in me needing to be admitted to the psychiatric ward but there was no way around it. The cut was bad. And really, I was in pretty rough shape. In retrospect, I think I had been cycling all over the place and had pretty much reached a peak. I knew the drill since this was number five. I packed a bag with all of my essentials, called a cab and off I went.

Now I had not been hospitalized in several years. My how things had changed! I was stitched up in the ER by a decent enough doctor who was certainly not unsympathetic. She wasn’t overly kind but at least she didn’t treat me in any negative way. I was seen by the Head of Psychiatry early in the morning and he actually remembered me from previous stays. This was kind of impressive but I really didn’t care. I just wanted to get out of the ER.

So there began my stay. I wasn’t sure how long I would stay but it quickly became evident that it would be the minimum 72 hours. The nurses were locked behind some kind of fishbowl and were completely inattentive or rude. And I don’t say this with any ill-tempered patient judgment. I love nurses! I wanted to be one! It is just plain fact. No one could get any sort of help if they needed it. You couldn’t even ask a simple question. You were routinely ignored. This was not the psych wards of days gone past!

So I actually took it upon myself to assist patients in need. Oh it was sad. One poor soul couldn’t even cut her food she was so distraught! She asked me to and I thought, well shit, half the time everyone’s so damn depressed they don’t want to eat, the least I can do is help the poor woman out!

I met a young-ish (slightly younger than me) man with Schizophrenia and we seemed to get along. He was terribly awkward and shy but he was somehow drawn to me and eventually we began to dialogue a bit. So one evening, we went and talked in my room (after I had stolen a bunch of scientific-type magazines to try and read from “the lounge.”) We were promptly interrupted by a nurse who told us that men and women weren’t allowed in each others’ rooms! What the…? We were just talking. What on earth did they think we were going to start doing? We departed to the “the lounge” where they told us we had to go but with everyone else congregating there and banging and clattering, he withdrew and no longer wanted to talk. Very helpful.

They did try to “stimulate” us with crafts and some type of art therapy. I was so bored out of my skull I thought I’d give it a try. And I was curious. I’d never done this while hospitalized as it was simply never offered. Well the crafts were a bloody joke. Something about making things called “happy boxes” or something with ridiculous cartoon quotes inside. I turned mine into something that looked like an acid trip/horror movie prop. I don’t think the group leader was amused.

The art therapy was kind of interesting, however. We were asked to draw “how we felt at that moment.” Then, if we could we were to try and explain the drawing to the class. Oh dear. I’m the sort of person that can’t really draw a straight line with a ruler. Most people drew stick figures representing themselves. Not me. I came up with something that was actually kind of impressive. In a freakish sort of way. Rather abstract and morbid. I don’t know if I impressed everyone or shocked them or a bit of both.

Anyway, after running around doing a whole lot of nothing, I decided to leave. My psychiatrist there was not willing to discuss any treatment options other than what he had already decided in his mind so I was out of there as soon as I could discharge myself.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part I

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part II

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part III

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part IV

Hospitalization #4 Overdose – Medically Helpful Absolutely, Psychiatrically Helpful Somewhat

I suffered my second and worst overdose and the last thing I remembered was opening the door for the paramedics. The next thing I remembered was waking up in the ER hooked up to several pieces of equipment many hours later. This obviously necessitated a psychiatric stay.

When a bed was ready for me, I was wheeled up to the ward and there I lay in that bed for several days. I did not eat much. I just lied there, thinking of what I had done. No one visited me. I don’t remember any of the patients. I don’t remember any of the nurses. It was like they were all ghosts.

At the end of my 72 hour hold, my psychiatrist asked me if I was still suicidal. I answered him directly that yes, of course I was. I always would be. That is what it is like to have Bipolar Disorder. It is just something that I would need to learn to live with and to manage.

He asked me if I wanted to go home. I told him yes and was discharged.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part I

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part II

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part III

Hospitalization #3 Voluntary Walk In – Medically Helpful N/A, Psychiatrically Helpful Definitely

I had a friend (from hospitalization #1…wait for it…) actually drive me to the hospital (and take care of my now deceased cat and apartment) as I felt that I was starting to lose it. I waltzed right in to the ER and stated something to the effect that my meds weren’t working and that I needed help. I was told that “they were full” and there was nothing they could do. I didn’t relish doing this but it was time to pull out the “crazy card.” Apparently my “cry for help” wasn’t loud enough.

I started crying, not really yelling but basically anything I could do to get their attention and indicate that I needed help. It worked and I was sent in an ambulance to another hospital. I was actually quite angry that I had to go to such lengths but it was worth it.

Catching yourself before you actually go into crisis, I find, is extremely rare. I don’t know how I managed to do it but I somehow did. I’ve certainly never been able to do it again.

This hospital stay was the most relaxing ever. The ward was quiet, I just stayed in bed and it was almost like being on holiday! Since I was not suicidal I didn’t have any ward restrictions, I could go outside for walks if I wanted, it was spring so the weather was nice so I did indeed go out for brief spells and sit in the sun.

After a week, I felt much better able to cope with everything.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part I

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part II

Hospitalization #2 Cutting – Medically Helpful Absolutely, Psychiatrically Helpful Toss Up

This cutting was very bad. It required surgery as I severed 3/4 or my median nerve in my wrist. All of the doctors were amazed that I did not hit any major arteries or veins. As a result, I was placed on a surgical ward and not on a psych ward. I did have a volunteer “minder” to watch me. I guess I must have been placed on some sort of “suicide watch?” I don’t really know as I was so completely out of my mind on either Morphine, Demerol or both I didn’t care. I do recall once that I did get up to use the bathroom and he started to follow me.

“Do you mind?”

“I’m supposed to keep an eye on you?”

“I have to go to the bathroom. Are you required to watch that too?”

Minder returned to his seat and awaited my return from the bathroom. Which was forthcoming and since I am still here he did a fine job of keeping me from killing myself.

This was a strange stay. I don’t even recall speaking to a psychiatrist and I was never moved to a psych floor after the surgery was done and I had a few days of recovery time. Again, I was simply given the option to go home. Maybe a psychiatrist came to speak to me when I was all pumped up on the pain meds and I don’t remember! HA! If so, I wonder what on earth I said! I do remember trying to talk on them and oh…I was making absolutely no sense at all. They just kept shooting me up and then gave me a self-administered unit… I don’t even know if I needed that much medication but I wasn’t going to say no to it. Not in that state of mind.

Probably the best part of that stay? The nurses! The nurses on that surgical floor were just the best. So kind and thoughtful. Always checking in on me and actually talking to me. They really made the stay so much better.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part I

When I had a psych consult earlier this week, one of the questions posed to me was, have my previous hospitalizations been helpful to me. On balance, I would say yes. I do advocate hospitalization whenever you are in crisis, absolute dire straits, suicidal or in danger of hurting yourself or anyone else.

I’ve been thinking of how to write about my hospitalization experiences for a long time now. I’ve had five, in total. I’ve thought over and over how to make it all cohesive and coherent but I’m not sure if I can. That might be okay as when you’re inpatient, you may not be all that cohesive and coherent yourself.

So I think I’ll just give it a go. Be forewarned, this will be long and will contain some rather…how can I describe it…intimate, graphic, ludicrous detail? However, this blog being what it is it should not surprise you.

Hospitalization #1 Overdose – Medically Helpful Yes, Psychiatrically Helpful Yes

Well, we’ve reached the long end of the road folks but hang on to your hats. This ride gets a little bumpy. This overdose wasn’t as bad as my second but it was significant enough. I did not lose consciousness but I did become very sick. Activated charcoal was used and that seemed to do the trick. But I had taken the pills dry (i.e. with no liquids–I had been driving) and developed a nasty case of thrush. And of course I would need to be admitted to the psych floor.

I was so scared. I had never been admitted to a psychiatric part of a hospital before. What would await me? But I was so sick and tired and completely a wreck that part of me just abandoned myself to the idea of whatever fate awaited me.

I was there for two weeks. For the first three days I was kept in a state of “detox” and literally did not move from my bed. Except perhaps to get up and go to the bathroom I just laid there and slept. I did have a few visitors but apart from that, they would bring my food, I would let it sit. I just laid in a ball.

The ward was noisy and large. This was a big hospital. I would try to shut the door but I was sharing the room with two other women. It was impossible to get any rest, any peace.

Finally on day three, the nurse stopped bringing me food. She told me that if I wanted to eat, I would need to come to the dining room like everyone else. Nice ploy. Trying to get me out of bed, are you? I wasn’t all that hungry, maybe a little bit but I was thirsty and I wanted my juice! I waited until everyone had finished eating and it was quiet and I snuck into the dining area. A few people still remained. I grabbed my tray and picked at my food, drank my liquids. A fellow patient asked if she could have my dessert. I gave it to her. A loud voice called over:

“Hey, we won’t bite, you know!”

I big smiling face looked at me. I tried to avoid eye contact. He laughed. “It’s okay. Really.”

And so began my “adventures” at this particular facility.

I spoke to this man as I continued to pick at my food. He was nice and made me feel more at ease. As a couple of days passed, I felt more confident and began leaving my room. I would always be met by him and he started introducing me to other patients. Pretty soon, we had a whole motley crew of us wreaking havoc.

We ranged in ages from teen years up to about mid-thirties and we all really got along. The man who I first met was kind of our “ringleader” and the one who liked to sort of act as a pseudo-father figure to anyone who needed one. I certainly didn’t but I allowed him to assume a “protector” role regarding me if it made him feel better.

Some of the things we did? We snuck beer into the hospital and a few of us got drunk. Some of us had off ward privileges so we could smoke in an indoor smoking area but otherwise, you had to go outside. Well, it was the dead of winter so a lot of the time, we’d just smoke in the stairwells. As for others? I’m not really sure but there were a few fights on the ward. Mostly verbal altercations. As for me? Well, a few friends came and took me out for dinner and I got drunk and came back and fell asleep in “ringleader’s” bed with him. It was innocent, we were just talking and I passed out! This next part…well, this was not so “innocent.”

I became romantically involved with another patient during my stay at this hospital. We also saw each other briefly when we were discharged as outpatients but the relationship did not last. I didn’t want to do it though! In fact, I fought it from the get go but this woman really got to me and being completely unstable…well, what can I say? Except: I do not recommend trolling for dates in a psych ward.

There was other zaniness. One “regular” to this ward was growing pot (and smoking it) in “the lounge.” He also–and I have no idea how he did this–stole unbelievable amounts of medical/surgical supplies from the hospital and hid them in his room! How he managed to get off the ward and do this unnoticed is unfathomable! Another cute thing he did was run around and steal afghans for all of the women on the floor because it was winter and he didn’t want us all to be cold. Once caught, we had them all taken away as they were made by some women’s auxilliary or something. And yes, stealing is bad.

What’s the phrase? The lunatics are running the asylum?

Ah yes…and another: Never as good as the first time.

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part II

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part III

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part IV

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad…And The Slightly Out Of Control? – Part V

Do you ever dream of your blogging life? That is to say, while you are asleep. I have said here that I don’t remember my dreams very often but lately I have been dreaming of blogging. I have also said that I wanted to try and use this blog to help me write more creatively. The following piece is based on a recurring dream that I had over and over as a teenager.

Speaking of other “dreams,” in my 20s I fantasized of becoming a “great writer” and eventually being published. I entered a Publishing Program in a university and the first thing I was told was that if you wanted to become a writer, do not enter the publishing world. I see.

I fear that I have suffered a bit of Hypomanic Hope-Extension over the years. It is similar to a physical condition that I sometimes experience as the result of taking my medication: Orthostatic Hypotension. With, OH, if you rise too quickly, your blood pressure drops and if you’re not careful, you may fall and hurt yourself. With HH-E, if you are in a somewhat altered state of mind and believe that you are greater than you really are, your hopes may be somewhat dashed and again, you may be at risk of falling.

Nonetheless, I am still trying to be “inspired.”

Here is the what would would greet me regularly upon awakening. And for those curious about dream detail it was always in black and white.

He called to me from high above the cliff top. I stared into the sunlight attempting to discern his shaded form. He beckoned me closer to him with the wave of an arm. I slowly walked in the heavy, thick sand toward the mountainside and began climbing. It was treacherous as I reached for any piece of abutment I could grasp. A slab of rock that jutted out or what remained of a long lost root of a tree.

Wasted of breath and damp with sweat I was greeted with the warmest of smiles. He was older than I had expected. Perhaps as old as my grandfather? And certainly much larger than the tiny speck I had seen from down by the shore! Not overly tall but slightly rotund. We did not speak but only stared into each other’s eyes. Nothing changed except his smile, which seemed to only feel more enveloping as it slowly crept further across his face

Finally, he broke away from my gaze and looked up toward the sky. He raised his hands toward his mouth and uttered something inaudible to me. I followed his eyes to the clear, cloudless sky and within seconds a gull came soaring over our heads. The man turned back to me and smiled his same smile. The gull disappeared.

I stared at him, slightly confused. The man began to laugh and shook his head. He repeated his act, raised his head skyward, called again, silently to the air and again, the gull returned. This time, I stared a bit longer at the gull in amazement. What was this power, this magic? Who was this man? I turned back to him to now show him my pleasure and satisfaction and to in fact, say thank you but when I did, the man was gone. I spun around and looked everywhere but could not find him.

I was being called, yet again but this time from back down on the beach. The man was now standing where I originally was when he first summoned me to him. I carefully climbed down to meet him, as I desperately wanted to see more! When I reached his side, he again lifted his head back and called to the gull. I waited and with certainty the gull returned.

I watched it float effortlessly above us but after a few minutes, its flight changed course and it plunged directly into the ocean. I stood stiff with horror. I waited. Endlessly. Finally, I saw something shimmer in the water, not merely the bright sunlight’s reflection but movement. It was something round. First one, then several figures. And then they all grew larger. They became the bodies of SCUBA-clad divers and in their arms they carried a young woman.

Kidding. Again.

I received an email over the weekend with a link to some research (or as stated from the outset, a hypothesis) about Paternal Age and Schizophrenia. There’s a wee bit about Autism in there as well. The person suggested that I have a look at it and perhaps blog about it.

Well, I’m not sure what to say other than a) it was interesting b) I have always loved genetics c) I am not an expert and d) I suppose I am always happy to satisfy what small reading public that I have.

I have also survived a rather long psychiatric evaluation today and am rather exhausted.

So perhaps I will just throw out the link and see if it engages any interesting discussion or debate. Perhaps you, dear readers, will be able to stimulate me further.

If interested, please read about it here.

Hey, I don’t “dedicate” posts to just anyone! I’m kidding… Listen, I’ll dedicate a post to whomever wishes. Just send me an email! I need all the inspiration to blog I can get, believe me.

So -byrdz- commented on my “Earworm” post below about what the theme song was for House since my last MP3 was that damn song that keeps appearing all over the place on medical dramas. Blame Grey’s Anatomy for carrying the torch.

So anyway, I tried to help out with my pithy response that it was “Teardrop” by Massive Attack featuring Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins on vocals. I’ve really liked both bands for years.

So in honour of that, I’ll now host that song. Looks like I’m starting a trend of hosting medical drama “theme” songs. Oh dear. That is not a good sign.

Gastro Update

Well, I went to see my gastroenterologist yesterday. I went alright. Considering my “doctor anxiety” I was actually feeling quite fine about it. He seems like a decent enough guy and I really want to get moving with all of this.

For those of you not up to speed, after my first consult, he had sent me for some bloodwork and an x-ray. I was kind of unimpressed as I knew I needed more. The x-ray was not discussed (I knew it would reveal nothing) but the bloodwork was mildly interesting. Hemoglobin normal (as were Thyroid, Glucose…can’t remember what else was ordered) but some mild “abnormalities” showed up with iron and inflammation markers. However, they weren’t off the scales so nothing to be alarmed about?

I have indeed lost more weight. More than I actually thought I had. About the same amount that I had lost in several months, now over the course of a few weeks. That appears to be a bit of a concern? We both agreed that the cumulative amount is rather high for someone who is not actively trying to lose. And yes, I suppose losing weight so rapidly is also…well, perhaps indicative of something? Who knows…

So an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy with appropriate biopsies have been ordered. But not for another two months. Oh, how I wish it was sooner!

I came home and told my partner. She positively hit the roof about the weight issue. She told me I an “gaunt.” I am not. I am not emaciated. I am thinner, to be sure but I am certainly not gaunt.

She has taken it upon herself to start buying me Ensure for sustenance. Or at least she said she would. Eating is troublesome, yes. I am currently trying to choke down some oatmeal as I write this. I tried to explain to her that sometimes, oftentimes eating hurts! She is mad at me for not eating. I am trying. I don’t want to fight about my medical conditions and appropriate treatments…I’m too tired and I feel I need to pursue things on my terms. I know she cares but last night when I was simply trying to express my feelings–well, there was some dissent.

So anyway, that’s the scoop for now.