Ohhhhh. So that’s what psychosis feels like…
It’s taken me a little while to write this one out, as I first needed to get over the experience before I could write about it. This was actually a fairly tough hospital incident for me. I don’t always breeze through bad experiences with unfaltering humor and ease, sometimes I falter – but the mass amounts of psychosis inducing drugs didn’t really help.
But this one was hard.
I’d been in the hospital for about a week, and although I was joking about my ridiculous experiences with entertaining roommates, the toilet not working, the desperation for proper food and my ridiculous vibrating bed incident, the truth was that by Day 6 it was all wearing quite thin.
See, I had to get back to my life. My husband. My kids. My dog. My non-vibrating bed. My job. My office. I was raring to get out of there and back to… well… the wild.
The truth was that I was tired of the toilet in our room not flushing and having to flush it by filling a bedpan. I had been kept in the hospital for an extra two completely unnecessary days because of a vibrating bed. I had been told by the weekend doctor that I would be discharged on Monday morning and I prepared to go on with my life, ready to go from the hospital to the office to home so I could hang out with my family and best friend that had flown in and was only here for a couple more days. I was ready to go.
The morning hours came and went. I queried the doctor’s whereabouts with the nurses, and they assured me that Rheumatology was coming. Lunch came with the return of the infamous Macaroni and Cheese Suspiciously Lacking in Macaroni. Still no rheumatologist came. The nurses were starting to get agitated, and bleeped the team again. And again. And again. Someone was coming, they promised me. They were just re-checking my MRI result from Friday.
3pm hit and I gave up any hope of making it in to the office that day. I was just done and ready to go home. Doctors came and went through the ward and past my door. I spent the afternoon sat up in my vibrating bed like a border collie, staring at the door with my ears perked, packed and ready to go the moment they arrived.
But still they didn’t come.
My other roommates that had been there for less time than I was for actual surgery were leaving before me. The nurses again promised that somebody would be coming – Rheumatology was on their way up. They had just been held up by something.
And yet still they didn’t come.
I had spent the entire day staring at the door waiting for a doctor like a wound up top. Nobody had come to hang out with me because we all assumed I would be going home any minute. My entire day, the third day, had been completely wasted again. I had kids! I had to get home!
And so… not a particularly proud moment… I lost it.
And I mean lost it.
At 5pm I burst into furious tears (why, why do I cry when I am angry??? WHY?!?!) at the realization that the doctors had probably all gone home, again. I couldn’t take this – I wouldn’t take this. I buzzed for a nurse and when she came I demanded to self-discharge.
She advised me against it, I didn’t care. I was done. My voice had hit that crying ‘dolphin-like’ octave and even I could barely understand myself. My cheeks were bright red and I was sending myself into another flare from the stress, but I didn’t care. Two other nurses returned with the form, strongly advising me against leaving and telling me that they’ve called the doctors again – they are definitely on their way up to see me right this very minute.
“I’ve been told that every 15 minutes for the last 9 hours!” I burst out, grabbing the form and pen and reading through the self-discharge form. Paul had warned me not to do this, that to do so would probably upset Dr Sarc the Great. But at that very moment?
I. Didn’t. Care.
I read through it and made some amendments.
I, ______________________, am choosing to leave the hospital
against the advice
of the consultant and medical staff… I
would have taken the advice of the consultant and medical staff if they had
f&*£%@g showed up at any point during the day!!!
(something completely illegible and tear-stained)
I then politely thanked the nurses, again declined their advice to stay put and stormed out of there with all the drama of a harlequin romance heroin – loud, audible sobs and all.
I got to the elevator – I just couldn’t think. I was still crying hard and couldn’t stop, thinking that Dr Sarc would be so angry with me and that he would drop me from his care, so I would probably die. I then figured it would be worth it just to spend the evening with my family, but I was also far too angry about the broken toilet (the least of my problems at the moment) to let that go – so on the ground floor I stormed over to the PALS office to make a complaint, but they were closing up for the night. As distressed and sobbing as I was, still wearing a hospital band, the PALS office woman just handed me a card with their complaints email and left me there crying outside their door.
And so I was lost in a whirlwind of emotion – I was angry and crying and scared and sure that I was going to be blackmarked on the NHS for being ungrateful and then left to die the next time I had a flare. It was so dramatic that passersby started asking me if I was okay as I made a beeline for the front door. All I could do was wail “I’m fiiiiiinnnnnnnneee – hiccup- eeeeeeee.” as my mind focused on just getting outside into the fresh air meaning that somehow everything would be immediately better.
I then realized that I didn’t have anywhere to go – I couldn’t call Paul, he was at his own doctor’s appointment and it would take him at least an hour to get here. I couldn’t take a taxi, that would mean having to go back into the hospital to use the ATM and I’d already made too much of a scene to go back any time soon. So I started walking to the tube, I would just take the tube home.
Still sniffling and sobbing as I walked to the tube in the dark along the busy Hampstead Heath high street, I was nearly at the tube when my phone rang. It was Paul.
“Why is the hospital calling me asking if I know where you are? AGAIN???”
So I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and let loose a torrent of wailing and self-pity to my husband on the phone, saying that there was no way I was going back to that hospital. I was going home.
People on the street started to stop.
He countered. “Look, I’m on my way. Just go back to the hospital so they stop panicking and wait for me. I will be there to sort this out. I’m on my way.”
I held fast. “I’m not going back to that hospital! My brain is fine and I feel fine and there is NO REASON to keep me there for another night! I just want to go home! I’ve been there for a week! A WEEK! I probably don’t even have brain damage!”
People on the street started to gather.
He played the ultimate card, the bastard. “Don’t go back for you. Go back for me. I am on my way and I will meet you there. Just do this for me. You don’t have to, but I will be really disappointed if you don’t go back there to wait for me.”
Touche, Paul. Well played.
“I’ll… I’ll think about it.” and then I had to go because I was getting another call.
In front of the crowd I answered it, just then starting to comprehend how large of a group had actually started to gather. It was the head nurse from the ward, she had tracked down a doctor and as soon as I got back she would personally go down to bring him up. She said I had already done the hard part, I had already had all the tests and treatments and I had waited so long, let’s just finish this properly and make sure I’m okay before I go home. Please come back. I started to cry again, softly this time, and told her that I would think about it.
And so I stood there, crying at my phone in the dark on the street, completely lost in my own head until a man gently touched my elbow and said:
“You should really go back to the hospital, dear.”
What? Startled, I looked around to the people that had stopped around me on the street – they had heard everything.
The small crowd nodded in agreement. I should definitely go back to the hospital. It would be best, they murmured at me. It was like I wasn’t even in my own head as this group of complete strangers kind of herded me around and back toward the hospital – some of them even standing there and watching to make sure I was going in the right direction.
So when a head nurse, your husband and a group of strangers on the street are telling you to go back to the hospital – you just go back to the hospital.
I’ve got to admit though, when I got back I looked a lot like this
The head nurse was thrilled. The other nurses were relieved. I was psychotic.
A doctor saw how distraught I was and called the rheumatologist on their personal mobile – then assuring me that the elusive rheumatologist was on her way up, I was to stay here at the nursing desk to wait for her. Okay, I could do that.
I waited for an hour and a half. For an hour and a half I alternated between standing by the wall or sitting on the floor in the corridor, softly crying. I had snapped, and was completely, utterly defeated. My husband was coming, but he was stuck in traffic. The rheumatologist was ‘coming’. The nurses apologized to me constantly, one even sitting on the floor beside me – saying nothing but just being there.
This went on for so long that the head nurse shouted something into the phone, went downstairs and brought up the Rheumatologist herself – walking through the ward door at the same time as my husband, kids and best friend. The cavalry was here yet I was numb. I don’t even remember what happened next, I just remember my husband talking with the rheumatologist and then leaving the hospital late that night in a daze.
I’ve still no idea why that all happened or how things got so dramatic – I normally am pretty chilled out with these types of things. I’ve narrowed it down to three possibilities:
I I got a taste of psychosis – a brain flare mixed with massive doses of steroids messed me up big time
I’I'm actually a Crazy McRaving-Pants
3. This hospital stay finally broke me.
All I know is that even though it was such a small, small issue – I’d never before felt so broken in my life.