Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Recent Hospitalization (Part 2)

After a long couple of months of a deteriorating mental health status, of pure misery, of truly touch and go symptoms, feeling completely out of control, and wanting to end my life so badly; I made the decision to go to the hospital. I stopped denying the situation and blaming it on life situations and took the first step in taking control of the situation. The decision to go to the hospital followed weeks, maybe more, of absolute pain and suffering that no longer felt bearable. I made the decision that I would go to the hospital on Thursday night, December 19, 2013. I had decided that I would go after the work holiday party scheduled for the following day. I just had to get through a few hours of work and a few hours of the holiday party Friday.

With tears in my eyes, I told my mom of my plans and told her I would be going by myself and I would update her of the outcome. This night, Thursday night was the first I was able to cry in a very long time and it felt good. After telling my mom of my plans, I did my laundry, I packed a bag, and I prepared myself as best as possible for what would be. Mom took care of telling the rest of the family for me. As I left for work the next day, I took my carefully (hospital approved) packed bag with me. I threw it in my trunk to be forgotten about for the day but that turned out to be impossible. Everything made me think of the fact that I would be taking myself to the ER after work with hopes of being admitted, losing all independence for at least a few days. I was concerned. I was concerned about almost everything.

What if they don’t hospitalize me? What if they just send me home? I’ll probably end up harming myself! How much should I tell them in the ER? I don’t want to be involuntarily placed in the hospital if they think I’m too much of a danger to myself! What if the hospital is not a kind and warm place to be? What if I feel like they’re not helping me? What if they don’t discharge me when I request it and I’m stuck there? What if I’m not out in time to return to work on January 2nd? What if I can’t have access to water all the time? I’m always thirsty! What if they don’t give me Ibuprofen for my neck when I need it? What about tums? I’ve got terrible acid reflux! Will they give me tums? How am I going to write? I need a notebook without metal spirals (Dad saved the day on this one)! Will they let me have pens? What can I have? What about my psoriasis? Will they allow me to have my cream for that? Can they even help me? Maybe I’m too far gone! What can they do in a few days for me? What if? What if? What if?

It was a night and day full of what ifs?!?! My brain just couldn’t stop thinking of what could go wrong and start thinking of what could go right! I pushed myself through work and through the holiday party. It wasn’t really that hard to do because it was keeping my mind occupied. Partly through the day, I sent a text to my mom “I don’t want to go to the hospital alone.” She agreed to meet me at the hospital when she got off of work. I got out of the holiday party around 3pm and headed over to Saint Joseph’s Medical Center (SJMC). I sat in my car in the parking lot of the E.R. with about 45 minutes to kill until my mom would arrive. That is when I wrote my thoughts and feelings down to assist me with communicating effectively with the hospital staff. Some of those thoughts and feelings I posted last night. When I completed that I just enjoyed (or tried to enjoy) some music while waiting for my mom. I did not want to go inside without her. Eventually, just before 4 p.m.,I went inside because I had to go to the bathroom so badly. Mom arrived shortly after I checked in and remained with me until I was transferred out of the ER.

They called me back to triage me after only a 10 minute wait in the waiting room. When I told them I was having suicidal thoughts, they quickly changed their minds about the normal triage process and took me back to a room immediately. Once in the room, there were 3 nurses surrounding me while I had to take my clothing off and put on a hospital gown. One was taking my blood pressure, another asking me questions, another preparing to take my blood. It was all incredibly overwhelming. No surprise my blood pressure was sky high. Higher than it’s ever been. Wouldn’t anyone’s be high with three nurses surrounding them like that? When they all finally left my room, I sent one to get my mom out of the waiting room. While they were getting her, the one nurse, who was set to be my nurse for the remainder of the shift came in to talk to me about what brought me into the hospital. She was incredibly kind and caring and didn’t once make me feel any shame for being there. Instead, she made me feel comfortable being there and as if I had made the correct decision in going. She told me she was sorry I was feeling that way and she hoped I feel better. In fact, just about everyone else I came into contact with in the ER made me feel that way. The nurses and doctors in the ER were incredible! It was the complete opposite of some of my past experiences at.

First, I met with a medical doctor to receive medical clearance. That happened pretty quickly. I’d say within an hour or so of arriving at the ER. I met with the Social Worker pretty quickly as well. I then had to wait for the Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists in the evening hours at the ER are more of an on-call type position and I had arrived shortly after shift change (darn). Once the Psychiatrist arrived she met with me pretty quickly and agreed that being an admitted was the best thing for me at the time. I signed the voluntary papers and she and the Social Worker began working on getting insurance authorization and checking if a bed at Saint Joseph’s was available. I lucked out, a bed upstairs (one floor up- directly above the ER) in the Psychiatric Unit at SJMC was available and my insurance authorized me to stay. I was however, worried that I wouldn’t receive enough treatment. The Social Worker in the ER told me I was only authorized through Monday December 23rd. My mom and I were worried that I would basically just be in the hospital over the weekend and weren’t sure how effective that would be for me. Would I even see a doctor? A Social Worker? Would they help me find a new doctor? A therapist? I was worried! I was stressing a lot about the Monday timeline! Once I got on the unit and spoke to my doctor it became more apparent that they would obtain an extended authorization as needed and they did just that. My authorization was extended until Thursday December 26th

After talking to the Psychiatrist, finding out there was a bed on One West (the Psychiatric unit), and finding out my insurance authorized the stay it was just a matter of the nurse calling to One West and letting them know I was ready to be transferred up there. Unfortunately, just as this happened, my nurse was called to an emergency which took quite some time. I was stuck in the ER waiting for a bit longer. It took about an hour and a half to two hours from the insurance authorization to my transfer upstairs. I still thought the timing was quite good. I arrived at the ER around 4 pm and was transferred to the Psych unit just after 11 pm. The last time I was hospitalized, I sat at GBMC for about 16 hours with a bed awaiting me at Sheppard Pratt while all I was waiting on was medical clearance. 7 hours seemed great to me! Everyone in the ER was truly incredible and caring. It was a very positive ER experience.

Once I got on the unit, they went through my stuff and took a few items I couldn’t have; I did a pretty good job of packing to psych hospital standards. They then did my intake, gave me my medication, showed me my room and I was out like a light! I was woken up bright and early for a blood draw and then my vitals. I saw a Psychiatrist first thing Saturday morning, which eased my stress a lot!

More to come on my actual stay on the unit!

Thanks for reading! Until next time…
Sara Breidenstein

Kissing Stigma Goodbye

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