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Friday, January 18, 2019
Clothes, coffee & Coroner
(May 12th, 2018)
I was awakened at 6am by a nursing assistant knocking and opening my door. I was told to get up and report to the large room with the tables and TV. When I got there, I was called out of that room to have my blood drawn. I remember feeling like a robot. Get up, go here, do this, go there - I had no emotion. I felt hollow, empty. I've tucked my emotions for so long that I still can't regulate them. I returned to the large room and started to get a glimpse of who my fellow patients were. Some had been here a few days so they had already formed relationships with other patients. Some sat alone. Some were very talkative. Some were super loud. Some had their heads down on the table sleeping. Some were yelling for coffee. I remember sitting at the table by myself, again robot-like, and someone came over and told me hello. I appreciated that. Anyone who was here as a patient was obviously not having the best go at life right now and this was reflected by appearances, dress, grooming and impatience. I did notice that some patients didn't come out of their rooms. Later I found out that they were new patients and were so medicated for their detox, that this was normal for them to sleep or stay in bed all day initially.
Coffee was brought in the large room, placed on the table, and attitudes changed. Patients rushed the coffee table wanting some sort of warm caffeinated fix. I waited for the rush to clear but soon found out that the coffee does run out. I was part of that rush every morning after that. Later I found out that it wasn't even caffeinated coffee. It was decaf.
Breakfast was served next. It was brought in on a cart, already served up in individual boxes from some outside food source. It wasn't bad and I actually ate a little. Vital signs were next. We had to line up down the hall and each have our vital signs taken. I won't say that all patients waited patiently for this to happen. You see, once vitals are taken on everyone, it's smoke time outside. People were yelling at people to "hurry up", "get in line", "shut up and eat so you can get your vitals done". I observed, trying to get an idea of the daily schedule here and quickly found out that smoke breaks were what most patients revolved around. When your vitals were taken, you were also asked when your last bowel movement was (I'm surprised I'm even writing this on here). If you know me, you know that this type of information about myself is never discussed with anyone. Well here, they ask you out loud, in front of everyone, and you have to answer - out loud. They also ask you if you are suicidal or homicidal and chart your responses.
I not only learned that smoke-break time was important to most, but I also learned that this is the only time that patients get to go outside. You are locked in this facility with windows that are shaded out. I don't smoke but I definitely went outside to breathe. The area outside for smoking was approx. 500 square feet. It was fenced in by about a 12 foot high security fence. There was a tall tree in the middle, some concrete with chairs and a small grass area. I still didn't really know what part of town I was in. If you smoked, you had to get in line for your cigarette. I think I was the only one not smoking that day. I found a spot on the concrete under the large tree and sat down by myself. I remember another patient bringing me a chair to sit in and I was thankful for that. At this point, I am still wearing my green paper scrubs but was told that my family was bringing me some clothes soon. Smoke breaks lasted about 20 minutes and excluding all the smoke, being outside was medicine to me. I felt the sunshine, saw the sky, and heard the birds. This sounds corny but it was all I had to treasure here up to this point. We were corralled back in for medicine. Another line, another wait, another robot-like task to complete. I was given my anti-depressant medicine and a vitamin. I had to take it in front of the nurse and step aside for the next person. 24 hours prior to this moment, I was the nurse. Now I'm the patient in the hospital.
Shortly after meds, we had a little down time where I took a short nap and was notified that my mom and sister brought my clothes. They were not allowed to see me and had to just leave them. I had clothes! My clean, smell like my house, clothes. I was thankful. Now it was time for a group session. Up to this point, I had never taken part in any group therapy as a patient. We all had to report to the large room where a social worker was going to be conducting a group session about coping skills. There wasn't much participation - some people slept and some people participated. I observed. I then met with a medical doctor, someone from the Coroners office, and a nurse practitioner. I was asked personal questions and lots of questions that lead up to why I had been PEC'd. Just recounting the events that lead up to my admittance made me feel disgusted with myself.
Visiting hours were from 3pm-4pm everyday. This was bittersweet. I deeply wanted to see my husband but was ashamed at my behavior as well. I requested medicine to help me with my anxiety because I knew visitors were coming and I had no idea how I would explain my actions. Visitors had to sit across from patients and we had to visit in the large room. During mom and dad's visit, I found out that my sister, her husband, and 3 of their children were involved in a terrible wreck and were all injured to some degree. Some were hurt more than others and some needed surgery. My poor parents! I'm in here and my sister's crew were struggling as well. It was a low time. My therapist visited with me as well and then spoke with my parents who had gone outside to allow Darra and I to visit. Darra and I hung on to each others hands like Jack and Rose did in the icy cold water scene on the movie Titanic. We were holding on to each other for dear life trying to discuss how to move forward.
I met with a Psychiatrist late in the evening and we discussed my current medications and the plan for my stay. Dinner was served and toiletries were brought out for showers. I showered, washed my hair with hand soap and prayed that I could get a comb through it. I still haven't really met my roommate. She has been sleeping and requesting headache medicine since she got here. She was detoxing from Alcohol. Maybe she will get up tomorrow.
Throughout the day, others were brought in on stretchers getting admitted, wearing green scrubs, and starting their journey.
I was ready for bed - sad about how tomorrow was a holiday and devastated that I would be in here instead.
My brother was out of town working during the initial days of all of this. He sent Darra a picture to give to me. I was thankful.
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