August 22, 2006

Hospital Stay #2

...At least I think Dr M is "older," whatever that means. I think he is, well, older than I, but in fact, since I rarely if ever looked at anyone in the hospital (though I screamed and swore at many) and have trouble doing so now, I actually have no idea what he looks like. For all I know he is younger than I and merely has a voice that sounds "old".

Be that as it may, most of the time the regular assigned doctors are rushed and their visits on the unit are notoriously brief, five minutes being considered a long time to spend with one of them. Most "sessions" are less than that and some what I'd call "drive-by." I don't know whether Dr M tended towards the longer visit or not but tops was five or six minutes, or had been for me.

Dr O, who is in private practice as a psychiatrist but also works in the Sleep Disorders Center at the hospital, is not one of the regular doctors, but obtains special admitting privileges when she needs to have a patient of hers hospitalized. At least she does that when I do, presumably with others as well...But she also spends much more time seeing me than the regular psychiatrists do, a half hour to an hour usually, 5 or 6 days a week, and it is above and beyond the call of duty. She did that kind of thing -- stay and talk, if not for a half hour, then ten to fifteen minutes at least -- with all her patients when she worked at the clinic and was an admitting doctor on the floor.

But this time, unlike the first time Dr M covered for Dr O, it was different, and I don't know why. I was lying in bed in the middle of the day, a Wednesday, doing nothing as I did most days, most of the time. I was finally off CO for a change, The Incident having taken place about ten days before. After Dr M knocked, came in and introduced himself, he actually sat down on the other end of my bed, rather than stand, poised to leave. He asked a whole laundry list of questions that I answered as honestly as I could, trying to trust that he, unlike all the other staff, might be on my side.

"Hmm, you're still pretty symptomatic," he said. "Do you think your medication is working?"

I was thinking only about medicine I'd been given for a relapse of neurological Lyme disease, which I believed caused the entire episode, start to finish; most certainly it exacerbated it. "The antibiotics? I don't know. I just started them. I have to wait a few more days."

I sensed a frown as he wrote something on his pad. (I think we argued a little about whether I was there for Lyme or for "a psychiatric illness"; I really don't remember, and it's not in my notebook.) When he got up to leave, he said, "Is there anything you'd like to ask me?"

I said no.

"Is there anything you want to tell me?"

I thought a moment, but came up with nothing. I shook my head.

"Good. I will see you earlier in the day tomorrow." He strode briskly from the room.

I realized with some amazement that he had just spent at least fifteen minutes talking with me. Unheard of. I wasn't sure if it was good or bad.

Not good, not good! screamed someone. You're a piece of sh--, you're poison. He's in with all of Them. Don't you know anything?

The next day when Dr M came, I was lying down again, but quickly pulled myself to a sitting position against the back of the bed, knees up defensively. Today was different. The evening before I'd come to "understand" that there was a Plan, a Game being played out here, staff against me, cat and mouse. I had a test to see if Dr M was part of it. The test was to answer The Questions correctly, as opposed to honestly, ie if the question was, Do you hear voices? to say, No, I never hear voices. On Wednesday, I'd said, honestly, quite the opposite. So today, if he accepted my answer, I'd know for sure he was in the Game against me and know it was time to get out of there, but quick before anything happened to me.

Well, he started with almost the same question at the day before: How are you? Then, I'd said I didn't feel much better than I had when I came in, though at least I had stopped screaming. Today I said only "Fine", the social response. He didn't raise an eyebrow or question this, simply wrote it down as if I truly meant it. How do you sleep? Now, I always sleep very very soundly, due to my narcolepsy medication, and have trouble if awakened too early as I emphasized Wednesday. Today I said something like, "So so. Not too bad." He wrote it down. Ditto all my "correct" answers, however vast the difference from Wednesday, only one day earlier. I didn't hear voices; never saw things in my life. The correct answers were obvious, this was not a diagnostic interview after all. You were presumed to know what you suffered from and be familiar with the laundry list!

Still, I expected him to detect my lies and know I was testing him and I hoped he would prove he was not in The Game or Plan. No such luck. Well, one thing was clear: I had to get out of there, no matter how I felt. It was no longer safe, if it ever had been.

The evening before, my fears had been confirmed about the staff. At Wrap Up I had come out and spoken openly. "I know you have The Plan," I said, with some hostility. "You've had it ever since I came. What I want to know is, how many are in on it?"

The staff member leading the meeting looked at me with surprise, faked of course. "We're all in it, Pam. We're a team and we work together on a plan for your care."

"So you admit it! The Plan is real! And everyone is in on it, even the patients?"

"No, why would other patients be involved? It's a plan for you alone..."

"I see. That's what I thought. What about their-- Oh never mind. You've already answered the important question, though I wish you hadn't said what you said."

Now it was Thursday and even Dr M had shown himself to be a cat, in on the Plan, playing the Game.

I shook off my feelings of dread and turned my mind to finding a way out of there.

Apparently we were thinking along the same lines, because when I asked if I could be discharged by Saturday, he told me that weekend discharges were rare, why not tomorrow, Friday?

"Sure!" I pretended to exult. Inside I trembled, wondering how I was going to be able to manage "on the outside" yet knowing I wouldn't be safe here, where The Game would have to come to fruition.

Dr M was already on his way out the door by this time and said as he left, "I'll see you tomorrow and make my final decision, but I think you can plan on it and call your sister. I'll speak to Dr O tonight and see what she thinks."

I'd eaten very little for most of my stay, having lost my sense of taste, due to the recurring Lyme infection and that night I refused my supper tray altogether, telling the psych tech handing them out that I needed to pack, I was going home tomorrow and would eat there. In truth, there was little to pack. Though I'd been there three weeks, I came in with only two small book bags, one holding clothes, the other notebooks, pens, a book and toiletries. I had only two large collages that I'd made on CO to add to that now. I put the bags against the wall, full, then lay on my bed and thought about what was going on-- the Game and how Dr M had turned out to play a part in it.

It made me furious that they had planned it all along, The Game Plan, and that they had maliciously sent messages to me and set traps for me throughout my stay...Not trying to help me, always trying to hurt me, laughing at me and mocking me. I knew they did this. I heard them doing so all the time! In fact, they enlisted the patients, to whom I never spoke, in this effort as well, so that everyone was talking about me, and laughing and making fun of me and my symptoms, the Lyme disease they didn't believe I had, every minute of the day. Even the TV made reference to me...

I stewed until the nighttime medication put me to sleep and was still in a silent fury, when I awoke.

(to be continued)

Posted by pamwagg at August 22, 2006 09:36 PM


After having read your blog, I could not help but conclude that this hospitalization was without any theraputic benefit, increased your paranoia(which, I have to say, was delusional on your part)and reinforced your belief that hospital staffs in general are invariably involved in a master plot against you. The only positive aspect from my perspective was that your Lyme phychosis was alleviated by reintroducing your antibiotics. I sound so judgemental, and I have no right to be. However, since I only know your side of the story, it leaves me filled with anger that there never seems to be any staff member who is able to earn your trust, treat you with the dignity that you deserve, or offer some sort of warmth or comfort to you. Now that you are home, and under the personal care of nurses who come to you to give you your meds, and hopefully chat about inconsequentials like the weather or ask about your poetry,I dearly hope that you will begin to feel well again and leave your thoughts of betrayal by those who are meant to help not hinder your recovery behind.
When I think of you, I smile,
Your very own T3

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at August 25, 2006 09:27 PM

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