October Hospitalization (P2 – Intake / Daly Regiment)
You could say that i made an entrance onto the unit. Coming in strapped to a stretcher (only to keep me from falling out , i had a free range of motion) wasn’t how i would have done things, but i didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. I would later be told by the person who was my roommate for the first 3 days, who arrived shortly before i did, that he was freaked by my arrival, as it was very Hannibal Lecter like being strapped down, hand at the sides, wearing red scrubs, and my eyes looking very distant, simply put he said he was scared (he put in his 72 hour notice when he arrived on the unit, the notice gives the staff 72 hours in which they can hold him, at which time if he is no longer deemed a threat to himself, others, or is not psychotic, he must be released, otherwise it becomes an involuntary committal).
The first several hours in the unit can be unnerving, you’re in a place that generally you never have been before, around people you don’t know, suffering from who knows what.
On top of that you’ve signed a paper that has given away several of your rights, essentially your considered to be temporally insane. Your also generally not in the best mental condition, i wasn’t, and while you may feel safer, it doesn’t mean your going to feel better right off. You hand over your belongings, some of which you get back later as long as they are not a belt or have some sort of string in them (so no hoodies or shoes unless you remove the strings), or are an electronic device. Your wallet and ID are also locked up.
Next is intake. Your assigned a nurse who begins the process of creating a “profile”. Your asked a variety of question about your history, illnesses, other hospitalizations, family, so on and so forth, including what brought you the hospital. This will be one of several times that you’ll be asked the same questions over the next couple of days, it gets old quick but there is a reason behind it. You are also apprised on the rules and regulations of the unit, when phone calls can be made, what are shower times, when is food service, what can be brought in from the “outside world”, ect. Your shown around the unit, 2 day rooms, a fridge, washer and dryer, 4 patient phones, 2 televisions, pantry area, Occupational Therapy room, several consult rooms, nurses station, showers, and finally your room. Oddly enough the rooms on my side of the unit had no bathrooms, were formally the rooms for the eating disorders unit. You sign some more paperwork and then your left to relax.
Yeah relax, great concept. The first night i kept my distance from most everyone, i did venture out into one of the day-rooms to watch the ballgame. While there i made 2 phone calls, one to my parents, letting them know where i was, how to reach me and when to visit, as well as what to bring. The second was to a friend, not AS (i had written down her number but i could never get myself to call her, as much as i wanted to hear her voice and have her reassure me that things would be fine, i could not do it… was probably for the best i didn’t), a friend from college, LP, someone i could trust, that understood what i going through, and could relay information out to others. I called her and asked her to handle my affairs online, specifically my Facebook. I also asked her to pass on a message to AS, that i was ok, and where i was, but nothing about calling me or visiting (not that i can recall). Their it was, i had signed over my life, both medical and socially. For how long, i didn’t know, and at the time i don’t think i cared much either.
The remainder of the night was me just trying to figure out the situation i had got my self into, while trying to watch the ballgame. Mind racing, thinking about things i should have not, and people i was convinced didn’t give a damn about me. It wasn’t fun. On top of seeing the faces of the others on the ward that also looked dejected and depressed. Some looked even slightly agitated. One was agitated enough prior to my arrival that he was placed in seclusion. In the end i was still feeling out-of-place, disconnected. Of course i didn’t say anything, but my nurse took notice. She came over and asked if i wanted to talk and i did. Also asked if i was feeling anxious. Given the circumstances the answer was yes. In my PRN were two meds for anxiety, one i had never heard of Vistaril (a cousin of Benadryl) the other Ativan. In the end the decision was to go with the Ativan. It worked.
Not to long afterward i started to get tired. Since the game was pretty much over, i got up and worked my way back to my room. Sleep wasn’t to much of a problem for me. Getting adjusted to your surroundings though is another question. Every 15 minuets, 24 hours a day you are checked on. Being that my bed was next to the door, i got to the point where i just would leave it open a crack at night and deal with the light in the hallway as opposed to the occasional clicking of the lock.
For the first couple of nights i had a roommate. A younger guy who was admitted just a couple of hours before i was. He basically said he didn’t know why he was here, sort of buyers remorse if you ask me, and that he signed his 72 hour form. He stated to me that he wasn’t expecting to get anything from his stay in the hospital. I sort of kept my distance from him.
The next morning i was woken about 7:45 (which comes to be the routine every day). Breakfast is usually up on the unit by then, but the first order of business is vitals (BP and Temp, sometimes pulse/oxy). Then the day nurse comes around and talks to you for a bit. This is where the three questions comes into play, rate your mood between 1 and 10 with 1 being despondent and 10 being manic (for the most part i was a 3), are you having any suicidal thoughts or have you had in the past 24 hours (the first couple of days it was yes, with the same plan that brought me in, even though i had no way to carry out the plan in the hospital) or if you didn’t wake up today would that bother you (i always though that was a silly question because if i didn’t wake up would it matter, but i get why they ask it, and for most of the time i was in the answer was no, it would not bother me), and finally are you having any visual or auditory hallucinations (answer was always no and eventually they would just stop asking me).
After breakfast you get no time to relax, at least in your first day. After the nurse and meds, a variety of different people want to come by to talk to you. From behavioral therapists to occupational therapists. They come by to introduce themselves, tell you what they do and how they do it, ask questions, talk about your plan, so on and so forth. Sometime in the first morning you see the psychiatrist, the first meeting is usually a longer one. The majority of the discussion is similar to that of intake, similar questions and all and then you get some feedback, what the plan is, what the outlook is, how things are going to happen, some other stuff. For me, the doctor stated that is was a good idea i came to the hospital, that i should be able to get a lot out of being here, i can recover, and my meds needed to be adjusted. Over time you’ll either feel comfortable with the doctor or not, but ask plenty of questions, give as much information as possible, and get as much information from the doctor as possible.Then groups start.
During the week your schedule from the time you wake to about 5pm is pretty much regimented, if you involve your self in group activities which are optional (but recommended and your participation or lack of does impact your progress). At this hospital the patients are split into 2 teams, there was apparently a reason for the split, but i don’t recall why. For my team, first group of the day was a nursing group (talking about the disorders, realizing the symptoms, talking about nutrition, ect), second was CBT group (perhaps my favorite). Then comes lunch (on monday and Friday it is followed by yoga, which i did for the first time and enjoyed), followed by the last 2 groups of the day, both Occupational Therapy (the first being arts and crafts, the second being about either relaxation or expression or reintegration into society). Then you have a bit of time before dinner and after dinner it was visitors for 2 hours, then some more down time then bed at 11:30-12. The next day it starts all over again.