I’d started getting restless. It was obvious that I was getting overcooked.
I’ve heard staff and patients carry on about the evils of becoming institutionalised. Getting used to being taken care of. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced that but I do know that after a certain amount of time in hospital I start feeling very anti-institution.
It’s not that it doesn’t happen – for the long term unemployed chronically unwell, particularly the youngsters, hospital seems be their primary social outlet. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why that’s problematic. But me, I’m independent by nature. Even six weeks in I’m struggling to take set meal times in good humour. Breakfast at 7.30-8.30. If you sleep in like a normal person who hasn’t got anywhere to go, bad luck it gets cleared away and you miss out. Lunch at midday. Dinner at 5.
I miss being able to go for a walk without signing out and specifying a return time. I miss driving. I miss having the freedom to choose what I eat. I miss baths. I miss shaving. I miss being able to watch more than an hour of youtube videos before I’ve used up my downloads for the day.
I’d established on fluoxetine and had seen definite improvements. My irritation had toned down a lot and I was feeling general good will to those around me. Even hearing guitar boy mindfully strumming away down the corridor didn’t make me uneasy at all. I know my irritation towards him has been unfair; he keeps to himself and refuses to participate in the drama and politics of the other youngsters on the ward. I can respect that.
To test my anxieties I went on leave one night with BF for a dinner and movie date. A few weeks ago that would have been impossible but with the improvements I’d been seeing I was keen to try some regular world stuff again.
It went well. I sat through it, even though it was a long movie and the cinema was very crowded. I’m still hyperaware of the movements of all people around me so when there’s a lot of people in one space I get overwhelmed. There were no meltdowns in the cinema that night however.
After last week I finally felt that I’d had some quality time with my therapist. I was talking with her on the Tuesday of that week, saying that I was doing so much better in just one week and that I’m totally ready to go home. I was prepared in my doctor’s appointment that week to ask for a discharge appointment on Friday. She reminded me that, being a voluntary private clinic, I can actually leave whenever I damn well want.
Generally when a patient has reached the end of their treatment plan discharge planning begins a week or two in advance. We talk about the support systems that we have in place, which outpatient therapists we’re going to see, whether or not a referral to day programs is appropriate. The doctor has to record a final diagnosis (which in my case is practically a paragraph) and fax a bunch of discharge summaries to our various community care providers. The number of appointments is usually planned around the patient being discharged on the day of the last appointment. As we know however, patients can abruptly decide to check out without discharge planning.
I hadn’t had those conversations with my doctor yet. I like to think that discharge planning for me isn’t hugely complicated; my care team is well known to my doctor and hasn’t changed much in the last few years. I believe she was waiting to see how I established on fluoxetine before she started talking about it but in our appointment she accepted that I was doing better. I told her I wanted to leave tomorrow. I expected her to be taken aback but she said she was willing to support that, and set about writing discharge summaries.
Given that I’ve mentioned patients checking out without discharge appointments several times now, you’re probably wondering…how does this happen? Well, all it takes is to inform the nursing staff and they’ll bring you the discharge papers. My doctor ordered them and that evening a nurse sat with me and asked me a bunch of questions from a sheet of paper like, did I have accommodation? (yes.) Who would be picking me up? (BF would.) What is your plan for the next few weeks? (moving house.)
I signed off on my details again, and when they provided me a feedback form, I wrote about the Christmas fiasco, saying I think everyone would have coped better with some more staff on. That was that, and she left me to pack my things.
The morning of my
victorious exodus discharge I was really only waiting for one thing before I could leave – scripts. And the CMO took his sweet time with those. BF arrived at 9.30, we got kicked out of my room at 10 so they could clean it for the next patient. We finally got hold of him at 10.45
And by then I’d started feeling unusually drowsy. While we were waiting for the scripts the nurse unit manager burst in and asked me if I noticed anything different about my medication that morning.
As soon as she asked I realised what must have happened. I take 80mg of zeldox a day. 60 at night, 20 in the morning. This morning I’d taken the 60.
My nurse came in at 8 as I was preoccupied with trying to force my running shoes into my carry bag (how do I end up leaving with double the clothes I came in with?) This particular nurse hadn’t dealt with me and my meds before. I took the cup, swallowed it without looking and got back to work.
I couldn’t remember if there were extra pills in the cup, but I did think it went down harder than it usually does in the morning.
The nurse was trying to say that my meds couldn’t have been wrong because I would normally question them if I saw something odd. And it’s true, after the contraceptive pill debacle I always looked over my meds before taking them. This mornings, of all mornings, I decided to make an exception. ARGH.
So my return home wasn’t the joyous occasion it should have been because I rolled straight into bed and crashed, leaving my poor BF to work on his laptop instead of celebrate. Then I couldn’t sleep that night because I could only take a 20mg tablet to balance the overdose out. Nurses, take note. Double check what you’re giving out, just because it’s not life threatening, doesn’t mean this shit doesn’t matter!
So that’s it. My rehab journey this time around. I may do a post talking about what I’ve been up to since I’ve been out – I haven’t been overly interesting but there has been some changes.