The Rehab Diaries Redux – Week 1

So I’ve been here a week and not much has happened. As I posted earlier we got off to a shit start when the admitting CMO fucked up my medication chart and it took an emergency phone call to my doctor to get me my regular meds.  She had to come in to the hospital the following day to change my chart to what it was supposed to be.  Next time I get admitted I will bring a list detailing exactly what I take morning and night in what strengths.

The changes to my chart must have rattled the staff too because for the next three days I was getting the wrong meds and sending them back. The other thing the CMO did to piss me off was to chart a new pill without telling me – a thiamine supplement.  This is apparently given to alcoholics to reduce the chance of brain damage leading to things like Korsakoff’s psychosis.  Not that I’m not happy to take it, I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to be informed of changes to my medication routine.

The staff have been doing the alcohol withdrawal quizzes with me but so far I haven’t experienced any of those insidious withdrawal symptoms. I was drinking a lot – think blacking out regularly a lot – but I guess I haven’t been doing it for long enough.

I was getting cravings though, and for very specific things. Like one morning at 6 am I was craving a long island iced tea of all things.  I’m not sure if I would have succumbed to that craving at home given the time of day, but that’s a dangerous thing to want.  I’m embarrassed to say that on my benders I would make myself two of those and go from there.

The other thing I want is vodka. I was getting that craving watching cartoons in the evening, when I would normally be drinking.  It was so strong I could half taste it.  I told my doctor about these cravings and she put me on naltrexone.  It’s a drug that won’t make me sick it I actually drink so it’s good for cutting down rather than cutting out.  She was worried it would make me sick but so far I’ve had no side effects, and no more cravings.

Even though the cravings are gone I still miss drinking. I told my doctor that I still have the attitude of “if I wasn’t here I could be drinking” and she told me that probably means I need to stay here for a few more weeks.  I’m not sure I can last here that long but we’ll see how we go.

I’m struggling a bit because of boredom. At home I was bored too because I’m unemployed at the moment but I have more limits on me here.  At home when boredom was getting to me I could get in my car and go to the shops or the beach.  Here I’m stuck unless someone takes me out.  My BF has tried to help by bringing a hard drive full of my favourite tv shows but you can only watch so much tv in a day.

I think the main reason I’m struggling is that I’m not really unwell. My mood is a little low, maybe from coming off alcohol, maybe from boredom but I’m not feeling distressed all the time like I have been on my previous admissions.  On all of them I have been starting new medication regimes and most of my time was spent sleeping off the side effects.  Now the only two new drugs I have don’t seem to have any side effects and I’m wide awake all day.

As per usual there are several group therapy programs a day going on here and I have been going to a few to fill in time but they’re a bit different to last time I was here; they are more discussion based and less skill based. I find them socially exhausting and I get uncomfortable when other patients overshare.

I’m trying to get used to the meal times here, particularly dinner which is at 5pm when I’ve barely digested my lunch. The food is very heavy so I try to go on leave for meals where I can.  My meds need to be taken soon after food; normally they give the night meds out at 8pm but I’ve been asking for mine at 6pm.  That means I go to bed at 8pm, which I don’t mind, but I’ve been waking up at 3 am when I would normally wake up at 6am at home when taking meds at the same time.

Not sure if it was my anxiety or my mania but I was a cantankerous bitch last time and literally everyone in the hospital annoyed me. Now that I’m not really unwell – except for the drinking thing – I find I’m more tolerant of the other patients.  There are a few that grate on me – like the one who’s singing loudly underneath my window right now – but not enough to waste my time thinking about.

My doctor has gone on leave starting yesterday so have to see a different one for the next ten days – although truthfully I don’t think I’ll last that long – the same one as I saw on my last admission when she went away. I’m apprehensive about what he will make of this new issue of mine as I found his approach a bit conservative last time.

And so I’ve made it one week without climbing the walls. I’ll be back next week detailing my experiences with this new doctor and group therapy.

 

Mac

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The Rehab Diaries Week 4 – Holiday Time is Over

 

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Finally, I got to see the new doctor.  He was a pleasant character and after a few leading questions I found myself pretty much telling him my life story, including how I had applied for medical school this year, and missed the UMAT cut off for my school of choice my just a couple of points.

He was supportive, saying that he had several patients who had gone on to careers in medicine, and some much older than me.  He tried to decipher my doctor’s notes – apparently he has typical doctor’s handwriting – and it appears that he eventually intends to supervise me onto 100mg of Zeldox, which would indicate 2-3 more weeks of rehab.  He told me that he would be putting it up to 60mg this week.

When mum picked me up for leave that afternoon I passed on that information and her reaction was one of despair.  How could I be there for a month?  Don’t my doctors understand the havoc I am wreaking on my family yet again? Thanks mum, real helpful…  (Actually I’ve been there for five weeks before but I think this admission will top that.)

If last week was the week of agitation, this week is the week of anxiety.  I’m still experiencing racing thoughts, racing through everything I could possibly be anxious about.  Just leaving the hospital makes me feel so ill.  BF and I were going to the beach last week but that’s out of the question now.

For some reason thinking about moving home is triggering me badly.  It’s just the whole moving process being such a pain in the butt, I just want it over with.  We’ve been going to my place to get bits and pieces and that’s so hard.  For some reason being in my suburb is giving me anxiety over the fact that it’s a super rough area.  Which it is, but I’ve lived there for two years and never been broken into or had any such trouble from the residents.  The drama stayed out of our house and on the street but still I can’t help agonising.  It sucks.

I’ve been catastrophizing something dreadful.  My mind latches onto a dreadful idea, and I can’t relax until I’ve been able to confirm it.  For example, while I was on leave one morning I became convinced that someone had gone into my room and stolen my contraceptive pill.  Which is ridiculous, right?  That’s a horrible thing to do and I haven’t even talked to the other patients enough to infuriate someone to the point where they would do that.  But I couldn’t let it go.  I ended up calling the nurses’ station and making one of the nurses check that it was in my drawer.  Which it was.

I’ve had many ‘ideas’ like this.  When I have them I make sure to tell the staff so that my irrational thinking is going on record because this needs to stop.  Of course the fact that I’m aware that these thoughts are irrational bodes well for me but it’s still eating me alive.

And then to add a poisonous olive on the side of this paranoia laced anxiety cocktail, I woke up one morning and the double doors between ward one and two had been thrown open.

Holiday time is over.

“Oh yes, we’re back to normal functioning this week.  Prepare for fifty thousand admissions.”  My nurse confirmed cheerfully as she brought my morning tablets.

I later found out that this number is actually closer to seven.  Admissions generally happen two days of the week, so they were able to stagger the patients coming in.

The advantage of course is that all the staff are running at full capacity, including the therapists.  Group therapy is back.  I gave groups another chance, and the first one I went to left me feeling positive – the therapist allowed us to check in, so the self pitying ramblers were not allowed to talk over anyone or hog the air time.

I’m certainly not above talking too much, and it’s something I’m very self conscious about; I’ve noticed in group therapy that those who talk the most tend to apply the skills the least and I can’t possibly be the only one.  I always cringe and swear I’m going to pass ever time they start going around the circle to check in but let loose when it’s my turn.  Those damn therapists sure know how to ask leading questions.

I was also eagerly awaiting the return of my therapist this week to finally start unpacking all this anxiety but my excitement was premature.  I saw her once before she had to go on leave for a week for surgery.  LAIM.  Am I going to get any kind of decent interpersonal therapy before I get discharged?

We’ll find out next week I guess.

Mac