It’s been more than two months since my last blog post. This isn’t a good thing, but it’s a fact (which are rarely good things, I’ve found). I’ve been busy. I see that I last posted on October 16th; I had partial knee replacement surgery (a uni) on October 21st. Perhaps that is a suitable enough excuse. I went down the tunnel of physical therapy and knee-gazing after that. I had a second “uni” on my right knee two weeks ago, on December 16th. In between, I’ve been to the emergency room twice; first, my left knee wouldn’t stop bleeding the night of the surgery and then I decided that I needed to have a check-in with the psychiatric services of the local hospital. That last one may or may not have been a mistake.
Like I said, a number of things have happened and one of them was that after a two-month wait, I was finally seen at Bywater Psychiatric in Mount Vernon, WA. They are the rare psychiatric clinic that accepts Medicare, and I had an appointment to see a psychiatric nurse to try to get a grip on my various diagnoses and some pharmaceutical advice. This was all at the urging of my new primary care physician. He said to me at some point, “You need to see a psychiatrist to manage your psychiatric medications.” I told him that there are virtually no Medicare providers for this service, but his office came up with Bywater. I filled out a buttload of paperwork at their office and got the appointment 63 days hence. I was marginally excited. But when I got there, they made me wait past the appointment time which is not the custom in psychiatric services. So, of course I went into full Temper-mode and apparently displayed some symptoms that the clinic didn’t like. When I finally did see the nurse and told her about my various diagnoses, medications, and alcoholism, she immediately stopped the “interview” and told me I couldn’t be seen at the clinic, because I had “too many problems.” I looked around nervously and somewhat angrily and said “That’s why I’m here, man!” There was that look on her face of considering calling security so I hot-footed it out to the street. I may have shouted, “Fuck you!” as the door closed behind me.
I was furious. And frustrated and sad. My doctor later told me that she had that reaction because I am “dual diagnosis”–alcoholism and mental health problems–and many providers won’t deal with people of my sort. I don’t know many other head cases who haven’t tried to manage their symptoms with substances, inevitably leading to abuse and more problems. But I wasn’t having a rational conversation with this nurse lady. She was irritating anyway. That’s a story for another day. So, I had six minutes with her. My doctor then suggested I check myself into the hospital as a work-around solution to finding a psychiatrist, delicately insinuating that my melacholy would be best described as suicidal ideation when I got to triage. That’s how evolved our mental health care is in this country. I could follow this topic down several rabbit holes, but I would prefer to stick to the subject at hand: Me.
At first I refused my doctor’s advice, but the night that I drove myself to the ER was one of those nights where I was feeling myself disappear. At around 11 p.m. on a Friday night, I woke up my father and told him I was going to the hospital. I told him I wasn’t feeling too great and that I wanted to be dead. He wanted to know why. I said, through tears, “Well, I just do. Also, the doctor told me to go, so it’s going to be OK.” He looked uncomfortable and worried, but he let me go. It took about seven hours (from midnight until 7 am) to triage me and get me locked upstairs somewhere. When they asked me if I wanted to kill myself, I said no, I would prefer someone else do it for me. I wanted to add, “I’m that lazy!” but thought it wouldn’t help my case. They have to do all kinds of things, like page the roaming case worker and do drug and alcohol tests and presumably run your insurance. I’ve been to the ER for this reason before, and I was prepared for a long night of tedium. I brought a book.
I brought a bunch of stuff, actually. I have experience at Seattle’s Harborview Psychiatric Ward (the “good” one) and so I brought my laptop, several changes of clothes, make-up, knick-knacks, etc. These guys were having none of that, though. Apparently everything I had packed except for soft clothing was a potential weapon. It scared me that I was going to be locked up with people who considered shampoo bottles and mascara wands potential weapons. I won’t go into detail here, but it wasn’t the greatest place to be if you were depressed–a LOT of crazy packed into just about 7-8 patients. Fortunately, we all had our own rooms. My sponsor came on Saturday morning and brought me a Vanity Fair magazine and some library books. She was a little freaked out, I think. I have to admit that some of my peers were drooling and shouting a bit. One fellow kept insisting that each meal was his last before they came to get him for some hideous act he’d committed many years ago. He called his father several times to apologize for the upcoming onslaught of media attention and to say he was sorry in general. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of privacy because we didn’t have our own phones in our rooms like at the Seattle place.
I didn’t want to stay after I saw the psychiatrist first thing Saturday morning. He talked to me for about 15 minutes, tops, and proclaimed that I have bipolar disorder. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, so I wasn’t all indignant or anything. I just asked him about the side effects of the mood stabilizer he was proposing. He said bloating, and I said, “No way.” I’ve been bloated enough, you see. I’m done with the bloating. Anyway, he said Zyprexa is a fast-acting mood stabilizer and that I could switch once I was “normalized” (heh) to something called Lamictal which had a dangerous side effect of a deadly rash if titrated too quickly. So, I would need to slowly switch from one to the other med.
OK. Whatever. I wasn’t feeling very Jack Nicholson, so I didn’t rebel. I wasn’t exactly compliant but I didn’t argue. Let’s just put it that way. I wanted out but they said I would be going against medical advice and could possibly get involuntarily committed for 72 hours. I didn’t really see the difference, but I was willing to forego discussion of semantics. Also, the food was fairly decent there and they let you have graham and soda crackers any time you wanted them without remarking that gluten will kill you. For the last bit, there was a fairly nice fellow who suffers from schizophrenia, I think, and who was mostly just getting a break from his psychokiller girlfriend although he was worried about their child. We played Spades with defective cards for a while.
Then I left, after 3 days, with my little prescriptions. I saw my PCP two days later and he and I agreed I would give this new cocktail a whirl. So far it’s been fine. As far as bloating goes, it’s hard to tell during the holiday season, isn’t it?
It’s going to be 2015 in a few days, so I thought I would write a post to catch you up, and then try to be more disciplined in future with daily posts. Don’t worry about reading them all; it’ll just be the usual me versus them stuff.
Finally, here is a list of all the things that are new since October 16:
- Two uni (partial) knee replacements
- Ten pounds (oops, wrong way)
- I’m driving again
- Sponsor (she’s awesome)
- Boyfriend (more later, if he survives the Temper)
- Emergency Road Kit for my car (thanks, parents!)
- Pen knife and banjo tuner
- Nine-month AA coin
That’s it for now, yo. I’m going to try to post less on FurryBack and more on here. Comments, however banal, are always appreciated. It makes me feel less like St. Thomas Aquinas and more like The Bloggess. And nah, that ain’t me. It’s Paul Simon from Graceland, one of the most perfect albums of the last 30 years, fo’ shizzle.
P.s. If you don’t understand something, just ask. Or Search Engine it. I’m cray-cray, remember?
P.p.s. I’m going to see if adding “murder” as a category or tag will increase my readership.