In case you missed part one of my voyage to Middle Earth, er, Loopy, click here.
I had this wooden bed with a comfy mattress that was “no longer bolted to the floor” as they said. But I didn’t lay there long because they called us for supper. People were already lined up, but the guy at front reading a book waved me forward. Ladies first. One of the other women bitched because she was a bloody Marine and didn’t need special treatment. Whatever. Women still aren’t paid as much as men. I take my perks when I get them.
The food was actually pretty good. I was warned against the Salisbury steak and took the Chicken Alfredo. Some of the others stared suspiciously at the noodles. And I thought I was picky. The cafeteria lady was simply charming, growling at us as we picked our food. A fellow Looney, Kleenex girl, said “Could you please smile?” Cafeteria woman glared and said “I AM smiling.” Right. Moving on.
They only had diet sodas. So apparently caffeine was okay, but not caffeine and sugar. Though you could have juice, chocolate milk, and dessert. Whatever. I got all of the above. No one said what I was limited to, so I figured I’d get my money’s worth.
We only had plastic forks and spoons. No knives. Nevermind that you’d have to work pretty hard to slice yourself or anything else for that matter with a plastic knife, we didn’t get one. This was okay with the noodles, not so much with the chicken they later served. I ended up eating it medieval style, spiking it with my fork.
Once back to the room, they served dessert, but did not allow us a spoon. Some wily people had smuggled their spoons in, but the rest of were out of luck. Apparently you can shank yourself or your pal with a spoon if you break off the handle. Thank goodness for the mental hospital, or I wouldn’t know half the ways a person could kill herself.
This wouldn’t have been so bad if they had served us cake instead of ice cream and yogurt. Try eating that shit without a spoon. We did it, sure, but wtf. I mean, why give that as dessert and not allow spoons unless you’re conducting some kind of bizarre experiment? Maybe that was the idea. If so, I can tell you the results. It annoys the mentals.
There was one big screen TV, but a lot of us, so you had to stay with whatever the person holding the remote picked. That turned out to be American Idol. I was just thankful it wasn’t Fox News, or I might have had to steal a spoon and shank someone. The Meatloaf dude won over the Katy Perry look-a-like. Yay.
We were given our pills in an orderly fashion. This is the point where they doubled my anxiety meds without informing me they were doing so. I wouldn’t figure this out for a while yet. They doled what were little more than hand towels for our showers. The Hitchhiker’s guide is right. Wherever you go, bring a decent towel. I didn’t have a towel, or any clothes at all to change into because I was waiting on my husband to come by with them. This had not happened. No big deal except that I really needed new underwear. There’s another lesson. Don’t just wear clean undies, carry another pair. I mean, you never know.
They had nothing in the bathroom, not even soap which seemed kind of unsanitary seeing as how you do have to pee and all. I got hospital versions of all the toiletries and took a shower. Normally I hate showers because mine has not been cleaned since Obama’s first term. But this one was nice except that it turned off multiple times and you had to keep smacking the button to get more water. But it was all mine and I didn’t have to clean it. Score.
Earlier I talked about how they made rounds every 15 minutes – and how the doors had to remain at least partially open. This is not so bad during the day, but kind of sucks at night. Especially if your tech has bronchitis and thinks she must yank your door open all the freaking way every time she stops by while coughing her head off. Twit.
The lights outside the room never go off, and the TV didn’t go off until 11 pm. Thank goodness for knock-out meds or I don’t know how anyone would get sleep. I did wake up the night twit tech went by and couldn’t fall back asleep so I cried. A really nice nurse stopped by and talked with me a little bit. “What can you do about it now?” she asked. Nothing. Good advice. I’m trying to remember it still.
There was very little individual counseling here. Almost everything was group. I think you’ll find that at many mental health places, because it’s cheaper for them. It sucks for the patients, though, because frack if you’re going to get some one on one anywhere, shouldn’t it be at the hospital? The shrink does stop by on certain days, but most of them have social disorders and don’t talk. I got sneaky though. Cornering nurses, getting counselors by themselves and at last resort, calling the Chaplain. We had fun dissing the Church of Christ together. I liked him.
Okay so I didn’t get to Nurse Ratched – yet! Stay tuned.
Earlier I said I would tell more about my inpatient stay, and I do want to do that in case someone else is scared to go to the hospital like I was. Every hospital is different, but if you are desperate enough, any hospital beats suicide, so please go.
When I finally decided to go (and undecided about 20 times while on the way there and in the waiting room) I was so terrified I was scaling my husband like a cat climbing a tree. It is safe to say that I have never been so scared in my entire life.
There were a lot of hoops to jump through just to get there, or rather, locked door after locked door. I went through most of these hoops with my husband and a nice young woman who was talking on her cell phone Zomg she did not have a cell phone. She was just talking to herself, like, a complete conversation. Also, she would cry for a few seconds, then laugh. I was certain they were going to put me in a room with her and then my anxiety would get so high I would literally stick to the ceiling. “Don’t worry,” my husband whispered. “You aren’t like her.” Wasn’t worried about that. I was worried that everyone was going to be just that cuckoo. And the ceiling thing.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t so bad. They put me in the Veteran’s unit, where there were mostly surly people like myself. The lady who was her own best friend went elsewhere.
All I had with me was my purse. They took it and locked it up. No cell phones here. No computers. (ZOMG the withdrawalllll) Also nothing that could ever, ever in your wildest imagination, be used to harm yourself. Like my shoe laces. I wondered exactly what you would do with shoelaces since they were too short for a decent noose then I thought well maybe someone could try to choke themselves, but that seems difficult, or cut off circulation, and then I thought, you know, I really don’t want to know. Please no one tell me. My shoes wouldn’t stay on without laces, so I had to give those to my husband. Also my hair clip. And my bra with the underwire. Thankfully not my undies.
Then a guy asked me to rate my depression and anxiety on a scale from one to ten. This would be the first of MANY times this question was asked. When I said ten (or really 20) on both, he said “If it’s because you’re here, don’t worry. It’s not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. They’re putting you in the Veteran’s unit. They’re pretty laid back over there.” You know, for mental patients. I was not convinced. They then separated me from my husband and my terror notched up higher still. They took me through more locked doors (up to the dungeon!) and into the unit. One guy was sitting out reading a book. Other than that, it was nurses. I sat and waited for them to take vitals while they pretty much ignored me. After a while, I started near hyperventilating with my crybabies, but most people in Camp Loopy didn’t seem to notice. I guess they see it enough.
Finally after checking me out for scars and bruises (I had a few but I explained that I honestly, for reals, just walked into walls on a regular basis), they left me in my room – one bed, some shelves, and best of all, no roomie. I think I was the only one who didn’t have a roommate. I’m not sure if it was because I was the only one paying with private insurance or I was just a speshul snowflake, but I didn’t care cause MINE. There was also a tiny bathroom with this tiny shower. It had a curtain in front of it, which was good, cause that was pretty much your only privacy. You had to leave the door at least partially open all the time. Rounds were every 15 minutes. These guys were really concerned about us. Also their jobs.
There were two types of employee there most of the time. The nurses and the techs. You could tell them apart by scrub color. The nurses gave you your meds. The techs . . . couldn’t give you meds. They could unlock the laundry room door. Cause of course the laundry room was locked. Nobody taking rides in the dryer here!
We had frequent “group time”, kind of like circle time in kindergarten. These were on the schedule which was mostly followed. I got to know the other inmates, er, patients. One of them pointed a Kleenex box at me and said I was making excuses. At that point, I just got upset. By the end of my visit, had she done the same thing, I might have tried to shove it up her nose. But she wasn’t all bad – really none of them were.
A few of them I almost never saw because they slept most of the time, in spite of the techs shouting at them to go to group, supper, etc. A few were just really quiet. The women were quite outnumbered – only four of us compared to probably thirteen, fourteen men. Hard to say since a few didn’t leave their rooms. Each day someone would leave, or a few someones, and someone else would come in.
I was there from Tuesday evening until Friday afternoon. Each day had different employees, different patients, and different rules. But there was still routine and best of all, no decisions to make. They told you when to eat, when to shower, when to go to group, when to take your meds, etc. For the first time in my life I did not feel responsible for anybody else but me.
. . . stay tuned for Nurse Ratched!