Monday, March 25, 2013

Hospitalization (Part VI)

Read the first five parts of this story here:

Hospitalization (Part I)
Hospitalization (Part II)
Hospitalization (Part III)
Hospitalization (Part IV)
Hospitalization (Part V)

The entire time I was in the hospital, I was extremely anxious.  Not just anxious, but fearful.  I did not feel safe. 

On top of that, I was unable to see my therapist (I missed a scheduled appointment; when I saw her following my release, she was unhappy that hospital staff had not even bothered to call her to let her know I'd been hospitalized, as she says they typically do at other hospitals), I did not have my service dog (maybe I'll write about why I did not even ask to be permitted to have him on the unit another time), I had difficulty keeping in touch with friends since I had no internet access and no place to make private phone calls, and I found it difficult to sleep due to all the noise at night since I was not permitted to shut my bedroom door.  My condition worsened significantly while I was in the hospital.

Let me say that again.  My condition worsened significantly while I was in the hospital.

I think that's the thing I'm the most angry about.

Consider this:

Before I was hospitalized, I was having three or four nightmares a month.  Now, four months after my hospitalization, I have nightmares four or five times a week.

Before my hospitalization, it had been a few years since I'd woken up at night screaming.  In the four months since my hospitalization, though, that's happened a number of times.

I've always had a lot of trouble sleeping, but that's gotten even worse since my hospitalization.  Last night, for instance, I fell asleep around 11:00 pm and woke up at 1:30 am, unable to go back to sleep.  I was up until about 4:30 am, when I finally went back to sleep and slept until 6:00 am.  And that's a typical night for me these days.  Four hours of broken sleep.  Actually, I consider last night a good night, because there were no nightmares.

 I had pretty severe anxiety before my hospitalization.  Severe enough that I was prescribed medication for it and had a service dog trained to assist me with it.  But since the hospitalization, the anxiety has been much worse.  I probably use at least twice as much medication for it as I used to.

And I have some issues now that I never had prior to that hospitalization.

I am now afraid of seeking medical care.  Initially I thought I would just never go to the ER again.  But now, four months later, no health care providers feel safe to me.  I've been completely out of pain medication for my back for a while now and the back specialist will not call in any more refills for me, and I'm afraid to go in to see him, so I've just been doing without.  I suffered with a sinus infection for six weeks before I got up the nerve to go see my primary care provider and ask for antibiotics.  I was terrified of seeing my psychiatrist, even though I've always liked him and trusted him in the past, and ended up deciding to go off my antidepressants rather than go back to see him again.

When I was discharged from the hospital, I still had staples in my arms.  I was instructed I should see my primary care provider a few days after discharge to have them removed.  I removed them myself at home instead.  I actually told the nurse at the hospital that I planned to do that, that I was afraid of seeking medical care.  She said, "Please don't do that," but didn't do anything to address the fear.  Removing them was easy.  You just use clean wire cutters to clip them in the middle, then use tweezers to pull each side gently out.

I've considered what I will do if I ever cut myself and need sutures again in the future.  I don't think that's all that likely, since it's only happened twice ever, but it's possible.  Or what if I just trip and fall and cut myself accidentally?  That happened once, too.  Well, I discussed this with a friend of mine and he pointed out that one can actually buy a suture kit and find tutorials online to learn how to suture.  I'm sure this sounds extreme and nutty to many people, but I thought about it, and then started googling.

I ended up buying a surgical stapler from  It was cheap, too.  I figured it would but a lot easier to staple a wound than to suture it, especially if it was on my arm and I had to do it one-handed.  It even came with a surgical staple remover, so there's no need for the wire cutters.

I've decided I'm into DIY medicine from now on.

But seriously, I think the fear of seeking medical care is a really serious problem.  And I don't know how to deal with it, especially since I'm also afraid of seeing my therapist now, too.  Initially after the hospitalization, I was able to see her.  But after I decided not to go back to my psychiatrist and to stop taking my antidepressants, I figured she would disapprove of that and then I was afraid to go back to see her.  I don't think therapy was going to be very helpful for me, anyway, because I don't feel I can be honest with health care providers about how I'm doing if I'm not doing very well.  If I have to pretend everything's OK, then what's the point of going to therapy?  How's it going to help?


  1. Call your psych and see if he/she will be willing to meet with you virtually. Some of them do that. Visits by computer. That way they get to see you and know that you are ok. Please do not go off your meds! I have done that and the withdrawals are horrible and then I am just stuck and can't seem to get thru anything. Every little issue seems to me like a huge boulder in my way that I can't go around. You are such a sweet person and I don't want you to go thru that. I am sure your fear of doctors is debilitating. The only thing that will help is speaking with the psych. You never know, there may be something someday that you may need to go to the er for. I passed out in walmart entrance one day. Ended up in the e.r. It was very scary. Then one time I started passing digested blood, that was a week in the hospital for me. If you ended up with some similar type of situation I am afraid that you wouldn't seek medical help or at least not in time.

    I have even been told there are psych's that are willing to come out to your home. I don't know of any in my area tho. Hopefully there are in yours. Once you are able to start trusting some medical professionals then you can go back to your psych and your primary doctor.

    Good luck with everything...

    1. Thanks for the suggestions and support.

      I've already started the process of coming off my meds. I am on Effexor, which causes horrible withdrawal symptoms if discontinued too quickly. I was on 300 mg a day and I've been cutting it down gradually. Starting today, I am taking 187.5 mg. I have enough left to continue cutting down gradually so I don't think the withdrawal symptoms will be a problem. So far, I am not feeling any different with the reduced dose. No increased depression or anything like that.

      The fear of seeking medical care is extremely severe. I realize it's not real rational. But I had an appointment scheduled with my psychiatrist and I did not sleep at all the night before and that day I was panicking, crying, shaking uncontrollably... there was no way I could go. There is no way I could have safely driven myself there.

      I really don't know what I will do if/when something happens that I really need emergency care. Four years ago, I had pneumonia so bad I ended up in the hospital for three weeks. I was in intensive care on a respirator for several days. What if something like that happens again? I'm pretty sure I would not have survived if I had not gone to the hospital.

      But if I thought I had pneumonia now, or something serious like that, I might make an appointment with my primary care provider, but I don't see myself going to the ER. I am not suicidal. But I think I would rather die at home in my bed, seriously.