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.
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 Amazon.com. 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?