Monday, December 2, 2013

A Year after the Hospital

I've made it through Thanksgiving.  I was a little worried about how I would do since last Thanksgiving ended up so bad for me.  Last year, I ended up in the hospital.

Tonight I was reading the posts I wrote about my experience in the hospital last year.  Actually, the posts about it were written in March; I wasn't able to talk much about it until four months after the fact.  I was too traumatized to talk much about it for a while.

I was reading the post in which I explained how I left the hospital in significantly worse shape than I was in when I was admitted.  I was still in worse shape in March, four months later.

I am better now, a full year later, than I was in March.  But you know, I am still worse now, a whole year later, than I was when I was admitted.

Honestly.  Seriously.  The damage done in that hospital in just five days was that severe.

Prior to that hospitalization, I was having nightmares three or four times a month.  Four months after the hospitalization, I was having nightmares four or five times a week.  Now, a whole year later, I still have them at least three times a week.  Often, the nightmares are about being hospitalized, although some are about my childhood or other things.

I am sleeping better now than I was in March.  I've always had a lot of trouble sleeping, but that is probably back to how it was before the hospitalization.

I have flashbacks to the ER doc putting staples in my arms without any pain meds.  I don't have them as often now as I did back in March, but I still have them occasionally.  I hadn't had any flashbacks of the childhood abuse in a long time prior to the hospitalization.

I'm a lot less anxious than I was in March, but still have more anxiety and have to take more medication for it than I did before the hospitalization.  I take a medication for Vistaril as needed for anxiety and used to take 25 mg when I needed it, which was usually a couple times a week.  That was before the hospitalization.  After the hospitalization, I was taking Vistaril two or three times a day, usually.  Now I'm down to taking it four or five times a week, usually, but I'm also on a higher dose.  I now have to take 50 mg, twice the amount I used to take.

My pain is significantly worse.  I don't know how much of that can be attributed to the hospitalization, but I think the increase in stress and anxiety has made the pain worse.  Also, before the hospitalization, I was receiving treatment for my back pain from a specialist at the Cleveland Clinic and I was taking Vicodin as needed for the pain.  Since the hospitalization, I've had a very difficult time seeking medical care for anything.  I haven't seen the specialist since then and I ran out of Vicodin about a month after the hospitalization and am now on Tramadol, which does not seem to work as well.

I also have "phantom pains," what some people refer to as "body memories," where I feel like my arms are being staples or like the staples are still there, even though those wounds have long since healed.  I don't have those pains as often now as I did back in March, but I still have them.

I am more comfortable seeking some types of medical care now than I was back in March, but I had no problem seeking care when I needed it before the hospitalization.  Over the past few months, I've been able to see my primary care physician for a urinary tract infection and for strep throat.  I even went to the dentist, which is something that's always been difficult for me.

However, when I cut my finger about six months ago while chopping an onion, I did not feel safe going to the emergency room even though I was sure I needed a couple stitches.  My finger bled for 15 hours.  I am not exaggerating when I say I would have preferred to bleed to death in my bed than go to the ER.  I still feel that way now.  And prior to that horrible experience in the ER a year ago, I would not have hesitating to go get stitches if I accidentally cut my finger while chopping veggies.

Despite my increased pain, I do not feel comfortable seeking help for that.  I am afraid no one will believe me that I am in a lot of pain.  I feel too vulnerable to go see anyone about it.

I haven't been in therapy since a couple months after the hospitalization.  I did go back to therapy for a little while afterwards, but it didn't really feel safe.  I think it would only be safe to go if I was very, very careful about what I said and if I avoided some topics completely.  And I don't see the point of that.  Why bother going to therapy if you can't talk freely about things?  It would be too stressful, trying to make sure I didn't say the wrong things.  It would be too dangerous.

I did finally go back to see my psychiatrist and now see him every three months.  I am very guarded about what I tell him, though.  This is going to make me sound really paranoid, but I'll admit it anyway.  I have not given him my new address.  I never told him that I moved.  If I am in his office and he starts talking about hospitalizing me for any reason, I plan to get the hell out of there fast.  He wouldn't be able to send police or anyone to get me because he doesn't have my address.

That sounds really paranoid, doesn't it?  I don't think I was ever paranoid like this before the hospitalization.  But you know, just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.  I have a story about that.   Maybe I'll tell it another day.

Anyway.  While I am able to get some kinds of medical care now, I still have a lot of trouble with that, and I never had that issue before the hospitalization.

I also don't trust people as much.  Not that I was ever a person that trusted easily.  But a friend was with me in that emergency room, someone I trusted to take care of me, and he sat right there and did nothing while that doctor put staples in my arms with no pain medication.   Our friendship has not been the same since and I don't think it ever will be.  We are still friends, but I don't trust him much.  Not with things that really matter.

But I don't trust other people much, either.  I don't trust anyone to be there for me, to help me, to do things for me if I really need something.  I don't trust anyone to take care of me or protect me.  There weren't many people I trusted to do that before, but now there is no one.

So things are slowly getting better, but I am still worse now than I was before that hospitalization.  Worse, a whole year later.

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