Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The First Three Weeks

Continued from “First Hospital Admission
May 2002 – June 2002

There was nothing major to report during the first three weeks of Mr Mans first hospital stay. No one had any idea what Mr Man was experiencing and it was thought that he was suffering from severe depression. Mr Man did everything that he was asked to do; behaving as the model patient and joining in with all of the ward activities, but during the limited time that I spent with him I could see that really nothing had changed. My husband still wasn’t there, and it seemed that everything he did in the company of others was an act.

"Not as it Seems"

I cannot bear the silence
or the poorly held disguise
or all of this pretending
or the distance in your eyes

by Philippa King

Visiting times produced extremely mixed emotions for me; I missed Mr Man so much and I couldn’t wait to see him, but at the same time I hated seeing him so down and withdrawn. While I was there I couldn’t wait to leave, and yet every time I left it tore me apart to leave him behind. I just wanted everything to be back to normal again.

The stress of the whole situation was starting to take its toll on me; I had started taking antidepressants in the April, and my anxiety levels were constantly high. I was becoming increasingly forgetful; leaving shopping bags in shops, leaving my handbag in café’s, and leaving the car or house doors unlocked. I started going through a verbal ritual every time I left the house: “I have my purse, keys and phone. The windows are shut, I’ve locked the door. I have my purse, keys and phone. The windows are shut, I’ve locked the door” and I would repeat this to myself again and again as I drove away. Often I would doubt myself and I would have to turn around to make sure I had shut the house windows, or I would panic that I didn’t have my keys and then I would realise that if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t be able to drive the car! I was always able to produce a smile though, and not many people really knew what I was going through.

During this time the use of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s) was introduced to Mr Mans treatment, which meant having to avoid certain foods such as cheese and other foods which contained Tyramine*. Mr Man wasn’t very happy about this; his diet was already restricted as it was believed that he was suffering from Coeliac disease at the time. Cheese is one of his favourite foods, and also he was unable to eat his favourite crisps because they contained cheese flavouring. The hospital was very good at catering for his dietary requirements though, and we were told that four weeks would be long enough to know whether it would be worth continuing this treatment or not.

Before his admission into hospital, I had always accompanied Mr Man on his appointments to see his Psychiatrist, and being in hospital proved to be no different. I was told by a nurse what day and time Mr Mans appointment would be, and was asked in the presence of Mr Man if I would be attending. We both agreed that I would.

They were very different to Mr Mans usual appointments, which were held in a small “office” type room at the local Community Mental Health Centre, and included only the Psychiatrist, Mr Man and myself. On the ward the “team meetings” as they were called, were held in a larger room, with armchairs and sofa’s, albeit scruffy ones. Several members of the ward “team” would be present, including nurses and Occupational Therapists. The atmosphere was an informal one with a strong sense of team work between the staff members present. In fact that sense of team work was so strong that to begin with I had no idea which one was the consultant. They would openly discuss treatment options between themselves, including various types of therapies, in front of Mr Man and I. They always asked how we felt about the treatments that were selected, and they made sure that we fully understood what each treatment entailed, providing information leaflets and often even suggesting that I do my own research on the internet, particularly when the MAOI’s were introduced and when the possibility of ECT** was discussed.

I have to say, the first 3 weeks of Mr Mans first admission was a very positive experience. The staff showed respect for the patients, and treated them the same as anyone else. Mr Man bonded with a couple of staff members there, and I really felt that if he could be “mended” it would be there.

Of course, this was a Psychiatric ward in a General Hospital, meant for short term stays. After a few weeks patients were usually sent home or moved on to the Psychiatric Hospital. The night before the team meetings we were approached by a nurse and told the “good news” that Mr Man would be discharged in the morning. Mr Man was obviously relieved, but I was very concerned; I knew nothing had changed.

That night as I drove out of the hospital grounds, distracted by my thoughts, I crashed into a plastic bollard. I had no idea what to do, but obviously I had to move it out of the road before it caused an accident. After moving it to the side of the road I parked my car again and then I went back for the bollard and carried it to the Hospital entrance. Just as I approached the main entrance one of the nurses from the Psychiatric ward was on his way out. As he smiled, curious to know what I was carrying, I burst into tears. I’m guessing he must have been used to emotional relatives as first admissions must be a traumatic time for any family, and he gently probed for the full explanation of my distress.

I explained to him how suicidal Mr Man had been and that I knew that nothing had changed. I explained how his involvement in ward activities was all an act, and that it was no indication of recovery. We must have talked in the car park for at least an hour, and by this time it was getting dark. He listened intently, asked questions, and took my concerns seriously.

The next day was the team meeting. The team actually asked to speak to me separately before Mr Man joined us, due to the report given by the nurse I had spoken to the night before. The Psychiatrist explained that she didn’t realise I had been on “suicide watch” for so long. It was obvious by what I had told them that Mr Man still had a long way to go in his recovery, but since the ward was for short stays only it had been decided that he would be moved on to the Psychiatric Hospital. I explained that I was supposed to be going away in a couple of days to one of our religious conventions, and I was strongly advised to still go. The Psychiatrist felt that I needed the break and the encouragement. Reluctantly I agreed.

*The combination of MAOI’s and food containing Tyramine can be dangerous as it can cause the persons blood pressure to rise suddenly.

**Electroconvulsive Therapy.

Next: "The Truth Revealed"


uphilldowndale said...

Goodness, this must be tough to revisit, it's a personal question but is this the first time you have 'put on paper'?

Mr Mans Wife said...

Yes to both.

I realised the other day that I have been blogging for a year at the end of this month, and still had got no further than the day of Mr Mans first admission. This post had been half written for a long time. It's what comes next that's really hard.

I worry that posts like this come across as "matter of fact", as although I feel every emotion all over again whilst writing it, I don't seem to know how to express what I feel.

Slurry said...

Must be very hard thinking about it all, but im sure many people will be able to relate to you.

Hoe you and mrman are well.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Slurry.

I also hope that I can paint an accurate picture for those who are contemplating having a loved one admitted, so that they know what to expect. And maybe enlighten those who will never have to go through this.

Really, some hospitals are very good and, although the experience is always going to be heart wrenching, there is nothing to fear in having someone admitted/being admitted.

In your experience, would you agree with that Slurry?

Elanor said...

your posts certainly are full of feelings and you express yourself very honestly. that is what helps me when I read your blog, the reality and the emotions. It helps me feel like I am not so alone when it is 2 in the morning and I can't sleep, just keep blogging along, you are helping other people as well as yourself!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Elanor, your comments are very kind. I'm glad you find my blog useful in some way - I have my uses!

Anonymous said...

Dig in girl! The way you deal with things, forgetting keys, rituals etc well that’s just what me & most other people would do & in fact do on occasion. Its normal behaviour.

As to your writing it’s excellent you write much better than wot I does.


Mr Mans Wife said...

Hehehe, it's not as funny though is it? :)

Thanks Granny, but the fact that you do these things, how does that make it normal? :P

Catherine said...

Just think how fortuitous it was that you struck the bollard (though I don't rightly know what that is) when you did and that the psychiatric nurse exited at the same time.

Someone must have been keeping an eye on yourself and Mr Man, methinks.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thanks Catherine. Me thinks the same thing!

A bollard is a short post, usually about waist height, used to control traffic and stop motorists from driving in areas where they're not meant to. That's what we call them here in the UK anyway, maybe you have a different word for them where you are?

Catherine said...

I just call them concrete posts, lol. I wasn't aware that they had a name.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Well thankfully this was a plastic one! I wouldn't have been very happy if I had driven into a concrete one! (I don't think Mr Man would have been either!)

Anonymous said...

Dear mr mans wife,

I'm so thankful I found your site! Believe it or not I've never posted anything to anyone before now. Your blog has been a blessing to me. Last Oct.-06' I met a very interesting man. I was very attracted to him and we began to spend lots of time together, However one thing about him would not give me address or phone # and always came to me. Very protective of his identity! So time went on as did my frustrations but I care for him so much. to get to the point eventually through time I began to realize that something was more than just different and eccentric. so I began doing internet research on mental illness and over time have come to the conclusion that he has some form of schizophrenic illness. He denies any kind of illness and becomes very hostile verbally if mentioned. I love him so much and want to be a friend to him any way I can. I thought just having an understanding of the illness would make it better but it's not that simple! I only see him when he comes around and visits me at work. He rides his bike everywhere. We used to talk on the phone But
not so much anymore I think he believes someone is listening in on conversation. I started going back to my therapist so hopefully this will help me get through all the emotions and frustration

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Anonymous, thank you for your comment and welcome to my blog. I am really pleased that my blog has proved so valuable to you, and it is comments such as yours (and Elanor's above) that keep me blogging.

I found it interesting what you said about this man becoming verbally hostile when you mention mental illness. People with Schizophrenia aren't aware that they are suffering from an illness, but to become so hostile makes me wonder why he is so sensitive to this suggestion.

I know a man who has a lot of mental illness in his family, and he too becomes hostile when it is suggested that he might suffer from it. From previous conversations I suspect that he suffers from pseudo hallucinations and this causes him to question his own mental health, but also he lives in fear of becoming as ill as his relatives and so becomes aggressive in his denial.

If your friend is sensitive to this suggestion then it might not be a good idea to force the issue; you might find he will push you further away. But it would be interesting to know if he has family members with mental illness.

Thanks again for your comments and I hope you continue to enjoy my blog.