Things move differently here. I sleep and it is interrupted for meds at 9, for getting my belongings returned to me at 9:30, for asking to use the bathroom and my hygiene products after that. Then I sleep so deeply through the night (a dose of Seroquel in my system) that the call to tell me breakfast has arrived brings me from dark places. It’s not until later that I remember the 630am wake up for blood work.
I roll out of bed, straighten my clothes and hair, and head down the hall for breakfast. There are two wings to our unit. They meet in an angle at the “cafeteria”, TV room, and nurse’s station. There are three common areas; the cafeteria made up of three tables with four chairs each, a water and ice machine, and a flat screen TV on the wall; the TV room (which I have not yet been in) is open to the rest of the common areas and has eight to ten chairs and a flat screen TV on one wall. The third area is just next to the TV room and is separated from it by a column, diagonal post, and a low retaining wall. It has another table with two chairs and a few other chairs around the walls. We’re allowed to eat in either room with tables. Meals are made up from menu choices: Drinks, Soups and Salads, Veggies and Starches, Breads, Entrees, Desserts, and Condiments. Every morning we make our selection for the next day – selecting as much or as little as we want. The dinner rolls are delightful, the chocolate brownie decadent. The rest is passing good and I don’t feel deprived.
After and sometimes during breakfast, meds are dispensed for the first time. The nurse comes around with a little medicine cup – you know, the kind that you take cough medicine in, except instead of red liquid that will settle your body, the cup holds any number of pills and/or capsules to settle your mind. The nurse scans your wrist band after scanning the packages of each little pill and watches as you swallow them with a glass of water. This part, at least, is predictable and like the movies.
The other part that’s true (depending on the movie) is that as soon as I am done eating and taking my meds, I go back to my room and to bed. There are brief periods of wakefulness during which I read or write or stare out my window at the giant oak tree. But mostly, I sleep. I rise for meals, for meds, for visitors between 6 and 7pm. But mostly, I sleep.
Every meal happens about the same and so it begins to get difficult to remember what time of day it is. There is one clock in the unit for patients and it is set on the wall opposite the adjoined common rooms where it cannot be seen from the cafeteria. So, I never see it. We eat all our meals while the sun is up and our view of the outside is limited. I must make a concerted effort to ask the time or seek the clock to know where I am in the day.
Sometimes the other patients make a ruckus, yellowing about doors being locked or they can’t eat anymore (they’ve eaten nothing) or they need more medicine (I’m inclined to agree). “Nurse! Nurse!” is a common outcry.
I request help by walking to the station and quietly requesting help, or by pushing my non-emergency button for the intercom and waiting for someone to crackle in on the other end. I don’t ask for much – my anxiety or sleep meds that I only get if I ask for them, new bandages, paper, new pencils. I write with little golf pencils whose lead goes flat so quickly that I take three at a time so as to bother the staff less often.
Tonight, Erik will bring my notebook and I will have the opulence of lined paper. I can’t wait.
Mostly, I sleep and try not to think about what I should be doing or why there seems to be no therapy structure here. I am left to my own devices which, while it suits me just just fine, doesn’t seem like the best use of time inside these particular walls.
The walls aren’t white
and there might be one lab coat.
This hospital is an airport terminal.
We’ve got Amy with engine problems –
taxiing through the lanes, stopping short unexpectedly;
There’s Artemus, literally going in circles
trying to drink enough jet fuel to take off by late afternoon.
Then there’s me – taxiing towards the gates
– Not an open one in sight –
wondering when I’ll be able to let my passengers go.
I’m running out of tarmac and fuel
And the natives are getting restless.
- Kaseman Behavioral Health Part II: Admitted (mentalillnessbytes.wordpress.com)
- Kaseman Behavioral Health Hospital: My Story (mentalillnessbytes.wordpress.com)
- Kaseman Behavioral Health Hospital Part I: ER (mentalillnessbytes.wordpress.com)