I’ve been trying to get stuff in order for hospital the last few days. My ambulance subscription is all paid up in case anything goes wrong with my treatment. I bought dye for my hair so I no one mistakes my greys for a side effect of the ECT. I made up a proper, detailed list of things I need to take. I know I said I’d packed my bag, but it was a bit panicked and rushed because I didn’t know when I was going in exactly and I probably packed a whole bunch of shit I don’t actually need, and none of the stuff I do. so I’m going to repack it tomorrow with the now sorted list as a guide. I need to keep remembering that I don’t have to pack for 3 to 4 whole weeks, and that I’ll be allowed leave to come home where I can do a load of washing and take it back with me for the next week. Or worst case scenario, the washing fairy comes and picks it up and brings it back to me washed and folded. Yes, there’s a washer and dryer at the hospital, but my OCD says hell no. Plus, I’m hoping to come home for a few hours every second day when I don’t have ECT so I can have a shower and wash my hair in water that is actually hot, under a nozzle I can move around, in a shower I’m not forced to wear thongs in. The showers at the hospital are merely a tiny pipe that sticks out of the wall about half an inch, barely gets warmer than one’s body temperature and obviously there’s no luxurious shower heads that aren’t mounted to the wall lest one should attempt to hang themselves with tapware. Plus, it’s not uncommon to be half way through a shower, and to have a nurse start banging on the door and barging in on your naked ass. I’ve had some awkward bathroom encounters thus far, I don’t need any more. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrangle 3 showers there, and 4 in the comfort of my own home a week, depending on the escorted leave factor ie: having someone sane sign you out. It’s funny, I can put up with the single bed, the hospital food, the night time curfew, but be damned if the shower doesn’t drive me up the wall.
I also need to do other things to prep for hospital, like note down all my passwords in case my brain is scrambled and I can’t recall them. I’ve got to have an ECG for my heart, and a chest x-ray so they’re confident I won’t have a heart attack during treatment. I’m going to buy a journal so I can keep notes during my stay, both for my own sake and for the blog. I bought a cute little bag for ten bucks on ebay that I can carry around my room key, phone and smokes, instead of shoving them all down my bra as per usual like the classy broad I am.
Going to hospital gets easier each time you do it. You’re familiar with the nurses, which makes things heaps easier. You know how the days are structured, what to expect and how dressed up you need to be. Basically, as long as you’re out of your PJ’s, they’re happy. Everyone dresses pretty comfortably. In the past, I’ve lived in boho pants and baggy tee shirts, but this time I’m taking 7 dresses with me. I figure they’re just as easy and comfy as pants but they make me look like I’ve put a bit more effort in to it. I’m not dressing up for anyone there, but purely just to boost my mood because I just thought that I’m likely to feel pretty miserable physically during the treatment, so dressing up might make me feel a bit better. I’m going to try and wear a bit of makeup every day, something I don’t usually do. Wearing makeup is usually difficult because of my contamination OCD, but I really want to push myself this admission.
I’ve packed a few poetry books to read, and a brand new set of Tarot cards I bought recently. I’m still learning how to read Tarot, but I figure it will be a good way to get to know people in the common lounges. I also packed some colouring books and pencils, because I’m tellin’ you, adult colouring in amongst patients at psych hospitals is as common as a Valium PRN. It’s just what you do when you’re there. It keeps your mind occupied especially on days that are slower, like Tuesday afternoons when there’s no groups on or over the weekend if you don’t have leave to go home. Weekends can be especially tough if you don’t have any visitors or any leave, because a lot of the patients at the hospital go out with family to do something, so there’s very few people to talk to and it can leave you feeling a bit trapped and bored. There’s no real program that runs on the weekend either, so you’re sort of left to your own devices, which ultimately means watching TV in your bedroom, hanging out in the lounge hoping for someone to come along and chat, or sitting outside having a cigarette. There’s no overnight leave, so everyone is generally back for 8pm or 10pm meds… Most of us will go and sit in the smokers area or the lounge if it’s late, and debrief about our weekends, how strange it felt to be out in public and how many of us made the mistake of saying I want to go back “home”, meaning the hospital. I can understand how quickly people become institutionalized. I remember my first trip home after a week of my first admission, and I felt so weird and out of sorts, I just really wanted to get back there. It’s a really strange phenomenon, where you’re both desperate to get out, but desperate to stay in.
Unfortunately, I’m going in on a Thursday, and having my first ECT session on Friday so I doubt I’ll be granted weekend leave those days. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with myself those two days, but my mum said she’d come visit me, which is awesome of her. Any and all distractions on a weekend are welcome.
I love having visitors when I’m in hospital. People in the past have offered to drop in and I’ve told them not to bother, and they didn’t have to because I was still quite embarrassed about where I was. Plus, I’m always worried people will think it’s some sort of set up straight out of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. But it’s nice when they see what it’s actually like, when I can see the relief in their eyes that there’s nobody rocking in the corners or in the fetal position on the ground half naked. I think this time if people offer, I’ll say yes. please do. Even if it’s just to show people what it’s like in there and that it’s nothing to be terrified of.
I’m also going to take as many photos as I can and update Instagram while I’m there, so make sure you’re subscribed to my insta account (pruescription). I’m going to try and update from the wordpress app on my phone, so fingers crossed that works. I might give it a whirl tomorrow to see how it works. I was thinking of taking my laptop or Ipad, but there’s a good chance I’ll forget where I’ve put it or it’ll be stolen because we don’t have room keys, so anyone could just walk in and take your stuff. Better that I take my phone, I think coz I can keep it on my person.
Alright, this was long winded when I hadn’t meant it to be. I’m impressed if you’re still reading. Congrats for coming this far. Gold star for you.