25 October 2009

Involuntary Commitment—Day 11, 20 October

(…continued from previous post)
Last night I actually got a little bit of sleep. My morning vitals had my blood pressure elevated again; the two meds, while reducing the BP as a whole, have not quite stabilized it yet.

I decided over the weekend, after I spoke with my shrink on Friday when he told me that today was a reasonable discharge date, that I didn’t want any of the patients to know I would be going home before I actually leave.

I know that nothing will be “final” until the shrink signs the papers for my release this morning and then faxes it to the court to await their decision. Apparently, I do not have to personally go before the judge. Being ever so hopeful, once shift change occurred @ 0700, I pulled aside the one staff person with whom I had a good relationship and told him that I did not want the rest of the patients to know of my discharge before I actually leave. I also asked if it would be possible to arrange my exit while everyone else was in a group therapy session so I could avoid the “goodbye scene.” He just smiled at me and said, “I love a good plan.” I would be leaving with just the clothes I came in with (no packed suitcase or anything), so strolling down the back hallway would mean nothing to anyone.

Then my shrink came onto the unit just while all of the patients were getting ready to go to breakfast, so they all saw me go into his office. I sat down with confidence, had a relaxed smile on my face (with my heart in my stomach) as he opened up my chart. We went through the usual “well, how were you yesterday?” chitchat as he reviewed all of the nurses’ and therapists’ notes. I also mentioned that I was grateful that I was finally able to get some sleep. Then dead silence. I wanted to jump up on the desk and yell, “Well, am I going home today or not?” as I just sat there watching him read my chart.

Finally, I took a deep breath and just spit it out, “So, Doc, is it a go for today?” and he looked at me and said it was and smiled. He took out all of the legal docs and asked me all of the requisite questions (e.g., do I currently feel suicidal? Do I feel homicidal? Do I attest to the fact that I do not have in my possession a gun? What is the name and phone number that can be called to confirm the latter? and so on). I gave all the proper answers to assure my release and watched him sign the papers.

Then he wrote up prescriptions for all my meds to carry me for the first month until I met with my own psychiatrist that had already been scheduled by the discharge therapist for the 27th. He increased my Lamictal dosage again, stood up, and shook my hand. I quickly got rid of my smile as I turned my back to walk out of the office. A couple of patients immediately asked me if I was going home today (the standard fare whenever anyone came out of their shrink’s office each morning). I simply replied that he changed my medication again which basically means I’d be there for another 24-48 hours. Well, I didn’t actually lie—sort of—just ducked the question.

Meanwhile, the whole staff now knew I wanted to keep this news under wraps. So, I had to go through all of the motions of the daily schedule with everyone until the court rendered its decision (whenever the hell that would be). Talk about being distracted during morning group. Then, halfway through group, I was called out (not an unusual occurrence as we were all on different med schedules) and I was immediately told that the court had faxed back my release. I just grinned like a Cheshire cat. My nurse asked me if I was good to go as they surreptitiously handed me back my wallet, keys and cell (it seemed, damn it, that one patient—of course the one with the big mouth— got pissed off during group and walked out and was now hanging around the nurse’s station). I told my nurse that all I had left to do was call a cab.

Then he told me that they could not let me leave the unit until the cab actually arrived, nor was I allowed to wait in the front foyer (on the other side of the locked doors) by myself. I nervously looked at the clock knowing that group would be over before the cab would arrive. Then he said, “Relax, Alix, I promised you that I had a good plan. I promise that you’ll be able to walk through everyone and they won’t even have a clue.” I wasn’t so sure.

Then the patient with the big mouth came up to me and demanded to know if I was going home, but I just blew her off and tried to casually walk over to the lounge area and wait. Thankfully, she didn’t pursue the matter. Meanwhile, my nurse kept calling up to the front desk to see if my cab had arrived. He was looking at the clock. I was looking at the clock. We both looked at each other. The doors to the two group sessions flew open and out poured all 17 patients. Then I got up and walked over to the nurse’s station with this panicked look on my face. He said to just hold tight for a minute. He quietly talked to the other nurses, then came back to me and told me to casually walk down the back hallway as if I was going to the laundry room (certainly not suspicious; we always had some free time between groups to take care of various things). He told me when I got to the end of the hallway, take the left and wait by the back door. He said he would follow me in about 30 seconds so it wouldn’t appear as if I was being escorted out.

I held my breath and nonchalantly walked through everyone as they were milling about getting coffee, talking on the phones and generally chit-chatting among themselves, praying that no one would notice me or stop me. When I got past everyone, headed down that back hallway and got to the end, I quickly dashed to the left and waited. My heart was beating so hard. Freedom—so close.

Sure enough, he casually came around the corner, quickly inserted his key and we walked through together. Turns out that my cab still hadn’t arrived, but they decided to let him accompany me and wait with me in the foyer. As we got to the front doors, my cab arrived. He turned and looked me and said, “I told you I loved a good plan.” The front door…my ride home…everything was perfect. I managed to play my role beautifully for 11 consecutive days convincing everyone that I was not suicidal and that my bipolar and borderline disorders were on their way to getting back under control again.

The ride home was an odd experience. I just stared out the window watching all of the traffic on the interstate. Everyone in the world was just going about his or her normal routines. My life had been on hold for the last 11 days.

It was so surreal when the cab pulled up to my house. As I was walking up my front walk to the porch door, I started to look around for any evidence that the paramedics had been there. I didn’t even know what I was looking for. I still have no fucking memory of those first hours. I opened up the porch door and it had not been forcibly opened. Looked around my porch—nothing. Then I walked up to my front door. It appeared to be closed and locked properly, so that door wasn’t busted in. How the hell did the paramedics get into my house?

As soon as I walked though my front door, I could tell that there had been some commotion. My living room coffee table had been pushed all the way to one side and two of my surround sound speakers had been pushed out of position. This was eerie. Then I noticed that ALL my lights were on throughout the house. What the hell had happened that night? I can’t begin to tell you how disconcerting this whole “coming home” experience became.

All of the windows were closed and locked. The back door was intact and locked. It was odd knowing that strangers had walked through my entire house. Why? The last thing I remember was sitting on my couch around 2000 hrs Friday evening, 9 October, polishing off that killer Kamikaze (no pun intended). I have no memory of taking any pills or even thinking about suicide. What were they looking for? Nothing seemed to be out of place in any of the other rooms. (To be continued…)©2009

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