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The next day at the fun ranch was Thursday. I was up at 6:30 am, right after they did vital sign checks. I could not focus on reading or anything of consequence. I was utterly despondent and in so much pain I couldn’t think. I sat down at the table that was closest to my room and stared at the ceiling for a while while I was trying to get myself to focus and read. I had a really sweet roommate that was clearly intellectually disabled. She would sit next to me and ask me a million questions. Ever patient, I answered what I could and asked her about herself like my dad taught me to do when I’m in an uncomfortable situation and meeting new people. There was a guy at the table after about an hour that started coloring. He suggested I do so too, since it was something to do that your brain doesn’t have to focus too hard on. He offered to let me use his markers (which were fancy as all hell), so I started coloring. I became addicted at once. I’ve never been one that got into the adult coloring thing, but I’m a convert after my trip inside.
I sat in mostly silence for hours coloring my little heart out. I was in a cold sweat from pain and nerves. Of course, I was also in green hospital robes and yellow slipper socks. Inside, they have you wear two robes; one facing forward and one facing backwards to cover all skin. Until a family member brings you clothes that are part of what is allowed, it’s all you can wear. Visiting hours aren’t until 3, so I had hours in those horrid things. Everyone knows the “new guys” because of the robes.
Around 1 PM, the psychiatrist finally got to me. My nurse Sarah was the sweetest, gentlest thing. She reminded me of a Disney princess. They took me down the hall away from everyone to chat. They asked me a bunch of questions, asked what meds I was on, etc.. Eventually they started asking me questions that I knew have to do with bipolar. My heart skipped. Could it be? Are they really going to let me be diagnosed as bipolar? After answering yes to most of the symptoms, they asked if I’d ever been told about bipolar or knew what it was. I blurted out that I did and had heard about it and thought I had it. She decided to then put me on a bipolar medicine and some mild anxiety meds (not benzodiazepines like Xanax; it was an antihistamine like Benadryl). She also gave me some anti-inflamatories for my back and told me she’d get the pain specialist to come and see me, as well as a physical therapist (which I giggled at, since I’ve seen 5 of them).
A little later that day, the pain specialist came to see me. She ordered MRI’s and said she’d set me up for a spinal block like I’d done before on my lower back. When she talked to me, she was amazing. She knew how all-encompassing pain was. I’d never had a doctor empathize with me so well and understand my frustration. I was so excited and my mood when around everyone else completely changed as well. At group time, I would actually sit in the area and not lay down in my bed to “sleep.” In the evening, I think I even smiled at some of the girls at dinner. I was hopeful. I didn’t know the rules or how things worked yet, but I at least had my feet wet.
Connor came to visit me right at 3 for visiting hours. We went outside in the little courtyard to hang out for the 2 hours. He was visibly uncomfortable, and of course so was I. I didn’t know anyone and hadn’t really talked much at all. After a few minutes, people started streaming out into the courtyard too. A group of people asked if they could share the table with us. After they sat down, they let us know that someone named Robert had flipped out after talking to his mother and was kicking his door screaming “I’m not depressed!” He then had to be subdued. About 10 minutes later, we saw him walking between two security guards to the “quiet room” which is the stereotypical padded room. Of COURSE when Connor was there would something happen! We had been talking about how he didn’t think I was safe, that I shouldn’t be there, he’s not comfortable with me being there etc.. I wasn’t very good at reassuring him after Robert’s episode; how do you argue that it’s safe when that kind of thing happens on my first day?
Dinner and evening were uneventful; I just sat at the table and colored and tried to speak as little as possible. I went to bed early that night too, I just wanted to be alone. I didn’t sleep much that night (apparently it’s common inside to not sleep), I woke up twice.
The next day will be the next blog post, these are longer than I expected them to be.