head
   He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he gaze long into the abyss... only to find his own reflection.

Arbour Hospital, Jamaica Plain, Mass., September 2010

This is my journal from my stay at Arbour Hospital, Jamaica Plain, Mass., September 2010.

I do not remember the circumstances that lead me to be here, beyond this in my 2010 diary:

"The Lorazepam had stopped working and I had been drinking heavily -- I called my sister to bring me to the hospital."

She brought me to the ER where I don't remember anything...

9/13/10

6:00pm

Arrived at AF/AP -- it's a psych unit. God it's awful -- smells, filthy, shaved, baths, crazy people doing crazy things -- pacers, laffers, paranoids, street punks, yellers, insulters. Oh Fuck.

Gave Librium 100mg, and another 50mg at 7:00 w/ anti-nausea meds.

8:15pm

No change in my body's status -- I think if I pace myself and move slow and deliberate maybe it wall have an indirect effect on me.

They had a movie and it is so incredibly violent. (And happens to be outside my room.)

8:30pm 25 more mg of Librium

I can't believe that is all the "alcohol protocol" consists of. Alcohol is an, obviously, extremely powerful drug that, in excess, wrecks havoc on the entire body.

It usually takes me two days to recover from a hangover -- gawd I hope tomorrow brings some relief.

Librium, my gawd it does nothing. So many drugs do nothing. I am so sick of it.

I had a banana and it actually did some good. I'll have another.

That awful movie -- Repo Men -- is over.

People argue over petty shit.

Oh no, another fucking movie.

At 9:30 more vitals and maybe more meds. Those bananas did more than the Librium to calm me down a little.

There is no love here, just fear and pain. The never ending story.

Midnight -- can't sleep, pain is unbearable -- fucking Dr won't give anything else besides Librium. After 1 in the morning: A sandwich (P&B) and two more milks and I am no further to sleeping than ever; gawd this is agony, a fucking nightmare. What is wrong with that asshole doctor -- nothing worse in the world than an asshole doctor.

I want to hurt myself so badly--

9/14/10

There is a "yeller" on the floor who goes around yelling loudly and singing. Why the staff does not tell him to calm down is beyond me -- luckily he leaves in an hour or two.

I talked to the SW and explained how I felt. There was a nurse there who, when I said I've been having nightmares, said, "Alcohol will do that." Fuck! "No," I said. "I've been having nightmares for years! I've spent the last year in bed due to PANIC DISORDER!" Why won't they get it through their heads! "I've been drinking to self-medicate." Why, when they see "alcohol" on a chart, do they rule out all other diagnoses besides "alcoholic"?

2:15pm

Gawd I might have convinced a couple of nurses of my panic attacks, "and not alcohol?" shit. They gave me an Ativan.

5:00pm

Without explanation they transferred me to "North 2" (previously in "South 2") -- the dual diagnosis unit. Quality (if one can use that word) appears higher -- but it is still a very noisy place. They have books at least.

Still on Ativan -- gawd I want to go home but I don't know if I can make it there.

Fucking music is loud -- fucking lousy music.

~

Asshole people here. Loud, trivial, talk during movies.

9:00pm

Meds -- looks like 2 Clonidines they gave me. "We don't mess up," I was told. "I can't sleep," I said. "Come back at twelve if so," she said. Fuck.

~

I came back at 11:30 and ask for that nurse. "She's off tonight," I was told. How convenient. I repeated what she said -- "But it's only 11:30." I rolled my eyes and said for the 14th time I can't sleep! She looked through my chart. "But she gave you Lib. at 11:00 PM." "No, she didn't." "I have to call..."

She didn't. She gave me a vial of vile tasting Benadryl. "That will help you sleep."

It won't. This place is fucked.

Earlier I put a call into the "Patient Activist" office. Let's being to stir things up a little.

3:30am

I can't believe how people could be so loud.

9/15/10

1:30pm

Saw Dr -- same old story -- "It's your drinking primarily that is your problem." I tried to explain the best I could that it wasn't. She changed meds to Paxil and Klonopin. Four hours away from next meds though. Shit. Fuck.

3:30pm

I heard someone mention tea. "Where do you get it?" "Behind the desk." I asked and got 3 -- but the fucking room with the cups and the microwave is fucking locked: it is the little things that hurt the most.

9/16/10

9:15am

Paxil, Klonopin, Clonidine (high HR) and Vitamins.

I called my sister this morning and asked for a sweatshirt -- I hate being a burden and don't know how or what she is feeling. Her life isn't so great either.

5:00pm

The more I write the worse I feel. Things never go as planned when I talk to the Dr.

I get Paxil (?mg) in the morning; Klonopin (?mg) 3X a day; Seroquel (100 XR) once a day. If I don't feel better tomorrow I want to ask the (new) Dr for Klonopin 4X a day (or a higher dosage); for Paxil and Seroquel I have to wait a few more days.

The other (first) Dr said initially that I would feel better in 4-5 days. Today she said a week.

(Again she completely ignored my telling here that I am going to be in "agony" and that this is a "nightmare.")

9/17/10

10:00am

People here don't respect anything it seems. (Laundry.) Basic trait of an addict I guess.

Had my first night's sleep since I got here.

11:00am

The laundry "issue" got resolved; people cooperated. I actually feel some kind of hope now. Like I said, it's the little things that count.

5:30pm

Loser fucking doctor: Klonopin, 1mg 3X a day is not working but, although "Some doctors go higher, 6mg a day, that is my limit." "'Your' limit? What about my fucking limit," I said to myself. We eventually switched to Xanax*, 1mg 3X a day. "No way would I go higher than that at first."

He hinted though, that higher doses are possible after "we see how it goes." Sheesh. This is fucking madness -- Paxil, Seroquel, Xanax.

* I was the one who asked about Xanax. He did say that everyone is different and mentioned a patient for which Xanax worked.

I am in much pain again.

12:00

Lunch was several choices: fish, ham and corned beef & cabbage. I like corned b&c but it ran out -- I actually got angry and went without anything. It's the little things...

6:30pm

Many of the Ps here act like children. They don't get what they want or perceive a slight and they raise their voice and swear -- the adult equivalent of stomping their feet.

(I should have gone to BIDMC! [Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center])

9:00pm

My first Xanax, gawd I hope it works!

9/19/10

1:00pm

Xanax -- 1mg 3X d -- works better than the same Ativan or Klonopin -- but I still need more.

(They sent beagles around sniffing for bedbugs.)

Part of my feeling better could be: I'm fully detoxed; I'm sleeping; I'm getting a bit used to this place. Still, everyone is a stranger and for the most part are they are loud, opinionated and constantly complaining and swearing, sometimes at each other.

Me? I avoid. I stay in my room most of the time. I only speak when spoken to and even then with simple sentences.

I don't want to know these people.

9/20/10

3:00pm

The Dr refused to increase the dosage of the Xanax. I asked, "How about 4X a day?" "That would be an increase in dosage," he answered emphatically. "Four mg instead of 3!" He tried to justify his anti-benzo philosophy by way of liver generating more and more tolerance and of addiction to them. But, he also said (IIRC), "We don't want to blow the whole wad now." Again, hinting that an increase may be possible -- but by my psychiatrist, and not by him. Crap.

~

I am beginning to feel better.

9/21/10

I've been going to "groups" lately. ("You're in bed too much," the nurse said.) So far, all the groups have been about alcoholism and addiction. I do not like that. I am not in denial of my alcoholism, it's just that I know AA pretty well, having gone almost everyday for six years.

I am not just an alcoholic!

(I hung out in bars starting about 1985, eventually drinking to excess most of the time, turning into a piss-your-pants drunk. I stopped drinking in 2001 and started by AA gig.)

The six years of sobriety brought out in me my fears. I couldn't go anywhere except for work and the grocery store. I made no friends. I didn't do anything at home except watch TV.

Before I could go out [from my apartment] I would pace for 45 minutes as I struggled to convince myself that there were no people waiting for me outside; no people behind the bushes; no people in the street just out of sight ready to follow me when I left.

It was at this time that realized that I needed psychological help, ending up at the BTC [Brookline Trauma Center] where PTSD was diagnosed.

Oh, yeah, there was a group today that played Pictionary -- I did not attend.

("Stop yelling at me!" someone just yelled at someone.)

5:15pm

No visit by Dr yet, nor by the SW. (I've been shaky lately, perhaps a side effect of a med.)

If I'm maxed out on my meds -- unless there is an additional one I can take, I might as well be discharged. Why keep me here?

5:40pm

The Dr showed up. "I'm feeling much better," I started out with. And, "Since my meds are maxed out I might as well be discharged."

"We were talking about that," he said. "There are a lot of discharges now and we were thinking of discharging you on Friday."

My heart sank. Three more fucking days here! That will suck.

But as we talked I resigned myself to Friday. It will give my sister time to work it into her schedule to pick me up (if she can).

I also asked if there was an additional med that might help. He said all the other anxiety meds I've been on didn't work so he could not see what else would help -- jerk. I also mentioned that I have intrusive thoughts, thinking people are going to hurt me and that I border on paranoia. He said nothing about any of that. Jerk.

9/22/10

12:30pm

Seems selfishness is a trait of alcoholics/addicts as well -- so many here horde food! Desserts (saw one guy each 3 desserts!); cereal (what is so special about cereal? saw one guy stuff 4 of them in his pockets); fruit (a bad of fruit comes in in the evening and it is empty -- again people stuffing their pockets -- within 5 mins). Sheesh.

3:30pm

The ward has actually been pretty quiet lately -- some Ps discharged, some more arrived.

Saw the Dr in passing. I told him I was doing well. He said they were working on my discharge.

The Xanax is working to relieve my panic feelings. Or perhaps it is the combination, Paxil, Seroquel and Xanax.

9:00pm

Oh yeah, I've been getting 100mg of Trazodone each evening to help me sleep, but during the nights that I could not sleep (before the Xanax and Seroquel) I was getting it and it did not help.

9/23/10

5:00pm

I've been sick all day, nausea and cramps. I finally vomited and feel a little better -- food poisoning. ("But I ate the eggs too," said the nurse.)

9/24/10

Well, I'm out. No one to pick me up I walked to the T. Stomach finally feels better and I am sitting at a bar in South Station drinking some Samual Adams.

FUCK. I know it is wrong. It's kind of like I'm rebelling from the AA stuff I went through at AF.

I don't know if I'll continue.

Notes
  1. Although that is the only reference I wrote, I think I meant Arbour Hospital, not Arbour-Fuller.
  2. Typical alcohol withdrawal protocol — even though it is a "benzo"!
  3. In excess it is toxic, not unlike a poisonous substance.
  4. More on this later. If a detox/psych hospital is drab and noisy with nothing to do no one will ever get well.
  5. Such is the life Inpatient — perhaps all the staff do encounter lying and cheating "addicts". But come on, how can we all be like that?
  6. No. Not so. Some, sure. But not all. It's just the location of this hospital attracts a certain kind of person...
  7. Ah, what had I previously just written? When I get angry -- luckily not very often -- I am passive and I isolate.
  8. Going to "group" is all these kinds of hospitals offer. They don't help one who's main "primary problem" is Social Phobia.
  9. Probably something they learned to do while Inpatient in places like this!
  10. This is because there are only three meals served each day and snacks are generally in poor supply, so when they do come in, guess what?

Abbreviations:

HR heart rate
BP blood pressure
P Patient
SW Social Worker
AA Alcoholics Anonymous
meds medication(s)
vitals taking a patients "Vital Signs"
group meetings for the patients on various subjects like "Coping Skills"

References:

Arbour Hospital
Benzodiazepine "Benzos"
Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
Lorazepam (Ativan)
Clonidine
Benadryl
Paroxetine (Paxil)
Clonazepam (Klonopin)
Quetiapine (Seroquel)
Alprazolam (Xanax)
Trazodone

#
Writing Down the Pain
I'd like just once to fall asleep feeling good about myself. Just once. Drunken stupors do not count.