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

Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Mass., Emergency Visit, April 2010

This was labeled, "Supplemental Journal, April 25, 2010" — I came here at the end of first stay as Arbour Hospital in April, 2010 (which I have not transcribed yet), with Day Four meaning at Arbour.

This is an interesting one (and slightly embarrassing — but that is the point! — RAW, INTERNAL, EXPLICIT, "ME").

Day Four

April 24, Saturday

Well, I've been brought to the Tufts ER because, after getting fed up with the "Nothing we can do" nurse at Arbour [Fuller Hospital, Inpatient], I kind of, um, exaggerated my pain...

(I feel lightheaded and lethargic all of a sudden. Could be the meds recently taken: Clonidine, Effexor. Naw, those shouldn't. Let me take my blood pressure. (But I did eat just now.) My heart rate, as I move around, also keeps going above 120 -- a "tachy alarm" on the monitor. BP is 108/78. Last reading was 94/62, so not much different but I don't feel so good. Maybe it IS alcohol withdrawal. My resting pulse is > 100.)

I felt so fucking bad -- internal irritation/aggravation was a 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10) and after asking the nurse for something to help me sleep I got the (classic), "This is a substance abuse unit and we can't just give you meds when you're feeling bad..." or whatever. WTF! There is a HUGE difference between "getting high" and "feeling better." It's not like I was going to ask the nurse for a line of cocaine! I wanted a valid, recommended medication for a particular illness -- what the medications are manufactured for.

But no. "You just have to deal with it," the nurse told me. Well, fuck you.

I came back some time later, this time complaining of "chest pain." Which is true. It's just that it was psychological pain (with some real physical pain) rather than physical heart pain.

The nurse called the Dr. The Dr. gave me a nitro-glycerin tablet to put under my tongue. After it melted -- oh, and they gave me an Ativan as well! -- I said that the pain had lessened. (To a "two" from a "seven.") They sent me to Tufts' ER.

At the ER they ask the hundreds of questions they have to ask. Eventually they (correctly of course) ruled out any problem with my heart.

But one of the questions was the color of my stools -- which were black. A probe showed blood in the stools. They admitted me.

Day Five

So, here I am, waiting an endoscopy. And it will happen Monday, the day I was to be discharged from Arbour. Ha, ha. Now I just need to dump in a "hat" [that sits on the toilet] so they can check the stools directly.

I finally got a poop out (I'm constipated, a typical medication reaction). Yeah, it's black. Like tar. Shit. (Pun not intended.)

Now, while I wait for the test results, I am going to be feeling quite anxious and my heart is racing. When I exert myself my HR goes up to 140.


I've been getting so many flashbacks (instantaneous, specific memory recalls that are extremely vivid). I think I figured out a (if not the) connection. If you imagine emotion as overlapping, analog [as in sine waves, I made a drawing] feelings that go up and down, it could be -- it seems like -- that when your set of feelings matches a similar alignment in the past -- poof -- you recall that moment.

Oh yeah. Last week, at Beth Israel [Hospital], I showed a nurse my "eczema" spot on my arm. After the doctors looked at it and asked about ("Why do you think it's eczema?" "That's what my PCP told me she thought it was last year."), they called in a dermatologist who sliced it off. Turns out it is squamous cell carcinoma.


P&J sandwich sure hit the spot.

Results came back from the stool sample: positive. But my blood count is... "stable" I think the nurse said, which could mean that I was bleeding and it stopped.

I wonder what the hell I did that Monday night? I'm all scratched up. I broke my foot. Was I out somewhere? A bar? The woods? Did I ingest something non-food? Fuck.

Oh yeah. At Arbour, the patients were all calm, quiet and peaceful. Luck of the draw? They all left me alone as I tried to give off a look of wanting to be left alone. ("Where did you get your tats?" "It's a long story.") I did end up talking to some of them. There was a cute, petite woman whose entire back was inked beautifully; she said it took 85 hours! Wow. It was a small Unit. The main hallway had several large windows and a row of tables and chairs where patients would hang out. I saw her sitting in the hall several times. All I had to do was to go over and say hello.

But I didn't. I couldn't. But I thought about that for a while. Why? Why not talk to her? There could be no dire consequences in doing so.

In fact, I realised then, there could be no dire consequences for anything I did.

I was scared thinking about getting up and going to get a cup of water! That's the PTSD. Scared to do things, scared to expose yourself, about the most trivial of actions.

But, perhaps because the patients were all so non-intimidating and even friendly -- my roommate was always trying to laugh it up -- I made a conscience effort to just do whatever you felt like doing. This may sound silly or even unbelievable to some. But it's the PTSD.

And I started to do just that.

Day Six


My HR at rest is about 80 and does not go really high when I exert myself. I am a bit tired, but I have been laying in bed for 3 days. The worst thing is that I am constipated and have only passed gas. There is...

Oh, oh. I'm off for the test!

The endoscopy went well. They sedated me and I was supposed to have been out while they tubed me -- I wasn't. It wasn't too unpleasant as the camera tube went down my throat (they gave me a muscle relaxant as well) and it was really cool watching the video and to listen to the doctors discuss what was seen. They found three "things," a hernia, [and I forgot], and took 2 biopsies. Then it ended and I finally went out.

I get to get pictures and a report!

A psychiatrist came in just now and asked a ton of questions and went over my history and diagnoses. They have to make the decision whether or not to let me leave. And they won't if they think I'll be a danger to myself or others. The question is, will my stating that "I have no intent of suicide" be enough.

I've been in denial of my alcoholism.

It is not really enough -- my story was so long that I think I wore out the Dr. who was to make the discharge (so many IN/OUTs, etc.). I had to promise "90 in 90," getting appointment with psychiatrist ASAP, as well as promising that I am not suicidal. Whew. (And actually, it ain't over yet.)

[Ends as abruptly as it started.]

  1. No, since it's day four.
  2. That has happened to me three times, once for minor surgery and the doctor went, "You can feel that?" when I winced at the cut of the scalpel. A lot of meds prescribed to me simply do nothing.
  3. This line was circled. It actually surprised me when I saw it. Note that it states, "I've been in denial." I've known I've been an alcoholic since 2001. I was sober from 2001 to 2006, and been drinking on and off, months apart, since then.

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