8.27.2004

Healing

I'm trying to determine where I am in the healing process. The experience with K and having to be the strong one for so long left me feeling exhausted, bruised, less in control, and generally limited in my ability to cope.

Many of those emotions have gone away or lessened with time. But then something triggers those memories and I can feel them washing over me again. My muscles begin to tense in my back, tears prick my eyelids, and an overwhelming sadness envelopes me. In short, I want to curl up and cry myself to sleep in hopes that the pain will be gone when I wake.

Reading Dooce's post for today was a trigger. I can remember clinging to my belief that going to the hospital would make K better. It would bring back the K that I knew and loved.

As it was, her hospitalization gave me a sense of relief. No longer was I the only one holding things together. Someone else was responsible for her well-being and safety. Simultaneously, it was exhausting. Instead of going home after work, I would go to the hospital. After a few days, I figured out that I was better off buying something at lunch, which could serve as my dinner.

One of my greatest feelings of failure occurred when I had to send the dog away, because we/I was no longer able to care for her. I wasn't home enough and she needed attention and time that wasn't mine to give at that point. K needed everything I had. After dropping off the dog, I had to quickly leave, because I didn't want to break down and cry. That act of dropping her off crystallized everything that was wrong and meant that I could no longer deny the seriousness of the situation. I was able to pick her up two weeks later, so she was home when K returned from the hospital a second time.

Initially, I expected that everything would be right as soon as the right medication was found. There were two hospitalizations for bipolar disorder. (There were two other hospitalizations for other reasons.) The first hospitalization, the doctors continued the ECT and didn't start any medication. She was doing well and they released her.

K managed to stay at home four days. During that time, she sank into a psychotic depression spiral and was the worst I had seen. She kept going deeper and deeper. When we went to a psychiatric appointment on the fourth day, she told Dr. X that she was going to kill herself or that she couldn't guarantee that she wouldn't. Like many bipolar patients, she had her plan extensively worked out. She refused to agree to voluntarily commit herself back into the hospital. He could not let her leave his office without her agreement or he was legally bound to call the police. K believed that all he had to do was commit her to the hospital where she had been the week before. Additionally, he had another appointment waiting for him, because they only allot 30 minute time slots for each appointment. As we went through this horrible discussion, with K constantly refusing to sign in, his phone kept buzzing for the next patient.

He sent her out of the room and asked me to stay. He told me that he could not commit her to the private hospital where she had been the previous week. Instead, he would have to commit her to the public psychiatric hospital, which is more the style of the ones in the movies. They have a number of criminals committed at this hospital and a couple months later a female patient was murdered by another female patient. Nor was he legally allowed to tell her any of this. He told me I had to convince her or she would have to go to the public hospital. He told me the law prevented him from committing her to a hospital where he had privileges.

For the next 45 minutes, in the waiting room, I pleaded, cajoled, begged, and appealed to her in every possible way to sign herself in to the hospital. But, I never told her she would have to go to the public hospital. It would have been the embodiment of all her fears regarding psych wards and verging on blackmail to put her in that position. Despite that, she would have become more intractable. Thank god, once I convinced her to go, the hospital was only a short walk away. Even so, I feared she might change her mind, but she was resigned at that point. It was humiliating doing this in a public space of the waiting room, but I was desperate to protect her.

K doesn't remember any of this. The combination of the ECT and the medications (Seroquel and Klonipin) have wiped out her memories. The ECT has destroyed her memory completely for a 10 week period and for intermittent periods throughout the rest of the year.

Immediately at the second admission, they started her on a strong dose of lithium as well as anti-anxiety drugs. She cried for three days in a row before starting to come to grips with herself and the diagnoses of bipolar disorder. Our friends visited and finally managed to get a smile from her after three days.

When she was released, after a week, I thought that things would be better. I had an idea that my hopes might be too high. The doctor (not Dr. X) recommended a partial hospitalization program, where K would go to an outpatient program 6 hours a day for therapy with others. K hated the idea, but I put on the pressure and she agreed to attend.

I credit that program as one of the things that saved her. She hated it, but at the end admitted that it had helped. It forced her out of the house and to interact with other people. And it made her get back on a schedule. Within a few weeks, she was attending part time and working part-time. It provided a foundation to make the transition back to work. I think it would have been significantly more difficult without the partial hospitalization program.

Now, 10 months after the release from the hospital and we are just getting back to normal. The hospitalization sent her onto the right path and it was necessary. But it wasn't the end. Rather, it was the first step towards healing. I'm more than ready to be healed.


1 Comments:

At 8:55 AM, Blogger blondzila said...

You really have been through so much. And your love is clear, crystalline. Someone wrote to me earlier that as bipolar, we are bound to our medications the way a parapalegic is bound to the wheelchair. Sometimes, especially at first, that parapalegic needs help in steering themselves through the hallways of their familiar house, in dressing themselves, all the basics of life. But as time goes on, they learn to do for themselves, out of repetition and necessity. They may still lean now and again on those strong arms to push them through tighter corners and muddy streets, but they do learn the pride of independence. Your back must be so sore, your arms so tired. Can you take some time for you? I know you've got so much on the go right now, with your renovations and K's illness, but it'll be better for both of you if you can recharge yourself, and soon.

 

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