Sunday, May 17, 2015

The ER incident

I have started this post over and over again since I first started this blog. I have tried writing it in first person, third person, 5th person (ok not really), but a lot has held me back from telling me the full story. First I had PTSD over it so I had to get therapy help for that... Then I just found myself relieving it everytime I tried. Then I was blaming myself and saying "if I would have said this, or not done this, I could have made it... But I see now, with trying to write my full story, and "The ER Incident" specifically, I can't do anymore than explain the facts. What I felt. So I dig out my old mission journals and I'll quote them a lot. I also hope to get another point of view on this story in the future from a seperate party, to gain perspective, for a different post though because this on is going to be long. But here it goes...

"Today has been one of those bad days... I couldn't fight to be happy today like I usually can. I was fighting just to function, to go and not drop. I broke down crying 4 times today! Our last lesson of the day was going to be hard, I hate myself for telling Sister Eames that I didn't think I could go into the lesson, I hadn't had the spirit all day and there was no way we could teach the next lesson without it.  But we prayed for strength and I felt the spirit! We had a great lesson, but now I'm exhausted."

"So last night Sister Eames and I stayed up until 12:40ish AM talking... I finally found myself opening up and telling her that I have self harm thoughts a lot of the time. She told me I needed to tell president right away. She was scared, and I started to panic because I realized that I had suddenly put a huge load on her and she was upset. Then I noticed today that once I said it out loud it became real to me and I felt sick inside and gross. Last night we prayed together and I bawled like a baby, she gave me a hug... I am just trying to not be afraid now because I know fear is the opposite of faith, but I called Sister Holm, and she told me to call my LDS counselor, I don't have to go home! I guess that was my biggest worry. But now my biggest worry is my thoughts. Nobody should be afraid of their own thoughts but I am..."

"My counselor says to go see Dr. Mendez tomorrow (there goes my pday nap), she thinks it just means I need more of the stupid antidepressant. I have noticed, since voicing aloud my harmful thoughts, that they have gotten worse, more dark and harmful. But the worst part is it makes me act out. It is making me go crazy, and the worst thing that is killing me is it is effecting Sister Eames, I know she wants to help but I feel like I am a lost cause right now. I am amazed at how kind and loving she is, and I don't deserve it at all... I mean, she is still talking to me this morning after I yelled at her and accused her of making me fat because she was making me take my antidepressants.... Just that fact alone shows how amazing and loving she truly is, I don't deserve to be her companion. She doesn't deserve to be in this situation. I hate myself when I get mad at her, for making me take something that is helping me stay out here. But for some reason I just loath the idea of anti depressants...Because I keep saying I'm not depressed! I am not a depressed person! I can't accept that. Maybe I need to repent, and get rid of my pride. But I am so grateful for Sister Eames. I hate myself for being such a burden to her. I don't know what I would do without her."

"If I could swear about today I would. And I know sister Eames would too, it was a 'blue dress day' basically it means it's p-day, we have no motivation to get ready, so we both have these blue dresses that are more casual and comfortable, we laugh about it but today when we both came out wearing it we had a good hard laugh, it felt good! But I don't think Sister Eames will ever wear her blue dress ever again. It will remind her of how awful today has been. #worstpdayever..."

And this is where I start to tell my story, I'll quote or paraphrase my journal for the rest, but also mostly from memory... I've relived it in my dreams so many months that I remember it like it happened yesterday it's so vivid!

We woke up did our morning pday routine, in our blue pday dresses, I lied about my email home (again) and told some great stories that happened, but left out the details of my night horrors and my emotional state of wanting to self harm.  Then we headed to Carolina Pinea Regional Medical Center in Hartsville South Carolina. We get into see Dr Mendez and I remember having the hardest time talking to her. The first time I went to her with my other companion, she asked if I was in a "partnership" and how it was going. She couldn't understand that the depression and anxiety was outside of the stress of being on a mission. She didn't know because like most people in the south, she wasn't a member!

So on this visit I tried to be very clear with her, I remember praying in my heart that she would understand and be able to help me. I told her that I was beginning to have self harm thoughts, that I had no intentions to act on them, but that it was starting to become a constant idea that stayed on my mind. I remember Dr. Mendez suggesting I go immediately to the ER (it was on the other side of the building since her office was connected to the hospital). Dr Mendez explained that going to the ER is a procedure she has to do when people come to her like this. She told me it was my best option to get better. And that since I was a liability to myself she was not allowed to let me go. Not really feeling reassured, she said she would go get a nurse to walk us down to the ER. I remember feeling confused, and overwhelmed, why the ER? Dr Mendez brought back in this huge male nurse with tattoos up his arms, I was like, this is the guy taking us to the ER? I was even more confused. Then Dr Mendez asks for my counsellors number so she can call her and ask her some things and we start walking to the ER... 

When I now think back on this time, If that guy wasn't escorting us we would have been able to talk things out, figure out what we needed to do. But as we stepped onto the Elevator the nurse mentioned that the day before the same elevator got stuck with people in it for a good 4 hours. I remember feeling extra sick because I hate elevators. It wasn't until later that my companion told me that she was thinking of something more along the lines of... "We are so breaking rules being alone in this elevator with this huge dude, if it breaks with us and him in here we are so dead." 

As we were walking into the ER I was feeling more and more gross. Something was off. Then the phone buzzed, Sister Eames answered it and the male nurse told us to wait and mumbled about trying to find room 9 for me. Sister Eames was talking on the phone and I was just staring at all the people who were here for physical injuries. I remember thinking, "what can the ER do for me? What I have is a problem with my mental and emotional well being." I can't go to the ER for something like this.

Sister Eames was reassuring Sister Holm something on the phone and it snapped me back into the moment. She hung up as the nurse came back to get us, he tells us we have to walk around and find room 9 with him because he has no idea where it is. Sister Eames whispers something about clarifying with Sister Holm about going from the Dr to the ER. She looked worried thought, she wanted to say more, there was more said on the phone, but as we were wandering the huge nurse finally said "ah here is room 9..."

I'll never forget it. Not in a million years, I still see it in my dreams. It was a small dimly lit white room. It was completely empty, except for a blue mat raised a couple inches off the ground, and some straps that were attached to it so they could hold down the something... Or someone.

My heart jumped to my throat! I understood why the huge nurse had to not walk, but escort me to "Room 9"! They already knew I was crazy! They were going to lock me in this cell and put me in a straight jacket, I thought! As we walked in I couldn't look at Sister Eames, but the nurse says "this is a security guard," She said pointing to and older black man in his 40's. She said it as a warning, as if saying "Go ahead and try and hurt yourself... I remember thinking for a second that I could totally out run that dude if I needed to.
A good example of what "Room 9" looked like minus the couch.

As the metal door slammed shut behind the nurse I sat down and cried, we were alone, and I was hysterical. Sis Eames then explained the phone call she had taken, it was my mission presidents wife, Sister Holm. My companion said that Sis Holm was called by my LDS counselor, who was called by Dr Mendez. Dr Mendez told my counselor that I was suicidal (not true) and I was wanting to harm myself (which my counselor already knew). So Dr Mendez said she was going to the ER but that she couldn't tell her anything else. So the therapist tells Sister Holm and at that point they thought I had hurt myself, or had tried to take my life. Sister Eames tells me then that she had to reassure Sister Holm that I had not done anything to myself. That I was just being sent there by the doctor. 

I felt worse and I started to cry harder. My loving companion had to tell reassure Sister Holm that I hadn't hurt myself, when at that moment, it was all I wanted to do. I hated that I was there. I hated what I was putting Sister Eames through. I hated my brain, my body my existence. 

Then the phone rang, Sister Eames grabbed it and we looked at the ID... It as President Holm. Just then the nurse walked in, so Sister Eames walked out to take Presidents call. She stood right next to the security guard so we could be in sight, but she was absorbed in the call. 

The nurse asked me my birthday info and put a bracelet on me and I remember glancing from the security guard to Sister Eames and back, he was watching us intently, like he was ready to pounce at a moments notice. And Sister Eames was looking more and more sick and scared on the phone, she then turned walked further down the hall. She started to speak low and fast to President, I couldn't hear her though. I filled out some general paper work, signed a few papers and they left. Saying that a nurse would be back in a few to take my vitals...

I was alone, the big heavy metal door slammed shut and out the rectangle window through the wires in the glass my companion was still talking. I started to cry harder! I had never been more scared in all my life. When she finally came back in she looked just as scared as I felt, and I hated myself even more for that.

She handed me the phone I took a deep breath and even though I was shaking I answered it.

He asked me in the most loving and kind, yet urgent way if I was alright. He asked if I had tried to hurt or kill myself in anyway. I answered "no sir." Trying not to cry again. He asked if I had remembered the rule that we were to call and ask permission before going to the ER. I answered "yes sir" and explained that Sis Holm knew we were going to Dr Mendez, but then Mendez sent us over to the ER so fast afterward we weren't able to think about anything else.

He then explained how I was to not sign over myself to the hospital. I was not to accept a bracelet. I was to insist, rudely, if I needed to (I was shocked that he was giving me permission to get angry but that was literally the vocab he chose) be immediately released to Sister Eames. He said tell them anything. But to get out. He told me of past missionaries that went to the ER for the same thing I did and they held missionaries there for weeks, Doing tests, calling them a "danger to society" saying that they can't be released to anyone, especially not someone who claims to be their "Mission President". All the time I was feeling worse and worse. He then said that I should refuse to sign anything, and insist that I see the doctor and ask to be discharged.

I had to tell him that I was wearing the bracelet and had already signed everything, his answer was like a dagger to me "Sister, that means that you are now a ward and in custody of the hospital. Sister Holm and I are preparing to leave to come get you right now, but in the mean time do everything you can to get out, and refuse everything! Tell them we will send you home on a plane with special nurses, just get out sister, we are on our way." After saying he loved me and that he was praying for me he said goodbye.

I hung up wanting to die. 

I cried so hard and shook in fear as I explained to my companion what he had said we needed to do. That they were on their way (they were 3 hours away). I told my companion that he suggested I should go home, and I stopped talking and just started sobbing. 

And this right here folks is why Sister Ivie Eames is my hero, and why she was sent as an angle to me at this time: She pulls out her hymn book. And starts singing her favorite hymn. Be Still My Soul. She then says a prayer for both of us. She then hugs me and tells me that if I am going to convince the doctors to release them to her I am going to have to stop crying, and shaking, and be confident. I'm going to have to show them I can handle this in my own. Then she told me what president had said... She said he sounded furious, that we had gone to the ER without calling, and we needed to get out of this room, she said he suggested to her that I go home as well. And then she told me that she needed me to be strong and get out of this situation. She said I couldn't think about home. I just had to think about calming myself to get out of this room.

I knew she was right. Taking deep breaths I was trying hard to calm down. When the nurse came in to take my vitals and I said "um excuse me, I would like to actually go home, I don't want an IV or anything, I just would like to talk to the Dr and speak to her about going home." I was surprised at the strength in my voice, and the nurse looked at me like I was just trying to get out of the loony bin. I'm sure she had heard this same thing from people in room 9 before. She said she wouldn't do an IV but she had to take my temperature and Blood pressure and then she would get the Dr, but the nurse didn't sound happy.

I was doing my best to not start crying again. And with in 5 minutes the Dr was in my white cell. I explained that I didn't want to be treated here. That I believed it was a misunderstanding, and that I wanted to be released to my mission companion. The Dr was very kind and listened much better than Dr Mendenz did. She asked if she could talk to me alone privately. I said no, because 1) There was no way I was letting Sister Eames leave me in that white cell on the blue mat by myself. and 2) as missionaries we weren't supposed to be out of sight and sound of each other. But then the Dr said, "I can't let you be released to her unless I can see that you are able to be stable enough to talk to me alone. She said it kind but forcefully too. I agreed and the security guard and Sister Eames were left outside the huge metal door to watch me through the window. I can still remember seeing her standing on her tiptoes trying to see me from outside of the room as I talked with the Dr.

She asked me a lot of questions, but they were questions so that she could gain an understanding. I told her how I had been on Antidepressants and that they worked for a few weeks and then my symptoms would get worse, and so they would up the dosage and it would work and then the symptoms would get worse. I explained how I had never had a history of depression, that I didn't even understand what was going on, when I had the thoughts to hurt myself. She asked if I was going to kill my self. I said no. She told me that Dr Mendez admitted me stating that I was suicidal and a harm to myself and others.

I asked her if she thought it was true and she said no.

I was so relieved! She said that I was on too high of a dosage of Antidepressants and so she lowered it. I asked if I could go home... She looked at me for a long time, and I looked back praying in my heart so hard that I wouldn't have to stay in this white room anymore. She finally answered and said, "you can go, but you must sign that you will stay under 24 hour watch for the next 3 days and you will have to have to sign saying you won't harm yourself or others in front of me and a third party. IF you do these things I will release you to your mission companion."

I was so relieved I sank back into the blue mat and sat stunned. The doctor left to go get the paper work, and Sister Eames came back in. I was so relieved! I told her what was said between the Dr and I, and then I said, "it was a miracle! I prayed so hard and I'm getting out!" Sister Eames was happy too, she had been praying hard on the other side of the door. After a half hour of signing papers and figuring things out we were permitted to leave. The 24 hour watch paper was kinda funny, because we were stuck with each other 24/7 anyways.

When we called president to tell him, he told us to get our P-day stuff done quickly and go strait home. He said he would talk to us later about what we were going to do. He also told me he had called my parents, I wasn't sure what he told them, but he had notified them. He and his wife weren't coming to see us though. I never thought I would be so relieved to not have to see my mission president, but at that time I was!

After all that we were exhausted. We felt gross because we had disobeyed president, and had been ripped apart from each other, it was so scary for me. And I made it worse on myself because I took on a whole lot of self blame because I felt like I had dragged Sister Eames into the worst companionship of her mission. And I still hated myself for it....

(You can find the rest of the story in later posts ER Part 1, and ER Part 2 in the links)

-The Lyme Warrior