Yup, what to do when you are in the ER. For me, the ultimate opposite action.
Opposite action is a DBT skill for when you are feeling a certain way and need to change it. Now, it’s not something you use all the time. Sometimes you are going to feel bad because you might actually need too. I’ve done opposite action before in ERPS. I messed it up once when I tried to make myself the opposite of anger when anger was the appropriate response. I was mad at my stalker student who wrote to me about what an incompetent ass I was, and I want to respond with kindness and understanding, but I was suppose to be angry because he broke major boundaries.
For my homework I was challenged to use opposite action on my family. When they tell me weirdo shit that I just agree and fire back at them. Part of it is because I don’t believe what they are saying, so instead of being defensive I’m just reflecting it back. It works, but I get stuck sometimes because I get stuck trying to explain things. By reflecting it, it isn’t about me anymore but is a sassy and comical way of dealing with their weirdness.
e.g “You know I didn’t need all those years of education to this.”
me: “yes, you are correct I went to school for to many years and didn’t learn a thing.”
“Can’t you just not think about it and get over your crazy.”
me: “Oh thank you, I didn’t realize that not thinking about it would help. I’m glad you cleared that up for me.”
How does all of this apply to the ER?
Well I had to go. For those of you who are new to this series I have PTSD from medicine. All medical stuff scares the crap out me and I often swear death over healthcare. I’m fairly reasonable, but my fear is a very deep wound.
I ended up coming home from my birthday party. It was a modest affair, I had two drink over 4 hours. The last one, a shot given to me by the restaurant as my birthday cake hit me really hard. Strange, because I can drink. I was almost fall down drunk. It’s pretty normal for me when I get drunk that I can’t feel my face. My nose usually goes numb first and that’s my signal to stop drinking. My friends drove me home and I got in safe. I went to finish my Nanowrimo Summer camp writing. My vision was blurred, I thought it was because I was tired. Like a toddler I refused sleep because writing needed to get done. Then my eye started hurting. I assume the 3 year old mascara I smeared on had something to do with this, so I washed my face, when back outside had some reward cigar. Assumed it was the smoke, and mascara.
I had my headphones on. I was singing a long with Taylor Swift imagining my own video to Bad Blood, when I noticed I was only talking out one side of my face. I went back into the bathroom and noticed there was a bit of swelling, and ya, I could only move one side of my mouth. I thought I was being silly and then noticed my eye wasn’t blinking. I couldn’t close it without closing the other eye.
I had to DEARMAN my self. (Describe, Express, Assert, Reienforce, be Mindful, Appear Confident, Negotiate. One side of me is being the broken record to get me to do something. A DEAR MAN, while poorly named is a skill you used when you need to ask for something or get your way. I was using the Assert and Reinforce part.)
“You have to go to the ER.”
But it’s the right side of my face. This isn’t a stroke. I’ve had mini strokes, this is nothing like that.
“You have to go to the ER.”
I put on my bed clothing and hid in my bed for maybe 10 minutes, when I had to get up because I felt weird. My skin was crawling, which is when I realized if there was something wrong I probably wouldn’t die, but would loose my brain.
PROS AND CONs:
Pro: If I go to the hospital it’s good practice. My therapist will be proud of me.
Con: They will murder me.
Pro: They will fix it
Con: They will lie to me
Pro: It’s taking care of myself.
Con: They will hurt me
Pro: If I go now, it might not be so bad. Also, it’s about 6 hours where I can read and write.
Con: They will ruin me
Pro: None of the cons are realistic. We can always leave.
Back to the DEARMAN
It’s probably nothing. Maybe I was roofied and we both know I don’t do sedatives very well. So maybe this is what it does to me. Like you remember when they gave us Ativan and that shit just made our face numb, maybe that’s it.
I picked up the phone and called.
“Tele Health, How can we help you?”
“Ummm ya, I need to know if I should go the ER. The right side of my face is partially paralyzed.”
“Okay... give me your number and I’ll get the nurse to call you back.”
2 minutes later.
Nurse does my history and gets my address and healthcare info.
“Ms. Robot, I want to call an ambulance for you.”
Me “No. The hospital isn’t far from me. I can walk.” (I start crying)
“You’re going to walk? We only offer to call ambulances when the injury is serious or life threatening.”
“Ya, I have PTSD and I need to calm down. If I walk there I’ll be calm enough to talk to them. I will go to ER, but I can’t take the ambulance. I know I’m okay enough to walk. I’m pretty sure it’s Bell’s Palsy, because this doesn’t feel like a stroke.”
“You have the right to refuse, but I want you to get to the ER.”
“I know I’m difficult, but I’m gonna go now.”
I panic a bit, openly start sobbing. I make myself start packing a few things. Scold myself for not having any snacks in the house. I pack a book, my laptop, and a few comfort things. Writing is a huge comfort thing for me, as a small action figure I have of a surgeon. I grab the advil I took and my iron. I debating packing the cigar incase there’s something about it that made my face go numb. A note book and a recording device and a bottle of water. I debate for a second to sit down and write down my symptoms. But I brush my teeth instead realizing that if I linger too long, I’ll start talking myself out of it.
I walk fast. The street are dead, I cry for some of the walk. That’s around when I run in to the creepy guy, and make myself stop crying for the rest of the walk in case some asshole mistakes me for an easy target.
I stop and take a picture of myself, going oh it must be over now. If I can close my eye I can go home! Nope it’s still frozen. Damn
OH I forgot my phone, what if I need to call my mom. It’s 3am, you can call your mom tomorrow. BUT I should go home and get my phone. It’s in your purse, you’re just to scared to find it. BUT what if I need to call. Hospitals have phones you can use theirs. BUT WHAT IF THEY WON’T LET ME.
NO, WE ARE GOING.
Okay let’s focus on breathing.
I make it to the ER.
I get to the front desk, hand over my healthcard and give my info and tell them tele health told me to come and the right side of my face is paralyzed. She tells me they’ll call me when they are ready and to take a sit. I start heading to the seats far away, she tells me to stay close, as I put my healthcard in my wallet they call my name.
I explain my symptoms, that I have PTSD from medicine, so my blood pressure will be very high. That I don’t think it’s a stroke because it’s the right side, not the left and when I had mini strokes it was nothing like this.
“You’ve had mini strokes? When?”
“2011-2012. I had 58 hemoglobin. I have problems with anemia. They’ve stopped, but that’s how I can tell this isn’t a stroke. It’s probably Bell’s Palsy, but I should get it checked out anyway.”
“It is probably Bell’s Palsy, but yes you did good by coming in and getting checked out.”
Other nurse “Yes, it is very high. You are very anxious.”
“I’m trying to keep it together.” tears are streaming out of my face, but my voice is at least in my head confident and direct.
They ask me the usual questions. Ask if I feel weak. I’ve been up for over 18 hours, so I feel like I ran a double but no weaker than that. I’m sent back to the waiting room. I pull out my laptop and start recording what they’ve told me. Maybe 10m minutes rolls by and they call me again.
“We are gonna put you in a private room to help ease your anxiety. I’m also gonna try to get them to see you in an hour because I tell how nervous you are. I know it’s a long wait.”
“I’m already impressed, it’s been pretty quick so far.”
We walk by beds and nursing stations. All of which reminds me of my surgery. I tense up a lot. It’s the same curtains and furniture.
CHECK THE FACTS. This skill requires you to look at things they way they are, not how you think they are. What it is, not what you think it means. The fact of it. I like to compare this to reputation in World of Warcraft. In WoW when you meet new NPCs or Factions you have a reputation with them. It could be at war, friendly, neutral, bestest friends. Because you are loved by one faction, doesn’t mean, another faction will like you. Just because I hate very specific doctors, a private
clinic and a hospital, doesn’t mean that everyone else has the same reputation. e.g I am currently at war with gynaecology, Dr. A and B, and private clinic. However, I just met ER, it would be unfair of me to hate them because I hate gynaecology, so we are currently “unfriendly” but not in conflict. We aren’t neutral, because I’m suspicious of them, but they haven’t hurt me, so I’m not attacking them for no reason. For me, I have to remember that everyone has their ‘reputation’ with me, and I can’t give them someone else’s reputation. The best way to do that is to check the facts and not how I feel about it.
1. It’s a different Hospital
2. It’s a curtain
3. It’s a bed
4. It’s a nursing station
5. Nurses have been good so far, however still remain on guard.
None of that means the same thing will happen. They are all things. They do not mean anything. It’s not a sign or an omen. It’s the same brand of hospital, they use the same furniture supplier.
First nurse, introduces to my nurse, he’s young and friendly. They both intelligently notice that I’ve slowed down too look at things, and both use their bodies to block my sight, and get me into my room. They very quickly draw the curtain and state he’ll be back for me.
GROUNDING - How to get back in the present when you sure as fuck don’t want to be there. I pull out my itouch and take some pictures of everything in the room that makes me remember the past. There’s the same chair, the curtain, I do the whole room, as though documenting this time will make it real. Documenting things makes me feel in control. I also set up my action figure and take pictures of her with the medical stuff. I hold her in my hand like a talisman. I also pull out my laptop and record what I’ve been told so far. Times, names of people. I record everything that is going on right now, and do not go into the past.
I find something that hasn’t been in any of my hospital rooms. Three coat hooks. I use MINDFULNESS, to calm myself.
I see three coat hook. I see three coat hooks. I see three coat hooks. I hear the noises of beeps, which freaks me out a bit because it makes me remember my heart rate when I was in recovery, but I go back to my coat hooks and focus on that.
My nurse comes back, he’s super friendly hooks me up to the various monitoring equipment. I warn him about the PTSD, and say I’m doing okay because I can actually talk to him.
He does the initial examination, which I will get 2 more times and can’t tell me that he agrees with me that’s bell’s palsy, but says it looks that way but a doctor will need to check me out.
He asks me if I have any reactions to drugs.
“Well nothing that’s going to be relevant today, but if you need to know. I have an opiate immunity, ativan doesn’t work on me, and I don’t entirely go under for general anesthesia, so you can guess why I have PTSD, but I don’t think we will need any of those today.”
Bell’s Palsy is caused by a virus that pinches a nerve in your neck. It causes half of your face to be temporally paralyzed. It will improve in about 3 weeks, can last 2-3 months, sometimes a year, and rarely a lifetime. Canada’s former prime minster has it.
It feels an awful like dental freezing. You can also get stabbing pains behind the ear. Also very similar to dental freezing. The biggest concern is whether or not you can close your eye. If it dries out you can damage it. I am lucky, although I can’t blink it, I can close it. I still need eye drops and an oil to put in it.
I keep writing and looking at my three hooks. My pulse goes down and I let myself close my eyes.
“Don’t sleep. Remember that last time you slept on the examine table. Do you want that to happen again.”
Fuck you brain, my sleeping on that table didn’t mean that happened to me for a reason. I let myself doze, but I open my eye every now again and again, so no one slips into my room to surprise me. I’ve successfully calmed myself down and have becomes excited that things might go right. I decided not to get to excited, just in case. Don’t celebrate too early.
An hour slips by and the resident comes to see me. I get his name from his badge. He’s also very friendly. I am very clear about my symptoms as well as about my history of anemia and how we might need to check that. He’s very curious and ask how I could loose so much blood. At first, I’m trying to be discrete and then I’m like. It’s my period, my hematologist thinks I have a bleeding disorder but he never tested me for it. I also had fibroids, which they kept telling me I was too young for. So what happened was that basically for years every clinic doctor told me I was crazy and not bleeding that much, so I dropped down to 58 hemoglobin and 2 iron. I was having mini strokes and what my doctor described as two micro heart-attacks. I finally got a real family doctor, who got me checked out and finally believed me. After that, for about 8 months I lived with loosing about a 1000 milliliters of blood a every month most of it in two days, which I was told was impossible and I was a liar. I just took 3 iron a day and dealt with adults diapers.
“I’m really sorry. That sounds really awful”
“Why, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I know that, but I am really sorry you went through that. That was a bad experience. A litre of blood a month is serious.”
“This is weird.”
“I’m not use to doctors being nice to me, they write me off as crazy. It’s nice, but I’m not use to it.” He smiles, I have an odd sense of humour which doctors seem to enjoy because it’s direct, sarcastic, and self deprecating.
“So you got surgery?”
“yes, I bleed maybe 170 mL now, but I don’t really know. I have a lot of avoidance issues.”
“Well at least they fixed you.”
“I don’t consider getting PTSD from the experience a very good fix.”
Some kind of transition to the next stuff, but he has to go get the attending to look at me. I go back to writing and keeping calm. I doze a bit more.
(FYI, I’d hate having JD as my resident) The Attending and resident come back about an hour later. Attending does that same stuff, nurse, and resident has already done and gives some lessons to his resident. He explains to me what I already know, as though I haven’t heard it for the third time and like I’m a child. I try not to be annoyed. I’m certain he’s trying to be nice, it’s just not working on me. I find it insincere and like watching an bad actor trying to be friendly who clearly doesn’t want to be. He probably took a course on being friendly. I appreciate the attempt. I think for anyone else who didn’t know anything about medicine or wasn’t hyper sensitive body language it would have been nice. I let it go, because he’s trying which is more than a lot of other doctors have done. I interrupt during a natural lull, and explain my sibling has had Bell’s Palsy twice, so I know a little about it.
He ask if I know about something. I explain, “I don’t always listen 100% to my sibling.” Both of them try not to laugh. They go to get my drugs.
I doze off again. A nurse comes in an hour later to bring it to me. I look at the prescription and ask if what she is handing me is and I intentionally misprounounce the drug. She takes the sheet and checks. It is (I’ve been feed the wrong medication, what I choose to do was the passive aggressive way of asking, rather than outright accusing them of failing.)
Out in a record 3 hours. I take my drugs and I head home.
I made it.
I did it. /cheer
It’s been interesting to hear what people tell me. Most of what they say has a lot of do with their own fears. Example, people thought I was afraid of the Bell’s Palsy, and not the hospital. It echos their fear from when they got BP and thought they were having a stroke. I’m lucky, if you can say that? I’ve had mini strokes, so I knew it was very unlikely to be stroke. Also, my sibling has had it, so I knew a little about it. I RADICALLY ACCEPTED the Bell’s Palsy. I wasn’t scared of it, and don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s a thing that happened. I did nothing wrong. I probably won’t eat at the restaurant again or smoke that much again, but it’s not the fault of those things. It is literally one of those things that happens for no reason. It is what it is.
People often comment on how I don’t look bad and say a lot of things about how my face looks like it’s starting to unfreeze. It isn’t, and I’m not worried my looks. The most annoying part is my speech is slurred and it’s hard to eat, drink, brush my teeth, my sight in my one eye which was already terrible, is slightly worse. The Freeze doesn’t make my face look bad. But ya, I’ve been getting a lot of “Oh but you still look pretty!” it’s weird because no one every talks about my looks ever.