Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Snapshots from Before, Part II

"And, of course, we'll need your shoelaces and the drawstring from your sweatpants."

The intake nurse looks bored.  She recites this as though she is asking me to read an eyechart, or fill out a form at the DMV.

I stare at her, bug-eyed.   "What?  Why?'

She blinks twice, slowly.   "It's procedure, Ma'am.   We can't have you strangling yourself with your shoelaces now, can we?"

I am at a detox facility.   It is also a mental hospital.    Strangle myself with my shoelaces?   Is that even possible?    I don't want to cause a fuss, so I dutifully remove everything and hand it to her.   She waves an envelope in my face.   "These are your personal effects, and they will be returned to you upon your release."  

I am now someone who has personal effects.   In an envelope marked with a patient number.   No name.   I am a number with personal effects.

"If you come with me, I'll show you to your room," she says.    We walk down the long, brightly lit corridor and she prattles on about rules and regulations, medication times, group therapy.    I don't hear a thing she says.   I keep my eyes on the floor and try not to notice the other patients shuffling along in the hall, their sneakers flapping against the tile because, of course, they have no shoelaces.   Several of them are eating popsicles.   Aren't they worried they'll make a shank out of the popsicle stick?  I think bitterly.    I want to say this to the Intake Nurse, but I hold back.   I don't want to cause trouble.    I'm a Good Girl.   Even when I'm institutionalized.

I'm here because my husband found me incoherent on the floor of my bedroom earlier that day.   I didn't think I was incoherent.  I thought I was making perfect sense.    I thought I was just sleeping on the floor because there wasn't enough room in the bed.    But, apparently, my husband was alarmed and called my therapist, who recommended this hospital as a place to keep me safe for a few days, until further plans could be made.   

There has been a mistake, I tell myself.   I just drink too much sometimes.   I'm not a danger to myself or anyone else.    I'll get this cleared up in no time, and I'll control my drinking.   I forgot to eat dinner last night, that was the problem.   I drank on an empty stomach.  I won't be here long.

I was right.  I wasn't there long.   Within six hours my blood pressure spikes dangerously, and an ambulance is called.    As they strap me onto the stretcher and load me into the ambulance, I think:  this is overkill.   I'm just stressed out.   I just need some sleep. 

And maybe a drink.  

13 comments:

  1. oh ellie. god bless you, woman.

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  2. You are such a strong, amazing woman, Ellie.

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  3. I so get both the "blogret" (I love that word, let's get in in webster's next year mmkay?) and the can't forget/don't want to remember thing.

    I can't wait to read the whole story, Ellie.

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  4. This is such a moving story. I am anxiously awaiting the rest of it.

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  5. wow, you have no clue how glad i am to meet you!! what an incredible story and i look forward to more!
    thanks for visiting my blog! truly!!

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  6. Blessed and brave, you are. And a tremendous storyteller. Anxiously awaiting the rest of the story...

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  7. After reading this, I had to go back and read "Snapshots from Before, Part 1..." Parts of it reminded me so much of myself, "before".... thank you for posting - I know I'm not alone.

    Kelli (I don't have a blog to reference)

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  8. Seriously, this just sounds like the beginning of an amazing, meaningful book...I hope you keep writing more and more because it is incredible. I know it must be painful to "go there", but just know that it helps so many people.

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  9. I'm amazed by you, Ellie.
    Thank you for sharing your story, cannot wait to hear more.

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  10. Wow. Ellie. Really powerful stuff. You will change lives.

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  11. Thank you for sharing your story and your strength Ellie.

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  12. I missed this one, Ellie. Funny, I looked back and saw the date was just before my hospital story. Obviously we have a lot in common. I too, felt that fear when we checked me into the nuthouse/detox hospital.

    You are a strong, brave woman. :-D You've been there, been down and have climbed back up. Applause!!!

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  13. Seriously, this just sounds like the beginning of an amazing, meaningful book...I hope you keep writing more and more because it is incredible. I know it must be painful to "go there", but just know that it helps so many people.

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