|Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 15, 2009||Chapters:||...48 49 -50- 51...|
Valerie is admitted to the hospital
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
For those of you not familiar with the symptoms of tempoal lobe epilepsy, and hypnagogic hallucinationssy, I suggest you read the first 49 chapters.
Sexually abused as a child Valerie developes severe psychological damage in the form of nightmares, hallucinations, seizures, depression, gaps in time and self-mutilation. As an adult, she is finally
"I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay."
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/i/iyanlavanz519947.html#HJQMWbxq0ugTqFIw.99
I lay strapped to a gurney in the hallway of the emergency room. I could hear Mom's voice coming from a room across the hall, but I could not hear what she was saying. I could only imagine what she was saying.
A young man, who looked more like he was barely out of high school than a doctor, began dressing the burn on my hand. After cleaning it, he applied a thick layer of antibiotic salve, and then wrapped it in a thick layer of gauze.
The doctor finished attending to my hand, he leaned against the white counter, and, holding a silver clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other, he began to ask me a long list of questions.
“What is your name; how old are you; are you married; do you have any children; have you ever had the chicken pox?”
At that point, I began to laugh. Who gave a damn if I ever had chicken pox? What the hell difference did it make? I apologized for laughing, and said, “I think so.”
The doctor cleared his throat, and continued to ask me more questions.
“Have your ever heard voices; have you ever attempted suicide; have you ever intentionally injured yourself; have you ever injured someone else?”
Not ready to open up my soul to a complete stranger, I simply said no to each question.
A few minutes later, a nurse came into the room and told me I was being sent to the Psychiatric Ward, better known as 7 East.
“If we unstrap you, can we trust you not to harm yourself?” She asked.
I promised to be a good girl.
“Can I speak with my mother first?”
The nurse shook her head and said, “Sorry, your mother left a-half-an-hour ago.”
The words left me speechless. I felt myself start to shake and for the second time in one day, I had another seizure.
* * *
I spent the first two days in the intensive care unit while several neurologists tried to figure out what was wrong with me. After a thorough examination and numerous tests, I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy and hypnagogic hallucinations, a sleep disorder associated with temporal lobe epilepsy, sleep apnea, and a non-life threatening heart condition called mitral valve prolapse. He also told me it was very likely I also had a condition called non-epileptic seizures, which is usually caused by trauma and, or, stress. The Doctor prescribed medication for the temporal lobe epilepsy, scheduled an appointment with a sleep specialist, and transferred me to the Psychiatric Ward for everything else.
* * *
I woke early the next morning. I had a restless night and did not get the sleep I had hoped for. As I walked down the hall toward the front desk, I realized I was not the first to get up. In a large room across from the Nurses’ Station, I could see four patients quietly watching television. In the cafeteria, on the left side of the Nurses’ Station, I saw two patients sitting at a table. Nervous, I went into the cafeteria, avoided making eye contact with the two women now staring at me, made myself a cup of coffee, and then sat down at a table on the opposite side of the room.
A few minutes later, a third a woman, about my age, entered the room, walked over to my table, and sat down.
“Hi. My name is Mary and I’m an MD,” she said.
“You are a doctor?” I asked.
She laughed and said, “No, I’m a manic-depressive.”
I smiled. “My name is Valerie and I have no idea what is wrong with me.”
We both laughed.
Very quickly, I learned that all my fellow patients were very open about their specific illnesses. None exhibited any shame about why they were there.
After breakfast, a tall, very attractive, blonde nurse approached me and said, “Let’s go somewhere where we can talk.”
I followed her down the hall and into a small room with a couch, two large overstuffed chairs and a small coffee table. Looking at the couch, I chuckled aloud wondering if she expected me to lie down on it the way they do in the movies. I decided to sit in the chair.
“My name is Marilyn, I'm your day nurse.”
I smiled and nodded a silent hello.
“I have gone over your chart, and it says you have been having a rough time. Apparently, you have been diagnosed with epilepsy. How do you feel about that?”
“Relieved,” I confessed. “It is nice to finally know what’s been happening to me.”
“Okay, now I am going to ask you a series of questions. It is important you answer them honestly.”
Again, I nodded.
"Do you have trouble sleeping?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“How is your appetite?”
“I’m seldom hungry.” I couldn't remember the last time I ate.
“Do you have difficulty controlling your temper?”
I ignored the urge I felt to laugh and said, “Yes.”
“Have you ever have thoughts about hurting yourself?”
“When I was a child I sometimes cut myself or jabbed a pencil into my arm or leg. Last week I poured boiling water over my hand.”
The nurse continued. “Do you ever think about killing yourself?”
“Have you ever tried?”
“Do you cry easily?”
“Once I cried myself to sleep when Dennis the Menace didn’t get the bicycle he wanted for his birthday,” I said.
“Be serious,” Marilyn cautioned.
“I am serious,” I said. “I really cried. I cry when I am happy, I cry when I am sad, and I cry when I am angry. I even cry when I’m bored.”
“Are there times when you are so depressed you cannot function?” the nurse asked.
“Tell me about your childhood.”
I was still not ready to open up to a total stranger. I simply said, "Normal, nothing out of the ordinary."
With one eyebrow raised and both her big brown eyes focused on my face, Marilyn smiled and said, "That's not what your mother said."
I countered with, "I wouldn’t put too much stock into what my Mom says."
To my relief, Marilyn changed the subject. "Is there anything else I need to know?"
I thought for a moment and then said, “Yes. Sometimes I lose blocks of time. It started when I was a little girl. Sometimes it is just a few hours, but recently I have lost as much as two or three days.”
Without commenting, she just wrote a note in the chart and changed the subject again.
“Do you drink much alcohol?”
“Wouldn’t you if you were me?”
Marilyn smiled. I knew right away that I was going to like her.
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