This isn't the most creative post I've ever written. Or the funniest. Or the best. But it's a story that needs to be told. When you are finished reading this post, I have one request...share it. Share it on Facebook. Share it on Twitter. Print off a copy and deliver them door to door. I don't care how you do it...I just ask that you share it. One little click of a button.
I don't ask this of you so that I can become an internet sensation. The Good Lord knows what I'm about to write isn't exactly a great reason to become famous. I ask that you share it for two reasons. The first is to spread awareness about mental illness. I could be your sister. I could be your neighbour. I could be the person that runs your local kids' clothing store. I could be anyone. I suffer from a gamut of mental health issues and I struggle on a daily basis. I wear a mask most days and pretend everything is fine. Today, my mask comes off. Completely.
The second reason I ask you to share this is because of the...beyond incompetent...issue that occurred to me at one of Saskatoon's hospitals. I love nurses. Some of my friends are nurses. My customers and clients are nurses. I know their job is not an easy one. But the nurses at St. Paul's hospital on February 5th in the Emergency Department dropped the ball. Big time. And I want to spread that story as well.
On the desk before me sit the remnants of two hospital bracelets...one from St. Paul's hospital in Saskatoon. One from the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert. Each carry with them a vastly different story. My arms and elbow creases are riddled with poke holes and bruises from needles. There is tape residue on the back of my hand, as well charcoal hidden in the creases of my dry fingers. This is what remains of my suicide attempt on Wednesday, February 5th.
It is no secret on this blog that I live with mental illness. Depression. Anxiety. As of late, we've added the likelihood of Bipolar II to the list (which carries with it it's own lovely list of symptoms such as impulsively which has gotten me into some trouble). I don't feel the need to go into the triggers that started my latest episode on Wednesday morning, but I'll start at the place that makes the most sense.
I was dressed and ready to go to work at my store in PA. I pulled up in front of the store only to discover I left my keys in the other vehicle. Because of some lows the night before as well as that morning, my impulsivity kicked in and I thought to myself "Eff this shit...I'm not opening the store. I'm never going home again. My husband and children deserve better than me. I'll drive until I can't drive any more". (this is the Reader's Digest of my thoughts). So began my road trip to Saskatoon.
I stopped at the local pharmacy and purchased a bottle of 50 Robaxacet. My decision was that I'm either driving away to a new life or I'm killing myself. Either way, I wasn't going home again. My brain was telling me that my husband deserves better than me and my children are better off without a mother that is plagued with so many issues. It was a long, tearful drive to Saskatoon. I did text my husband to generally let him know where I was and that I had not ingested any pills at that point. Unfortunately, this isn't my first go round with suicide attempts. Or with running away. Living with someone with a mental illness isn't fun and my husband deserves huge accolades for putting up with shit he does from me. He also deserves money, so if you want to send cheques, just make them payable to "cash".
When I got to Saskatoon, I didn't know where else to drive and found myself wandering the aisles at Toys R Us, buying good-bye gifts for my babies. Something noisy and fun that would drown out the sound of my absence, if that makes any sense at all. It made sense to me at the time. I picked up some toys and headed back to the parking lot. I didn't know where to go next. I drove some more until I found myself parked at Preston Crossing.
At this point, I began to type out my thoughts, which basically turned into a suicide note. Because I had intended to go into work, I had my laptop with me. I began to type. And ingest pills. And type. And ingest pills. And cry. And ingest pills. There is a calmness that descends upon you when you make the decision to end your life. There is freedom in that decision. I thought back to the few people I had interacted with throughout my short day, the cashiers or gas jockeys, and how they had no idea how my day was going to end, but that I was appreciative of their kind service.
The calmer I became, the more truthful I became with Mike and he was able to figure out where I was. Since Mike was in PA, he was working with my best friend (who lives in Stoon) for him to get to me before more pills were taken. They figured out where I was and all of sudden I saw my bestie walking up in the side view mirror, as I sat there with another handful of pills to swallow. He reached in my open window, unlocked the door and grabbed my keys (which were not in the ignition, btw). He climbed into the passenger seat and took the rest of the pills away from me. To say I was pissed off is an understatement.
Next thing I see is a cop car pull up behind us. The pills were kicking in fast so things get blurry at this point. I remember them asking my bestie to step out of the van. I remember the officer on my side asking me to put out my smoke and I asked if I was going to be charged with littering if I dropped it on the ground. Because the wind was so cold, they put us both in the back of the cop car. That's when I started laughing. Never in my life did I think I would be in the back of a cop car with my bestie and I really regret not taking a selfie at the moment. More questions were asked, ID was asked to be seen and then I heard the sirens of the ambulance. Between the cop car and the ambulance, we were sure giving the shoppers at Pier I Imports some gossip to take home to their families.
I was transported to St. Paul's Hospital...I think the EMT had said the other hospitals were full. There was the regular flurry of activity that I am, unfortunately, no stranger to. The IV solution to protect my liver, the charcoal drink to absorb the drugs, the blood work to check my levels. All of this was done by a shift of fantastic nurses and student nurses. They were kind, caring and sympathetic.
And then shift change happened and my bestie had to leave. I found myself alone and one nurse in particular was beyond inept. I had to go to the bathroom and she didn't hear me calling her. I scooched my way to the end of the bed and, when she saw me sitting there, gave me shit because "the bed could tip". She wheeled in a commode for me and, to wipe myself, handed me two tiny little tissues. This wasn't going to cut it. I needed to reach the rest of the box of Kleenex. In order to do that, some of my heart monitor cords fell off. I was able to reach the kleenex and get cleaned up, but I needed to wash my hands. I found a large tub of what looked like hand wipes and that's when the nurse returned and gave me shit again...for my heart sensors being off and because I was using wipes intended for sanitizing equipment. I apologized and scooted down to the sink.
It was at this point that I made another decision...that I wasn't spending the night in that hospital. My fragile state of mind couldn't handle being stuck with a nurse who lacked empathy, care or compassion. I don't know what had happened in that nurse's day to cause her to come to work in a grumpy mood, but that's not what I needed that night. I needed gentleness, a little extra care, and perhaps a little understanding. It didn't look as though I was going to receive much of that.
I texted my sister-in-law and asked her to come pick me up. I texted Mike to say I was leaving. Both Mike and my sis-in-law were under the impression I was getting discharged. This was not the case. My door was part closed, so I scooted down to the end of the bed and pulled the drapes across the door. I began my escape by pulling out my IV. That hurt. A lot. The machine continued to drip the solution at a fast rate so I shut the machine off. In my stupor, I felt like I had just earned a med degree for figuring that out. As soon as I began to pull off my heart sensors, the alarms began to ring on the machines. The final alarm sounded as I pulled off the little sensor on my finger. I was terrified Nurse Crankypants was going to rush in and give me shit again. What happened next blew my mind.
Here you have, in Trauma Room #1, a woman who has just attempted suicide. She is not of sound mind. Her body is still full of poison and the alarms begin to ring in her room. ANY one with an ounce of intelligence or compassion would have come into the room to see what was happening. Instead? The nurse's response was to shut. my. door.
She SHUT my door.
She shut my DOOR.
Apparently, the sound of my alarms ringing were interrupting the conversation the six of them were having at the nurses station that was directly across from my room. Any dizziness I felt was quickly replaced with shock and outrage. I got dressed as fast as my poisoned body would let me. Again, because I had dressed for work that morning, I was in a fairly decent outfit...my nice black coat, knee high grey boots and so on. I grabbed my hot pink purse, laptop and opened the door to my room. I half expected that ONE of the six people standing there would say something.
Nobody even noticed.
They continued on with their conversation. Perhaps they noticed a tall, well-dressed woman slip out of trauma room #1 and perhaps they thought I was a psychiatrist. I don't know what they were thinking. It's as though they weren't thinking at all.
I exited through the emergency doors and weebled my way to the left, my entire body filled with fight-or-flight instinct. Nothing to the left looked familiar, so I wobbled to my right, heading towards anything that I recognized. I couldn't have been moving very fast as I was dizzy and disoriented. Still enough time for one of the nurses to check on the beeping alarms and come after me. No one did.
I made it over to the admitting doors and into the safety of my sis-in-law's truck. When I told her what had happened, she was just as shocked. I felt sick, nauseous and dizzy but was still in fight-or-flight mode. We made the decision to drive me back to the comforts of PA and head to the hospital there. My experience at the Vic was nothing short of fantastic. The care I received from the emergency staff exceeded my expectations of what nursing is all about - care, compassion and understanding. I was given a second IV to ward off the toxins and, thankfully, no damage was done to my liver. I was medically cleared to come home this afternoon around 3:00pm. Mentally, it is another story.
As I finish typing this, it is 8:00am. We are waiting to hear from the Vic as to whether there will be bed space today in the psych ward. I am terrified. There have many tears shed and much begging and pleading about not wanting to go. But I know it is for the best. I know it is what I need. I need to be around for my husband and my children. And my dog. She kinda missed me yesterday :)
I won't be allowed to have my phone in the ward so I'll be out of contact for who knows how long. But I know I'll be safe, well taken care of and, most importantly, alive.