(Part I) Crazy

No, we're never gonna survive, unless, we are a little crazy

December 26, 2019

Preface: To make it easier on you the reader, not to be overwhelmed by an overly long read, I’ve chosen to break up this chapter into a few parts (not sure yet how many, but I will update this once they are all published). Please note that I will be using the word “Crazy” throughout the chapter, but it should not be taken as a form of discrimination toward people suffering from mental health issues. I’m one of them, so I hope you understand how and why it is being used within the context of the chapter which features the song Crazy by Seal. I also use the word “suicide” somewhat loosely, because in my case, I did not have a plan, but I did have dark thoughts about the relief I would get from ending my life.

Driven to the brink of insanity - am I crazy? NO!

It’s 4:47 PM, December 24th, 2019 and I’m finally sitting down to pen this next chapter which I’ve been writing in my head since I was released from the psychiatric ward last Wednesday. Yes, that’s right, you read correctly, the psychiatric ward. I was brought to the Lakeshore General Hospital ER on Sunday, December 15th by my caring and kind neighbour, Ray, and spent three days in the corridor waiting for a bed to become available in the psychiatric ward, or as it’s known internally, “4 North”. I was treated for severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks and thoughts bordering on suicide. I’ve been stoned out of my mind for days now on three prescription medications: Cipralex, Seroquel, and Remeron - four if you include the daily Ativan I take at bedtime. I’m stuck in a vicious 24h cycle that has me feeling like I’ve been chemically lobotomized. Over the past few days, I adjusted my medications on my own to find some sort of balance. I was also assessed for dependence and addiction to prescription and non-prescription drugs. I had been taking something called KRATOM since August to manage my anxiety and pain. It had been working beautifully, until the last month, where I found myself depending on it like an addict, literally trembling and shaking like a leaf until I’d had my fix. I’ll be addressing that in a follow-up part entitled “Breaking Bad (habits)”. I had also been using medical cannabis to help with sleep and anxiety, although quite frankly, it was not helping with sleep at all. All of that abruptly ended as soon as I was hospitalized, which in the end turned out to be a good thing.

I was breaking down every day, several times a day. I needed help. The idea of hospitalization made sense, however, from my three prior experiences this year, I’ve never come away “better”, only rescued from the crisis at the time. The care I received was often inadequate, and at times nonexistent, especially when it came to treating IBS. I reluctantly agreed to go to the hospital, knowing deep down, that I would most likely be trapped in a situation that would only make things worse. And I was right.

My neighbour Ray had a contact in the ER and, as a result, I was triaged and seen by an ER doctor within a half-hour of arriving which is unheard of. It’s not what you know, but who, right! I was given a bed in the corridor and saw a psychiatrist soon after that. At the end of the interview, I was asked if I wanted to be admitted to the psychiatric ward. Unsure really what to answer, I replied, “Yes, I think I probably should be admitted as I am really not doing very well”. Little did I know what agreeing to that would mean. I should mention that I was told after seeing the ER doctor that I was no longer permitted to leave the hospital. At first, it gave me a sense of security. I felt like I mattered enough for them to “keep me” in their care. Only days later, minutes after being admitted to the Psychiatric Ward, would I learn that a 72-hour restraining order had been placed on me because I was deemed “suicidal” by the ER doctor - it had only been 48 hours.

During my three day stay in the ER, the staff managed to get all my medications messed up, putting my health in serious jeopardy. I have an extensive list of medications - literally the longest list that any health professional has ever seen. 

This is not an exaggeration. Including pumps, nasal rinses, and creams, I now use 23 medications altogether! I’ve asked doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, “Have you ever seen a list this long before?” Their answer is always, “No, I haven’t!

I suffer from a condition known as “Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency”, for which I need to take Cortef (cortisone) which is the most critical of all my medications. The human body cannot survive without it. I take it in specific doses, 3 times a day to replace what my body is no longer producing naturally. On my first day in the hospital, I received NO CORTISONE. YES, NONE! When hospitalized or during episodes of high stress, I should be given a “stress dose” (extra cortisone), but for some reason, it’s never given to me. Thankfully, I had brought all of my meds with me but specifically left them in my neighbor’s car because I did not want the staff confiscating any of them as they had done once before. Among others, I was not given my proton inhibitor pump for my chronic bronchitis, eye drops for my Sjôgren’s Syndrome (chronic dry eyes and dry mouth), or my thyroid medication. Anyhow, thankfully I knew exactly what to take, and when, and used my supply.

I spent my time in the ER being “entertained” by patients that clearly needed psychiatric help. There was a young girl with bleached blonde hair that was out of her mind and eventually needed to be restrained to her bed with belts due to a panic attack. I would later be in her company in the psychiatric ward, watching her walk around in sneakers with no shoelaces, along with a gentleman who would argue out loud with his girlfriend in the hallway and over the phone, at times, even making threats toward her. One time, he was asked to reign it in and hang up the phone as things were getting ugly. I was also lucky enough (sarcasm implied) to be in a bed next to an elderly gentleman who I nicknamed “Black Toe” because the big toe on his left foot was literally completely black and basically dying. It looked like photos of frostbitten flesh that you see on TV when someone fails at climbing Mount Everest. I overheard several lengthy conversations between him, doctors, and occupational therapists that informed me that he was diabetic and had recently stubbed his toe. Sadly, he watched it blacken but did not act until it was too late. The toe would either need to be surgically amputated or, he could literally just wait until it fell off. Crazy, I know. What blew my mind was that he wanted to contemplate his decision - amputate or wait. “Really?” I thought. “You need to think about this? Just have it removed, properly sewn up, and get started with physiotherapy!” And in the bed on the opposite side of me, was a man with down syndrome who had recently tried to strangle someone. During my two and half-day stay in the psychiatric wing, he had two violent breakdowns, being verbally and physically abusive towards the staff requiring that security get involved. I also found myself in the company of the aggressive husband and the bubble-headed bleach blonde that had been in the hallway with me. Fun! (not).

Yet to come, more crazy characters and stories in a forthcoming Part II of this chapter!

Upon arriving at “4 North”, everything I had in my possession was immediately confiscated. Despite my pleading with the staff, I would be forced to go without several basic, yet important, prescription and non-prescription medications, specifically a tube of Anusol cream that I desperately needed! My iPhone would also be confiscated, with limited use only accorded at certain times of the day. I was not even allowed to claim my garments - I had to stay in a hospital gown until I would be seen by the doctor the next day. The full story and how I found a way around the system will be exposed in the upcoming parts. This story will get more and more interesting as we go, I promise!

I’ve been driven to the brink of insanity due to an overwhelming amount of chronic physical ailments and symptoms, that at times are just too much to bear. I’ll be honest, I have gone a little crazy.

So, with that in mind, I’ll leave you with the song Crazy by Seal.

- Patrick Franc

a.k.a.: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

Crazy – Seal

In a church, by the face
He talks about the people going under

Only child know

A man decides after seventy years
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door
While those around him criticize and sleep
And through a fractal on a breaking wall
I see you my friend, and touch your face again
Miracles will happen as we trip

But we're never gonna survive, unless
We get a little crazy
No we're never gonna survive, unless
We are a little crazy

Crazy yellow people walking through my head
One of them's got a gun, to shoot the other one
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no

If all were there when we first took the pill
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe
Miracles will happen as we speak

But we're never gonna survive unless
We get a little crazy
No we're never gonna survive unless
We are a little crazy
No no, never survive, unless we get a little bit

Oh, a little bit
Oh, a little bit

Oh
Oh

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years

Oh darlin'
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly
Isn't that crazy
In a world full of people, only some want to fly
Isn't that crazy, crazy
In a heaven of people there's only some want to fly
Ain't that crazy
Oh babe, oh darlin'
In a world full of people there's only some want to fly
Isn't that crazy, isn't that crazy, isn't that crazy, isn't that crazy

But were never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy
No were never gonna to survive unless we are a little
But were never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy
No were never gonna to survive unless, we are a little, crazy
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit

And then you see things
The size of which youve never known before

They'll break it

Someday, only child know

Them things
The size of which youve never known before

Someday...
Someway...
Someday...
Someway...
Someday...
Someway...
Someday...


Comments


  • Morris Dascal

    Hi Patrick, sorry to hear that you've been going through all this. Crazy is right, not you, but the cycle of meds, hospitalization, care, lack of care, anxiety, stress, etc. etc. This is a deep and dark rabbit hole to go down...I sincerely hope you get all the help you need and get back to a stable, acceptable quality of life. Don't give up, keep up the good fight and you'll make a break-through, I'm sure of it, be well.

    • Patrick

      Thank you Morris, I really appreciate your compassion and support.

  • Karen Brazeau

    It's a terrifying state of medical practice that the body and mind are considered two different entities, as if no mind-body connection exists! I hope they give you the care YOU need, as unique as we are.

    • Patrick

      Hi Karen! Thank you for taking the time to read my chapter and for commmenting. I really appreciate it!

  • Ray

    Mental health care in this province certainly seems medieval. Either hospitals don’t want to admit a person that has other complicated health issues, or they admit you and simply put you in a ward with patients that are in really bad shape without really treating you. This could make you crazy rather than making you better. It’s a sad situation! We keep hearing that the government will greatly increase the budget for mental health. When will it happen?

    • Patrick

      You're absolutely right Ray. What's missing is a tier in between normal/healthy and truly mentally affected. I did not fit in with the crowd in the psych ward in terms of my mental health, yet they just lump everyone together. It's a HUGE mistake in my opinion and I knew that the minute I crossed through the "4 North" doors. You can't use the "one size fits all" shoe as a template for treating people's mental health!

  • Susan T.

    Every time I hope things get a little bit better for you, they get crazy. I have never read those lyrics nor fully heard them when it played. Pat, I hope beyond hope that you connect with the right medical team. Absolutely tragic...and yet you bring humour and light to your situation every time through your blog. Thank you for sharing. Please know that the world would be darker without your light. I understand that your health can drive your thoughts to a dark place where you feel it offers the only relief, but I think you will connect with a team of doctors who have the balance of wisdom and empathy to help you get relief and to a better more maneagable state. I am rooting for you.

    • Patrick

      Dear Susan, you are always so empathatic and understanding. Your kind words and support are so very appreciated. I Like how you used the word "crazy" in your reply - clever! Thank you, and Happy 2020 to you and your family.

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