Thursday Morning it was time for me to say goodbye, and fellow patients and nurses sent me home with heartfelt hugs and lots of well wishes.
Next stop was the outpatient clinic of my local hospital, because I needed a prescription for my new antidepressant. This took a few hours. Went to the pharmacy and grocery shopping, and then finally got on the bus that would bring me home.
When I opened the door, the dogs greeted me – good thing I came prepared and had brought treats. Then the cat joined us and demanded I let her out. When I opened the door for her, I noticed the yellow leaves on the ground and was confused for a moment. My brain had to process that I left for the hospital in summer, and now fall was here.
Putting my things back in the bathroom felt strange as well.
My husband came home very stressed, because his car had two flat tires. The mood got better after a good meal.
When evening came, I was absolutely done. So many feelings were swirling around in my head, I almost couldn’t deal with it. I was told this could happen. I also was told it was best to just let this pass, without fighting or holding onto these feelings. A few tears were she’d, but the storm passed.
I still haven’t realized I am home for good, but I think this will just take a few days. I don’t withdraw, I get things done, but I am not at 100 percent yet. But I don’t worry too much about this. My head still is wonderfully quiet, calm without being drowsy, alert without being panicky. I couldn’t ask for more at the moment.
…this is how the head physician introduced me to a new doctor on Monday. Well, my time here wasn’t easy, but I am aware of the fact I came a long way. The last step was changing my last dose of opiates for another pain medication on Monday evening. This was easy and caused no problems.
Today on my last day I talked to the staff to sum up the last eight weeks. I talked to one of the nurses first. She told me everybody was impressed by everything I have accomplished in these eight weeks.
The attending physician was next to discuss the latest blood tests. Right now, my liver and kidneys are handling the new antidepressant and pain meds very well.
Then I talked to the attending physician once more, because she had taken over for my therapist, who is on holiday. She agreed with the nurse I did work very well with them. And we discussed how to deal with the first days at home.
Finally, I met with the creative therapist. We talked about how I used the empty space therapy provided to create something new.
My mood today permanently changed from “Woohoo, I am going home!” to “I really hope I don’t mess this up!” But I was told this is normal.
Today I ran into the doctor that treated me for the first weeks of my inpatient stay here – the regular doctor was on vacation at this time. In hindsight, I was very lucky to meet her, because she is specialized in pain management and insisted that I quit taking opiates. I already knew that, but I was so afraid I would end up in more pain than I could handle.
I approached her and thanked her for getting this process started. She asked about my current medication and was very pleased that I am nearly finished weaning myself from opiates and will start an opiate-free life on Monday.
I told her that I am feeling very well. She smiled and said: “See? And you were so afraid at the beginning.”
Of course I had been afraid! Afraid of taking opiates, afraid of not taking them. Afraid that I had to live a life with more pain than I could take.
Well, I was lucky and nothing really bad happened. The process of tapering the opiates was hard sometimes, but it was possible.
It was really important for me to say Thank You to this doctor in person. Sometimes I just need a push to get going, but she always dealt honestly with my fears and concerns. She always talked eye to eye to me. And to be honest, treating patients with chronic pain surely is difficult.
This is my last full week in the hospital. When talking to the head physician earlier today, I said I need a vacation after this… I worked so hard here. It was so worth it, in the last days the sun started shining in my soul again. If a little of this light stays with me, I will be fine.
Starting this evening, I will reduce my opiates again, and the plan is to stop taking them next Monday. I am hopeful that will work, because I already manage to get through the days with other pain meds. The pain in my back comes and goes, but I can live with it.
My mood has become much more stable. If I don’t feel so good, I try to deal with this, but I don’t panic about it. The new antidepressant helps a lot, and it works mostly without side effects.
In short, I wouldn’t have believed it if anybody told me a few weeks ago I would be feeling so good now. The staff tells me I did all the hard work.
The picture above shows a kind of compass I drew in creative therapy. I feel like I found my place in life again.
In the remaining time here, I will try to work on the last open issues. With one eye, I already look at my normal life waiting for me after therapy next Thursday.
One of my goals for this hospital stay was to quit taking opiates. I have been taking them for years for my back pain.
When I was on the psychiatric ward last year, the head physician tried to talk me into changing pain medication, but I refused to do so. I didn’t trust the staff.
Here I always felt like the staff supports me wherever I decide to go. And they have doctors here that are specialized in treating pain.
First, I changed the opiate pain patches for opiate tablets. Then the dosis in the tablets was reduced, and finally the opiates were replaced with other pain medication as needed.
One day was very awful. My world exploded in a bright ball of pain, and my mood went down until I felt suicidal again. Despite all the tapering, I had become quite dependent on opiates.
But the staff helped me through this, and it were just a few difficult hours.
Monday I will try to replace my evening dosis of opiates with another pain med as well. I have to get used to a different pain pattern, and to taking pain meds when the pain is still manageable. But I think I can do this.
My opinion on opiates is, that they are wonderfully effective when it comes to treating pain. They should be given when necessary, and there is nothing to be afraid of. But the process of tapering can be difficult and should always be supervised by a doctor.
The most patients here live in two-bed-rooms. It is not always easy if two strangers have to share such little space.
Mostly, we get along quite well. I am spending more time in the bathroom in the evening, and M. in the morning. Both of us like it quiet. We respect each other’s space.
When we met, both of us felt very down. Now I feel much better, M. doesn’t. This imbalance is sometimes difficult to handle.
I really would like to help her, but there’s not much I can do. And I have to work hard to get better myself.
I try to listen and to create a good atmosphere. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for M. that the others are getting better while she doesn’t. We don’t talk about this.
I made the picture above in creative therapy today. Finally my life of light is burning again.
Today I talked to the head physician again, and told her my mood has improved, but that I feel quite confused and not stable nonetheless.
The head physician was great and took some time to explain me how she sees it: One, the new medication really seems to help me. Second, I have to wait until the new medication completely takes effect. She described my current state as a kind of thawing, a time of unstableness that will pass. She told me she thinks therapy is going well, and to keep on working with them.
I feel like playing a brick game in which I have to put different bricks together so that they form a stable wall. Everything is messed up and has to find a new kind of order in my head.