“She just was on a roll…”

“She just was on a roll…”

…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.

Giving credit where credit is due

Giving credit where credit is due

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.

Almost finished

Almost finished

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.

Bye Bye, Opiates

Bye Bye, Opiates

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.

Shared destiny

Shared destiny

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.

Playing Puzzle

Playing Puzzle

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.

Self-help

Self-help

I drew this picture in creative therapy. It shows how I pull myself out of the depths of depression.

I know now that I can condemn my bad thoughts, painful memories and mistakes as long as I want: They are a part of me. But there also has to be another, strong part inside of me, otherwise I wouldn’t be alive anymore.

Maybe I can live with my weak parts if they are kind of counteracted by the strong parts.

I found my sense of humor again this morning. During physiotherapy the therapist talked about Gandhi and thinking positive, when somebody said very loudly: “I am so done with this shit! I am done here!”

Well, talk about thinking positively, it made me smile. Otherwise my mood is far from stable, it goes up and down.

Meeting with the head physician

Meeting with the head physician

Therapy is hard work. And so I was really relieved when a nurse told me today, the team thinks I am doing great. I know that I am working hard, but it was nice to hear it from another person.

Today it was time to meet the head physician again. I told her I sleep very well, but that I am still lacking energy throughout the day. I am struggling to keep up with all the appointments here.

The head physician decided, another change concerning the medication is in order. She told me, I will feel better in about one or two weeks. She also told me she thinks I am doing great as well.

I hope the experts are right. Right now I feel confused and irritated. But I know these feelings are to be expected during therapy.

But I am still fighting to get better: My pack deserves the best Viola. And I want to be happy again.

Homesick

Homesick

After I have been home at the weekend, it is difficult for me to settle in here in the hospital again. I feel useless, because I can’t help my pack at home with everyday things. I struggle with concentrating on myself to get better.

In the other hospital I was able to “treat” my homesickness with short visits at home. But maybe this just distracted me from therapy and wasn’t such a good idea after all.

My sleep is better now, seems we found the correct medication for that. But I still struggle to get things done during daytime. But hey, I am glad for every small improvement.

Meeting with the head physician

Meeting with the head physician

Today I talked to the head physician. It’s the absolute opposite from what I was used to at the other hospital. They really try to work out with the patients what to do.

We all agreed things are heading in the right direction, but that there still is lots of work to do as well.

And so the smiled at me and said: “We are not finished yet!” But this was no threat, it was a promise to help me to get even more better.

And in this moment her optimism was so contagious, I believed her that there is still room for improvement.

And it’s official: I’ll drive home at the weekend. I am very happy about that.