Two weeks ago I was checking into the ER. I was looking around and counting about how many people were ahead of me and how sick they looked. I was surprised that it was so few people since I've seen smaller ERs around here much busier. I had a really, really hard time telling the woman why I was there. This may have played in my favor by making me seem more paranoid than I was. I sat down and within minutes was called to triage. One nurse asked me 3 questions, realized it was psych, and got another nurse, who I am sure was a psych triage nurse. I explained the situation, emphasizing as I would over and over that my psychiatrist thought that the hallucinations may be neurologic and that she wanted labs and a lithium level done so sent me to the ER. I was terrified that they would automatically send me to the psych place (which is only partly psych and also regular hospital) but she'd said to go there. I'd been planning to go to the psych place because I at least know the psych people there to some extent, it's smaller, and I feel comfortable there. She wanted me to go to the main campus so I wasn't shunted to psych and not find out my lithium was toxic until the next day when I'd have automatically have had a level done. She was afraid that because I have a diagnosis that they wouldn't be aggressive with medical assessment in the ER at the psych place.
Within minutes of triage I was collected by a girl who I heard ask someone "is 6 ready" and then we paused for a minute after the answer. She took me to this tiny room with a wood door, a gurney, 2 chairs, a bedside table, and an IV pole. There was a plexiglass window that was covered by a little cloth they would check me through. I was given a gown and the pile of blankets I asked for because that room was cold. The IV pole was immediately removed Later, as I'd go to the bathroom I'd come to understand there were a few of these little tiny empty rooms (2 or 3) that all had locks on them and signs indicating they were not for isolation use. They were psych rooms. It took a bit to get used to that although frankly I was grateful. I had privacy in my hospital gown even when I had to readjust the gurney sheet every 10 minutes because the gurney was very upright and the sheet would come off, leaving my bare skin on the plastic. I had privacy to talk to the psych resident and anyone else who I had to tell I was hallucinating.
Because of the psych thing they didn't leave me sitting until I was fully diagnosed and deemed safe. I had labs drawn very quickly and the IV thing put in although no IV was started for a long time. A medical person did a quick check-in and the psych resident was with me then nearly immediately for a good long time. He actually had listened to Dr. Brain and knew my history and had read the massive amount of information she'd sent him about me and things I'd written in the previous few days. He was very, very kind and listened so well and did not label me "psych patient". He matter-of-factly told me me that if my labs were off I'd stay there for 2-3 days and if they weren't I'd go to psych for a few days. I was a little surprised to find out if I went to psych I would not be allowed to take myself. I was annoyed at myself for this because I'd packed a bag but left it in my car so I'd have no clothes or anything until I could get my mom and someone else to come up, move my car and bring my stuff. That part didn't happen although I can't tell you how much I hated that I had my own toiletries and clean underwear in the parking lot while had to use hospital toiletries and dirty underwear for days. Always bring clean underwear with you. I don't know why I thought they'd let me go get stuff; I was sick and hallucinating, they probably wanted to keep some kind of close eye on me.
Anyway, the rest is the part where I found out I was toxic, the attending gave a lesson on lithium toxicity symptoms to the resident from the ER (not the psych one), and I kept saying I wasn't toxic (they didn't tell me that until everyone had poked around enough to be happy. To my knowledge I didn't have symptoms until they were pointed out. Well, yes, I was shaking like a leaf and had been. No, there wasn't a good reason that I knew of. OK, I was off balance but my balance stinks. I was a little weak but hadn't done much. Etc. This is the reason I had no idea, I was justifying every single symptom.
I waited for about 3 hours after finding out about the toxicity and then went to the horrible, awful, nightmare floor where I was tortured for 2 days. Strangely the ER was the best part, the only time I wasn't "that psych patient" and where I felt respected and that I was getting good care. The worst part of the ER was the person who started the IV managed to have me bleed everywhere somehow. Big deal.
I can't believe it's only been 2 weeks. It feels like 6 years.