Ideas for checking in the hospital:
| Last week Ian found himself in a horrible state | He's doing somewhat better now | During the process he wrote this collection of sage suggestions |
DISTRIBUTE FREELY DO NOT ALTER 1) If ya gotta go now, then go! But, if ya don't, then here are some things to think about:
2) Try to wrap things up. Things like, bills, pets, mail, etc. What you can't do before you leave, you may be able to do by phone. A cell phone is helpful here. So is a friend. Wards also usually have payphones (see #3 and #4 and remember to bring change). You may want to ask a friend to be your point of contact, a sort of filter between you and the outside world. Try to select a person you can trust with the more personal aspects of your life for you never know what you may need from them. If you need to and you are able, designate different people to handle the aspects of your life for which they are best suited.
3) Pack smart. Number 1 item: shower shoes. (You’ll thank me later). Bring at least 24 hours worth of meds along with a complete list of all of the meds you take (dosage, # times/day & time of day). Pack things like toiletries, comfortable clothes, undies & socks (shower shoes can be used as slippers) and your cell phone w/charger (the phone is usually left with the staff, so turn it off and use it when you want to get your messages or call out). Include a list of important phone numbers as well as money (no more than $20 and keep it in small bills w/some change as well), writing material, stamps & envelopes, books, etc. Don't take anything you're not willing to lose. A "ready bag" can be packed in advance (this list is coming soon).
4) Make sure you have access to a phone. This is your contact with the outside world, your voice. It is important to stay in touch with your therapist (if you have one, otherwise, read the last half of idea #5, "it's never too late") and friends (idea #2). Most wards have a phone but you may needs lots of change or a prepaid calling card, there are usually limits on time and important messages are often not received. A cell phone w/charger is your best bet (idea #3).
5) Use your Therapist. Clue them in to your status, THEY WORK FOR YOU. Discuss what hospitals or programs are available, and have them use their connections and familiarity with the system to find the best place for you. If you don't have a therapist, it's never too late. Here's what I do: get out the Yellow Pages, dial the therapists that appeal to me, listen to their message and decide from there (You can tell a lot from a message). Most will negotiate fees and nearly all will help when you really need it.
6) The day of the week is important. Staff is not usually on duty on weekends and holidays. These are "sit and wait" days. Even on days when staff is present there's still lots of free time, and then there are the nights. Plan to occupy yourself (see #3).
7) CALL AHEAD. Have a therapist or doctor (even a medical doctor, social worker or, in a pinch, a friend you trust to speak for you) call psych staff to lay the ground work for your arrival (see #5). This is like instant credibility with the staff - you are "represented". This is also a good opportunity for your doctor to explain your situation to the staff, saving you time and precious effort and laying the foundation for a more productive stay.
8) Never go in high or drunk if at all possible. Your words will be discounted and thus you will lose your ability to negotiate (see #9). Find a part of the day when you are usually straight (first thing after waking) and go then. Coordinate with a professional. (See # 7 and #5). 9) Negotiate. Think about the things that would make your stay more comfortable and productive and ask for them. Discuss this with your therapist beforehand (Important: see #7 and #5). A calm voice and some eye contact are helpful. Remember, breathe and take your time.
10) If you have a hard time expressing yourself, write down the things you want to negotiate for and take the paper with you. This is a good place to record your needs and goals, triggers and fears, and what are the best ways (and worst) to communicate and work with you. This can guide staff in your treatment and prevent them from inadvertently hurting you. Most of this can often be written in advance and kept in your "ready bag" (see #3).
11) Rules of engagement. Don't swear if you can help it. Staff need to know if you are potentially violent and swearing is one of the first signs of escalation (Remember, they need to feel safe too and protect the rest of the people on the ward.). Pay attention to your posture and speech. Even though you may be afraid, resist the temptation to look and act tough. This can be perceived as potentially violent. If you fear you are feeling violent, tell the staff and negotiate for your safety (#’s 9, 7 and 8).
12) You have rights. For instance, you have the right to refuse visitors and phone calls (If this is a potential issue, notify staff as early as possible). You also have the right to refuse medication (Try to use good judgment, meds can help you). IF YOU BRING YOUR OWN MEDS DON'T be surprised if they try to take away your meds and re-prescribe you their own. It may be reasonably argued that they are bound to do this by law or regulation. Look for posters and bulletin boards, they will inform you of your rights and give you the names and phone numbers of people to contact if you have questions or problems (Again, judgment is crucial here. These folks are often overwhelmed with petty complaints. Pick your battles wisely.). See # 4.
Gods bless all of you brave, intrepid souls who take that terrifying leap. They know not of your courage or inner strength.
JRG © 2004 comments/suggestions firstname.lastname@example.org