Tag Archives: Disablity

Driving Me Crazy

580073_10151202991562386_394583338_n (1)

I often find myself bursting at the seams to talk to someone.  It is an occupational hazard, a fact of life. I am a writer, so I need to spend time alone.  I am an epileptic, so I am confined to my home in ways that you can never understand unless you have been ill for a very, very, long time.

Losing my ability to drive has been one of the worst things in my life. I am at home and there’s no one to talk to.  When I do go out and run into the people I used to see, the people I used to know, they ask me, “When will you get your license back?”  It always seems like a polite question…  They don’t mean to be rude, but I want to scream the answer back at them, “NEVER!!” Never.  I will never drive again and if you want to see me you will have to come over here.  I am here alone with my family.

The next question I get is, “When was the last time you had a seizure?”  My answer always shocks them, “Last week, two weeks ago, I can’t remember.”  It was hopefully not sooner.  I try to stay home in the days after a seizure.  They cluster together.  I hate for people to see me seize.  It’s not a pretty thing.  And I hate to end up in the ER.  Strangers do that.  My family knows better.  I need to take my meds and go to bed.  It’s just my life.  And I will never drive again.  I gave up that hope years ago.

Occasionally my husband wants me to move the car from one side of the street to the other.  It was a Monday morning and if we didn’t move the car we would get ticketed.  I couldn’t.  I can’t.  It’s all or nothing: nothing is the only answer.  My husband agrees but every now and then he doesn’t want to get out of bed.  We both wish I could move the car.  I can physcally drive. I was an excellent driver.  But I can’t.  There are no rules to seizures.  It only takes one second and then I’ve crashed my car into the tree in front of my house.  Or a kid walking past the park….  No. I do not want to take that risk.  I cut that part out of me and burnt it when I turned in my driver’s license, the second time.

I don’t drive not because it’s the law, but because I love my family too much.  I don’t want to lose time and lose control of a ton of metal and flammable liquids.  I can’t.  I can’t. I want to.  Some days I want it so badly I can feel the wind in my hair and the smell of grapes in the air in September.  I tell myself it’s not the full moon, I’m not tired, I’m not whatever it is that might trigger a seizure today.  I see myself walking to the car, turning the key and driving away into the sunset.  It’s such a pretty dream. It will never be.

I’m never going to stop having seizures and even if I do, there is no amount of time that will pass that will guarantee that I will not have another one, at any given moment.  I know that in my bones, in my synapses that like to burst with energy and electricity.  Driving isn’t safe for me and it’s not safe for you either.  You should thank me that I value *your* life enough not to drive.

I beg you, please don’t text and drive. I gave up driving for safety’s sake.  You can give up your phone for safety’s sake.  You don’t even have to give up your phone.  Please, just put it down when you are in the car.  It only takes one second to crash a car.  My epilepsy is genetic, yours could be because of a traumatic brain injury you receive when you crash your car because you were texting while driving.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Living w/ Epilepsy

My Green Testimonial

iPA

I wish I was able to attend the Pennsylvania Senate Hearing on SB 3 and medical cannabis.  I would have loved to submit my own testimony.  Seizures prevent me from driving.  It’s too dangerous.  I could not be there to show the Senators how sick I am, to tell them how desperate I am for treatment.  I wish that I could bring my children so they could tell you how scary it is for them when I have a seizure.  They could describe my seizures to you better than I can.  I have no memory of my seizures, I am here and then I am gone.  It’s terrifying.  I can’t predict when I’ll stop & stare, shake & fall.  I fear falling down the stairs.  I’m terrified of spilling boiling water on myself or drowning in a tub. These are rational fears for an epileptic.

I can give up driving, but I can’t give up cooking and doing any of the million little things in my life that could kill me.  Just being alive is a fearful thing. Everything is okay, until it’s not.  I could not even count the number of times I have fallen out of bed.  50,000 people die every year from epilepsy.  I live in fear everyday.  My seizures are intractable and incurable.  I take thousands of dollars of anticonvulsants every month.  I have seizures every month.  I cannot predict when I will lose consciousness and scream and fall down.

There is a safe, natural treatment. It’s been used to treat seizures for centuries. More studies are not needed. Cannabis stops seizures. I just want to slow my overactive brain. 3 million Americans have epilepsy.  Less than half of us have access to cannabis.  The Epilepsy Foundation is in full support of Medical Cannabis.  Anything that prevents seizures is a miracle.  It’s all we want.  Consciousness.  Not one more second lost.  We can’t wait.  Seizures kill.  Cannabis can save lives and is saving lives right now.  I don’t want to leave The Commonwealth.  What choice do we have?  Passing SB 3 is crucial.  People are dying while we wait.  Please don’t let me die.  It is cruel to withhold medicine.

Please don’t overlook the millions of Pennsylvanians who are suffering from the many other illnesses that can be help by cannabis.  I also suffer from IBS.  I had my left ovary (2004), my uterus (2011) and most recently, my gallbladder removed (June 2014).  I know something about pain.  I know that cannabis is a better choice than many addictive pharmaceuticals. We can’t let paranoia and reefer madness prevent ALL the sick people from getting the cannabis they need.  Whole plant and all.  Real compassion does not judge who gets treatment or not.  Everybody deserves to feel better.  And to have less seizures.  My seizures are intractable & incurable. There is no cure for epilepsy. I will have it for the rest of my life, until it kills me.

Maybe you have spoken with parents who have children ravaged by seizures. I think it would be great if you spoke to the children of parents who are ravaged by seizures. Ask my children what it’s like when mommy has a seizure; I don’t remember. I have to piece it together based on bruises. Ask my 9 year old son why he covers my eyes when he sees flashing lights. My daughter is ten and she will have many stories to tell you. Recently, I had several seizures & hit my head in front of my daughter. I may have given myself a concussion. It would not be the first, nor will it be the last. At least I did not fall down the stairs. It’s hard for them to see me have seizures. It must be the scariest thing in the world.

Give ALL our sick citizens the chance to feel better. Please. I beg you. People are dying while we wait. I don’t want to die in front of my children.

Cannabis is not the same as heroin. We need to stop pretending that it is. Heroin is a killer. Nobody is dying from cannabis. End Cannabis Prohibition!

Leave a comment

Filed under Current News, Living w/ Epilepsy

Katie vs. the Fridge

fridge-001

I am obsessed with my face: how it looks and how it feels.  It huuuuuurts.  My nose is swollen.  At least I don’t have a black eye.  Or two black eyes!  I am glad my nose isn’t broken…  It could be.  I fell into my fridge.  The kind of fall where you can’t even react to catch yourself.  There was no way to catch myself: my brain was misfiring like a son-of-a-bitch.  Shoulder, face, knee, floor.  I suffer the bruises for days and wonder if perhaps I gave myself a concussion.  How do you tell when everything hurts?

I assume my nose would hurt even more if it was broken.  It would look worse.  But it hurts plenty.  The bruises are beginning to spread.  I can tell my face is swollen and discolored around the bridge of my nose.  Bam!!  Into the fridge.  Everybody who thinks I’m a faker, a lazy person who just doesn’t want to work, may I offer my face up for evidence.  Evidence item B would be my arm, which looks much worse and feels much worse than my face.  It took the first fall, into the side of the fridge.  The bruises are just starting to emerge.  The deep muscle contusion is already black and blue and purple and red.  My knee is bruised and my back feels twisted.  That’s a usual feeling after an convulsion.  All those neurons and muscles firing and clenching and releasing.  And there’s no-one there to put your hands up when you fall during a seizure.  I’m gone.  Head falls, there’s no breakfall.  The ground is my enemy.  I guess so is the fridge now.  I had to ask my kids, you can call them to the witness stand, “What happened?”  My consciousness was unconscious.  I didn’t even realize I found myself on the floor covered in cinnamon twists my husband made.  I had been trying to put them away in the fridge, but my brain had other plans for me.

They first thing I can remember is my daughter asking me if I was okay and if I took my medicine.  I said that I was fine and why was she asking me that?  What gave her cause to ask?  She told me I had a seizure.  It was news to me.  I did not yet hurt.  I didn’t remember the floor or the fridge.  I got the full story from my son, he added that I was leaning in the fridge.  I remembered that I had been doing something before I felt the familiar wave of dangerous impulses and misfiring neurons.

How I hate my brain.  Would you trust a brain that made you fall on your face while putting food away in the fridge?  I’m so glad my nose isn’t broken although it is certainly bruised.  I am icing all of the parts of me in a steady rotation.  My arm should have been up and reaching for something to catch me as I fell.  That’s how normal people fall, they use their arms to catch themselves and protect their faces from the shelves of the fridge and the floor.  No, not me.  My arm was a dead weight lucky to absorb the brunt of the impact first.  There’s that at least.  My arm hit the fridge first, then my face.  That’s what I can gather from the evidence, my bruises and my children’s testimony.  I have no memory of the event at all.  I don’t know how much time I lost.  I do know that for days and days I will feel like I am swimming underwater with my breath held for too long.  My lungs are screaming to breathe in, even though I know I would only suck in water and drown.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non-fiction

Pennsylvania State Forest of Dreams

not just for hippiesCannabis_sativa

Once again I pin my heart and my hopes to the legislative process.  SB3 is being introduced into Pennsylvania Senate.  Last year the Senate passed SB 1182: The Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, but the House refused to play fair.  Since it was an election year, that bill died with the end of session.  We have a new year, a new session, a new governor, and a new name for an old bill.  A bill that could have been the law by now.  But former Speaker of the House Sam Smith refused to bring it the House Floor.  We start over again at zero.  Whether or not the new Speaker of the House, Mike Turzai, will play fair has yet to be seen.  We will get a better idea on Tuesday.  Will he run down the hall and refuse to meet his constituents who want medical marijuana today?  (True story, he ran away last year.)  The Senate Bill 3 is about to be put on the docket and the advocates are ready to rally.  The snow storm will not stop us!

We have a green tide of popular opinion on our side and gubernatorial election promises to boot.  Pennsylvania had one of the only Republican incumbents who lost their seat in November: Ex-Governor Tom Corbett.  Our new Governor Tom Wolf campaigned on a liberal platform that supported our school, taxes on gas and oil companies, and immediate passage of medical marijuana.  That’s what he promised us.  I am going to hold him to that.  We all are.  Pennsylvania is sick and tired of waiting while our sick people suffer.

Tom Corbett’s lame excuses are cast aside and we will consider that facts.  23 other states allow medical use of cannabis.  Philadelphia has decriminalized marijuana.  A possession offense warrants a ticket, not a warrant.  Recreational marijuana is for sale in Colorado and Washington.  Washington DC, Alaska, and Oregon all voted to legalize marijuana in November.  Colorado raked in so much tax money from the legal sale of marijuana they sent their residents a tax rebate.

Don’t sick people in Pennsylvania have a right to feel better?  I would be there on Tuesday for the rally, but I can’t drive.  Seizures stole my driver’s license several years ago.  I have a hard time getting to the grocery store, I can’t get to Harrisburg to show them my face.  It would be nice if I could.  I want my legislators to know how terrible seizures are.  I had a seizure last night.  It was a short one, I didn’t fall over, I didn’t get hurt.  Now I am as tired as a hibernating bear.  I wish they could see me and understand.  I would love to tell my story and trail off…  lost in a seizure haze…  Cannabis can help us.  It has been used to treat epilepsy for centuries.   How can you let us suffer?  The Epilepsy Foundation is in full support of medical marijuana.  “Not one more second lost.”  One second is too many.

Epilepsy is just one of hundreds of conditions that can be helped by medical cannabis.  The fact is anybody over the age of 21 can walk into a store and have a pot party (real thing) in one state and be arrested for self-medicating in ours.  It’s cruel.  Which side of history are we on?  Pennsylvania signs boast the slogan “First in Independence.”  Everytime I see the sign I snort.  We won’t be first in independence until sick people have the freedom to medicate themselves as we see fit.  TWENTY-THREE states allow it.  We are wallowing in the nether world of prohibition.  I just don’t want to have seizures.  I want to stay conscious all the time.  I don’t want to have to explain to my kids why mommy can’t do anything with them today.  They know.  They see the worst of it.  If your parent or child was sick, wouldn’t you want them to have a safe and proven effective natural treatment?  I do.  Pennsylvania General Assembly, I’m looking at you.

Drug_bottle_containing_cannabis

Leave a comment

Filed under Current News, Essays, Living w/ Epilepsy, News

No Common Sense For The Commonwealth

Cannabis_plant_from_'De_historia...'_Wellcome_L0051246

I have long been a silent supporter for medical marijuana.  But I was afraid to really speak out.  I was a Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” kid.  Would the moms shun me at the school if they knew?  It was safer to stay silent.  So what happened?  Charlotte Figi happened.  When Charlotte’s Web hit the news I cried.  I was so happy to see this beautiful little girl reclaiming a life that she almost lost due to seizures.  I was so happy for her and her family.  And then I cried for my children… They have to live with a mommy who sometimes screams and falls down.  That is the worst effect of my epilepsy: my kids have to see me have a seizure.  If you’ve seen a seizure you know, it’s pretty much the worst thing in the world.  If you haven’t, lucky you.  I hope you never do.  Unless you work in Harrisburg or DC: I would love to have a seizure in front of you.  You will be rightfully frightened.  Seizures change everything.

Parents in Colorado and New Jersey and Pennsylvania are fighting to get their children marijuana.  How could I stay silent?  It IS a matter of life and death.  Seizures kill.  Epilepsy is a terrible disease that holds us in a cold grasp until we die. People die from seizures and seizure related injuries everyday.  Over 50,000 Americans lose their life every year.  For me it’s all about seizures, everything in my life is about seizures.

Medical marijuana can SAVE lives.  The Epilepsy Foundation supports medical marijuana.  The nation’s largest epilepsy organization is advocating for marijuana.  That’s huge!  The seizure preventing effects are visible and undeniable.  ALL epileptics need access to this natural medicine that is recommend by Surgeon General nominee Sanjay Gupta and my personal doctors.  I’d like it if Pennsylvania would allow me that courtesy.  23 other states would.  I’m tired of my government treating me like a criminal.  I’m not a bad person.  I just want to have less seizures.  I want to stay conscious at ALL times.

The Pennsylvania Government denies that there is any valid information in the hundreds of studies not done in Pennsylvania.  All the scientific literature does not matter to them.  They insist that they would have to re-do the studies here.  But they won’t do the studies.  Science doesn’t matter to them.  The fact that the federal government has a patent on cannabis (Patent #6630507) means nothing to my so called Representatives.

I read the studies.  The information is there for the taking.  The internet grants us immediate access to governmental documents and scientific journals.  I am convinced.   Marijuana has been known for CENTURIES as a treatment for epilepsy.  Why should I suffer for being born in the wrong century and state?  I just want to be able to grow a plant and stay conscious.  Marijuana can help.  There is anecdotal evidence.  There is scientific evidence.  I’ve had too many seizures to just sit by and wait for Pennsylvania to grow up.  For years I suffered in silence.  I felt so alone in my unstable state of consciousness.  I thought that nobody understood me until I met other people living with epilepsy.  I need to educate the world about my deadly, deadly disease.

I was diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy was in 1997.  I was 20.  I went to bed with a headache and woke up in the hospital, talking to my mother on the phone.  She asked me where I was.  I didn’t know.  I had no idea why I was on a phone.  The last I knew I was sleeping.  I could not believe that I had a seizure and was in the hospital brought by ambulance.  It was the first time, but not the last.

They kept asking me what kind of drugs I was on.  That made no sense.  I don’t take drugs. I had taken a biology exam and came home to sleep.  They tested me.  No drugs.  I was confused and angry.  I had another seizure coming out of the bathroom holding the warm container of my own urine.  I don’t remember much else.  Days later I saw a Doctor.  I can’t remember his name, he was just the first of dozens.  He told me I had Idiopathic Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.  It was a diagnosis that I could barely understand despite my years of college anatomy and physiology.  He also said Seizure Disorder but I liked that term even less.

I understood I had a seizure or I was trying to understand that. But I didn’t really believe it.  And I certainly didn’t believe that just because I had one seizure meant that I was going to have another.  I was wrong.  Poor Past Katie, she was so wrong.  That wasn’t my first seizure.  It was just the first time somebody saw me have a seizure.  Over time, as I learned more about my seizures, I realized I had hundreds of un-diagnosed seizures.  I have had seizures my whole life.  I will have them for the rest of my life.  Hopefully they won’t kill me.  I think that every day.

My diagnosis  has not changed over the years.  It’s still Idiopathic (Unknown cause) Temporal Lobe (part of the brain on the side, controls memory and emotions and so much more) Epilepsy (lots and lots of uncontrolled burst of electricity in my brain.)  There is still no reason, no cause, no warning when a seizure might happen.  My brain has too much electricity.  Yee-Haw!  It’s a rodeo!

I’ve gone years without seizures.  Ah, the good years; the sweet seizure-free years.  The longest I went without a Grand Mal (a massive, convulsive, secondarily-generalized seizure) was seven glorious years.  Now I am happy for seven days sometimes.  It’s been 14 days today.  I am finally feeling normal again.  My body has more or less physically healed from the last seizure.  The depression has lifted.  But who knows for how long?

This year the record is 42 days seizure-free.  Then I ended up in the hospital with gallbladder disease and had a cluster of seizures in June. They played fast and loose with my seizures in the hospital.  They gave me so many different injections and bags of saline and radioactive isotopes.  I don’t know what they gave me.  I had a seizure in the bathroom.  I bit my tongue and bled all over myself.  I wandered the halls and looked for my husband whom I had sent home.  I couldn’t remember doing that.  I was dazed and confused: lost in the hazy aftermath of a seizure.  At least I didn’t fall out of bed that time.  I woke up covered in blood and vomit and had no idea why.  Nobody in the hospital knew.  They don’t know how to treat me.  There is no way to treat me after a seizure.  All I can do is sleep and wait for my brain to reboot.  Seizures are exhausting, for days, for weeks at a time.  It’s not just the half hour that I lost, it’s everything that comes after.  My most recent seizure brought me a bruised rib.  But I didn’t fall down the stairs!  I fell into the banister instead.

I would try any plant that could help.  I’ve tried all sorts of minerals and supplements that I found referenced in the medical texts as a treatment for epilepsy.  Marijuana comes up again and again.  There is enough evidence for me and 85% of Pennsylvanians.  But I don’t have safe access to the strains that are curing epilepsy.  Charlotte’s web isn’t available in Pennsylvania.  The variety matters.  Think of marijuana like peppers.  You wouldn’t say that an Orange Sweet Bell Pepper was the same as a Ghost Pepper.  Jalapenos aren’t the same as Banana Peppers.  They are all different strains of the same plant.  Plants are like that.  When you are in a state with marijuana prohibition, there is no choice but one: whichever one your Dude has at that point in time, which changes all of the time.  Nobody else wants to consume marijuana that won’t even get you high. Children in Colorado are allowed to but I’m not.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doesn’t trust me to live my adult life and make decisions about my body by myself with the advice of my doctor.  More than one doctor would prescribe me marijuana if they could.  I have been told more than once.  Neurologists talk about it with me at length.  We are all hopeful for “new” treatments.  But I am in the wrong state for that.

Is Pennsylvania part of the United States or not?  Nearly half the country would allow me medical marijuana.  It’s as free and clear as beer in Colorado and Washington.  But not Pennsylvania.  I am stuck here in the prohibition years.  No medicinal plants for me.  My seizures don’t matter to the legislators of Pennsylvania.

Seizures are being prevented. How can you allow us to go without treatment?  It is a cruel and unusual punishment.  

And that’s why they call us Pennsyltucky.

2 Comments

Filed under Essays, Living w/ Epilepsy, News

Sick Pennsylvanians Hope Up In Smoke

house party

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has failed me yet again.  The PA Senate took pity on me and a few of my sick friends.  The Pennsylvania Senate voted 43 to 7 to approve the Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use of Cannabis Senate Bill 1182.  It passed!  43 to 7 is a wide margin.  It represents Pennsylvanians’ beliefs.  We want medical marijuana.  But the House won’t put it on the docket.  They are stingy like that.  They want to wait until after the election.  Because they should.  Because this is a voting issue.  People’s votes will depend on the politicians’ stance on medical marijuana.  They might be able to keep their jobs if the House doesn’t vote first.  My Republican relative just switched his vote for the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate after watching the debates.  He switched because of Tom Wolf’s stance on medical marijuana.  We care!  We want our sick, loved ones to have access to medicine.  Marijuana is an herb, more natural than the grass that grows on your lawn.

This might be a minor midterm election for the rest of the country, but not in Pennsylvania.  It’s a high voter turnout year.  Our state government is up for grabs.  People are passionate about this election.  We all hate Governor Tom Corbett.  There are so many reasons why Pennsylvanians are united against him.  Number One: Education.  Number Two: Fracking.  Number Three: Medical Marijuana.  Number Four: Jobs.  I could go on.  Corbett has the lowest approval rating of all US Governors, wallowing in the mud at only 24%.

Let’s not forget the pending charges against our “Notorious G.O.V.” from his previous term as Attorney General.  Tommy chose not to prosecute Jerry Sandusky: The Rapist of Penn State.  Voting is essential.

I’ve been hearing a lot about reaching out to the millennials, getting them out to vote.  I wholeheartedly support it!  I wish Gen X would vote, but we’ve long since given up.  Thanks, Florida.  Thanks, Ohio.  When Bush stole the presidency, an entire generation of voters fell off.  I try to convince my friends to vote, but many, many, of them will not.  It always comes back to Bush.  We were bright eyed voters, and suddenly our vote did not matter.  Then the rest of Bush’s term happened.  Gen X doesn’t vote.  They aren’t even targeting us with Rock The Vote.  I am a poll worker.  I see the age gap.  The older citizens vote the most.  I thanked the few first time voters.  There were only two.

One vote does count.  I have my position at the polls due to one vote.  My husband wrote me in.  I’m elected!  Four more years, Baby!  We don’t have to let Bush happen again.  We can vote in other people, we can control our government on a local level.  We can vote out Tom Corbett and legalize medicinal marijuana ASAP.  I don’t want to wait until Tom Wolf is sworn-in.  Perhaps the Lame Duck Congress will see which way the smoke blows.  They won’t vote before the election.  There is one day of session scheduled between now and the election.  I like to pretend, but I know they won’t.  I watch them Live on TV.  The House of Representatives is a circus.  My Representative claims to support me.  Since they won’t vote on it, I can’t really know.  People are dying while the House does nothing.

I wish they could see me have a seizure.  Or at least ask my children.  THEY know how I suffer.  They have to take care of me sometimes.  They are the ones who tell me that I had a seizure.  There are safer medicines I could be taking.  I’m not making this up.  I dare you to do a Google search about Clinical Cannabis Studies.  There is plenty of scientific evidence.  I do my internet research, not just wikipedia.  I read the scientific journals online.  The good stuff might not be found until you dig through 20 or 21 pages of a Google search.  I check them all.  This is not new information.  These are reputable scientific publications.  Marijuana is found in Chinese medical texts from long Before Christ.

I had to defend my seizure meds to my insurance company.  They didn’t want to give me such a high dosage.  I don’t want to take it either.  I’m not okay.  It’s been a  week since I had a seizure, that I know of.  But deep bruises are still emerging.  Could these bruises still be from last week?  Have I had another seizure that I didn’t know about?  My ribs have not stopped hurting yet.  Apparently bruised/cracked ribs take a long time to heal. The last time, before this seizure, I gave myself a concussion.  I was glad that I didn’t break my nose.  This time I’m extra happy that I didn’t fall down the stairs.  I did run up and down the stairs to vomit a few times before I was fully conscious.  It is as scary as it sounds.  My laptop didn’t survive the seizure.  I found it on the floor, covered in coffee, much like myself.

So I’m voting for compassion.  It’s my issue.  It is not just my issue, 86% of Pennsylvanians agree!  We need medical marijuana!  Right after we re-fund the public schools and tax the oil and gas companies.  That oil is NOT going anywhere and neither is medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.  The only question is how long will be have to wait?  How many will have to die?  Any single seizure is a chance to die.

The Speaker of The House likes to mute his microphone.  Sam Smith doesn’t want to address the dying people who are waiting for medicine.  He doesn’t want to hear what we have to say.  He doesn’t want us to know what he says either.

Dear PA~ Rock The Vote!  Take Back The House!

I’m voting for Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.  I’m on the border of two districts, so I support House Representatives Pat Harkins and Curt Smith; US House Reps Karith Strano Taylor and Dan LaValle.

I sure hope you vote out Sam Smith, Jefferson County!   #turnoutforwhat

1 Comment

Filed under Current News, Living w/ Epilepsy, Living with Epilepsy, News, Non-fiction, Rant

72 Hours

SuicidePrevention

Twice I played an active role in admitting a person to the hospital under a 72 hour watch. Both were voluntarily involuntary. Each time I asked them if they could guarantee me their safety and they could not. Body mutilation is not okay. It is not, not suicide. If you can’t tell me you won’t cut yourself, then you need a few hours away from knives and guns and pills and belts.

I both regretted it and did not regret it at the time. It felt heartless to send them away to be alone in a green room. They are both still alive though, and that’s something. Maybe they wouldn’t have hurt themselves, but we don’t have to know. We don’t have to miss them the way we miss Robin Williams and my cousin Haley. Suicide is 100% preventable. It’s the only cause of death that is.

The first person I admitted was a young girl at the youth shelter I worked at. She was agitated and crying and had cut herself more than once in the past. I asked her straight out, “Are you at risk of harming yourself or anybody else?” She couldn’t guarantee me that she wouldn’t cut herself. I took her to the mental hospital that night. I don’t mess around.

The second time it was my close friend who had just lost her father. She had told me, on more than one occasion, that she would probably need to be hospitalized when her father died. You don’t say that if you don’t mean it. She also told me, more than once, that being hospitalized after the death of her mother was the only thing that kept her alive then. I wasn’t going to let her stay home. She told me too many time, she was too upset. She could not 100% guarantee me that she would not hurt herself. I reminded her of what she told me, how Haldol saved her life. I made her get into the ambulance and leave.

After she left, we went through everything. It was a huge invasion of her privacy. At first I just wanted to wash the dirty dishes and clean the bed, but soon it became apparent that more needed to be done. I had to check everything. I don’t regret checking. Her arms were covered in fresh wounds. There were razor blades in her fucking bed. We took all the knives and her father’s meds. Her father was dead, he didn’t need them anymore.

I regret that she had to spend the night her father died alone, in a hospital, surrounded by people suspicious of her. She wouldn’t visit me when I went the next day. But I don’t have to regret that she is dead because she is alive. And that’s enough for me.

Suicide isn’t something that you want to do forever. It just happens at a peak, at a time of crisis. If you can survive that crisis time, you can survive. The idea of suicide will go away. It’s not always with you. But you have to get past that crisis. If you can keep a person safe for 72 hours, you might just save a life. I hope I did. Twice. Maybe three times.

One other time I recommended a 72 hour hospitalization for my friend. I could feel the mania radiating off of him. He was a different person. I told his loved ones they needed to send him, he wasn’t safe. I wasn’t there when it happened, but when the time came, he went voluntarily involuntary. He is also still alive. He is not suffering from a raging, manic phase. I don’t know how any of these people feel about my role in their hospitalizations. Perhaps they resent me for it. I don’t care. They are all alive to resent me.

I’m watching clips of Robin Williams on YouTube. I can see the pain hidden behind his eyes. I know his pain. I too suffer from depression. Its cold hard grasp keeps me tight despite Academy Awards and Golden Globes. None of that matters. Not a loving family and warm bed to sleep in at night. Depression doesn’t care at all. It can happen to anybody.

And if you can’t guarantee me that you will not hurt yourself in any way, then I’m going to take you to the hospital where they can.

RIP Robin, Haley, Sarah, and all the victims of suicide. The world needed you.

If you are considering suicide,

Please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 24/7

1-800-273-8255

The world needs you

2 Comments

Filed under Essays, News