Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Last Psychiatrist Visit

The good thing about living in a rather small town near a metropolitan city is that it has character. To me there is nothing like walking down the old sidewalks, looking into the stores that have been in business for over fifty years.

I parked my car on the street in the last spot near the fire hydrant. I sat there for a little bit, looking over my notes. There were several questions I had written down to go over with my psychiatrist. To me, this was a decisive point. I needed answers, and I was prepared to consult other doctors if needed. Finally, I got out of the car and walked along a narrow stone pathway, near a gazebo, around a nice small fountain and up 10 steps to a large stately stone building. As usual, I signed in, took the forms and just filled them out when the doctor called me back.

It started out as normal; how have I been, what has changed, measuring my moods –both mania and serious depression on a scale of one-ten. I told her “I hope you have extra time because this will take a while.” I guess by the tone in my voice and the serious look on my face she replied; “Well, I guess I have to make the time.”

I went over a lot of things, for once, not forgetting what was written on the paper in my pocket. In a nutshell, here’s to the best of my recollection what I said.

“I have suffered with this illness all my life. I can trace it back for generations. Before I walked into your office the first time, I do not believe anyone could be in worse shape and still be alive. ONLY two things held me from weeks carrying out plans that so many in their black hole where only the evil devil awaits: My Faith, and the strong love and support of my wife - the ultimate consequences it would have on her for me to "go" that way. And now, ten years later, I had three consecutive days where these feelings came back. Every symptom in your book I went through. The plans I had set in place all came back. The guilt I placed on my family; they would not only be better off without me—both financially and the burden they live with. Along with that, I am tired. I am so very tired mentally of the sudden instant rollercoaster, unpredictable moods. Why am I not getting better?”

I guess she waited a little bit for me to calm down before she replied. “I have been practicing psychiatry for over thirty years. You, by far are not my worst case…trust me. I have patients in the hospitals that would run chills down your spine if you saw them. And, if you remember, without coming right out and saying it I almost sent you there. Just a few weeks ago I asked you if you could take a week or two off from work and voluntarily commit yourself, so we can monitor you 24/7 and see what’s going on. You are not the worst, BUT, you are about the hardest patient to treat I have.”

I asked what she meant. “Number one, you do not respond to medicine well. We try several; get the dose where it helps and where you can still function, and then you change. So we either raise the dose or add another to assist that medicine. All the medications you are on should be more than enough to even you out. Some that usually puts some patients in a trance has no effect, while others have the opposite effect on you. And like I said, we get things worked out pretty good and your moods and cycle changes - it’s like starting all over again. I will never give up on you, but the rest is up to you.”

I walked in the cool breeze slowly watching the traffic go by. I thought about it as I walked, and all the way home, driving almost in circles, slowly taking the long way home. She was right. One reason so far I have not yet mentioned any medication I have taken over the years is because the list is long. You name it. Many have the effect of Advil. Lithium is out of the question because some of the serious side effects I already have.

I love my family with all that is in my heart. My wife is made of gold.* I will tell you about her someday. I have no intention of going anywhere. If my wife has not given up on me all these years, then I will not give up either. I owe her more than that. How can you repay someone with that type of love and devotion? The only way I know is love her back with every drop of blood in my veins.

This week has been rough. I go for surgery Friday. Man, the thought of that really makes one all warm and fuzzy inside huh? I’ll try to write before then. There’s something I truly want to say before Friday. I’ll try.

Until then…hang in there with me.

“My Mind”

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