Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Psych Hospital

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. It seems the more days go by without a post, the harder it is to actually come in here and write one. I guess I get embarased that I don't have anything to say..

Work is going well. Psych is a whole diferent world, and there are sometimes not enough words in the dictionary to describe the feelings I have for some of my patients. Some just come in for 72hours of emergency crisis management (all involuntary) and some end up there for months because of placement problems. Lots of things happen during the day, but it seems to me the stories are sad rather than anything people would want to read about.

Somehow in the med/surg world (at least at the busy hospital I was at), interaction with patients gets pared down. I know I could rarely find time to spend a few extra minutes consoling someone or listening to problems or even serious medication or health education. People pull you in all directions. Stays in a medical hospital are on average - what? - three days? I don't know. You have so little time to really get to know your patients. In the psych hospital in many cases this IS the patient's home. You go to work day after day and see the same people, and even when they discharge, many come back. I've been there a bit over two months and I can already name a handful of people that have been in and stabilized, then out for a few weeks and decompensated, and were picked up in some manner and brought back.

The stories are just plain sad in many cases. There was one young woman who had a long history of psychiatric problems and her father is a scientologist - he told her she should go off her meds, and that she could cure herself (I'm not sure quite how). The woman goes off meds and decompensates and becomes psychotic and does who knows what and gets herself another stay! He still calls her and tells her she shouldn't be taking the medications. She is so messed up by this - I mean, it's bad enough to have a mental illness thats debilitating in its intensity, but then to have your own parent tell you you're supposed to somehow fix yourself. She's simply not functioning well enough to deal with this sort of stress in addition to the delusions and voices.

So thats a horrible story. How about this - A woman was brought in unable to care for herself and homeless. She had such a bad case of lice and constant scratching had scabbed up her scalp to the point that her matted hair was in some places tangled under the scabs. I practically had to get into the shower with her and try to shampoo and then comb the lice out. It was a lost cause because of the matting and scabs, and I got scizzors and cut every hair on her head (after some diplomatic patient education). I felt so sad for her because she had no idea how bad the problem was. She also had scabies. I went out and bought her a wig to cover up her bald head, and went to value village to buy a shirt and pants for her. Some staff wondered why I did that, but I said basically that she came in with nothing, we took her clothes and disposed of them (scabies) and then we took her hair. We took everything this woman had, her clothes and her hair. She looked like a little old man - she'd already lost her teeth long before she met us.

Anyway, thats how things are going. The stories are miserable.

My life is going well. I truly enjoy many parts of my work. We're starting to look for a house to buy. I'm traveling to NYC in May for a class and an extra day of sights. I bought a (used) Escalade.... I guess renting that DTS spoiled me!! :D heheheh
Posted by HypnoKitten at 9:35 PM

Anonymous Sean, at 10:13 AM  

I truly loved psych. I really enjoyed seeing the "other side of humanity." I felt like there was such an oportunity to make a long term difference in a persons life. Although, it definitely had it's frustrating, sad, depressing days.

I'm seriously looking at possibly working in psych once I graduate.

Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:23 AM  

Scientologists are a pain in the butt. Isn't it remotely humorous, though, that Tom Cruise/Katie and Brooke Shields had babies around the same day?

Thanks for continuing to write. Keep it up!

Blogger genderist, at 9:40 AM  

I want to share something with you, an important lesson I learned qucikly when I started working in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit...

Find something that makes you happy. Get into painting or playing the guitar - or a book club - something, anything that brings you joy. Find something to help restore your soul after a long, sad day at work.

Make an effort to play Orem and take care of yourself, too.

Anonymous Kim, at 4:57 AM  

You, my dear, are my kind of nurse.
I worked psych for two years and loved every minute of it.

Don't lose that compassion, make sure your life stays balanced.

Psych patients are human beings who often live in a different reality, but they are still human beings.

Your patient may not understand or appreciate what you did for her, but she knows that she looks better and that she has new clothes.

Great, great post. You blog when you get the inspiration, not because you have to. And when you do, we are there.

Anonymous Kim, at 1:14 PM  

Interesting: my post shows up here but not on the main site - I posted from work, maybe that's why.

Hypno, I can't find your email or I would have sent you one, but I did notice Emergiblog was not on your sidebar of links.

I have been known to bribe, prn! LOL!

Begging is also not beyond me. May I please have a link?

Blogger HypnoKitten, at 10:09 PM  

Thanks to all of you for your kind words. Of course I'll continue to post! Hopefully the stories will be interesting :)


Blogger Real World RN, at 11:10 AM  

Bless you for caring for that patient as you did. I would have done the same thing. And it's nice to know I work in a place where many other nurses would have, too.

That is one of the primary reasons I stay on my 7p-7a shift. I know I can usually give my patients a bit more of the attention they often need...which sometimes is just someone to listen. The doctors are gone, visitors have gone home, and, psychotic or not, the dark hours of the night are when many of us have dragons to slay.

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