Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Homewood

“The hospital was on a hill outside of town the way hospitals are in movies about the insane. Our hospital was famous and had housed many great poets and singers. Did the hospital specialize in poets and singers or was it that poets and singers specialized in madness”                                                                                                                                                                                                             – Susanna Kaysen ~ ”Girl, Interrupted”

August 4th 2011  — I entered Homewood
A world-renowned hospital for the criminally insane (just kidding,…)  Homewood health Centre. A psychiatric hospital,… A big, rambling, slightly creepy old place. Steeped in history the labyrinth of halls and stairs and wings, told many a tale of human suffering, recovery and health. Built in stages over 128 years, It’s a maze of deep slanting corridors, crooked wings sticking out of halls that never seem to end. A rambling puzzle. Sectioned into different wards. All geared to different psychiatric conditions. Mental illness,… addiction,…eating disorders,… Locked doors separating each.And each ward a small community. I often wonder how many people have roamed these halls over the 128 year lifespan of this majestic building. (If only these walls could talk,… what stories they could tell,…)
When I first arrived I was taken to Trillium 1. (T1) A ward geared to patients in crisis. Most of us arrived from hospitals from all across Canada. By ambulance,…by police,…by taxi’s. (One celebrity even arrived by private plane a week before me!) all having suffered a mental breakdown of some degree. I was admitted as a prescription meds overdose. This ward was not fun. Here,.. you are not allowed belts, strings or cords. They are removed from all your clothes by the nurse when you first arrive. Hair dryers, flat irons and make-up are not allowed either. After 3 days of no personal grooming I had begun to resemble Gene Simmons!
I spent three tedious, mind-numbingly boring days on this ward. With only a TV to keep me occupied. I had brought a book but it was a hard cover — not allowed. It’s considered a weapon. (We may try to bash each other up-side the head???) So it was confiscated. So I sat on a hard plastic chair watching mundane TV shows. Hour after hour, the whole time I was there. I am now wondering if at some time boredom was used as an ancient medieval torture as it nearly drove me mad!!
The ceiling light was never shut off in your room. Sleep alluded me night after night as it frustratingly glared down at me. Nurses checked I was still alive and kicking every hour.
For the first few days I suffered from withdrawals. After years and years of many different meds fed to my system my body now started to rebel when my blood stream cleared. Sweats, nausea and other not-so-pretty symptoms claimed my body. I tried to endure it stoically (and drug free) but it wasn’t a fun time at all. I was relieved when it was finally over. Now — 12 days later — I feel so clear. Life is now in sharp focus and vivid colours.
When I was finally deemed “de-toxed” I was upgraded to the Trillium 2 ward (T2)
(will continue next entry,…)

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