Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Step 2 ~ "Supported Care"

Down at the end of the hall were the ominous, locked double doors that separated the “Crisis Care” ward of T1, from the “Supportive Care” of T2.

This was the door to freedom.

Each time we heard the loud clunk of it opening, all the patients would look longingly at the people coming in and going out. Because the people moving through this door had something we all wanted ~ freedom.
After nearly a week of existing in the prison of T1, I was finally called to the nurses station and given the news that I had graduated to “Supportive Care” (Otherwise known as T2) It was late at night — 10:00pm. An unusual time for a patient transfer so it completely took me off guard. Suddenly, after days of pacing the halls and reciting the mantra in my head “I can’t wait to get out of here and move to T2,…” the time had finally come. I collected what few belongings I had and walked behind the nurse towards the doors. But in doing so, I found myself feeling a bit apprehensive. As boring and uncomfortable as T1 was, it had strangely become my bubble of security. Nothing was expected of me here so I had settled into a comfortable peace. No stress. Just a calm and quiet environment in which I was told to do nothing but heal.

But now I was taking my first steps to my next level of recovery. I felt a light stirring of fear. Fear of the start of my journey of taking responsibility. Hmmm,…. Now that it was here I wasn’t sure I was ready. But I put that all aside and dutifully picked up my bag and followed the nurse through the doors to what was commonly called “The Other Side” ~ Trillium 2.

With no personal grooming for nearly a week I probably looked a bit worse for wear. I certainly felt like I had been through a battle. So I was a bit embarrassed and a lot self-conscious as I passed through the doors walking straight into the patient lounge of 20 curious people. All eyes turned to me. I felt awkward. I kept my eyes averted as I followed the nurse to my new room.

My room was a double. My room-mate couldn’t have been more different from myself. A very young, strikingly beautiful Muslim girl. That took me by surprise although I don’t know why. I guess I was expecting a more middle-aged woman like the ones I had befriended in T1. It once again reminded me of how unbiased this disease of mental illness was. Not caring what age, gender, race or religion you were. It affected everybody from all walks of life. She gave me a shy hello before scurrying out leaving me alone in my new surroundings.

This ward allowed a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. I now had my own closet and drawers. (No more locked cupboard!) We were allowed everything but “sharps” now which meant I could keep everything I had except my razor. I unpacked what little I had and sat on my bed. I had been given my phone back so I plugged that in to charge it right away. I was anxious to text Michelle and Hayley. To finally have my life-line to the outside world was exhilarating to me.

T2 had a simple system of 5 privileges. When I first arrived I was at the first level. “Ward”. This meant that I was confined to this unit only. Meals were brought to me and eaten at the long wooden table in the lounge. I didn’t mind. It was a much more comfortable setting than T1. Leather chairs to relax in and a TV that wasn’t covered by a scratched up piece of Plexiglas.

The second level, which I received by my doctor the next day, was “Ward with Manor Patio”. This was what all the patients coming from T1 covet. To finally get to go outside! I could now go to the sidewalk at the front of the building which is where all the smokers hung out. Or I could go out back to a large patio. This is where I preferred to go as it was a no smoking zone and usually empty. We were allowed outside to either of these places for 15 minute intervals once per hour. We had to sign in and out when we used this privilege so our assigned nurse for the day always knew where you were.

I was one of the lucky patients who was given the level 3 privilege after only 4 days. (It’s usually 2 weeks before any patient receives this,… I must have been a good girl!) This was “House”. Now I could go anywhere inside the hospital unaccompanied by staff. I loved this new privilege. I enjoyed meandering aimlessly through all the many halls. It was at this level that I discovered just how big and beautiful this hospital was. I never tired of exploring it.

Now I was allowed to go to the cafeteria for all my meals. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was here. All the patients would come to the cafe at the designated meal times of 7:30am,…. 11:30am,… and 4:30pm,… like dutiful cows to the trough. Meal times are a big deal here. In a sequestered world where there’s not a lot to do looking forward to meals was a good pass-time. We all clock-watched so we’d never be late for one.

And finally Thursday I was given level 4 privilege of “Grounds”. Grounds was the best. Now I was permitted to walk around the hospital grounds. Acres and acres of lovely gardens and forest. I spent a lot of my spare time outside after that. I had discovered this little get-away. Hidden behind our ward was this magnificent veranda. With peeling paint and lovely old features I claimed it as my own. I spent hours there snuggled up in a big muskoka chair reading or writing in my mandatory journal. I had to admit, It almost felt like a vacation.

Almost,…..

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