I just got home from work ,tonight I left early. I had a headache by the end of the night because of how stressful it was. People always ask me how do I deal with it all, sometimes I guess I don’t deal with it that well. I begin holding my breath and forget to breathe which gives me a tension headache in my forehead. Anyways, tonight I had 8 patients which is not a lot but two of them were a handful. The first one was Debbie, a 32 year old Hispanic woman, a mother of 3. Two years ago she began hearing voices and seeing things. In result of this she had become extremely anxious and depressed not able to function normally. She became suicidal and had taken a knife into the bathroom and had begun cutting her wrists. Her son began knocking on the door and caught her and she was sent to us.
When I went to go introduce myself to Debbie when I got onto the Unit I found her sitting on her bed crying and shaking saying, ” Please let me go home, please.” I told her I couldn’t do that and she just looked at me with increased desperation in her eyes and began crying some more. She then told me that she hadn’t eaten or slept in 3 days. I went and brought her some food, a cheese stick and a yogurt. She held the cheese stick in her hand and began crying. I knew what was happening because I had seen this many times before. I said to her, ” Are they telling you that you can’t eat?” Debbie nodded her yes as tears streamed down her face. I began opening the cheese stick for her, ” The voices are not real, they are not the truth. You can eat this, nothing bad will happen if you do I promise. You need to eat.” She sat there crying turning the cheese over and over in her hand studying it as if it were a bomb ready to explode. After a little while she quickly took a bite as if she were hoping the voices wouldn’t notice. The crying only increased as well as her breathing. I could tell that she was going to throw herself into hyperventilation so I told her to take some deep breaths. She attempted to but had an extremely hard time doing it. I had to leave, I had other patients who needed me and if I didn’t do my 15 minute rounds I could be fired but every time I tried to leave the room she would begin to cry even more pleading , ” No, don’t leave me. ” It was heartbreaking so of course I couldn’t leave. I stayed and missed the check. I sat with her on her bed and focused on getting her to calm down. It wasn’t easy considering she was “seeing” a man in the room with us. I walked around the room, turned the lights and told her repeatedly that there was no body here with us, that it was only her brain creating the image of a man. I sat on the bed with her, talked her down so eventually I had her breathing normally, not crying anymore and peacefully falling asleep. I told her I would stay with her until she fell asleep and I snuck quietly out of the room after I was sure she had fallen asleep.
About 30 minutes later I could hear her crying in her bed again with her blankets pulled up over head. I decided to ignore it hoping that she would fall back asleep but soon she had barricaded herself in front of her door. I told my nurse and he began preparing a shot and 3 of my male co-workers were ready with gloves on in case she was going to resist it. I told them I would try to get her to move away from the door before they forced their way in. I walked over to the door and put my face up to the tiny window. It was pitch black inside and all I could see was her arm across the window. I started asking her questions and she opened the door for me pretty quickly. When I went in she was standing there, her face wet with tears with a look of complete terror across her face and her whole body was shaking. She kept saying, ” He’s here! He’s here to get me!” as she pointed towards the end of her bed. I again reassured her that nobody was in the room, that she was safe. I sat her down on the bed and began trying to talk her down again from hyperventilating. I told her that we were going to give her a shot that would help her feel better and fall asleep. Right then 3 of my male co-workers walked into the room with their gloves on. She began to get anxious again, her breathing increasing. She didn’t want to get the shot and I knew why. I asked 2 of them to leave and she laid down and took it willingly. After she was given the shot I pulled the blankets over her and began to leave. Once again she said, ” Please don’t leave me!” I sat next her and reminded her over and over again to keep breathing deep slow breaths. She did her best to imitate what I was showing her. She then began crying and telling me how the last 2 years had been a living hell. She just wanted to die, she didn’t think there was any point in living the way she was living. The voices were so terrible that she couldn’t function, she would stay in her bed for days, couldn’t take care of her kids or do anything for that matter. As she cried and told me these things, my heart broke for her. I kept saying, ” I can’t imagine…” And its true, I can’t even begin to imagine how awful it would be. I felt a love for her though, a love that you feel for someone that you have served or taken care of, a love that I know God must feel for those who suffer. This is where compassion comes in I guess, we must all love and take care of each other, we have to. I don’t understand why some people are given such hard trials, I really don’t get it. But I have to believe and have faith that it can get better. And that’s what I told her. I told her that she had to believe that things could get better, that they wouldn’t always be this bad. She eventually drifted off to sleep and I quietly left the room. I just kept thinking, ” It has to get better, it just has to.”
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