16 October 2017
Nurses, Doctors, Physician Assistants, Technicians, and other staff
St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
Ward 2A, 2209 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13501
Dear Nurses, Doctors, Physician Assistants, Technicians, and other staff:
Thank you for taking care of me at the end of September and the beginning of October. One thing we have learned in recovery circles as the more we talk about our experiences, the more we reduce stigma and discrimination. For that reason, I have no problem being open with the “re-dialing in” of the medications I take to help manage my Bi-Polar 1 Disease.
I want to make sure I do not miss anybody so let me take a few minutes to highlight where I got help. “Thank you” includes the people you talk to when you walk into the emergency room. If I had not told them I was a Bi-Polar person in trouble, I think they would have figured it out. They were supportive and understanding right away. If more mentally ill people knew that was going to be the reception they would get, maybe more of us would self-report and self-commit as part of our self-care strategies. It only took me 6 days to figure out I needed hospital level help. It would have been worse if I thought the people at intake were judgmental or unhelpful.
“Thank you” includes the security guards. No matter how shaky you are upon admission, you have to feel safe quickly. Security guards play a big role in this task for those of us who are mentally ill.
“Thank you” includes all the technicians who took numerous blood, and one urine, samples during my stay. This process can be creepy and painful or it can be quick and painless. No matter whom I ran into on this trip, quick and painless was the order of the day.
“Thank you” includes Nurse’s Assistants and RN’s. Someone has to get you your meds, tell you which appointment is next, and most importantly, take your vitals. During this process, vitals become incredibly important even if just to me. They also support and uplift you when the shaky/scary times come. Waiting for a new regimen of drugs to work is scary enough by itself on your own.
“Thank you” includes social workers and insurance navigators. For me, it has always been the case that paying out of pocket was less expensive than mandated insurance would be. That was until now. If my disease lets me work, I know more about my available choices. If my disease will not let me work, then I am already all set.
“Thank You” includes the doctor who understood how people with my disease react to medication. “I already know what you are going to try – you are going to take the Welbutrin to keep the scary depression away and not take the Invega because you like a certain level of mania maintained all the time. Let me be clear, that will not work. The first day you try that, you will instantly go into a mania you may or may not come back from.” God he knows me so well.
“Thank You” includes housekeeping. Ever stay in a psych ward?? I am guessing unless you share a mental illness like me, why would you?? They can be pretty sloppy. In fact, they probably beat prison showers, since that is always the same thing, for sloppy. A fine-tuned housekeeping staff makes for better recovery. There is a lesson in there that can be applied in our personal lives. Thinking that has been sloppy for a period of time needs to be cleaned up.
“Thank you” also includes all those people who prayed for or sent good wishes in my direction while I was away. This is usually my job. Somehow the universe wanted our roles reversed. My mind and body both appreciated the rest and the spiritual healing such thoughts provide.
From now on, your hospital will always be part of my story. I am better for choosing to seek help and better still because you made up the team that provided the help.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robert T. Oliveira