Before I describe what my days spent in the psych unit was like, I’d like to address a few comments from the previous post, The Psych Ward – March 2018. frazzled again of Rant and Reason asked how I could remember things in such detail. We were allowed to have journals and pencils. Also, I was given a brochure that outlined what the ward was like and its rules, like you weren’t allowed to have mobile devices, probably so you wouldn’t take psych ward selfies! Seriously, it’s probably for the other patients’ confidentiality.
Astrid of Blogging Astrid discussed locked and open wards in the Netherlands, where she lives. I’m not sure what the difference is, but in the US, at least in the state of Illinois where I reside, all of the wards I’ve been to are locked — you can’t just leave or go outside. However, we were free to meander around the unit — we weren’t locked in our rooms. I’m not sure if that’s considered an open ward in Illinois. I don’t know if this addresses Astrid’s questions, but I hope so.
SLEEP: I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but I didn’t sleep well during my stay. I wasn’t sleeping well before I was admitted, but my sleep disturbance was worse in the psych ward.
It probably had to do with my bed, the mattress of which wasn’t firm enough. I’d wake up around 2-ish AM, stay up for a couple of hours, then fall back asleep til about 6:00 AM. One day I was up from 3:15 AM – 10:00 PM.
I learned from another patient that if you request something to help you sleep by 1:00 AM, your assigned nurse would usually give it to you. Any requests after that were deemed “too late” in the night. I was able to request an additional 50mg trazodone to my usual 100mg, but it only helped me sleep for 2 more hours.
HYGIENE: The advantage of being awake early is that I didn’t have a lot to do other than journal, work on the crossword puzzle book or read the book my husband brought me. My eyes still burned from lack of sleep, so I’d shower. I began maintaining my hygiene on Saturday, the morning after I was admitted, and was able to do so throughout my stay. The rule was that you were supposed to be dressed in street clothes (if you had any, brought by visitors) by 9:00 AM, but it wasn’t strictly enforced.
PHYSICAL THERAPY: Since I had to discontinue physical therapy after being admitted, they had a physical therapist see me on Monday. He showed me more stretching exercises I could do during my stay, so I’d do those after showering.
The unit was large, and of course my room was far from the main TV room, main nurses’ station, therapy rooms, and dining room. I did a lot more walking than I’ve done since December, when my primary care physician told me not to do as much walking as normal, because of the excruciating pain in my hip. All of this walking on the unit inflamed said hip, but the stretches helped. They also gave me energy.
MEALS: I was anxious about who I would eat with in the dining room for my first meal on the ward (breakfast on Saturday). After a staff member gave me my tray of food, I felt like I was in high school, not knowing the “right” group of people to sit with. Fortunately, one woman was sitting alone at a table, and welcomed me when I asked to join her.
She became the first patient with whom I was friendly. She knew a few other patients, to whom she introduced me, and we ate most of our meals together. There was a lot of conversation and laughter among our group.
Morning meds were administered during breakfast.
GROUPS: After breakfast, we spent the days in one group or another from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (lunch), and then again from 1:15 PM – 3:00 PM (snack time). These groups had 15-minute breaks in between, and included goal setting, stretching or open gym, yoga, illness education, coping skills, group therapy, and occupational/recreational therapy, which was my favorite! In the latter group we got to color, paint, make wooden models (like the one of a pteranodon skeleton I made in the photo), crochet/knit, and other crafts.
There’s a white board in your room on which your assigned nurse writes your schedule for the day.
FREE TIME: We were pretty much free from 3:00 – 5:00 PM, when we had dinner. Over the weekend, I spent the time in my room, but once the week began and I got to know other patients, I’d hang out with them and talk or complete jigsaw puzzles, an activity that I found I enjoyed.
VISITING HOURS: On weekends and holidays, visiting hours are from 2:00 – 4:00 PM and 6:00 – 8:00 PM; Mondays through Fridays were just 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Fortunately for me, I always had visitors — my husband, and sometimes my sister and brother-in-law. For some reason, you could only have 2 visitors at a time. We talked, played board games, and completed jigsaw puzzles kept in the visiting room.
Once they left, I’d either hang out with other patients and watch TV or work on jigsaw puzzles. Medications were administered around 9:00 PM, and I went straight to bed, and started over the next day.
If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!
Tomorrow, I’ll post about how the stay affected me, and how I’ve been doing now that I’m home.