Friday, October 9, 2009

VA and other things... doh!

I have been craving potatoes.

I think I should adopt an American bulldog to wear around my shoulders. It will be better than paying for a massage to push down the shoulders that want to creep up when I'm stressed. The bulldog will not allow such creeping. Yes?

Yesterday I heard that I was the one. The only one, the chosen one. I also heard that I was filthy, that everyone could smell me, that I was a pig. I heard a heart beat, whispering. I heard laughter, muffled screaming. Sometimes I heard all of this at once; all the while I was being processed at the "ER" by a disgruntled, abrupt intake nurse that couldn't understand why I was having a hard time counting backwards by seven. I then took a cognitive skills test in the "ER" while a TV blared. I had to read a passage in a short amount of time and then answer questions about it from memory. Whew. I could then take off my headphones.

It was a very effective demonstration of how difficult it is for someone with schizophrenia to function in our loud, fast world. It complete sensory overload for me. I was listening to the "voices" instead of the instructions from the nurse, I was trying to figure out what the whispering was saying, or just trying to make sense of all the noise. The most difficult part of the experience was trying to explain what the saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," meant. I was better with concrete information, like the names of the last four presidents.

It did make me realize that I have to slow down and repeat things for the people that I interview. It also made me question the questions that we ask people in the ER. Counting backwards from seven would be difficult for me no matter what. What does that say about me? What do they want that to prove?

I learned that when someone is hearing voices, the same part of their brain lights up as when they are having a conversation with someone outside of their head. The voices are as "real" as they can get.

Baltimore City police officers took this training.

The VA is an interesting place. I had no idea what a self-contained environment it is. You get your drugs, your eyeglasses, your own ER, doctors, benefits, from the same place. The sixth floor houses all the mental health services. In the elevator no one wants to be seen pushing the button for 6. Military stigma (about mental illness) is the toughest stigma to overcome. Only 23% of those displaying symptoms get treatment. And then they have to battle stigma in the elevator. Intense.

Mom's surgery is on the 23rd of October. They are taking her whole thyroid. She might take a radioactive iodine pill. Radiation the cause and the cure?


amity said...

i was talking w/C the other day about publishing and he told me about your blog...anyway, i had to take the same training at my job and it was intense, to say the least. The worst was when the angry male voice kept saying "you suck, you SUCK" louder and louder. Some staff people had to wear the headphones out into the community and had tasks to complete, like going into McDonalds and ordering something.

--i hope your mom is okay--

Kate said...

Thanks, Amity! It's nice to hear from you. How's life post-UB?

am said...

meh, life is all social-worky and sporadic writing here and there. I've been digging all your stories!