The Steroid Psychosis

Alice came to see me on my birthday, and I had already begun slipping into the psychosis and could barely talk. The next day Billy-Bob and I went back to the emergency room, because I was positive that if either of us slept we would die. By the time we actually went to the hospital I was suffering from sleep deprivation, because I hadn't slept (or let Billy-Bob sleep) in three days. Not good.

When we got let into the emergency area, the first thing they did was do a spinal tap...and Billy-Bob helped. The second was to send two of the resident psychiatrists to come and talk to me, whereupon I immediately started crying. Billy-Bob had gone to get me some food because we'd been there for something like six hours, and all I can remember is that I felt trapped by the psychiatrists.

I was admitted and taken back to the stroke wing (where I was before) and spent the next three weeks there. The three weeks I spent back in the hospital mainly consisted of lots of shots and medicine, being woken every four hours to get my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and lots of visits by friends. Billy-Bob came down almost every day, and my mom flew back out to see me during the last few weeks of my stay, and Liz and Susan visited me a lot since they both worked downtown and so were in the area of the hospital.

Basically the steroid psychosis got to the point where I couldn't talk, I stopped eating, and supposedly kicked one of the male nurses in the groin. In retrospect, from what I have been told, is that my electrolytes and potassium had gotten WAY out of balance, causing this psychosis stuff. I don't remember much of this visit, due to the psychosis, but I do know that they dropped me off the bulk of the steroids immediately to try to snap me out of it. So I had sitters with me 24 hours a day, had a feeding tube installed, and was tied down to the bed for trying to escape and attacking the nurse. All I remember of the restraints scene was that I tried to get out of the building and it took 4 security guards to tie me down. My mom called when I was tied down and they stuck the phone to my ear and I sobbed out my situation to her, whereupon she raised hell with the nursing staff, called Billy-Bob, and somehow between the two of them they got me unstrapped--although one of the more bitchy nurses kept threatening to "Poesy you back up," which is the name for the straps--Poesy brand restraints.

Things finally turned around when I was able to eat again, about the second to last day of my stay. I got an infection from the IV they left in for too long, so I had to have a heart line sewn into my upper arm for home Vancomyiacin (antibiotic) treatments. I was on lots of drugs when they sent me home, and I didn't taper off of the steroids for several months.

I was VERY weak and dizzy for the first few months of being out of the hospital, and depressed too. I guess the depression is a normal side effect of this kind of trauma. I would stagger around our apartment and burst into tears for no discernible (either to Billy-Bob or to me) reason, then stop crying and be fine a minute later. To keep myself busy during that hot summer in Chicago, I decided I wanted to move to Santa Cruz.

It was something that Billy-Bob and I had talked about for several years now, but I kind of needed some kind of change to look forward to, so I started to plan it. Our lease was up at the end of August, so I planned a visit to California during the first two weeks of August.

I flew out to my parents and made a reconciliation with my dad (who I hadn't talked to for three years and refused to see him when he flew out for my surgery). I had cut my dad out of my life due to the abuse I felt I had suffered at his hands growing up, and after no contact for three years I was able to see him and forgive him for it. After all I am a very different person than I was three years ago, and he had changed a lot too. My breaking of communication with him threw him, my sister, and my mom into therapy because basically they were afraid of losing me. This is definitely one change that having a brush with death has wrought--I could have died from that tumor and I feel like I have been given a second chance.

My mom and I drove up to Santa Cruz and spent a hectic week looking for a place for me and Billy-Bob to live, then I flew back to Chicago and packed. We packed, had a garage sale, and moved. The truck was 700 dollars for rental and the same amount for gas, and all my big plants (the ones I didn't give away) died.

For almost a year after, I contended with the feelings of being extremely vulnerable, and "damaged goods" and just basically broken. And that's how Billy-Bob treated me. When I first left the hospital I was afraid of getting in a car accident, kind of like what if all this surgery and trauma and everything were to go to waste, if I were to die or be horribly injured in a car accident. Part of the whole vulnerability thing, I think.

By the way, I keep mentioning Billy-Bob because he was part of my past, but Billy-Bob and I have broken up now, which is one of the best things that I ever chose to do. I found out a lot of shit that went on while he was supposedly being a "martyr" and staying with his brain-damaged millstone. We had agreed to be monogamous, and during that relationship he had 5 different other sexual relationships. One of those was while I was in the hospital, and he tried to get my best friend to sleep with him. Even with allowing how the tumor affected my personality, our relationship was falling apart. His behavior much of the time was really shitty. He also had no patience for my depression When we moved to Santa Cruz, he went back to Chicago in October and I got a call from a girl he knew there. She proceeded to tell me that he had asked her to marry him, and that we (him & I) hadn't had sex in a year. This gave him the excuse to not use a condom when they had sex. Which REALLY pissed me off, since my immune system is not very strong from all the steroids and stuff. If he's going to fuck around stupidly, he shouldn't risk MY life too! I broke up with him in October, but financially we couldn't move apart until the end of February. Those months between October and February were HELL.

Constant pressure to have sex with him, and when I wouldn't (couldn't!) provide enough (read: more than once a day) he brought other women home...and expected me to be civil to him and his new girlfriend. She would snub me and make me feel unwelcome in my own home, and then Billy-Bob would be mad that I wasn't "nice" to her. Now that we are living apart and I rarely see him, I am much happier.

So anyway, enough of the Billy-Bob saga. That part of my life is OVER. Let's start a new chapter, shall we?

Oh-- you wanna hear something cool? They didn't put the bone back in after surgery, so I have a silver dollar sized hole in the back of my head. Which is only a problem if you get chased by an ice-pick wielding maniac, and then you're in trouble anyway (my doctor's words, not mine! And he told this to me before surgery!)

So that's the tumor scene. The next chapter talks about the facial surgery that was done to try to give me movement back in my paralyzed face...


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