Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Ecstacy and Hospitals

A young friend of mine, L, went to the hospital early on Thursday. I got the call from her roommate M at 5:45 in the morning. I always get these calls just before my alarm goes off.

L had been offered some ecstacy by a friend of hers. She declined it and then went out. After a few drinks, the friend convinced L to take the drug. Things were fine for a while, then they went all pear-shaped.

L became violent and aggressive. She hit one of her friends in the face. She got mad at her boyfriend because he wasn’t her father. Then she decided she’d had enough and left the apartment. Her boyfriend sensed something was very wrong and went after her.

It’s a good thing he did.

She climbed to the roof of the parking lot and tried to go over the edge. Boyfriend restrained her. She began kicking and punching and biting. Two other friends and M came to help. It took all 4 of them to keep her on the ground. She was screaming the whole time, no words, just an unending shriek.

When she wasn’t screaming, she was talking to someone that nobody else could see. She kept saying “I see him,” but she wouldn’t or couldn’t say who she saw. We believe it was her deceased father but we’ll never know.

In the meantime, neighbors heard the ruckus. They stepped outside with phones. At least one of them called the police. That’s when M called me.

M was scared and crying. Both of those are perfectly understandable responses to the situation. I told her she was doing the right thing. She put me on speaker phone. When L heard my voice, she shouted, “You piece of shit! You’re never there!” and went back to the wordless yell.

M apologized to me, but really there was nothing to apologize for. We got off the phone and I called the cops again. I gave them some details that they didn’t have.

I heard later that a lady cop arrived first. She apparently was the mental health expert but once the male cops arrived, they didn’t treat her with respect. They cuffed L, who was cooperative with the process, and took her to a local hospital.

About fifteen minutes after that, I arrived at the apartment. The young people were all sitting in s circle, decompressing. They talked about what had happened. We all laughed uproariously when a cat missed a jump. It wasn’t that funny, we just all needed a break so badly at that point.

The friend who supplied the drug never appeared. I assumed she was at work or otherwise out. It turned out she was in her room watching cartoons. She had been there all night. She had not followed L outside or tried to help or even come out to see what all the commotion was. The whole group of young people is, as they say, over her. She lost a bunch of friends that night.

Boyfriend got together some clean clothes, L’s glasses, her wallet and keys, and we headed to the hospital. We tried emergency and they wouldn’t let us in. They told us they hadn’t seen her, but gave us a number to call. We tried the psych ward; they also said they hadn’t seen her. We tried psych emergency. They said they could neither confirm nor deny that they had her. That meant she was there so I left a message with my phone number. Boyfriend and I went home.

I spent the day wondering how she was. About 10 hours later, I called again and left another message. I gave the number to boyfriend and to M, so they could call and leave their numbers in case she preferred to call one of them. Finally the phone rang.

Of course nothing can go smoothly. I answered the phone, but there was no sound. I assumed it was L, so I explained that I couldn’t hear her and I was going to hang up. It happened 2 or 3 more times and I eventually called the ward. The person I spoke to said they’d been having trouble with one of the phones and they would provide her with different equipment. At last the phone rang and I could speak with L.

Her voice was hoarse from all the screaming and she sounded tired. She stated she hadn’t seen a doctor. I asked if she was in an observation room, since I assumed this was a 72-hour psych hold. She said no, she was in a big open room with recliners and no beds. She just wanted to sleep. We got off the phone.

I called the ward and asked about the doctor. It didn’t make sense that she had been there that long and not talked to anybody. Fortunately she had signed a piece of paper that they could talk to me. They told me she had been seen twice but she was so out of it that they weren’t surprised she didn’t remember. They also told me they were going to release her the next day, Friday. I said I would pick her up.

When I saw her, she looked rough. She was clearly tired and out of it. Her anxiety was high so we stopped at a gas station for gas, cigarettes, and drinks, then I took her home.

We have talked a few times since then even though it’s only been 2 days. We talked about what could have been different, what I could have done, ways I can be there for her. She broke her hand during the fracas so we talked about ways to splint it. She told me she plans to move since friend cannot be trusted and therefore was no longer a good roommate.

I am just glad L had friends who protected her from herself. I could wish everybody had friends like that.


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What a week! Part 2

Yep, life is eventful so I am late getting back to this.  What else is new?  I really do want to work on posting something every day or two, though.  Discipline is important, in writing as well as in regular life, and I could use a bit more focus.

Update:  3 weeks later and the bathroom is still dry, yay!  The apartment complex has stated they will get an actual certified plumber out here to fix the pipe itself but that hasn’t happened yet.  I asked them about it late last week and they are much more focused on a visit from the owners than on fixing this, which is frustrating, yet I do understand that if they’re going to pay a plumber that they’re going to wait until they have several jobs for him to do.  So far so good!

The other thing that was so frustrating about the lack of communication regarding maintenance coming by, was that I needed to go to Parkland Hospital to get my prescriptions refilled.  I don’t own a car, so that meant taking DART.

A word about DART:  I have lived in cities with good public transportation, eg. Boston.  Trains come frequently, they go most places you want to go and buses go pretty much everywhere else, it’s reliable and convenient.  Now I live in Dallas and I use DART, and I find the are not even close to as useful as Boston.  There are reasons for this, but it routinely takes me 2 hours to get where I need to go.

If I had a car, it would have been about half an hour, maybe less, to get to Parkland.  On DART, I had to take a bus to Addison Transit Center, take another bus to the Downtown Carrollton station.  I took the light rail to Southwest Medical Center / Parkland Station, then a shuttle to the hospital itself.  I left about 1:45, it was after 3 when I arrived.

I am poor enough that I have health care through Parkland directly.  It took them until December to even see me, but they did make it retroactive to cover some past bills and it’s good through March 31.  I rather naively assumed that I could take the bottles from my previous doctor – from spring of 2013 when I had a job and insurance and a GP of my very own – and simply get my prescriptions renewed.  Silly me!  In order to get the meds, I had to have a ‘script from an in-network doctor which meant a trip to Urgent Care.

Urgent Care is like Emergency except of course it’s for people who aren’t actually having emergencies.  So, nasty headcolds and swollen ankles, not so much heart attacks or gunshot wounds.  That means waiting.  It took about 40 minutes for me to get into triage, but at that point it got speedy for me.  The medicine I take is for high blood pressure and I had been without it since before Christmas so at that point my blood pressure was actually quite high, high enough to make the staff uncomfortable, high enough that they considered admitting me.  Well, I had been running for the shuttle in order to avoid waiting in the cold and I do have a slight murmur that acts up when I exert myself too much, but it always surprises me how long it takes my body to recover.  I was surprised that over an hour later, my numbers were still that high.

So I got to see the doctor fairly quickly and he looked at my old meds and he said a fairly surprising thing.  He said that he should probably send me to Emergency and have me admitted but it would take several hours for that to happen and then I’d be over night or longer.  Or, he could certainly renew my meds and I could leave AMA (Against Medical Advice) and come back if symptoms didn’t improve.  I realized that what he was telling me without actually saying it was that probably my “problem” was due to not having my meds and that admitting me was simply going to take extra time to provide the same result.  So I chose to leave with prescriptions.

I went back to the pharmacy at about 5:30, and was told it would take a good 90 minutes to fill my ‘scripts.  Since the pharmacy officially closes at 7:00, I did verify that they stopped taking new customers at 7 but they would finish all existing orders before closing completely.  I hadn’t eaten since 11:00 am and I had an hour and a half, so I went to the cafeteria.

The cafeteria has about 5 different food stations for various types of food ranging from salads to burgers to Mexican to a hot meal.  I imagine at lunch time the place is fully stocked but at dinner there is only the hot meal section open and they have a very limited menu.  I chose chicken fingers and mashed potatoes.  I thought about a salad, but a one cup prepackaged salad cost as much as the rest of it so I didn’t get it.  Remember that I am poor now so dollars are a big deal, and I still had to pay for my meds.  I got a cup of water and sat down to eat.  About two bites into my meal, I felt something hard in my mouth.  At first I thought it was a piece of chicken bone but as I shifted it around to get it where I could spit it out, I realized it was ceramic.

I have one piece of ceramic-y stuff in my mouth.  One of my eyeteeth is a baby tooth that never came out, and once upon a time my Uncle Jack who was a dentist before he retired had put a cap on it so that it wouldn’t look so out of place in my mouth.  Apparently the mashed potato was too much for the tooth and it finally broke, cap and all.

So back to Urgent Care for me.

The nurse was not happy to see me.  One of my concerns when I was there earlier was timing for getting home.  Working backwards, it looked like this:  The last 361 bus through my neighborhood from Addison Transit Center was at 11:00 pm.  In order the get there, I had to catch the 400 bus from Downtown Carrollton station at 10:34 at the latest.  Buses are every hour at that time of day, so I really wanted to catch the 9:34 if possible to be sure the connection worked.  If the 400 was even 5 minutes late, then I would miss the 361 and it would be a bitch of a walk home late at night in the cold.  Train takes about 30 minutes to make that trip, and although it comes only every half hour at that time of night, there are 2 lines on that section of track so it’s a little more frequent.  Plus I had to allow time for the shuttle.  So pretty much I needed to be on my way by about 8:15 to be really comfortable with the schedule for getting home and that means waiting to be seen made me edgy.  The admitting nurse wasn’t happy about that earlier, and she was a bit sarcastic to see me back.

Fortunately it was shift change and the late nurse was very understanding.  He fast-tracked me and got me seen in less than an hour with a referral for a dental visit.  I haven’t done anything about that at this time, because pretty much the option is leave the broken tooth or pull it, Parkland doesn’t cover orthodontic repair.  It has always been a debate whether to cap that baby tooth or pull it and brace me to rearrange the remaining teeth, so this isn’t a huge loss to me although now I have a hole in the front of my mouth.  I figure I just need to do the pulling and braces at this point, but since Parkland doesn’t cover the braces, I’m loathe to remove the remaining root and have my teeth shift on their own.  I’m not in pain and I’ll have health insurance again in April, so it feels like I can wait.

And I did make it home in time, so that was good.

But with 3 inches of gray hair and a missing tooth, that makes it pretty hard to make a good impression when looking for a job.

(There is so much more to this story, but my daughter needs me and this is getting long, so . . . )