My journey through anxiety and more – Part XI
This is the 11th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).
For those of you who don’t know, I started writing about my journey six months ago and only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey through mental illness was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.
I’d had enough!
……….. I told him to pack his things and leave before I got home from night shift in the morning.
Night shift on a mental health ward
After our patients had had their night medication, the support nurse went to complete the half hourly observations. This meant checking each bedroom or cubicle to ensure everyone was accounted for and alive.
I was in the office when a roar from the end of the corridor alerted me and I raced towards noise. Oh, Jesus! A female patient had strangled herself with the belt from her robe. Her face was a horrible shade of purple and she appeared not to be breathing. My anxiety levels just shot through the roof and I felt the colour drain from my face.
I helped untangle the belt from round her neck and felt for a pulse, but there was nothing. Jesus, I’d only been a mental health nurse for two months and I was near paralysed with fear. “Get the crash trolley,” I yelled down the ward to Maria the third nurse on duty. Sarah was a favourite of mine and there was no way I’d let her die, not on my watch.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on a mental health ward
Down on my knees now, I fumbled, trying to find the right place to press (the breastbone is pushed down firmly and smoothly, so that the chest is pressed down between 5–6 cm) then started CPR (at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute – that’s around 2 per second, British Heart Foundation).
I could feel the sweat dripping down my back and the trembling in my arms as I continued 18.104.22.168……… 30, for what felt like a lifetime. All the while, I was trying to keep calm, as this was no place for my impending panic attack. Concentrate, concentrate Caz, you can do this, concentrate. Finally Maria arrived with the crash trolley and I asked her to take over while I ran to call the Crash Team.
Crying with relief
I turned to sprint back to the office but stumbled and fell forward with a thud and landing awkwardly. I immediately felt searing pain in my right shoulder. Still, I got up as quickly as I fell and dashed to put a call out “Cardiac arrest on Violet Ward.” This relays a crackly radio message to the Cardiac and Rapid Response Teams. When they get that message, they race from the general side to the Mental Health, side pretty damn quick.
I’d all but forgotten my own burning pain as I ran back see what was happening. On my way, I guided any inquizitive patients back to bed and tried to reassure them all was well.
I took over the CPR and rather stupidly, wept with relief when Sarah started showing signs of regaining consciousness. Her eyes were flickering and she was trying to catch her breathe. She now had a pulse, albeit a weak one. Just then, the Crash Team arrived and took control.
Caught wearing a tired grey bra
Sarah had survived, but was still taken over to the general side to be observed overnight. The Duty Senior Nurse was in our office making sure we were all okay when someone let on that I’d fallen. The cute young Duty Doctor came to see me and all I could think was “What bra have I got on” when he asked me to undress to assess any damage. Only I could be wearing a comfortable but tatty old bra that looked like I’d washed the floor with it! The shame.
Despite the agony, I didn’t complain too much so the Doctor suggested I go home and return to A&E tomorrow if the pain got worse. It was just past eleven p.m. and I called to let the boys know I’d be on my way home. Only it was Ian who answered, drunk and stoned, so I hung up and got a taxi home.
He should have been gone. Aaarrgghhh……. I sure as hell was in no mood for more of his spiteful crap. Once home, I ignored him and went straight up to our bedroom when I got home. I managed to sleep with some pillows propping up my right arm and woke at dawn, in agony.
A slap in the face
Back to the hospital, where they confirmed that I’d broken my collarbone and torn my rotator cuff tendons (muscles and tendons that attach the arm to shoulder blade). I was put in a sling, given strong painkillers and sent home to rest up. But before I left, I went to see how Sarah was. I got a slap in the face, albeit a light one, cos she was mad that we’d saved her. Of course, I told her, I’d do it again.
My painkillers were starting to kick in and I was feeling kinda woozy so any anxiety I’d had about facing Ian all but disappeared. For f*ck sake! The whiff of beer and cannabis about knocked me out as I opened the front door. It was just two in the afternoon, for crying out loud.
Still, I was delighted to see all his boxes stacked in the hall, “Wakey, wakey, time to go,” I sang cheerfully.
The drunk driver and a mad man
“Can I borrow the car?” slurred Ian as he staggered towards me, hand out for the keys. It would have been funny if he hadn’t been so serious. “Nope! Get a taxi,” I smiled. With that, he lunged at me and grabbed my wrist viciously. “Aaarrgghhh!” I screeched in pain and anger, hanging onto my arm and cursing under my breath.
At that, I heard “Mama,” and Nic was hurtling down the stairs behind me, “What did he do, did he hurt you Mama?” I hadn’t realised he was home from school. Ian shot out the front door and Nic was charging round the kitchen like a madman, cursing furiously. He yanked the front door open and threw out every one of Ian’s carefully packed boxes. Ian looked on helplessly as glassware, cd cases and electronic equipment crashed down onto the road.
The neighbours were out, wide-eyed at the the scene unfolding and I don’t know what was funniest. Ian’s look of helplessness or Nik holding every last piece of luggage high above his head before throwing it as far as he could. The door thudded shut! Nic was trembling and pale with anger, he turned to me tearfully, whispering “I’m sorry Mama.”
We hugged and cried, but this time we cried with laughter. Ian was calling across the road “Can you get us a taxi?”
Over to you
I’ll end here for now and hope you’ll stay with me for the next part. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and please feel free to ask any questions.