How my sudden trip to the ER has affected my mental health
This week, I’ll discuss how my recent ER stay has affected my mental health.
In case you missed last week’s article, on January 20th, I was forced to go to the hospital because none of my caregivers were available to work that evening. What I thought would be an 8-hour stay turned into a 24-hour stay in the ER.
My Friday afternoon felt like a blur. Everything happened so fast. What little time I had, I spent communicating online, trying to avoid a trip to the ER. By the time the Paramedics arrived around 4 pm, I was already mentally exhausted, sad, angry, and scared, and my anxiety was through the roof.
To make matters worse, nobody seemed to know what to do or if the hospital could have me. I felt truly helpless and like a burden.
To me, I didn’t feel human. I felt like I was being shipped off and that my life and well-being weren’t important. I was the ER’s problem now.
As soon as I arrived at the hospital, it became clear that communication would be a struggle.
The ER staff either needed to be more relaxed to take the time to understand what I was saying or simply chose not to.
When it comes to people with disabilities and healthcare, we’re often ignored, and the general assumption seems to be that we’re not worth the effort. For PWD that are non-verbal, maneuvering through our healthcare system is almost impossible.
Yes, I am verbal, but my voice can be hard to understand. With a bit of patience, though, communicating with me becomes easier.
Due to my anxiety and everything happening in the ER, my speaking ability was affected. Still, I feel that most ER staff weren’t taking the time or the effort to understand my voice.
Now, I do know that ERs are busy, and they’re short staffed, etc. That was certainly the case when I was there. I fully understand that.
When a PWD or a person with special needs arrives in the ER, arrangements should be made to ensure that the person feels safe and has a way to communicate their needs.
I didn’t have that, nor was I given the option of having a sitter to stay with me. Not only would it have given me partial peace of mind, but it would also save time for the nurses.
A nurse asked me if I could push a call button, and I said no. I’m physically unable. I was given a baby monitor. Whenever I needed something, I had to yell and hope that a nurse would hear me and realize I needed help.
That was a struggle and a big reason why I was terrified. I was scared that my ventilator tube would become disconnected, they wouldn’t hear the alarms, or the nurses would be too busy.
For 24 hours, I lived in fear. Even as I’m typing this, I still have that feeling. I’m afraid that at any given moment, I’ll be told that one of my caregivers can’t come to work and nobody else is available.
It’s been just over two weeks since it happened, but in my mind, I keep reliving the ordeal. I haven’t been able to relax or be sociable. I’ve had to cancel plans with friends simply because of a lack of energy.
I haven’t been able to talk about it fully, and I’m on a waiting list to see a therapist.
Perhaps the best way to describe my feelings is exhaustion, fear, and anger. My life has become more like a job. I’m doing what I can to ensure someone’s coming in for the next shift.
Fear primarily since I could go to the hospital at any moment due to a lack of staff, miscommunication, or a last-minute issue.
As far as anger, I’m not angry with any individuals. I’m mad at the system, how society allowed this to happen, and how it’s become acceptable.
Nobody should be forced to leave their homes due to a very broken system for those who rely on caregivers. It’s not our fault that we have a disability or unique medical needs. We didn’t choose this life.
Why are we the ones that are so often ignored and constantly fighting just for the simple things?
Simple things that most take for granted.
It’s exhausting and frustrating.
I apologize if I seemed all over the place. I was on the fence about writing this. One of the things that I’ve learned over the past few years is that mental health is essential, and it’s important to talk about it.
We shouldn’t feel ashamed that we’re different. We see the world how we see the world, and we may react differently.
That’s just the way we cope or try to.