Posted by sean on November 26, 2019 at 9:25 pm in Health with No Comments

Paranoid Thoughts

One of the worst aspects of the entire hospital stay was the fact I became disturbingly paranoid and delusional.

I have been blessed to have remained extremely healthy, throughout my entire life, when it concerns my mental health.

Only twice in my 37 years, have I suffered from any psychological issues. Once last summer, when I believed that a repeat and realistic dream was real. This was days before being admitted to Intensive Care with respiratory failure.

My second and final mental health concern took place last week, during my stay in Southmead Hospital. Again, this involved spells where I became unable to tell the difference between dreams, my imagination and reality.

I put these issues down to a number of reasons…

The drugs I had been taking post-accident and surgery. As many of the essential painkillers contained strong opioids, it was no surprise that my head would become a little messed up. Don’t forget, during surgery, I was also given a dose of my old nemesis, ketamine.

The accident itself surely didn’t help. Not only did I land spectacularly on my noggin, but I was clearly shaken mentally by the entire experience.

Finally, I love to sleep. Claire will testify that if I don’t get at least eight hours of Vitamin ZZZZZ each night, I am not in a good place the next day. I am normally excellent at sleeping; although in hospitals, I struggle. Too many disturbances, loud noise and bright lights left on at 3am. Incidentally, America used round-the-clock lighting in cells, to break the spirits of suspected terrorists at the now infamous Guantanamo Bay. The Yanks were also reported to have played the Eminem song Kim, on loop, 24/7. For those who don’t know, this is the infamous track, where the rapper brutally murders his wife. I don’t think that even Jeremy Hunt considered this to be a positive approach to patient care, during his time as Health Secretary.

Surely sleep deprivation over many days, especially during a time in which I should be resting, will have an effect on my sanity.

The delusional scenes I experienced, ranged from the bizarre to downright disturbing…

In certain lights, people around me appeared to have orange hair and faces. You know the television adverts for sun protection cream, where they show faces under UV Light, revealing damage caused by the sun’s rays? Everyone looked like they had been sunbathing on Brighton Beach, over an entire Bank Holiday Weekend, without using any form of protection – no… not THAT kind of protection. At first, I thought that the nurses had dyed their hair (badly), for Ginger Hair Awareness Week, or some equally strange cause. It was only when I noticed that Claire and my parents had also turned fifty shades of orange, I thought something wasn’t right with me.

My first night on the Trauma and Orthopaedic Ward, after leaving ICU, was bizarre. In my messed-up head, l believed that once the lights had gone out, bunk beds were erected in the bays. I was convinced that relatives of the patients were staying overnight, in some kind of cross between a hospital ward and bed & breakfast. It is a shame this was not real, as it would certainly make for a cracking episode of Four in a Bed.

Some of the patients had chosen to stay up late and chat about everyone’s favourite hated subject – Brexit. Nothing unusual there, although I was convinced my Dad was in the room, having decided to stay the night with some of the patients, who he now considered friends.

It is only as I write this down, that I realise just how strange the whole thing sounds, but at the time I was convinced everything was real.

My irrational thoughts continued for a few more days and included spotting photos of my pet rabbit, Roman. This was after being dragged from my bed late one evening, to have an x ray. Like anyone who had been unexpectedly woken up and bundled off into the night, by a trio of burly men (x ray porters), I was more than a little dazed. To add to my confusion, I left my glasses in the bay. Given my poor eyesight without corrective lenses, the poster on the wall could easily have been a human skull, which my disabled eyes mistook for a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit.

Things turned a little sinister, when my delusional thoughts and sightings, went from strange to disturbing.

I thought some staff were working against me. Mostly members of the hospital’s Information Technology Department – don’t laugh!

As I stared at the white tiles on the ceiling – my only real view over the recent days – I could see cartoons, sketches and animations – as if the entire ceiling was one huge electrictronic whiteboard.

I did at least think that something was odd, because nobody else was commenting on the display.

One night – incidentally the same one where I was unexpectedly hauled to radiology – I was one hundred percent convinced, that members of the IT Department had organised a video games party.

The rest of the bay, bar one other patient and myself, had been cornered off. The nurses station, which I could see from my bed, played host to some wild party.

The reception was full of smoke, which I believed to be cannabis, while the air looked wavy. IT Staff and some of the nurses were drinking – and I don’t mean that they had been at the Fortisip milkshake.

I then noticed what, at the time, I believed to be dogs and small children, who belonged to staff. I even managed to convince myself that the neighbouring cubicle was being used as a brothel!

Despite being scared, I remember plucking up the courage to ring my nurse call bell. A nurse approached me, but I was convinced that he was already drunk, stoned or both, so had little faith in his ability to help me. I asked the nurse what was going on and that I had spotted the dogs.

The nurse told me that everything was normal and that I should go back to sleep. Of course he would say that. Nothing was happening. In the real world, this was a normal night on the ward – apart from a man in his thirties, going batshit crazy, asking about dogs. In my messed up state, I took this response to be a lie from a pissed-up nurse, desperate to return to the fun of the party and his next joint if wacky backy.

I begrudgingly allowed what I thought was a party to continue, while keeping one eye open in case a dog was to approach my bed.

I did manage to get sleep that night, albeit broken, but not before spotting a figure sat on part of the hoist. I couldn’t decipher if the pale faced woman, with long black hair, was a real person, or a doll.

Things came to a head on my sixth night in hospital – a couple of days after the party which never was. I had a truly terrible night. I was constantly thirsty. What’s more, the laxatives which I had been swallowing like Smarties, had begun to work, during the previous day. 12 days of poop had been woken up, and bit by bit, was working its way out of my body, like a long, drawn out labour. Over one 24 hour period, I must have produced more poop than that pile of dinosaur dung in Jurassic Park.

That night, I had some of the strangest dreams I have ever experienced. Amongst many, I found myself repeatedly returning to a supermarket. I then had a strong desire to ring the nurse call bell – on one occasion, to produce further post-laxative dino dung. However, I was unsure as to whether I should ring the nurses’ bell. In my dream, I was in Sainsbury’s, but I was buying a Tesco-branded product. Should I call Sainsbury’s? Or was it Tesco? What about Aldi?

I spent the morning feeling very down and depressed. I was entering my second week in Southmead Hospital. I was still experiencing a lot of pain. I had been bedridden for seven days, with no contact from physiotherapy – meaning no start to any rehabilitation. I remember feeling like I would never be able to leave – destined to spend the remainder of my days in a hospital bed, unable to use my limbs, while experiencing confusion and paranoia.

Luckily, things did get better…

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