It’s the end of day three at the clinic but day five of my ‘progress’ towards full health. It seems that it has been decreed by those who know best that the term ‘recovery’ is somehow unhelpful, but however it’s labelled it comes down to the same thing; which is being able to lead a normal, full and happy life.
A large part of the healing process for me so far has been the opportunity to talk to fellow sufferers. It has lessened my deadening sense of isolation and the feeling that no one can really fully understand what it is that I am battling with. The immense courage and humour of every patient at Cotswold House is truly humbling, and I can only hope to emulate that. The weeks and months leading up to my admission were like feeling a constant physical pain from which there was no alleviation. However far I ran or walked or wriggled Dave followed me around with his teeth firmly in my shoulder like some sort of parasite and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity and support to attempt to put him well and truly in his box.
That’s not to say that the rigidly performed rules and regulations aren’t still difficult to come to terms with. They are; and given the other patients’ responses I can see that this is something that doesn’t get any easier. I was in trouble again today. Measuring jugs are used for everything with any liquidity and also for some things that are decidedly solid. Once you have poured your 200ml of milk or juice into the jug you then need approval from a member of staff before it can be consumed. I committed the cardinal sin of measuring the milk but then pouring it onto my cereal before said approval today and my reprimand was uncomfortably public. I think there’s some positivity to be gained from being able to appreciate that though apparently necessary, this is in no way reflective of normal life. In order to maintain a sense of self and combat the possibility of becoming mad and institutionalised I can’t afford to lose sight of this.
I have been outmanoeuvred too on the tea and coffee front. I categorically cannot have either drink without milk but if I don’t like squash I have to drink 200ml of fruit juice. Given that this provides me with at least another 90 calories twice a day Dave wasn’t best pleased but at least I don’t have to drink industrial strength Ribena. Might have to man up on the milk on reflection.
This morning I was weighed for the first time since my admission last Thursday and Rosie is pleased to report that she has indeed gained a little weight although Dave is beside himself. I found the process excessively difficult, particularly as the figure on the scales was noted down with no accompanying comment. I have been paying far too much attention to Dave since then who has been asking me how I can possibly compensate for this unprecedented weight gain. And that, my friends, is probably why it’s best that I am at Cotswold House and not still attempting to deal with Dave myself!
I have quickly learnt that everything has an acronym which remains cryptic to the uninitiated. I was asked on Friday if I had received my TTH’s. Not wanting to sound stupid, I said er, no, I don’t think I have. I decided I would probably have known if someone had given me something as exciting sounding and have looked forward to receiving them all weekend. I learnt this afternoon that it in fact stands for the disappointingly prosaic ‘To Take Home’ and refers to medication.
Today I also attended my first weekly individual CTM (Clinical Team Meeting). The CTM comprises a variety pack of 6 staff members and appears to be a conduit to ask questions to which no answers will be revealed. I asked if my very recent weight gain rate was normal to which I did not receive the reassurance I was seeking; I asked if I could drive, and was told that they would discuss this ‘later’. I then went for the jugular and asked if I could have ‘leave’ at the end of May so that we could have a long weekend away as a family and was informed that yes, on principle, but it really depends on progress and in the UK only. Easy to plan then. I will have to devise methods of subversion for next time.
Despite this diversion, the hours still dragged, I try and fill my time with crosswords and reading, but concentration is surprisingly difficult. I killed some time between feeding times by using my 10 minute allowance off the ward only to get horribly lost in a nearby wooded area (those who know me well also know that I have no sense of direction). In fact I was away for almost 25 minutes and had to sneak back incognito and tell a white lie on the signing in form. Think I got away with it.
Tomorrow is yet more meetings, I forget the acronym but one involves the reading out and discussion of ‘comments and suggestions’ placed anonymously in a box over the course of the week. How can that possibly be a good idea?! I’m thinking I might possibly have some fun in this one. The other is a group meeting in which people share their problems and reportedly all come out crying. Oh great.