Homeless in Austin-An Insider’s View Part 7

So much has happened since I last posted a diary about this situation back in January it is hard to even know where to begin.  I guess the medical situation would be the most obvious.  LOL  After spending two weeks numb and tingling and in total fear of finding out I had MS, I went back to se the neurologist at Brackenridge.  I saw a different doctor and he was stunned I had even been released from the hospital.  MS had been ruled out completely. He admitted me the next day and the many test began again as well as high dosages of prednisone under supervision.  Yet another dreaded MRI was ordered.  Believe me when I say I was well medicated for that one.  They started with a mild sedative and less than half way through I started moving again.  When I heard the voice saying stay still, I announced quite loudly that the tech could either sedate me or start over.  As it was 11:30 pm, I was pulled out, given another shot that sent me to the moon and placed back in the tube. LOL  I barely remember being rolled back to my room or stumbling down stairs for a smoke afterwards. I am a hard headed cuss at times.

Imagine my complete surprise when my neurologist arrived in my hospital room at 9 am on a Saturday morning.  Dr. Perurena said good morning and started in on why he was there. ” Mr. Whichard, you need surgery as soon as possible to keep you from being paralyzed. ”  I like blunt and honest but he scared the bejesus out of me. I accepted his diagnosis and started to worry immediately.  Next thing I know there is a knock on my door and Dr. Tamu, a neuro surgeon enters my room.   After introducing himself he explained that the only reason I was not going into surgery immediately was that he could not get the team he wanted together until Monday.  I would have surgery around 6 am on Monday to keep me from being paralyzed from the neck down.  It turned out my spine was compressing and cutting through my spinal cord and that was what was causing the numbness over 80% of my body.  He tried to explain what would be happening but I was so freaked out and still groggy that I just said explain it after surgery and I will sign anything you want me to sign. LOL

Needless to say, I spent most of the day calling people in between naps.  There is something about a hospital that puts me to sleep.  It might be the constant drone of noise or just that I was not having to deal with the noise level at the homeless shelter or it could be that fear knocks me out.  All I know is that some of the best sleep I had during my time in the homeless shelter came while in the hospital.

Monday morning came all to quickly and I was wheeled out to surgery prep around 6 am.  They explained they wanted me to breath a numbing gas for my throat and then would insert a tub and give me a shot when I started gagging- who were they kidding?  When they gave me the nebulizer it reminded me of hash pipes from my youth. LOL  I took 3 big hits and promptly passed out.  I remember nothing about a tube, being rolled into surgery or even the recovery room.  I finally woke up as I was being rolled back into my room and saw a friend of mine sitting there.    I saw Boadicea sitting there and asked wasn’t I suppose to have surgery and heard a voice behind me say “You already have”.  I asked ” who are you?”  ” Your nurse.  We talked in recovery.”  I was a little freaked out as I remembered nothing of this but I guess the pain killers were working.  I promptly grabbed my cell phone and started calling everyone to let them know I had made it through surgery okay.  When I called Robert Andrews, he wanted to know if Boadicea was still there and when I said yes he asked to speak with her. Boadicea hung up the phone and said Robert and she decided I needed to rest. LOL

Me posing with my neck brace, hand knitted scarf, Herman the Hippo, book and beautiful flowers sent to me in the hospital.

My stay at the hospital was uneventful except me scaring the nurse by disappearing for cig breaks. LOL The surgery was a complete success as I was not paralyzed. The numbness had not dissipated but was no worse as long as I took the medication prescribed. The neurology department and even my surgeon lied to me and said the numbness and nerve damage would get better until sometime in May. I was then informed that the nerve damage was permanent and I would be taking medicine and walking with a cane for the rest of my life. Life went back to normal or as normal as it could at the shelter. I now had day sleep so I had a safe place to recuperate until 2:45 pm each day when I was forced to go downstairs and even outside at 5:30 pm each day to wait in line to get back in. Saturdays and Sundays I was forced outside at 4pm. I started going to the library and concentrating on other things as I learned to deal with walking with a cane or at least thought I had.

Taking long walks and getting away by myself became a major part of each day. I was tired but determined not to be down. I was furious when I found out the nerve damage was permanent but determined to get through it as I always had any problem. I would keep pushing until I could deal with it. I guess my coping mechanism was about as good as it had been in my past and that is why on June 26 I took 30 days worth of gabapentin in 45 minutes. I woke up on a bench in front of the main library and called EMS as I did not want to die even though I had taken all the pills. The stress of the situation along with other things in my life had pushed me over the edge and I had tried to kill myself yet again. Depression is a real sickness and can be deadly if not treated with medication and counseling. Being a considerable actor I had said what was expected in counseling session and not told the truth. I was aching inside and fighting being handicapped with every fiber of my being. The thought that I was never going to get better drove me over the edge to suicide.

I spent the entire weekend in lock down on the 7th floor at Brackenridge Hospital. That is the psych ward. I had a sitter the entire time who was in the room with me to make sure I came out of the restroom on time, didn’t try to hurl myself out the window that wouldn’t open or cut my veins with the butter knife on my dinner tray. After this disturbing weekend of being treated as a child and seeing the hurt look on people’s faces as I railed at them for no reason, I came to my senses as they were and started fighting to stay alive. The demon I had to fight was in me and not anywhere else. I had to accept that I was handicapped or challenged but that I could over come the odds and lead a normal life. It might not be as I wanted but it would be a good life. It is a struggle I still deal with at times but never to the extent I did on that dreadful night I tried to end it all.

Look for the next installment that will deal with my homelessness and my getting my on place. I thought a description of my medical and mental state was important for those who know me and as a cathartic exercise for me.

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