March 1, 2021
I sat in the patient chair. I was dizzy. My body was weak. I sipped from my water bottle. I noted the top half of the walls were cinderblocks, painted white. The lower half, green tiles. I felt like I was sitting in the nurse's office of my high school, which was built in 1963. I prepared to answer the intake questions with 100% honesty. I was asked if one of the newer intake technicians could sit in on my intake session. I gave my consent. The lead pharmacist of the Behavioral Health Clinic led the session.
The normal behavioral health screening questions for depression were asked of me. The eleven questions to determine the severity of an alcohol use disorder were also asked. Severity is based on the number of criteria a person meets based on their symptoms—mild (2–3 criteria), moderate (4–5 criteria), or severe (6 or more criteria). Hearing my responses to follow-up questions related to “quantity” and “frequency” made my stomach turn.
Neither the tech or pharmacists blinked when they heard my answers. This made me feel that my responses weren't really that bad.
After the intake questionnaire was completed, Ms. N took me to her office. The Behavioral Health unit Director (BHD) came into the room with us to determine the next steps. Ms. N: We can't get you anywhere today, but we also can't let you go back home. Me: *blank stare*
Ms. N: You also need someone to take you to the facility. We can't allow you to drive since you have Librium in your system. I can't believe you were able to drive here today.
Me: *blank stare*
BHD: A bed will become available at the treatment unit Thursday (3/4). Ms. N: Can she detox at Hospital A? BHD: She could detox on the ward at Hospital A, but she would need someone to transport her to the residential treatment facility at Hospital B, on Thursday. Ms. N: That's a lot of movement after detox. That isn't going to be fun. BHD: No, not at all Me: My Aunt might be able to come to get me and take me.
Ms. N: Okay, so how about your Aunt takes you to Hospital B Emergency Room and you're admitted there detox there, then transferred to the residential treatment facility which is at Hospital B.
Me: I need to use the bathroom and I need more water. Ms. N: Okay, can you call your Aunt first. I also have to get someone to escort you to the bathroom. Me: Really? Ms. N: Yes, really. You can't be left alone. You are in crisis and considered high risk for self-harm.
Me: *rolls eyes*, "Really?"
I called my Aunt, who thankfully was available to transport me to Hospital B, which was about forty minutes away from the Behavioral Health Unit I reported to that morning. While we waited for her to arrive, I was given water and administered another dose of Librium. Since I had started the Librium Taper, I needed to continue and finish at Hospital B before being admitted to the residential treatment facility. Ms. B gave me a sealed envelope and told me to give it to the Doctor whose name was written across the seal.
*** My Aunt and I arrived at the Emergency Room of Hospital B. Only I could wait inside the waiting room, because of COVID restrictions. My Aunt went to get me some essentials for an unplanned hospital stay. Once taken back at the ER, I repeated my story several more times and continued to ask for the Doctor to who I was supposed to give my envelope. For some reason, this felt like the most important task of my day. I really wanted to go to sleep, but my body wouldn't allow it until I had handed off this envelope.
Late that evening, I was admitted to Hospital B. I had no idea that I was in store for three days of detox hell.