Saturday, October 5, 2013

Quick description of what they do during a 72-hour suicide watch

The very first time I was placed on a 72-hour hold (Spring and Summer 2001) they took my shoes and gave me soft slippers. They took my belt and my wife returned with some sweat pants and they took the drawstring. No strings of any kind. I was allowed to check out my electric razor for 15 minutes. My door, if I even had one, was kept open at all times and they checked on me every 15 minutes. I think they let me out once I was on lithium and I ended up going to two other facilities that summer on suicide watches while they tried to boost my medications up until they were efficient. Collectively I spent around three weeks in three different mental health facilities that summer.

When I entered the protective mental health wing of Porter hospital in Englewood, Colorado in January 2008, I had all of those stringy things removed and they had someone in my room to watch me at all times. It's hard to sleep with someone a few yards from you reading a book. I was in a psychotic/bipolar episode and a danger to myself. That suicide watch continued for about a week and then they let me sleep with my door open and someone checking on me every 15 minutes. When I came back to reality they kept me on the protective wing until a bed was available on the regular watch wing. I was moved to my new room and given my laced tennis shoes the very last day of my inpatient care. You can't believe how nice it feels to have tied shoes. This particular facility is on one floor so I hadn't walked on stairs for a month. It took me at least two weeks to get used to our stairs at home. It was a three story home so that was a big deal.

I continued outpatient care for about three weeks when they decided I was okay. Outpatient care takes about four or five hours a day, but you do get to go home and sleep in your own bed. Oh man, nothing, even the shoes feels as good as your own bed. And, of course, being back with my family was awesome.

I would have gone back into the mental health wing in January of 2013 except I was on IV's with an infection that made it into my blood stream in the regular hospital so they just keep someone outside of your door. But, you do get to close your door when you're in the regular hospital. That was another month wasted.

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