Monday, November 17, 2014

3 years 9 months

Biomed Link 2014, Melbourne, Mental Health, medication induced suicidal thoughts, Acquired Brain Injury

Last month part of my post was about depression and that I was experiencing it. I had given antidepressant medication and things were starting to level out and become more manageable. Then I started to feel ill. I was having trouble eating and was reduced to drink water; I was having trouble swallowing that too. It was about that time that I had some very frightening suicidal thoughts. I knew it wasn’t me. I don’t think like that. I was getting more out of control with my thoughts and felt like I would not have any control at all. I was terrified I would do something horrific to myself. I told Kim what was going on as soon as it started to get really scary. We went to see my doctor and told her what was happening. My medication was switched immediately and an emergency appointment with a psychiatrist was submitted. She really wanted to have me admitted to the hospital. Instead I was allowed to go home under supervision. Kim kept my medication in a safe and I was babysat by family.

I had an appointment with the psychiatrist within 4 days (2 of those were Saturday and Sunday) He is a very lovely man and was obviously quite concerned by the report he had been sent by doctor. We changed medication a little more to see how things would go and I was allowed to manage my own medication on the understanding that if things got worse or I started making plans that I tell Kim and go to the hospital immediately.

I have had appointments with my care team since then and things are starting to settle although I have had some pretty huge panic attacks lasting up to and including four hours. I had booked in for Biomed Link 2014 in Melbourne and booked my accommodation before this all happened. I was quite worried about the potential for me to not be able to manage on my own, have a panic on the way to, during or after the conference. I was having thought about not going at all and cancelling all my bookings.

Since having that hole drilled through my brain and the tumour removed, I have a potential to become excessively stressed when things don’t go to plan and I don’t have a safety net. I had a very generous and beautiful friend come to pick me up from the airport, take me from lunch with another friend and then drop me off at my hotel. Before I left Brisbane another friend offered to come and stay with me in the hotel on Saturday and Sunday night and then take me to the airport. I was to have coffee with another Friday which fell through. I was okay with that because I was at the hotel and felt ‘safe’. I pottered around and went to grab some supplies for the kitchen having checked google maps to make sure I really did know where I was going.

I woke up on Friday morning and headed out to Biomed Link 2014. I left early after double checking my google maps. Sometimes the google maps timing is a little off so I tend to leave early in case things are actually 30 minutes not 10. I made it to the conference and was met by some very lovely people on the Biomed team. I felt less stressed after sitting and having coffee and making sure I knew where things were and where I was going.

It was amazing! There were so many brilliant minds sharing their passions. I tried taking notes and often found myself totally immersed in each presentation. About half way through the second session I was starting to feel that my brain was struggling to cope with so much input. I took the break time to sit in the lecture theatre on my own as it was quiet, empty and much easier for me to ‘reset’. I didn’t want to miss the last session as it was full of things I was most interested in and I would have hated to miss it. I made it through the last session unscathed and highly motivated. I stay around at the end for networking for a little while and spoken with some truly inspirational people. I was able to speak to Gustav Nossal for a while as well. I ended up leaving early. I was starting to flag. My brain had been significantly stressed by input and the little stressors. I didn’t want to be worrying about walking about t the hotel on my own or gods forbid asking someone for help with that.

I made it back to the hotel at promptly fell on the bed. My lovely friend arrived a little later, we have a basic dinner in the room, chatted for a while and then both nodded off. I posted on Google to see if any of the G+ people still wanted to have coffee on Saturday afternoon and didn’t get a positive response so we went for a walk to find breakfast. We got back; I started typing up my notes from Biomed Link.

Later another friend picked me up. We went to see the bats and it started to rain so we jumped back in the car and made a plan from there. We headed back into the city and hunted down some dinner. We wandered off after that get ice cream. It wasn’t just ice cream, it was I c e c r e a m! There were so many choices they had a menu with pictures in it. It was very hard to choose but I managed it eventually. We sat and ate our ‘to die for’ ice cream and talked for ages. It was pretty late when we headed back to my hotel and on the way I was not feeling at all well. We talked some more outside the hotel and then I went up to my room.

I felt grim. I lay on the bed with a cracking great headache and felt nauseous. When I got up to go and have a hot bath I was having trouble walking in a straight line. I lay on the bed after that wondering if I should really be going to the hospital and then trying to figure out how an ambulance would get their stretch up to the 6th floor in the non-generously sized lift. I took some more medication and went to sleep eventually.

Sunday we headed out of Melbourne and drove around through some really interesting places stopping to take pictures of the completely random things we came across. When we headed back to go the airport I started to stress and panic. Would I get to the airport in time? Would I have enough charge on my phone to call Kim when I got there? And the million other things that popped up in my head. We made it to the airport and I went to check in while Al sat at a power point charging my phone. I got my boarding pass and burst into tears. It had 7:30 printed on it and my flight was supposed to be at 8 so I was freaking out that if I had been later I wouldn’t have made it home and now I was going to have far less time than I thought to actually get to the plane. Eventually we had another a look at my flight was still leaving at 8; I had to be at the gate at 7:30. Deep breaths were had and calming down was starting to happen. We unplugged the phone because I was still worried about being late. We headed through security and to the gate for my flight….

My flight wasn’t listed there. Queue complete freak out and puddle of tears. Al went and asked what was going on. My flight had been moved to gate ten. We started to head to gate ten and then there was an announcement saying my flight had been moved to gate 13. Queue more freaking out. We headed toward gate 13. There was another announcement saying it was back at gate 10. We got there. I was in complete freaking out inconsolable crying point. Al went and spoke to the lady behind the counter that I had an acquired brain injury and didn’t cope with sudden changes and then consequently I was a wreck. They decided to board me first. The flight crew were fantastic and couldn’t do enough to make me as calm and comfortable as possible. I had calmed down considerably by the time we got back to Brisbane. Baggage was retrieved. Husband picked me up very quickly and we headed home.

I was so utterly exhausted physically emotionally and mentally when I got home, I didn’t really unpack and we went to bed. I think it was -30 seconds before I fell sleep… Kim had to wake me up to get on the bed properly. I didn’t wake up until 11:30 this morning.

I am very much hoping that then next instalment will be far less dramatic. It just goes to show that even 3 years and 9 months after surgery, my brain still has a lot of healing to do and that I am really going to have to cut myself some slack and stop feeling like a complete idiot.. I’ll have to put in the ‘special circumstances’ section of flight booking that I do have an ABI. I am inspired to go back to study but I don’t know yet if I will be ready to do that. We will see what happens.