Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dr. Quack Quack and My Departure From Looney Bin 1

The next morning, I finally got a chance to see the psychiatrist. I had learned from the other patients that there were two psychiatrists who were responsible for treating the psych ward. The patients largely preferred one over the other. Guess which one I saw? Yep, the one no one liked. And with good reason, I found out.

In the middle of a boring group meeting, I was called out to see the doctor. A nurse escorted me to his office. The office was a barren white room with no decoration and only basic furniture. The doctor was a dour looking older man, probably in his sixties. I sat down and he reviewed what few notes he had on me. He asked me why I was there and I tried to explain my situation. About two sentences into my monologue, he interrupted me and began to ask questions about my background. He started off with where I lived and then asked if I had a high school education. I told him that I not only had a high school diploma, I also had a college diploma and a Master's Degree. He was visibly surprised. Not a good sign. He continued to be visibly surprised when he asked about my husband and my family background and I explained that my husband is a software engineer, my mother a teacher, and my father an engineer and dean at a prestigious university. Apparently this was not what he expected to hear.

He continued to question me along the same lines, just getting background information. He never asked how I felt during my pregnancy, never asked about my current symptoms or how I felt about Ladybug. He never mentioned postpartum depression. Not one of his questions addressed postpartum issues.

After all his questions, he leaned back in his chair and told me he thought my problem was that I was bipolar. I immediately protested and told him that I absolutely did not think I was bipolar. I explained that I had seen more than one psychiatrist before, had been hospitalized before and no one thought I was bipolar. He asked if I had ever engaged in wild behavior or stayed up all night. Well, yes in college, just like a multitude of other college students do. Apparently that was confirmation enough for him. I was most definitely bipolar.

I later learned that almost all psych patients seen at this hospital are bipolar and many are indigent. Apparently Dr. Quack Quack was thrown for a loop by the appearance of someone that did not fit these criteria and didn't know what to make of me. So, he just fell back on his usual spiel. It is true that a certain percentage of PPD patients are bipolar, but many more are not and I gave him absolutely no reason to think I was bipolar. He just didn't know what else to say.

At this point I was pretty irritated. My irritation turned to full-blown anger with his next statement. He asked me which antidepressants I had been on prior to this and I explained that I had been on Effexor and absolutely did not want to take it or anything like it again due to the horrible withdrawal side effects. I also told him that I have Interstitial Cystitis and can not take anything that would interact with those medications or anything that would cause urinary retention.
He replied to this with, "You know, Interstitial Cystitis did not exist 20 years ago and now you hear it all the time. I don't know where it came from but I think it's funny that all of a sudden people think they have it. Makes me wonder what their real problem is."

This made me LIVID and further pointed out what an idiot this guy was. For years ignorant, mostly male, doctors have told women they are imagining IC symptoms and that it was their nerves. In the past ten to fifteen years, there finally has been acknowledgement that it is a real and serious condition about which little is known and for which there is no cure. Research money is finally being put in to studying the condition. I am lucky in that one of the top IC-focused urologists in the country practices at UT Medical Center. To insinuate that this very painful condition is not real really pissed me off.

I assured Dr. Quack Quack that it was indeed a very real condition and I had undergone a cystoscopy which confirmed the diagnosis and that I was under very real treatment for the condition. He just grumbled more.

He prescribed Cymbalta and told me to think about his diagnosis and that he would see me tomorrow. Once I got home, I read the information on Cymbalta and learned that not only is it very similar to Effexor, which I did not want to take, but it also causes urinary retention. The two things I said I did not want. Dr. Quack Quack was totally incompetent.

I walked out of that office angry and slightly panicked. We had come here for help and it did not look like I was going to get it here. Worse, I had to rely on this doctor to get me out of this place. I immediately called home and explained the situation to Big B and to my mom. They adamently disagreed with the doctor and we decided that I had better do what I had to to get out of there so we could find better treatment.

The rest of the day, I talked with other patients and thought about what Dr. Quack Quack had said. By the time evening rolled around, I was half-convinced that maybe I was bipolar. Another phone call home assured me that I was not. I decided that in order to get out of there, I had better just go along with the doctor and try to get released as soon as possible. Big B and my mom were going to try to look into getting me in to see another doctor or even in to another hospital. My mother thought perhaps she and my father could help us pay for a different program since our insurance did not give us any other option.

The following day, I met with Dr. Quack Quack again and told him that I agreed that perhaps I was bipolar. He seemed happy with this and said he thought that if I signed up for the hospital's outpatient program, that I could be released the next day. I agreed and he sent the director in to see me. She explained that the outpatient program consisted of daily sessions on job training, positive thinking, coordination of social services, and life skills. Again, not at all what I needed but I had to go along with it. I promised her I would attend the day after I was released, knowing full well I would not.

I was released from the program the following day and Big B came to pick me up. We got in the car and rode in silence for the first few minutes. Then Big B said to me that he hoped I had enjoyed my vacation.
What??? Vacation?

I don't call three days in a psych ward a vacation. He continued on in a very spiteful, angry manner and a huge argument ensued. He was angry at me for leaving him to take care of everything while I was having a breakdown. He was angry that everything was on his shoulders. He thought depression was selfish and I was choosing to be depressed. I basically needed to just get over myself, he said.

All of this , of course, threw me into hysterics. Here I was, just leaving the hospital after receiving no help, and he starts berating me and telling me just to get over it. I screamed and cried all the way home. I was back to where I was before entering the hospital, only worse because now I knew that I had virtually no support from my husband.


Suzy said...

Ugh. I get so worked up and angry when it comes to incompetent doctors. The bad ones are so incredibly disappointing. I'm glad your husband eventually came around (I hope). I took Effexor in the beginning of my PPD and the withdrawl symptoms were horrible...it literally took months to get over them.

This is great Liz. It helps remind me how much can change...it's 5 years for me.

Liz said...

Effexor is horrible! I will never ever take it again. Did you get the weird electric tingles in your eyes?

I would not say my husband came around, unfortunately. We made it through and I like to think he would handle things differently is something like it ever happened again. It still remains a disappointment in my mind, but you have to go on.

I would love to hear your PPD story..

TC said...

20 years ago I'm not sure bi-polar existed.

Danielle said...

I continue to read and am anxious to read your next post. Although I must tell you it makes me sad to read since I am your SIL, a mother and your friend. I wish I knew more of what was going on so I could have offered more support. I feel like I let you down in some way by not being there.

Liz said...

That's sweet Danielle , but it's not your fault in any way. You WERE very supportive. In fact, I talked (or emailed!) to you more than almost anyone and I can think of at least one situation in which you were super, super supportive when it would have been easy for you not to have been because of how we are related. So, no worries.

Though, if you wanted to make it up to me, you could just not move to AZ. Ha ha.

Debra said...

I just found your blog. I have 5 kids. I had mild PPD after the first child. Got on meds after the second child and have never been off of them since. My dr recommended that I stop having children. I accidently got preggo with #3. i stayed on meds and the post partum period was ok. My dh was home for 5 weeks to help me out. We decided to have Him have a vasectomy to make sure it did not happen again. The dr he went to, has a 3 month wait policy to make sure you do not want more kids. 2 months into that wait, I got pregnant again.. WITH TWINS! no twins run in my family or DH's. I do love my twins (they are 16 months old) but it was the worst time of my life. I ended with with PPS like you had. I had no help. Dh was off work for 3 weeks, but had to go back to his 12 hr days. My mom only came for 2 days. The twins were preemies too. I have only recently come off of Risperdal. I am on Effexor and it works very well for me.

There were SO many times I would rage at my Dh, my 3 older kids would get most of it. There were times that I would try to drive my van into a telephone pole. My dh was and is the most supportive person in my life. I could not have lived without him. When we had no money, he hired help for me to help care for the kids in the afternoon. We put groceries and gas on the credit cards and paid the nanny the cash. It was the only way I could survive. I felt like an awful mom. My nanny or my DH could handle the 5 kids by themselves, yet I, the mother could not.

I am getting better. But I miss my old self. I fear I will never be the same again.

Kamila said...

Hi Liz, I'm dumbfounded how similar our stories are. I'm 33, brand new nurse and a brand new mom and it all happened withing 2 weeks. I gave birth one week before my finals. I felt what you describe, have been hospitalized, but luckily my psychiatrist was not so stupid. Anyways I THANK YOU very much for writing this. It helps me a lot to go on and hope for better future. I'm on Zoloft and Abilify. I'm doing better. My boy is 8 months now.