Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Day My Tongue Went Crazier Than Me

I was having a difficult day in hospital - I was hearing Darth Vader again, and having intrusive thoughts of self-harm, so a nurse gave me a powerful antipsychotic called haloperidol (or "haldol").

My friends found me in the lounge, unfocused and drooling a bit. I wanted to work on a puzzle with Tom watching (he was still catatonic at that point, with his silent, annoying security guard), but I couldn't see straight. My head was floating and my arms and legs felt like logs. Janice, a manic and extremely happy patient, was concerned. She gave me a hug and said, "sorry they had to give you that shit."

Then something strange happened. My tongue started to move. Just a little at first, then more and more. I tried to speak, but all that came out were gutteral sounds. Amber the stalker walked by, then quickly left. (This was after the magic trick stunt, so I'm sure that this only confirmed that I was demon spawn).

I staggered to the nursing station. Out of all the nurses, 99.9% were great. The two at the station represented the other 0.1%. Fantastic - what were the odds. I tried to speak, but couldn't at all. My head started pointing up, and my tongue was wagged around, lewdly sticking out of my mouth.

"Oh, stop it," said nurse #1.

"We know you're faking," said nurse #2.

"Faking what?" I thought.

"There's no way you could have tardive dyskinesia, D'Arcy. I'm sure you looked it up. You haven't been on antipsychotics nearly long enough. It takes years. Now go away."

By then I was desperate. I couldn't speak. I couldn't look down. I was having trouble breathing. I had no idea what tardive dyskinesia was, but it sounded scary. So I just stood there.

"Leave, please!"

I held my ground, tongue waggling.

"We're going to call the Head Nurse!"

I couldn't nod yes, because my neck was stuck, so I just stood there, relieved that somebody else was on the way.

The head nurse did show up, and said "it will be okay. We're going to give you a pill called Cogentin, and it will make this stop."

They got a tiny white pill into me, and within ten minutes I could talk and move my head around.

It turns out that in extremely rare cases, "tardive dyskinesia" (which manifests itself in involuntary movements and can be fatal) can occur in a patient after only a few doses of particular antipsychotic medications. (I had won the "tardive dyskinesia lottery.")

It hurt to be accused of faking, especially when I would have done anything to get out and go home.

But on the plus side, I had learned two great new Scrabble words. I will be waiting the rest of my life to have a "dysesia" on my rack, and for someone to play "kin."

Mental note: Once you know you react poorly to a medication, make sure that you let your advocates know so that you never get it again.


Dana said...

So scary. Those nurses were assholes.

D'Arcy said...

Yep! Out of probably thirty or forty nurses who worked on that ward, they were the only two that I didn't like. The rest were gems. Those two needed to choose a different line of work. (But not the library!)

D'Arcy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana said...

Hey, D'Arc! Start a game of facebook scrabble with me. I'll try to play kin as much as possible. Really. Let's do it. :)