Why I Always Bring My Medication List To The Hospital

I am a human being with significant mental and physical illnesses and I take a variety of medication types for them. As a result, I recently spent two weeks hospitalized at the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders and Severe Malnutrition. 

While there, my mood was like that of being on the famous Kingda Ka roller coaster in New Jersey, USA. One minute, I was sobbing, my eyes dry; the next, I’d be so rageful I wanted to hurt the people trying to help me. An hour later, I was laughing, but seconds later, I would be suicidal.

This roller coaster of emotions made me feel like I was going insane. I thought, “How in the world am I going to go home from here and be okay when I’m not even okay here with 24/7 care?”

Recovery felt impossible. 

I am not an angry person. But while there, I felt rage that was so intense that I was afraid I might act upon my thoughts. I was paranoid — diagnostically paranoid — thinking the doctors at ACUTE were withholding the electrolytes in my IV nutrition (TPN) so that I couldn’t leave, even if I wanted to. I was convinced they were intentionally harming me to make it medically necessary to keep me against my will. I’ve only ever had these paranoid thoughts before my bipolar disorder diagnosis years ago. 

On my last day at ACUTE, I was packing my bags, and it hit me…. The nurses had neglected to give me my antipsychotic medication for the whole two weeks I was there. There has only been one time since being on my antipsychotic medication that I tried tapering down to see if it was essential. And that trial landed me in the hospital for psychosis. 

How could the top eating disorder hospital in the world make such a significant oversight? 

I had written out a list of all my medications, disorders, and diagnoses and shared it with the whole ACUTE team. And yet they missed the one medication that keeps me sane (literally). 

Once I realized this colossal mistake, I asked to speak with the doctor. Her apology was half-assed at best. She chalked it up to me not remembering to bring all my home medications in their bottles upon admission. However, the intake coordinators explicitly told me NOT to bring my home medications except for three that they didn’t carry in their pharmacy. 

How can a medical hospital that treats patients with mental health issues make such a big mistake? 

The two weeks that I was hospitalized were the most challenging two weeks of my life. I have been to treatment centers 14 times, sometimes for up to 7 months inpatient and an additional six months in partial hospitalization. Some of these admissions were helpful, but many were traumatizing and extremely dangerous. 

At ACUTE, I felt like I was flipping upside down, turning sharp corners, dropping hundreds of feet, falling out of the air, and having the wheels come off the tracks. It was pure hell. And it was all because of a single pill that ACUTE overlooked. 

Now that I’m home and back on my antipsychotic medication, my mood is stable. 

I feel joy, as well as anger again, but it’s manageable. I feel sadness too. But the tears don’t last for hours. I feel confident in my abilities to recover from my severe and enduring eating disorder, and I feel hope for my future.

There is no shame in needing to take medication for a mental health diagnosis. Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain, an organ in the body. So, blaming the victim is unacceptable. It’s inexcusable to think that just because you are a hotshot doctor at the top eating disorder hospital in the world, you know best. And not to apologize appropriately is abuse. 

I have learned that it is not enough to make a list of medications I take daily and give them to the professionals taking care of me. 

I learned I cannot trust medical facilities to read the list carefully. It’s not even enough to have my doctors send my medication list to the hospital. If you or a loved one needs to be hospitalized for a mental health crisis, bring ALL your medications in their bottles, even if the doctors say you don’t need to. Being taken off critical medication can be life-threatening and dangerous.

ACUTE has the best intentions, as do most hospitals and facilities, but they make mistakes, too. So you have to be your advocate. You have to ask the nurses exactly what medications you are being given. You have to have a list by your hospital bed and check that they give you exactly what you need because even the best doctors in the world make mistakes that are detrimental to your life.

Don’t ever take medication blindly without asking what they are. And if you’re on a long list of medications, bring a checklist for yourself so that if they miss something, you don’t suffer needlessly.

Featured image via Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

1 COMMENT

  1. It seems like it id serious. It might also be a good idea to plan your next steps. By the way, when I aquired ivermectin in Chile, everything was well-organized and there were no issues with the prescription or import, as it was for pesonal use.

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