Hospital following an OD: Day 1

Wednesday night. I took an overdose of paracetamol. Again. Oops. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was definitely an overdose and a larger amount of paracetamol than I had ever taken before.

I woke up early in the morning, at about 3am, and felt incredibly nauseous. Eventually I fell asleep again and at about 6:30am, I woke up. Most of the nausea had subsided but I was still afraid at what I had done. After consulting some of my Twitter friends, I was advised that yes, I should seek medical advice. Firstly I called up the GP I had seen to get my Mental Health Plan done. Found out from the receptionist that he had moved practices, none of the other GPs there were taking new patients. Called up two other GP practices, none of them had appointments available for that day either. I was about to give up, thinking, ‘Yeah, my liver will be fine,’ but I was also afraid of the possibility that my liver wasn’t fine, that I had done some serious damage. I called the Poisons Information Centre knowing they would say, ‘Go to hospital,’ but if I was going to turn up at the Emergency Department, I had to have some justification for it, someone had sent me there. Sure enough, I was told to go to hospital. This time however, the lady on the other end was somewhat helpful, she asked my weight, age and how much paracetamol I had taken and told me the amount I had taken was in fact toxic. She told me about liver failure and liver transplants and asked me rather patronisingly, ‘You don’t want that to happen to you, do you?’ ‘Umm…not really…’ I replied.

Took myself to the Emergency Department at a public hospital at about 11:30am on the Thursday. Told the nurse at Triage why I was there, what I had taken. I was then told to get up on the trolley bed, and wheeled to the Emergency Ward. A hospital gown was given to me to wear, one of the ones that open at the back and don’t even cover half your arse. I was given an ECG and the results were fine as expected, paracetamol doesn’t affect your heart after all.

I was taken care of mostly by the nurses, but of course, the doctor was the person who was actually in charge of my treatment. He came and asked me some questions, and based on the amount I took, when I took it and my weight, he decided to proceed with an intravenous infusion of antidote while awaiting the results of my blood test. I was told that if my blood work came back fine, the medicine would be stopped. A cannula was inserted into my arm, from which my blood was taken from, then I was connected to an IV bag.

The cannula inserted in my arm

During this time, my mother called, asking where I was. It wasn’t yet known to her I was in hospital. I didn’t quite tell her the whole truth, just that I was getting my blood tested. I honestly, honestly thought my bloods were going to come back fine, I would have the cannula taken out and would be home the very same day, without my parents ever finding out the real story. Little did I know how wrong I would be…

The doctor came to tell me that he had spoken to ‘Mental Health’ and because I was under the care of my psychiatrist already, and had an appointment scheduled for the next day, someone from the Mental Health Team wouldn’t be seeing me after all, contrary to what I had been told initially.

While the medicine was dripping into my veins, my face started burning up. Some of the nurses noticed, and my drip was stopped, while they speculated that I may be having an allergic reaction to the medicine. ‘How funny,’ I thought, ‘Out of all things to be allergic to, it had to be paracetamol antidote.’

The doctor was consulted again, and it turned out I was having an anaphylactoid reaction as opposed to an anaphylactic reaction, which is a true allergic reaction. So it was determined that the drip would continue, just at a slower rate, and I was given an anti-histamine tablet to take. I was also told that I would have to continue the full course of treatment after all, because my bloods had come back and the paracetamol levels were high enough that it would be required. They started the drip at about 1pm, this meant that the drip would have to continue until about 10am the next day. Up to this point, I hadn’t shed any tears, no emotions, no nothing, but upon hearing that news, I cried then. I cried for the fear and knowledge that I had in fact done enough damage to warrant the full course of treatment. ‘What have you done?’ I asked myself.

I still quite couldn’t digest he fact that I’d have to stay overnight in hospital. I had brought nothing except my wallet, my mobile, an iPod, a drink bottle and the clothes on my back. I put off telling my mother, thinking that there may still be a chance what I took isn’t a toxic amount after all, and I’d be discharged soon. No such luck.

My mother called me again, and I had to admit to her I was in hospital, and would have to stay overnight. ‘What have you done?’ she asked me. ‘Umm…I took too many paracetamol,’ I admitted.

I was moved to the observation ward of the Emergency Department, where it was quieter. Nothing much to do, except lay there, read some magazines, listen to my iPod or go on my mobile while letting the antidote drip into me. I was able to go on Twitter from my mobile phone, and was very grateful to be able to read people’s replies to me while I was feeling a bit lonely while on the ward.

At about 7pm, one of the hospital psychiatrists came to talk to me. I guess ‘Mental Health’ changed their mind after all. He asked the usual questions and was decent enough a guy as far as psychiatrists go, though I couldn’t really find the words to talk to him about what was going on. He deemed me ‘safe’ enough to go home from a psychiatric point of view, though he wanted to talk to my Mum first. Shortly afterwards, my parents arrived.

Talking to parents post self harm or suicide attempt is never easy, and this was no exception. My father’s comments didn’t help either, ‘How could you do something so stupid?!’ and ‘You’re nearly 19, you should know better.’ I started crying again, for the second time that day.

The psychiatrist talked to my Mum, and told her that if she’s happy for me to go home with them, he’s happy to discharge me, from a psychiatric view. I almost laughed at this gem from him though,

“There are some aspects of her personality that she needs to sort out.”

Ha! Female, numerous overdoses, of course it means I have ‘personality problems’, hey? *Eye roll.*

Though I was cleared psychiatrically, medically I wasn’t fine to go home. In fact, while my Mother was there, a new IV bag was put in, to be dripped into my arm for the next 16 hours. And so, my parents went to go home, and I was left to stay my first night ever in the medical ward of a hospital.

Day 2 to be written soon…

19 thoughts on “Hospital following an OD: Day 1

  1. I hope you are feeling a little better now. I have been in your situation though without the parents. Paracetamol is not very good in high doses, as you probably know by now. Not that any tablet is good to OD on. I hope you get home safe and sound. Be gentle with yourself.

  2. Gosh you have had quite an ordeal…I’m sending lots of hugs your way. It must have been a scary experience for you, especially being alone for much of it. I’m sorry about your father’s response…I’m sure he and your mum were/are very worried/concerned, but parents are often a bit clueless when it comes to expressing these things sensitively and compassionately.

    Like Sarah says, be kind to yourself.


    Sarah x

  3. I’m glad you didn’t give up, and relieved that you went to hospital.

    I’m afraid I disagree with Sarah though. There is no way for any parent to express his fear and concerns sensitively and compassionately when confronted with the frightening possibility that his daughter might have died.

    I think I would have been more worried if your dad had been calm and accepting.

    Please take care of yourself. I don’t know why you OD-ed, though I can guess what some of the contributing factors were. I know you’ve been seeing psychiatrists and councillors on and off, but perhaps the best person in the best position to talk to you is yourself.

    It took me a long time to realise and recognise that I was my best friend, that no one is ever going to be there for me the way I can be there for myself.


  4. I am sorry to hear this happened. It is definitely really hard telling parents what has happened afterwards. I had an allergic reaction to the paracetamol antidote the first time I was in hospital following an OD too – all of me went bright red, and they had to put some type of anti-histamine into the IV as well (I was still throwing up, so a tablet wouldn’t have been any good). I had forgotten all about that until I read your post. I hope you are feeling a bit better now. xxx

  5. Oh my goodness. I’m sorry you had/have to go through this. Was this a suicide attempt? If it was then I urge you to talk to someone about it even if the psychiatrist at the ER said you were okay to go home.

    Wishing you well,

  6. I’m so glad you decided to go to the ER. You are braver than most. I’m sorry your dad made such harsh comments. Perhaps they were a gut reaction without thinking it through. As pathetic as it sounds, sometimes I think the people who “get” us the most are the people who’ve been through or done the same stuff. Other people just don’t get it, it seems.

    Very glad you are okay. Lots of love & hugs!

  7. HUGS!
    I’m so sorry to read about this. Know that you are loved and supported by a lot of people and you will get through this.
    Glad that you went to hospital,
    Much Love
    Bron xo

  8. btw need to add somthing else that bugged me when I read your blog post and have been thinking about since, the thing that psychiatrist said about your “personality” is complete crap. Can’t believe drs have such bizarre misconceptions still. People with borderline personality disorder quite often attempt suicide, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who does attempt suicide has a personality disorder. Hope your looking after yourself well and feeling a bit more positive about living at least. much love

  9. Its like reading one of my own posts! Last year i overdosed on paracetamol all the time and constantly had to go on the parvolex drip. I too was allergic to it and was given antihistimenes and also some hydrocortizone as i was itching really bad.
    Exactly the same as well with regards to parents. I made excuse after excuse until i knew i couldnt hide it any longer that i was in hospital. I cant hide the fact now because i have my puppy and if im in hospital my parents need to go get her to look after her. My pup is sitting next to me on bed just now cleaning her paws. I love her so much and wonder how i can do this to her.

  10. Hi there i hope you are doing ok hun i had a overdose of reglan metlacopramide 20 tablets on wednesday night and it was the scariest thing i would ever go through i went to see my mental health nurse and i rang mum at work letting her know what happened when i got to mental health she said ring an amublance now you need to go to hospital she sat me in a room by myself and ambulance arrived to me to hospital the did my bloods that came back fine but everything around me is really slow im not sure if thats from the overdose but a nurse told me its just extreme tiredness do you think i will be ok im really quite worried and dont like that feeling

  11. People that OD on purpose are selfish, self centered people that need a reality check. Your father should have said a lot more like explaining much pain, scare and agony you put him and your family through. If you had taken the time to work on yourself previously to learn how to cope, then you would not be trying to hurt yourself now in an attempt to end your pain or act out with attention seeking behavior. Im a dad sitting in an ER right now bcz my som chose to OD bcx was not given permission to stayat a friends house for the weekend. Immature, selfish behavior, I wish I could kick ass instead of all the touchy feely BS programs, therapy and counseling we have tried.

  12. To the dad who claims how selfish it is to overdose, walk in my shoes. show your son the help and support he needs.

    I have taken 12 overdoses in last year, only last night I took 12 paracetamol in 4 hours rather than than the 2 I was supposed to have.
    I tried ringing my crisis team today but got no reply
    I didn’t go see a doctor yet as I don’t want to tell family what I did.
    I am feeling not too well still and dreading hospitalisation will be mentioned again as I took a staggered od of prescription meds two weeks ago.
    It’s a tough road.

  13. If told my doctor three years ago I wanted to die but didn’t want to commit suicide. It took them 6 months to say they can arrange a visit to a shrink. That took 3 months. So 9 months later I had tried suicide 3 times. The shrink refered m ebadk to the doctors even though I had borderline personality disorder. I’m now self harming and taking small doses of Tylenol about 29 to 30 a day. It’s been three years now and I’ve had no real help. I hope I die, the mental pain is too much

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