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.
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…