This past weekend was a much needed respite from the craziness that ensued after my Mom was in the hospital. A week ago, my Mom went to the hospital because of a bad reaction to her RA (rheumatoid arthritis) medication (methotrexate). Of course any time she has to go into the hospital this interferes with all her other meds... that means she didn't have her lithium... and a Bipolar person without their lithium just becomes a fucking crazy person. She wasn't straight up hallucinating like last fall when she was in the hospital, but she was definitely manic. What some people don't realize about manic episodes is that sometimes the person just gets intensely happy. In the hospital, she was so excited! She just kept talking about plans and getting healthy and how I was going to have two little girls (she tells me that she dreams of my two daughters and asks me what I'm going to name them...). The doc at the hospital told us before we took her home that she needed 24-hour supervision until she saw her psychiatrist. This was on a Wednesday night. So the next day, I left work early and went with her and Juliet to two doctors appointments.
First was her psychiatrist, Dr. Monasifi. We were worked in on short notice so I can understand why we would have to see a nurse practitioner instead of her normal doctor. What I don't understand is how this NP, who claims she sees my mom when her doc can't, didn't even know my mom's name. She kept calling her Mary, which is my mother's legal first name, but no one, I mean no one calls her that. When my sister said to the NP (Evelyn) "Her name is Elizabeth," we were met with a rude stare and a sigh. While I'm sure Evelyn is super duper busy, is it so much to ask someone who works in a psychiatric office to take a minute and learn the name of the patient they are about to perscribe mood altering substances too?! Especially since my mom's lithium levels were toxic when she was admitted into the hospital. Needless to say, Evelyn was less than helpful and told us my mom would continue to need 24 hour supervision. We asked her how long mom might need to be supervised. "Well I can't read the future..." We asked her how long until mom would adjust to the new med she gave us to try out. "I just don't know, I can't read the future..." We asked her if there were any services that might be able to help us. "There are no services that are going to provide what you need..." The appointment felt like a big waste of time. At one point I was telling Evelyn what the doctor at the hospital had told me about mom's meds and she said to me, "well he's not a psychiatrist..." Uhm, in case you hadn't noticed, you're a damn nurse practitioner!
The second appointment totally made up for the first. At her RA doc office, it seemed like every single person we saw knew my mom and asked how she was and made small talk. My mom is on a first name basis with her Rheumatologist, Cheryl. Cheryl was patient, sweet and more than happy to answer all of our questions. She told Julie and I she had heard all about us. She offered to contact the hospital and get details on my mom's reaction to the methotrexate she prescribed. Cheryl, if you're out there reading this: you and your staff really gave us renewed hope that we can make this work. I can't even describe my happiness at seeing mom treated like a regular person. I felt like we dealt with everything that's wrong with mental health care at the first appointment, but the second one showed me that it doesn't have to be that way.
So for now, mom has leveled out some. We're keeping a close eye on her, but we just can't supervise her 24 hours a day. Frequent visits will have to do. Her mood is good, she's eating, that's all we can ask for.