As I was in the hospital for the homeless and the nuthouse in New York
First you need to talk about the reason for my hospitalization: I swallowed the glass. A decent piece of this size. I do not know how it happened, or just do not remember. I'm not even sure that it was the glass that was swallowed, and the doctors are not sure that it ever was, but more on that later. At first, I felt a hard object somewhere behind the uvula, but in an attempt to pick it up with a toothbrush and a ballpoint pen, I pushed it somewhere further down the throat. The glass was very deep and did not move. About a dozen times in a couple of hours I caused vomiting, which did not bring results, and then I palpated my neck and found the glass in my trachea.
It became difficult to breathe, the thought arose to ask for help, pull him out and fall asleep. I rushed to the computer - to buy insurance. Realizing that they are not able to issue it today (insurers are not fools), it is useful to look for anatomical atlases. Googled some PDF describing a maneuver to extract foreign bodies from the respiratory throat, lay down on a chair with a stomach, hung his head and, irrigating a thin trickle of blood on the kitchen floor, began to take out "Aaaaaaaa!" on the neck with your fingers and slowly moving the piece of glass to the exit.
For ten minutes I, millimeter by millimeter, pushed the unfortunate piece of glass towards the mouth, but at the very last moment, not having time to hook it with my fingers, I swallowed reflexively. Glass with pain and tangible resistance went down the esophagus ...
Intuitively, I chose the hospital Bellevue - This is the oldest operating hospital in the United States, the first morgue in the city, and a special contingent: 80% of patients cannot afford even the simplest insurance. For some, it is not allowed at all - it is illegal.
In addition, here is the best in the city emergency room - It was to this hospital that Tupac was sent after the assassination attempt in 1994. Then three unknown people threw 5 bullets into it (2 got into the head, 2 into the groin, and one pierced through and stuck in the thigh). The rapper was operated on, and he, despite attempts to stop him, escaped from the ward after 3 hours.
I called a taxi, threw a dirty home jacket, stuck my feet in my sneakers, and in one motion, without looking, dared off everything in the backpack from the table. I completely lost my speech, so in emergency roomwhere I traveled for half an hour to traffic jams, talked like a dumb - through papers and notes that I dialed in the phone.
In general, the American health care system greeted me coolly: I literally crawled on my lap in my home clothes, wheezed because I could not breathe, I spit blood and saliva in sandwich bag with a ziplock, turned off a couple of times and went limp, sinking to the floor, and an endless line was watching phlegmatically behind this.
When I attempted to crawl into the ER, some medical assistants ran out, chasing me with rags and shouting shoo-shoo. Consciousness began to collapse. Crawled back.
Formed, fingers pointed to the throat and the window glass.
Emergency room it looked like a big gym, on all four sides conditionally divided by curtains into the chambers (he could hold about 60 people at the same time). The island is centered - doctors work behind the racks.
I was x-rayed twice and stuffed probes into my nose. They found air in the body cavity, because my esophagus was torn apart. By evening, was taken to the ward. Students came all the time (this is also a training hospital at New York University).
For some reason everyone smiled and looked at each other, studying my history.
I do not eat the first few days, I sit on droppers. Pressure and temperature come to measure every three hours. Urine and blood are taken once a day.
Conditions - like in a hotel. In the drawer is a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. Phone with a translator, as in the Kremlin. TV, fresh disposable pajamas with socks.
And what a view from the window: above the surrounding buildings rises Empire State Building, and thousands of central Manhattan windows glisten in the sun! In the evening, the picture turned into a fascinating backdrop to Saturday Night Live - Yes, not even every five star hotel has such a view.
Nearby is a homeless grandfather. It's funny that hospitals for the homeless in New York are about the same as Moscow hospitals for VIPs. Service - at the level of a good sanatorium in Europe, just as good. I even find it hard to imagine the magnificence of the patients of a more prestigious hospital, such as Mount sinai.
The staff is very polite: apologize, thank you (I already began to suspect that I had a fatal diagnosis, but they did not tell me about it). They take blood - “thank you, thank you”, pull the hand to measure pressure - “thanks, thank you” ... rearrange the dropper - “sorry, please”. Magazines? Morning newspapers? Do you leave the lights on or off? Do you want the linen to be freshly changed? On the sixth floor beauty salon, do not want to shave? Wi-Fi, laundry, even a souvenir shop. And this is a hospital where homeless people are trying to go: lie down there, eat, watch TV - well, like my roommate.
There are days coming — psychiatrists are also coming to me. Asian interns from NYU. I tidy up the legs for myself, I fold my head to the side, I complain in a quiet voice that I don’t remember how I ate the glass, and generally give me more zanax and send it home already.
The next day, the conversations were already more serious, they took the phones of their parents and friends.
It turned out that I can take my antidepressants and benzics from them for free, but on condition that I will be monitored at their own department.
Yes, at such a table (they started feeding me already) and the service I am ready to live with them in the clinic all the time. I will leave then healthy, like a dumpling.
The food is really very good: French toast, pancakes, cheese omelette for breakfast. For lunch and dinner - luxurious mittlofs, jerk chicken, cod for a couple ... For each portion, bread and spread for him, milk, coffee and dessert are served. For some reason, they never give salt, but sugar is four packets each. Meals may not be repeated for several weeks.
Now we have a guard of honor in the ward, like a mausoleum. There were no doctors, I really wanted to go home, where the flowers died and waited 6-pack cold mexican beer in the fridge. And there is a roof overlooking the crossroads in Chinatown.
And then the shocking news: it turns out, the guards are assigned to me. While the guard was dozing off, I leafed through his papers: they write about me that I am “suicidal” and “prone to escape” (as I learned the word elopement, which is usually called lovers, escaped from their relatives to get married).
I decided to make friends with my warden. Justin is a tall black man with a bored face. He was 30 years old, and he accidentally turned out to be a nurse in a mental hospital. In general, he likes to take pictures, but so far he has to make money here. His task is to record my every movement: “woke up”, “at the computer”, “sits in bed and looks at the wall”, “independently disconnected himself from the drip”, etc. Last, by the way, I mastered it masterfully - even, probably , and I can put a dropper if necessary. Until Monday, he says, they definitely won't let me go: there are no doctors. I categorically disagree with this - doctors told me on Friday that I cleared to go.
I called the Russian consulate - they answered that they could not solve anything until Monday. The Israeli phone is not picked up: Shabbat.
On Sunday I ordered food from Teremka. Justin was terrified of kvass, but he understood the dumplings and pancakes with understanding. Tomorrow is an important day: the medical board will decide on my transfer to the psychiatric ward. Justin says that there is very bad there - they will take away the computer and the phone and will deprive me of a free visit.
Straitjackets are no longer used, but can be tied to a bed or driven into a punishment cell. He told his overseer about the darknet - he was sitting a little shocked, he thought that it was a fiction of television.
In 5 days, I have 28. I hope for leniency and amnesty (looking ahead, I will say that I spent the “childhood holiday” in a psychiatric hospital).
I received a paper on the statement. With a happy scream I dress. I collect things and fly out of the chamber. The nurses are already guarding me: “You cannot go anywhere, you must wait for the doctors”. Trying to run to the elevators.
The floor spreads: “Crisis management team, crisis management team!”- The 15 personnel appear. I fight them like a lion, but I give up being squeezed into a corner.
One of the psychiatrists played in a kind policeman and in a trusting tone explained to me that on the floor above me they were waiting for exciting activities, karaoke parties and music classes - so fascinating that even he, if he had time, would love to attend them.
They put me in a gurney, and with a retinue of doctors and police, I set off on a stage on the 18 floor - to the psychiatric ward. Locks rumble, bolts, I am transported by several watchmen (they were even in elevators) and rolled into Ward 18 West.
Several psychos, who were slowly dragging their feet, like the zombies of George Romero, froze and stared at me with a dull look. One of them came very close and asked me to give him my sneakers.
Then I realized that I was hit. The doctor suggested that I “relax in the lounge while they make me up,” to which I answered in a whisper: “Man, I'm scared as fuck, please sedate me somehow". They give me a beautiful turquoise tablet, and after 20 minutes it becomes easier.
Then what I was afraid of happened: the orderlies began to gut my backpack. They took away the laptop, the phone (half an hour before that, in a paranoid fit, I deleted the messengers and put everything in with my fingerprint). Under the inventory seized charging and headphones. They were not allowed to leave notebooks (because of the metal wire that held the pages together) and a fountain pen (apparently, so that they would not make seppuku). The razors were also taken away (and why are they needed where instead of a mirror there is a scratched and curved sheet of metal, which still does not reflect anything). It was a bit embarrassing to explain what cock ring and how to use it (especially since I didn’t know myself - I just showed with a gesture what was happening), but the worst happened at the end. By a miraculous accident, I was the first to see in the backpack an item that would definitely lengthen the period of my stay in the department. I instantly closed the inner pocket of the bag and enthusiastically signed the form with the list of seized property.
I was dressed up in a robe, my shoes were taken away (they could have returned it without shoelaces, but the attending physician's approval was required, and this was the 2 – 3 of the day of waiting - this was the bureaucracy) and was taken to the bed, which was a hard plastic bunk with rings, where people go straps for tying.
My doctor, a charming Indian with a beautiful name Nikita, looks at me with her huge black eyes and calmly reports that they have not found any glass. Found nothing at all. I just tore my throat with a toothbrush. Acute psychosis - we will drink neuroleptics.
I argue, but it looks like I'm lying.
In general, in the nuthouse terribly boring. As a teenager, I was afraid to go to the army or jail, but I did not expect to be in such a specific American medical institution. As in the zone, in a psychiatric ward, boredom and idleness make a healthy person crazy. Once a week, patients are taken for an hour to walk on the roof of the hospital - like in the movies. In general, the whole experience can be called extremely demoralizing: at first you are stupidly scary, and then just despair and alienation ensues. I could not bring myself to go to group classes (and they assured me that they would speed up my recovery and affect the doctors' verdict). I did not know how soon I would be let out (“You can take care of yourself. ”), so I even managed to file a claim with the doctors in court. True, the next day he changed his mind and recalled him. I called the Russian consulate again.
A girl came and said that it was easier for them to get a person out of prison than from a mental hospital - you need to connect paid lawyers.
Friends also used all their connections (Hannah, Kristen, Sasha and Nikita, thank you so much and hello!), But the hopes were not fulfilled.
Time passed incredibly slowly, I tried to sleep until the moment when I was dragged to breakfast, and since I was rather exhausted, they put me on a high-calorie diet and carefully watched me eat up and not share food with my neighbors on the table (eventually I scored 5 kilo).
After breakfast, I lay down on my stomach in the corridor (because, in order to avoid any emergency, there is no furniture in the department - only bare walls and flat planks) and, stretching pleasure, I read The Hunger Games and sensational once Confessions of An Economic Hit Man (this is about how the film "The Spirit of the Time" is very suitable reading material for a mental hospital). Actually, I was the only one reading books there, which was surprising to both patients and staff.
Sometimes, to kill time (and not stand out), I walked up and down the corridor. From my room to the nurses' fasting behind armored glass and back exactly 100 seconds of progress, almost 2 minutes. Walk forty times like this — another hour has been killed.
What is striking, almost all patients with understanding relate to each other. Nobody hurts gays and women. Old men or confused foreigners like me - too.
There was a white 45-year-old man with post-traumatic syndrome (Iraq, Afghanistan) and God knows what sores, he was often tied with straps to his bed. He often shouted at Black: “What's up my negro?! "(And" Negro "in English will be harder" nigger ") - or addressed them:"Hey, DMX ”or“ Yo, G-Unit ”. But in response, instead of threatening to wake up with a sharpening in his neck, he received a dose of good-natured laughter and a couple of nefarious racist jokes.
By the way, this guy was the coolest, completely cinematic: red eyes, gaze of a sex maniac, shaking hands and constant talk about women.
Wow, in what details did he tell me how he would fuck my “wife” (an acquaintance visited me a couple of times, and he pressed against the window of the meeting room and, running out of saliva, rhythmically rubbed his groin).
He generally liked to chat with me - he said that his first lieutenant was also Russian.
There was a homeless man in my ward who looked exactly like Kanye when he had a nervous breakdown. In my unit, both men and women were treated, a jumble gay with a pedicure and rubber slippers. Raf Simons and its opposite is an aggressive homosexual with a shaved head with scars.
In general, almost everything was met: old, young, black, white, Latinos, Asians, and even such exotic as Russian Jew (s). I drew an incredible amount of attention that I didn’t want, and one black man just hesitated to ask again: “You're from Kurdistan, right? ”.
With me lay people from social housing, shelters and many representatives of the middle and upper-middle classes. A complete hodgepodge, an almost accurate demographic slice of the New York population (there were not only very rich, ultra-Orthodox and Russians from Brighton Beach).
And all in a strange way got along with each other. A great deal of sympathy and a very correct behavior of the doctors contributed to this. No matter how much the patient was ill, no one humiliated his human dignity. For the treating staff, we were all “sirs” and “masters”, and patients always received an answer to any question. With one of the orderlies it was possible to joke and chat heart to heart. They seemed not to notice our different status and status.
It was hard to find two similar patients.
Aggressive gay robbed Papa John'sand when he was running away on a moped, he fell, and part of his finger was torn off. The one who walked in slippers, stubbed himself and blew a hotel room. The big, infantile African American thought that he worked as a janitor in his high-rise building.
In the department he “worked” as a security guard. Old Negro Mr. Brown after each meal came to a pay phone and spoke into the phone warm words of thanks for the meal. My friend with tatuhas on his face "sat" for the seventh time, because he was annoyed by voices in his head. He comes to be treated at his own will, and he is already released by the decision of the commission of doctors.
It was a strange experience, which I didn’t process in my head. I have a deep empathy for people with mental disorders. Now I see that this is a really urgent and neglected problem - stigmatization of mental deviations in Russian society. I have to bitterly admit that I don’t have enough inertia and courage to deal with it.
But I urge others - try to begin to accept the obvious truth: if someone has certain pathologies (I deliberately avoid the expression “suffering from”), this does not deprive him of his natural rights. Anyway, we should be softer and not label “psycho”, “schizo” or “mentally ill” for everyone, if we want to consider ourselves a “developed society”.
Oh yeah, well, the most interesting, I know, you really wanted to ask. The treatment bill was 43 thousand USD. Be healthy.
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