Saturday, January 01, 2011

one pair of pants

during most of the indeterminate time i had one pair of pants i was allowed to wear, unless you count the bottoms from the team issue uniform, which i don't. maybe you don't mind walking around all day in the team crazy sweatpants, but i prefer street clothes at home, and i prefer street clothes on the locked ward of the mental hospital. even the staff of the mental hospital prefers it if you wear street clothes if possible. they take it as a sign that you're trying.

ok. so it's been firmly established that i have some chemical sensitivities. we don't need to go into the whole story of all my childhood rashes or that i use deodorants with as few scents and dyes as possible and that my laundry detergents of choice are scent-and-dye-free, an that in general i don't go overboard with additives.

i'm not a zealot and i don't need a completely natural white-fiber naturals-only clean environment, thank goodness, but i have some sensitivities and when i reach my limits there's a rash and i have to back off, hatwipe, or it's going to be ugly.

you can do laundry on the unit, but it's a pain in the ass to wear your one pair of pants while you're washing them, and the only soap you can use is the unit approved combination detergent/dryer sheet and i never use a dryer sheet because they're not necessary and i've never met one that doesn't make me break out, and it's kind of an all day project to get your one pair of pants off and wear the crazy suit down to the laundry room and get it unlocked for you to check and see if some other patient isn't using one of the machines and then ask for the sheet and put your stuff in and i have to wash my stuff with the soap and then wash it again after taking the sheet out to wash the soap out (i hope) and each time i have to leave the locked room and go to groups and get the room unlocked for me and it takes for-honkin-ever and if i wear the same pair of pants two days in a row i break out because i'm sensitive to my own SWEAT.

now, at this point i have privileges to go to the caf, (the cafeteria), which means i can see my car which is parked about fifty feet away from the building. i have a bag of dirty laundry in my car. there are acceptable unit-approvable pants in my car. several pairs of them. and i want them. i don't care how i get them. i don't care if someone goes to get them for me, or if i go get them in shackles, or if they just let me get them supervised. surely a doctor can write an order for me to get my pants out of my car? which is right over there? surely this is a reasonable request? (remember this later. apparently this is a special request made by special people who need special treatment.)

meanwhile, i have a rash on my legs that breaks open and bleeds. it could be the meds. it could be the hospital laundry detergent. it could be the soap/shampoo. when i am having an allergic reaction, the first line of breakdown is usually a skin rash. my best guess, i tell them, is probably the detergent. may i please have more pants? that would help a lot.

they keep putting me off.

now, the funny thing is that in hospitals they keep trying to discourage any drug seeking behaviors. the alternate solution to the rash is lots and lots of benadryl, which i am willing to take. i am not willing to take any disapproving looks over my requests for benadryl to ease my discomfort over the rash, since clean pants would really help clear that up, as would different detergent.

i'm also working on different detergent, but i'm a long way from having visitors to bring it to me, so i'm trying to work with what's available.

finally an order is written to take me to my car. since i have several hours advance warning, i ask a few subtle questions and find out that ther are no hospital rules against the throwing of frisbees and when we go to the car to get the laundry, we also retrieve my golf discs which i immediately turn over to contraband, a thing which i will tell you about later.

anyway, now i have four pair of pants to work with, and can work out laundry without pressure, taking as many hours as i need to to do multiple washes and rinses and the rash does not go away (omniscient narrator from the future) until a change of detergent is brought later and in fact it is still not fully healed at the time of this writing (1 january, nearly a month later), but at least it stops getting worse, which is progress of a sort.

sometimes that's all you can hope for.

today omniscient narrator from the future is going to make some ice cream and later on go dancing with the crashcos. tomorrow i'll go to church, the first communion service of the new year which makes it important to me. tomorrow afternoon i'll make my way down to ripley and start my new year down there and keep getting better.

you get better too, from whatever pains you, and you keep enjoying your blessings, and may they be many.

happy new year.

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

When I go grocery shopping I avoid the laundry detergent aisle as much as possible. The perfumes from the New! Improved! Buy Me! laundry detergent brand of the day, which is guaranteed to make your wash, your laundry basket and you personally smell like a Spring Day! in a housing project next to a chemical plant, make it hard for me to breathe. If I stay long enough I have a four alarm asthma attack and my teeth itch.

If my clothing is washed in, say, Tide laundry detergent and I mistakenly try to use my clothing in its primary office, I itch. I go nuts from the itching and act like a demented porcupine on methamphetamine. Not a pretty sight, I can assure you.

So I can appreciate your situation. The hospital staff likely believed you would smuggle in some contraband with the clothing. A book, maybe. Writing materials. Flowers. Then there is the paperwork the staff must contend with, which isn't easy if you're a functional illiterate, and many are.

I know a lot more about mental hospitals and mental health care than most people. More than I'd like to know because ignorance is bliss, you see.

I'm very glad to learn you're doing better. Your allergies should have been a part of your medical record. Your treatment team should have been all over this and arranged for laundry time and hypoallergenic detergent, soap and shampoo for you right from day one.

Well, the past is past. Keep moving and keep improving.


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