November 18, 2014

From Subhuman to Substandard

When is a patient not a patient?  When he’s a piece of shit.

A recent article on Slate described an acronym, SHPOS, used among some medical professionals to identify a certain type of patient.  It stands for “subhuman piece of shit,” and this is what it means:

A SHPOS becomes a SHPOS when a health care worker hates him.  The term is known to physicians everywhere, passed by word of mouth from resident to intern to medical student. Psychiatrist Abbey Strauss described the phenomenon in a 1983 paper: a patient who is “childlike, unreliable, occasionally arrogant, demanding, insensitive, self-centered, ungrateful, non-compliant, and wrongly motivated.” Strauss describes a type of SHPOS who might be called a “difficult patient.”

Sadly, many mental illnesses cause behaviors exactly like this, especially the more serious ones.  Yes, med compliance is a problem with the mentally ill, as well as others.  Yes, some of these people appear “self-centered” and “ungrateful” because when the pain is overwhelming enough, you just don’t have the ability to worry about what other people feel and think.  Doctors are seeing them at their most vulnerable.  They don’t know what they’re really like or what horrors lurk in their brains that they can’t control.

That’s why we treat such things with therapy and/or medication.  These are people who go to their doctors for help, not to be judged as “subhuman pieces of shit” because of the nature of their illness.  One wonders if the same term is applied equally to elderly dementia patients, because there is no fundamental difference.

November 10, 2014

Improperly Medicated

When it comes to the mentally ill, sometimes the greater insanity is on the other side of the desk.

This weekend, I found myself standing outside the bathroom door while my husband was locked inside with a knife, cutting his wrist.
He has been having issues with medications for his schizophrenia.  Treatment is antipsychotic medication, which comes in pills to be taken once or twice a day, or injections that last up to four weeks.  He has to be on both due to increasing tolerance.

The Dude is sweet, loving, and gentle when properly medicated, but combative and suicidal when delusional and hallucinatory.  Over the past few months, his injection has become less and less effective to the point of not working at all, with oral med use now testing the limits.  (For those of you who are familiar with these medications, he is on the highest dose of Invega injection, 20-40mg Zyprexa, and 10-30mg Haldol.  These are massive doses, but are necessary to keep him out of danger.)

November 7, 2014

Out of the Political Closet

I’m a heathen who votes Democrat.  And no, I’m not trying to destroy the country.


Last weekend, the Dude and I had a nice visit with my sisters, Amanda and Kelly.  Amanda brought her boyfriend and twenty-year-old son.  Cue political discussion.
Just for some background, we were raised in the 70s and 80s by conservative Christian parents who started off in the Democrat camp but shifted further and further right as the years went by and Republicans started presenting themselves as the party for Christian values.  My dad still clings to his Democrat identity even though most of his opinions fall into ultraconservative territory.  For example, being strongly anti-choice, anti-gay-rights, and pro-prayer-in-schools.  I don’t get it.

Most of my family speaks in the same tired old Fox News sound bites.  The primary exception aside from me is my sister Kelly, who is the only other one who is not religious and opposes what the Republicans stand for, at least on social issues.

Before I get any further, I would like to state that I have no problem with moderate Republicans who have arrived at reasoned, informed conclusions.  I may not agree with you, but if your opinion is based on research and independent thought processes instead of being spoon-fed to you, I can respect that.  The same goes for Democrats as well – I don’t care what party you are as long as you’re reasonable.

October 30, 2014

Wildness, Whimsy, and Weird Shit

If my life with mental illness were a mixed drink, it would be Jungle Juice.  Which is basically a bunch of random booze poured into a tub with unpredictable results.

It’s the sort of thing that makes a party a bit wilder, not only for the risks but also for the fun.  Yes, I did just imply that life with a mental illness could be “fun.”  It certainly doesn’t make it worth it, and most of the time I’m pretty pissed off about having to go through all of this.  But I’ve found that taking just a few minutes a day to look at my life and marvel at the absurdity of it can help to make it a little more tolerable.

By the way, I’m not just talking about being able to have fun in spite of the craziness.  On occasion, it can be precisely because of it.