I Wake Up
By Sandhya, age 27, South Carolina
I wake up. Monitors softly beeping. Tubes going in and out of my arm. The gentle murmur of people in white and blue scrubs.
When I wake up. I don't know yet know where I am. Or who I am. Or what happened.
I grope for my husband. "What's going on? Where am I?"
He tries to reassure me, but my voice grows louder. "Where the hell am I? How could you let them do this to me? I want to go HOME!"
A nurse rushes over, trying to get me to calm down. I try to listen, to garner information, but I feel the whiteness encroaching again. And I'm gone.
I awake. A gloomy room. Strange covers. My arms throb in pain. I look down and jerk up in fear to see about four different IV lines going through them, puncturing my skin. There are clots of blood everywhere.
"Where am I? What's going on?" I ask no one in particular.
My husband appears at my side. Has he been sitting in that chair the whole time?
He takes my hand gently and looks into my eyes. "You're in the hospital."
I frown. "Hospital? Why?"
He continues to look at me for a long moment. "What's the last thing you remember?"
This is a question I will get asked a lot. What's the last thing you remember? Everyone wants to know. Because I'm the "fugue girl".
Simply put, a fugue state is one where you lose time. It's like a blackout, except instead of losing consciousness, you perform activities of which you have no awareness and no memory.
Fugues are common in people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), especially those who have a history of long-term childhood abuse. A more dramatized version of fugue states, one most people are familiar with thanks to Hollywood and the media, is Multiple Personality Disorder. In truth, MPD is extremely rare. What's most common is a fugue state like mine - an infrequent episode, one I won't remember later, where I act impulsively and out of character. Unfortunately for me, my fugue states often involve me trying to commit suicide.
"What's the last thing you remember?" a Middle Eastern doctor with an astonishingly kind demeanor asks me.
I hold a hand up to my aching head and squint at him in the bright hospital fluorescents. "Uh ... I went out for stamps at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon."
He nods encouragingly. "Do you recall what day that was?"
"Yes. It was today. Tuesday."
This time the doctor shakes his head. Quietly he says, "It's Wednesday night."
I blink stupidly at him. "What ... what happened to me?"
"You drank antifreeze and cut a vein in your wrist."
I squeeze my eyes shut. "Did I have a dissociative episode?"
"I'm afraid so."
I learn what happened. When I didn't come home within an hour, my husband called my cell phone. He says I sounded agitated and wouldn't tell him where I was. When my mother-in-law tried to call me, I hung up on her. All of this was very unlike me, so my husband used the GPS locator on my phone to track my general location. Then, with the help of the police, he found me.
There were paramedics and about three different police units involved. My mother-in-law was there. My husband rode with me in the ambulance. He says they had to cut the clothes off me so I could get hooked up to various monitors. They stuck an oxygen mask on me, but I kept passing out.
I remember none of this.
I go through the requisite procedures: stay for two nights so they can monitor me, and speak with the attending psychiatrist. She recommends a stay in the hospital's in-patient psychiatrist ward. I acquiesce.
This will be my second hospital stay in two years. And my fourth dissociative episode this year.
No one knows what causes me to dissociate like this. This time, they hypothesize, it was because I pushed myself too hard in therapy. What do I think? It's as good a reason as any.
What I do know is that, incredibly, I picked the one brand of antifreeze that wasn't deadly. And so, for now, this is enough for me - that I woke up.