ward 13 and beyond

I had a ct scan yesterday, to “rule out intra cranial causes” of the memory and word brain problems. Only along the way, the scan turned out to be extraneous; when shrink two was filling out the bloods form, I quickly whinged about night sweats and blog bless her, she added oestrogen and progesterone to the list. When I arrived in the little blood’s room, the woman raised her eyebrows at the amount of tests and proceeded to draw a gallon or two of my finest blood and then she flew away licking her incisors clean.

(Shrink two, by the way, is an almost shrink; in the process of being shrunk, if you will and I am her PhD case study. So shrink two works closely with shrink one, who is my official shrink, I own shares in her, I’m trying to accumulate enough for her soul, with the lovely added benefit of costing me no money at all. So far that’s giving me six months of CBT, every blood test under the sun and the ct scan with zero fuss or stress.)

She smsed me that week saying that everything was all clear, she was just waiting for the hormone results. The following week I got an sms saying, “your oestrogen level is in the post menopausal range.” zomg wtf whut? It’s not surprising; I am 45 and I’ve been having torrential monsoons of night sweats for about a month. GP’s have muttered, “too young, peri menopause next,” for years when I’ve (repeatedly) asked about it, because – symptoms! As usual, I digress. The tl;dr is that it’s not bloody surprising my moods are quite so fucked and I can barely read, write and remember anything. Problem solved, but the scan was booked.


The state hospital is wonderful, and I intend no sarcasm. The outside of it is shiny, inside it’s all crumbling and they’re working on half staff – but it’s the best treatment I’ve ever received in my entire life (both here and in the UK). Bear in mind that other features of my visits have included prisoners manacled hand and foot in old school convict metal, a wailing patient manacled hand and foot by plastic, the kind of scenes you lot only see on Sky News and the presence of an initiation clinic in the hospital. Fuckall white faces, fuckall English, lots of standing patiently at reception desks with a half smile while ladies conduct unhurried conversations, because that’s how it goes. People get arsey about ‘Africa time’, but actually, why should anyone drop whoever they’re dealing with to grab a phone or deal with the next issue in the queue? Africa teaches you patience and forbearance, if you’re listening. In all the weeks I went there, I was treated with respect – everybody was. There are no vending machines for snacks and the water coolers are all empty, they always are, in government places. Instead, administration staff make a few extra bucks selling cheap snacks from their desks. I am treated well, simply because I’m patient and I treat people well. That’s all it takes. (Make a note of it, if you ever come to this continent, I’ve seen too many tourists boil over and erupt.)

A good friend has been there with me every time and it’s the first time I’ve had that experience. I cannot begin to tell you how much that means to me. She’s interested in everything and those trips have been utterly fascinating, to say the least. Initially, when a batshit psych patient spoke to her, she looked alarmed. By week two, if the person was waiting, she’d hand over a sweet and a soothing chat. She’s 70 and age commands respect in that kind of environment. We’ve explained stuff to each other, according to our respective area of knowledge, it’s been lovely instead of as stressful as fuck. The psych ward is Ward 13, that fact delights me no end.


I had a drip put in, in a small, tired and dirty room, by a woman with immaculate hygiene and soft hands in surgical gloves. The vein in my elbow was skeef (crooked) and so the needle went into my hand. I photographed it, because that’s the sort of thing I do. It’s a single storey place and every ward opens to the outside, I left Ward 13 (lol) for the radiology dept. As I walked in, the radiologist recognised me, took my folder and told me where to sit. After an astonishingly short wait, I went in. Normal ct scan first, broad velcro straps around my arms and torso and my forehead, in the thing that sounds like a washing machine and looks like a retro spaceship. Then the pink contrast stuff was injected (I’d amused myself beforehand by thinking, “pink drip lol,” and a really lovely warm and tingly feeling flooded through me and then I was rolled back into my spaceship. Upon which, nausea hit me like a mothertrucker and I kind of flapped my way out. “Vomit here,” said the tech, handing me a full instrument tray. I did, but only a bit, because of the no food rule. She said, “take short breaths, pant like a dog, we have to get the scan done quick to catch the medicine. I promise it works,” and it really did, but sadly as soon as my head re-entered the spaceship, violent gurgles erupted again. That time I had an empty plastic idk what to spit my empty stomach into and urgent encouragement. Panting like a dog worked like a charm, I felt completely normal and that was that. We waited outside for the duration of a very quick coffee from my space age steel flask, then the radiologist handed me the usual huge envelope full of x-rays, and we plodded back to iWadi 13 (bilingual signs, some of them pidgin as pigeons, because, obviously, there are no words for some things in some languages).

Shrink two breezed past with her amazing million braids and vanished into her office with the envelope. A few minutes later she called me in and said, “all clear, you don’t have any tumours.” Readers of a previous post will be glad to hear that there weren’t any calcified tapeworm eggs in my brain either. Google it – I dare you. After that it was a matter of paperwork for the meds I’ll get free (subject to availability, I’ve posted a couple of times about stockouts here), a brief natter about hrt and omega 3, and some careful notes about my psychosis the previous today (and what a fucker that was). “Always best to be sure,” said shrink one, “it’s good that we’ve done the scan. Basically you are having difficulties for three reasons; menopause, bipolar and the treatment.” Sweet jebus on a bookshelf, do bipolar women need more of all the shit we go through already? Apocalypse: 1, Life: 0.

Job done. Clear. Continue to eat three portions of oily fish per week for the ailing, failing brain. See you next week at the plush private clinic, where shrink two uses shrink one’s extremely larney office for our therapy sessions. And so we left, past exposed, crumbling brickwork, outside past 837562 begonias (ffs), through security and past all the vendors outside it (street food the way only this province does it). Heartbreaking dogs, shacks, a black pig snorting cheerfully into a pile of rubbish, factories, the city and then the road home.



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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

51 thoughts on “ward 13 and beyond”

  1. Hormones (or lack there of) can screw things up. I think I believed that shutting down and replacing estrogen many years ago was key in my bipolar stability. Of course ultimately I proved that I could become completely manic again but the years of stable mood were significant.

    Glad no abnormalities were found and glad you had your friend’s support. I will have to drop her a note soon and thank her for looking after you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’ll be very pleased to hear from you. Idk wtf to do about this whole menopause bs, any advice? Shrink one says try it it’ll settle your moods, shrink two says don’t bother unless the symptoms get bad, friends are divided. I don’t even know how to work it out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I changed my hormone so I replaced menopause with puberty. :)

        I expect the challenge will be separating the mood swings of menopause from bipolar, like me right now and depression. I should really hope that the changes will add stability, you may have been peri-menopausal for a few years rocking up the bipolar or interfering with treatment. At least you know it will pass. The value of considering hrt is less for mood than for bone density if you are going through menopause relatively early but I would want to see how I did without it first.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Hrt improves bone density. My mom went through menopause at 41 – gleefully – and refused hrt because it made her bleed. When she developed osteoporosis she had to give in to some hormones. Personally I would want to see how the natural reduction in hormones effected the bipolar before considering whether your long term risks warrant hrt. You can always add hormones slowly. If the menopause symptoms become too much of a bitch you can also look at hrt.

            Otherwise I’m not much of a help with coping with menopause symptoms. There must be resources for that.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Lots of resources, but they’re doing my head in. Think I’ll think about it next week. Osteoporosis runs in my family, so I need to consider it. Thanks rg xox


  2. Oh.

    I felt like I was right there with you, so vivid was this post. (pant pant like a dog!!! So glad that advice worked!) And now you have some very important new bits of info. that explain a thing or two.

    I’m ecstatic you’re tumor (and tapeworm) free! And no fuckywucky way am I Googling tapeworms in brains because if I do, all the canine-esque panting in the world with Coach Lucy won’t help me.

    Sounds like you’re getting awesome care and I’d very much like you to clone your 70-year-old friend and send her to me to have in about 45 minute when I have to see my shrink, who is very nice, very kind, very cool – yet he scares the shit outta me.


    Having bipolar disorder and being a 45-year-old woman is a fucking full-time job, says your slightly older 45-year-old pal here who’s probably on the verge of menopause as I type this. Anyone who doesn’t believe that bipolar is work is probably a $cientologist or plain old dumb!


    To quote the erudite Brady Bunch “Keep on keepin’ on!” my dear one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Fry, you said lovely things there, and if I wasn’t currently fresh out of words and drenched in moodiness, I’d say lovely things back. Imagine the shrink naked and stop being intimidated. Fuck that, he/she gets paid and so they are your bitch, not the other way round.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DAMMIT – I just wrote a long comment and the fucker erased it!!!!! Damn damn – I’ll write more later. Love you! And don’t ever feel like you have to say lovely things back to me. I prefer you when you’re a spitfire! (Although I wish for your sake that you weren’t drenched in moodiness!!!!) XOXOX

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow that’s a lot of stuff. I’m also 45 and post-menopausal. I went on the hrt and had my 2nd nervous breakdown 2 months later. Is it the fault of the hrt? Couldn’t tell you, don’t know. But, I didn’t go back on. (My doctor was also loathe to consider menopause in my case until the blood work proved it. Haven’t had a period in 2 years was not sufficient proof) This was last October. I couldn’t tell you which mood shifts are related to what…as far as I know it’s all just one heaping pile of moodiness. But, we’re all different and others may have completely different experiences.

    I too am glad you don’t have worms and agree that I also will not be googling that shit!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m also begging my doc to have my hormones checked. She doesn’t seem to think its a problem that, because of one of my meds, I haven’t had my period in over 5 months, that can’t be good for ones hormones surely? Anyway, very well written post ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still get PMS every month though, and its super unpleasant, however I’m not keen to take “the pill” to sort this out. I believe there are estrogen/progesterone patches? There is also the mirena which only dispenses small amounts of progesterone, so you won’t have to worry about the hectic side effects of estrogen. But whether it will suffice for menopause I’m not sure. Perhaps a visit to an endocrinologist will help? (I’m not too fond of gynaecologists because they are crazy expensive and at the end of the day prescribe “the pill”)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for all the info, I’m going to think/do things about faaaarking menopause next week…. or the week after…. Thanks again, your advice is wonderfully sensible, which is just what I need at the moment.


  5. I think I am entering early early early menopause but having had a monthly curse since age 1o, it wouldn’t be that far fetched that my body has decided to get on that spawning retirement train. I’m loathe to ask the doctor to run the test, though, for exactly these reasons. I know I am “too young” ffs, and since hormones cause me blood clots, I can’t even take replacement therapy so hells no, I don’t want hear that it is a form of menopause. But considering how med failure prone I’ve been of late, the worsening rather than lessening of symptoms, and the fact my shrink is losing patience with his monthly “You’ve tried everything, I don’t know what to do next.”…Maybe it’s time to ask for the test.

    On second thought..I don’t know. I never know. I wanna know. I do wanna know. It won’t solve a thing. Tell me. Don’t tell me.

    Oh, piss off and let my ride my pegacorn off into the bipolar anxiety ridden sunset, I’m outta here.

    Kudos on no brainworms. Having said that, I am now gonna assume that since you don’t have them I probably do and end up on a less plush more “lock down-y” ward 13.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been vaguely preparing myself mentally for it for a while, so when I got that sms I was astonished. I’d been expecting hot flushes during the day rather than the evil nocturnal ones, for example. Suddenly I qualify to join the cast of Grumpy Old Women (did you ever see that?). You don’t have braimworms, because the worms don’t hang about in your drinking water like they do here. Ward 13 is lock downy and if you find a less plush version of it, call me and I’ll pop round with a file for your manacles and a bottle of Jack for your soul.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad no tumors or calcified tapeworm eggs (WTF DID I JUST SEE) and sorry about the menopause. My ex coworker, current friend who is 42 has started menopause. She hasn’t had babies so her gyn said: “that will cause it to start early.” She took hormones, then dropped them ’cause side effects.

    Mom had the same brain fog. That fixed itself post menopause, only to come again with the fibro years later. Eff it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So happy to hear your brain isn’t riddled with calcified tape worms-and NO I DID NOT GOOGLE IT! Americans are so hurried..and bitchy and rude and mean. I must have been an African in a past life because I’m on Sass time-it gets done when it gets done, and I’ll give you a brilliant smile and say thank you to all <3 Sorry about the pukies-at least it wasn't the poopies! Maybe hrt may help? It's always a 50/50 decision amongst friends. Love you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Do people with bipolar start menopause earlier than other people? I am 49 but I started to get hot flashes at around 46. I still get that monthly thing but not exactly monthly anymore.
    I never even looked up anything about when this stuff is supposed to start.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a good question. I wonder if they would have even bothered to do any research on that. I doubt it would be a priority…LOL. They probably just figure we are all batty anyway.

        I will do some checking and let you know what I find. Logically , since bipolar seems to accelerate the aging process and make us more prone to diseases at younger than usual ages….it would not be much of a stretch for menopause to start earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What an ordeal. I am glad it all worked out ok-ish, especially with the service you received. That is effing amazing! Hope you get to tame the hormone beast and ride out the rest of your 40’s in style and good memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well finally. I woke up yesterday thinking I wonder if blah did her scan yet? Then in the afternoon I got the snippet via email and the page wouldn’t work!!! Finally read today, well it sounds good, I’m very pleased for you and I won’t google that shit no way jose’.
    As for menopause, my sister is very happy about it, I know fuck all about it, I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
    Your friend doesn’t work at the Uni by any chance? I just got this freaky idea that you might know another South African old friend of mine (she’s awesome too)!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol of course I didn’t want to be specific just in case, it’s the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. I knew her in Spain many many years ago. Who knows when I’ll see her again x

        Liked by 1 person

  11. The last time I had to get a CT scan and drink that huge container of contrast dye first I got sick when they put me on my back too. I told him to let me out because I was going to vomit. He held one of those things for me like they gave you.

    I am glad to know about the breathing trick. If I ever have to do that again I will try to remember.

    It is a terrible feeling to be in that thing and suddenly have to vomit. There is nothing you can do while you are on your back to stop it from coming up.

    Your situation was worse because they were rushing you about the time. That would have made me have an anxiety attack. I don’t know how you got through that and stayed calm enough to go back in.

    I guess it is better than having to reschedule the appt. It is an ordeal getting it, waiting in the line and all of that. Better to get it over with the first time.

    You did really well. It sounds like a very unpleasant experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I enjoyed this post. Love the description of the ward. Funny, “Africa time” annoys me here but when I’m over there I kinda adjust into it. Maybe because I’m in vacation mode. Maybe because I see other people dealing with it. Either way, I miss the colourful enviroments.


  13. “draw a gallon or two of my finest blood and then she flew away licking her incisors clean..” This was the phrase that made me laugh quite a lot the 1st time and every time I read it!! Great sense of humor! I am sorry you are having trouble as far as your memory and reading as well, that’s my oldest struggle.

    What made things worse for me were the meds I took for bipolar and for my depression who effectively screwed my life in a time that I had to study for my anatomy exams. I know how we can feel vulnerable when have to go to the hospital to do some tests, I’m so glad you were not alone. Did I understand it right that you are doing psychotherapy?! That’s cool but I thought you weren’t very keen of it, or am I wrong? I hope you feel better soon about all your symptoms.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much indeed. I have 6 months CBT as a PhD case study, which is great. Psychotherapy… I shouldn’t get so grouchy about it, but my last counselling psychologist did me a lot more harm than good and the ones before made no difference to the pain. Please tell me more about your cognitive issues? Id appreciate it a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This was fascinating. I’ve been trying to get my blood hormone levels checked for a few weeks as I think I have a pituitary dysfunction (dysphoria, messed up periods, blah blah blah) and it’s interesting to see (I’m sure it’s not interesting for you to experience it sounds like utter shit to live through) how hormonal whatnots can affect bipolarness. There aren’t enough studies done on this stuff. Your shrinkable shrink sounds awesome (and your friend for that matter).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My periods were irregular for years, that was stress though. I’m writing shorter and shorter comments, because my headache is getting bigger and bigger. Nap time.


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