What an experience the past 24 hours have been!!!
I phoned the GP yesterday as Anon’s panic is unreal. The GP that called back was the bloody Doctor who said “what do you want me to do about it?” one of the other times.
He basically said there was no way to prescribe Anon medications at all without seeing her. When I again said the reason we can’t see anyone is because Anon is so scared, and so we need something to get her to the point where she can attend an appointment, he said there was nothing he could do.
I asked about a home visit, because GP’s (unlike the psychiatrists or social workers in this area) WILL do home visits. He said he could do that, and someone would let us know within the next few days when the home visit would be.
I then asked if we could have a female Doctor come – he said we would get what we were given unfortunately. Bullshit!
As soon as I got off the phone, Anon had a panic attack and said she couldn’t do a home visit. She already had a day of immense panic and terror yesterday, and as ever appointments made it all worse.
I did my best to calm her down and said we’d find another way around it.
I called 111 early afternoon and spoke with someone who was very helpful. He said there should be a way that a Doctor can prescribe medications without seeing Anon, and where we can wait to see if the medication helps, and at that point we should be able to attend appointments again. He advised me to call 111 after 6.30pm, as there would be more GPs working who could give accurate advice.
I called 111 at about 730pm, and spoke with the first initial assessor (not a GP, not a nurse)
When I answered the questions and tried to explain the situation – which took about 25 minutes – she wanted to send an ambulance out to bring Anon to A&E. WHAT?!
Apparently her panic counted as an ‘immediate emergency’ (despite the fact Anon has struggled with this for months and months, and every GP / social worker / Crisis Team we have spoken to haven’t cared!) and because Anon’s heart was racing (due to her anxiety about the phone call!!!) she needed to go to A&E!!
I very calmly but firmly argued her down, re-explaining that going to appointments and medical facilities terrifies Anon, because of our last experience at A&E. Forcibly taking her to A&E when she’s incredibly anxious and you’ve already mentioned sectioning her is a absolutely stupid idea!
This went round and round a few times, and eventually she sighed and said a nurse would call me back. Ten minutes later I got the call, and the nurse was a little better. She understood that it wasn’t an emergency situation with the need of hospital/sectioning, but she didn’t really understand that I was phoning for advice, and NOT for immediate help.
I was then told a GP would call me back within a few hours. It was already 10pm by this point, and we were tired.
We waited for half an hour, and I talked to Anon about it, and we decided they clearly weren’t going to understand the situation. They weren’t going to offer advice, and they were going to continue as if it was an urgent situation – the threat of sectioning is always in their power.
I called 111 to say I wanted to end my interaction with the service. I had to answer the assessment questions about Anon yet again (third time in three hours) and the person then spent fifteen minutes telling me over and over (and getting increasingly aggressive) that I should get a phone back from a Doctor in case I needed urgent help, Doctors know best etc.
I kept saying ‘no, you’re not understanding, this isn’t an urgent situation – I only called for advice!’ Eventually they said I was off the system, and they ended the call.
Today I called the GP surgery and cancelled the home visit, asking for a call from a GP.
Talking to the GP I explained very clearly what was wrong, what was happening, what could be done to fix it, and how I’d spoken to someone via 111 who said it should be possible.
I said we could bring in written consent from Anon, and she could check her blood pressure on the machine the public can use in the waiting room, if those were things that could prevent Anon getting medication with no physical appointment.
The GP was actually very good this time, and said he could see where we were coming from but it would be hard to get medications with no appointment. I said he had seen Anon several times when she could make it to appointments, so he HAD seen her before, and he had seen her when she was very much struggling too.
He then said he would prescribe something but wasn’t sure what. He said he would prescribe benzodiazepines, but wasn’t comfortable about their addictive quality and they were only short term.
I said I understood that, but from what I had read on the NHS website, SSRIs are usually used to treat GAD / panic disorder, and they are prescribed for long term use. Anon had been on Citalopram many times in the past for long periods of time, so could we not try that?
He said that was a good idea. He was happy to do that, apart from the danger of a manic episode. I said I’m with her 24/7, she’s been on Citalopram before and never went manic, and if I saw any symptoms of mania I would get in touch.
After all that, we have a prescription for Citalopram 😀
The GP asked that I book an appointment to see him in a months’ time, but that if Anon is still struggling at the time, we can cancel and push it further back.
It was a lot of stress and a lot of effort, but I am so relieved to be where we are, and I really hope this medication can help reduce the panic just a little.
WOW, sorry that was so long!