Ice Hospital: Poem and Art

Five Watchers at the Tree of Creation
Five Watchers at the Tree of Creation


Living in a hospital is like living in an Ice Hotel

where all the appointments beneath the furs and fleece

are hard frozen to the floor

Like Ice Hotel staff, the nurses try their best

to be kind, to find compassion for those suffering

here on their sub-zero beds.

But really, they have their warm lives elsewhere.

The psychiatrist knows better. She visits briefly

once a day at the height of the sun, chewing her Vitamin D,

and encourages Hotel visitors to Happy Talk

and Life Skills. If she fails to ease their suffering

in any part, it is because she does not see it, blind

to the fact that the beds are frozen pallets that chill

to the bone. She sees only the furs and warm fleeces.

She cannot fathom why one would not rise and walk

under her cheerful ministrations after a few nights

spent on a banquette of ice. Only the aides

are savvy enough, being low-paid and long-working,

to bring in oil lanterns and hot water bottles.

The patients love them and when finally it comes time

to leave, strange how difficult it is to say good-bye

to even the hardest corner of this place.


luckily i no longer live in a hospital but in a little corner of paradise, in Brattleboro Vermont. And soon I will be writing you about my place. All week i had a headache, which was a beach that was decidely not Miami. But I stopped taking the Abilify on a whim, and wouldn’t you know, immediately the headache ceased. I cannot tell anyone this, because they will become up in arms at my stopping a “necessary medicatoin” but if I do not tell anyone, and things go just fine, won’t that be funny as hell? I think so. And that is precisely what happened when I stopped the Zyprexa, the last time. Everything was fine fine fine,. for six months, and never stopped being fine. I mean I did just as good off it as on it, and we never started it with any good being done, again.


But no negativity from me today. Instead I will leave you with the sunny face painting I did for a member of BRattleboro TIme Trade, in preparation for a papier mache sun we want to work on. Love to all of you!

Sun Face Painting By Pamela Spiro Wagner - plan for papier mache sculpture
Sun Face Painting By Pamela Spiro Wagner – plan for papier mache sculpture

2 thoughts on “Ice Hospital: Poem and Art”

  1. Thank you for reminding that “feelings change and this too will pass” it is something that everyone needs to remember…Including the shrinks in Belgium and Holland who are killing the mentally ill in assisted suicide even as we speak!


  2. I stopped it like that, too. Cold turkey. I recall my doc insisted again in 2013 and I tried it but got off after three days. I stopped because of insomnia. I had only one day that I had trouble putting my thoughts together. After that, I felt much, much better. I don’t believe that stuff ever helped me. It caused racing thoughts the last time I took it. Also, because the Abilify caused my mood to go too high, when I stopped it my mood dropped too low for a while. Thankfully, I was aware of the potential for this mood crash to occur.

    Yes, I did panic. Very briefly. I phoned the “Crisis Team” that day. I think this was at 2:45 in the afternoon. They changed shift at 3 and forgot I existed. So they didn’t follow up. Thankfully, I was okay. Can you believe that? Yep, they forgot about a patient and I fell through the cracks. One more time.

    I called them up a few hours later and asked, “Hey, where are you?” They were supposed to call or follow up with instructions or show up or something. The guy spoke in this drugged-sounding monotone. I wondered if anyone could give him some voice coaching on maybe speaking with some expression in his voice.

    He said, “I’m sorry you are upset that we did not follow up.” Great apology for their irresponsibility. And to be truthful, I was glad I bypassed yet one more hospitalization, because by that time, I had realized why I felt suicidal,it was only because of the Abilify, and those feelings had passed anyway.

    Pam, when I look back over the years, every time I “felt suicidal,” it only lasted maybe 20 minutes. Those feelings were completely gone by the time I was “seen” in the ER or by the time the doc called me back (if ever). Such was the case for many patients. Yet I was almost always “kept” as precaution, for days, for weeks, or for months, depending on their whim.


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