My friend from church with serious mental illness (SMI), was hospitalized for severe depression about eight weeks ago. She is 67 years old and has managed her illness very well for many years. This time, however, she appeared to be having neurological symptoms that were unusual for her.

With no family of her own I, as just a friend who's also an RN, had no clout in suggesting a neurological consult. The hospital psychiatrist agreed she needed to be seen by a neurologist, but for some reason that didn't happen. After a week in the hospital, she was stabilized, psychiatrically, and sent home.

After returning home, my friend had a seizure and was taken to the ER where an MRI was done. The MRI showed that she has a massive brain tumor (growing for at least 30 years) that's operable but still very dangerous to remove surgically.

Why didn't someone do a MRI scan when my friends symptoms first appeared? Why do health care professionals think that SMI patients' problems are always psych problems? Holistic healthcare was the mantra when I was in nursing school. We were told to look at the complete person, but that's not my observation in the medical world today. People with psychiatric brain disorders are treated differently.

I'm so sad, tonight, that I didn't fight harder for my sweet friend. It's so important that we caregivers demand better overall healthcare for our loved ones.

No one cares about crazy people.

Photo credit: A New Day Rising - Stuart Williams/flickr

Photo credit: A New Day Rising - Stuart Williams/flickr