Roger Levine, M.D. (Part II)

Maureen Kissane, from the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, immediately filed a three-part thingy, first, requesting that Levine be removed from my case; second, that I get the medical attention I’d been requesting (all I’d gotten so far were nurses saying, “I’m sorry, honey.  Sweetie, this is so bad.”)  Third, all my ID, credit cards and money had been taken, without a receipt or inventory, and nobody could find them.

Gary Scott found me.  He’s a “counselor” who is smart, experienced, mature and wise.  He took one look at me and said, “You need a hospital bed,” and proceeded to get the bed and have me moved into another room where I could reach the call bell.  That night I had diarrhea in bed (hit while I was sleeping; no time to call for help).  The evening staff came, cleaned me up, and changed the sheets with me in bed.  This was proper nursing care.

The next morning, Levine was back on my case, although somewhat subdued: attorneys have that effect on doctors.  Levine said that my transfer to another doctor was wholly dependent on another doctor being willing to take me.  There are only three doctors on 3-6; they no longer let Dr. Ghaly or other attending physicians admit patients.  Levine is the director.  The other two doctors are Jane Kou and O’Connell.  Search this blog on Jane Kou and you will find the story of the roll she played that resulted in me spending a month on life support with no expectation of survival.

O’Connell had interviewed me in Observation and concluded I did not need, nor would benefit from, psychiatric hospitalization.  She cleared me.  So what was I doing on Unit 3-6?

According to Dr. Tucker, they put all the medical data and algorithms in the computer and crank it.  Administration said I didn’t qualify for a medical bed.  What they meant was that insurance would not reimburse them for a medical bed so I would be sent home.  There is no place in the system to factor in the unknowns of lithium poisoning.  I knew, from twenty years of living with the damage from lithium, that I needed bed rest, monitoring and support.  Dr. Tucker, who has been my physician for less than two years, didn’t know that all hell was going to break loose.

When sickness increases and services do not rise to meet the need, I get suicidal.  I learned this fifteen years ago when one home agency had me listed as homebound and another had me listed as independent.  What this logically meant was that I couldn’t go grocery shopping but I had to.  Dr. Ghaly readmitted me to 3-6, we got the discharge planner on the case, proper services were put in place and I was discharged and did fine at home.

Now I am way too sick to take care of myself.  I have severe, unstable obstructive sleep apnea; left ventricular hypertrophy; right branch bundle block; pulmonary fibrosis; uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, type 2; nephrogenic diabetes insipidus; stage III kidney failure; an indwelling catheter; fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue syndrome; lithium poisoning; immune dysfunction, type unknown; hypersensitivity to all medications (I can’t take anything for anything); executive dysfunction learning disability; spinal arthritis; hypersensitive to pain.

I was too sick to go home and St. Joe’s administration wouldn’t admit me to a medical floor because they wouldn’t get paid.  I took the only option left:  I looked Dr. Tucker in the eye and said, “I will kill myself if I am discharged home.”  That got me committed to inpatient psychiatry and the malice of Roger Levine.

At home, I had an aide who only came three days a week.  In the first three days I was on 3-6, I had a hypoglycemic crisis, vomited on the floor twice and had in-bed diarrhea twice.  What would I have done if I was at home alone and bed ridden?  If I had been admitted to medical there only would have been one instance each of vomiting on the floor and crapping in bed.  On medical, they would have figured it out real quick, monitored me better, and responded quickly to bell calls.

So I’m on psychiatry, where they at least have to clean up the mess—even if housekeeping isn’t going to mop the floor.  It’s Friday morning and Levine is explaining to me that I’ve got him because nobody else wants me.  This is the story of my life.  So I ask Levine if he wants to hear my story and he says yes.  I ask him to sit down so we are at eye level and he does.  I tell him the story, from lithium poisoning to multiple sclerosis symptoms to immune damage to diabetes and the disastrous consequences of insulin, and Dr. Tucker telling me that there’s nothing more that can be done for me.

Levine listens, asks some good questions, and says, “You don’t belong on this floor; this isn’t a correct placement.”  I agree with him one hundred percent.  He leaves, saying he needs to talk to Tucker.  Tucker comes later and leaves saying he needs to talk to Levine.  It’s Friday afternoon; nobody talks to anybody.

Unit 3-6 is locked.  In the back of 3-6 there is a double-locked unit.  That’s where I am.  Where my bed is placed, I can’t see out the door.  I have no phone.  No television.  I am not permitted any bedside visitors and am too sick to get out of bed and go to the dayroom.  Dr. Stephen Wechsler is my Health Care Proxy, Trustee and Power of Attorney.  When he comes on Saturday, they will not let him see me.  (To be continued)


About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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