Thursday 18 April, Continued


Every time I sleep—nap or nighttime—I wake dreaming of 3-6.  This time I dream I am filled with pus.  I write to get it out of me and into the hands of people who can implement change.

Thursday 18 April, continued:

At 2:00 a.m. my possessions and I were transported from the ER to the Observation Unit.  When I went to sleep at 3:00 a.m. the tote bag and its contents, as well as pants, shirts, socks, bra, auto BiPAP tote, a book and a box of Girl Scout cookies, were on the counter.  When I woke up at 5:00 a.m., they were all gone.  What St. Joseph’s staff had failed to do in conscious negotiation with me, they did while I was asleep.  They are sneaky, cowardly bastards.

[N.B.  During the evening in the ER I gave my keys to Dr. Steve Wechsler, my close friend who holds my Power of Attorney.]

Thereafter, I called Security three or four times, Patient Relations twice and Administration once.  Security and Patient Relations repeatedly said they would come and take my complaint.  They did not do it.

Imagine you were in a grocery store and your wallet containing all your cards disappeared.  How distressed would you be?  How hard would you work to locate and recover your belongings?  Hospital staff repeatedly told me that my belongings were in Security or in “Sharps” or the nursing station on Unit 3-6 but at no time could they produce any inventory that included my cards and cash.  It was two awful days before they found my possessions and brought them to me with a proper inventory.

N.B.  Along with the properly documented authority for seizing a person’s belongings, the hospital should be required to produce an itemized receipt of all belongs signed by the patient or patient’s representative acknowledging what has been taken.

On April 17, I was legally committed.  It is absolutely required that you give the patient a copy of the commitment form, Notification of Status and Rights, Involuntary Admission on Medical Certification.  The first Notification I received didn’t even have my name on it.  It had a two-humps-and-a-swish on it that was referred to as Dr. Roger Levine’s signature.  Nowhere was there a printed signature.  I had been committed for 60 days and couldn’t even tell who’d done it.

I nearly vomited when I found out I’d been committed for 60 days; I thought it was a 72-hour commitment.  My primary care physician, Dr. James Tucker, asked me if I wanted to go voluntary or committed.  Of course I said “voluntary.”  In a matter of minutes I found myself being committed.  When I asked Dr. Tucker why, he said, “3-6 wanted it that way.  It’s less paperwork for them and more for me.”  I would like to know how many other voluntary transfers Dr. Tucker has tried to do to Unit 3-6, and how many times he’s been told to do a commitment.  I suspect this was special by Dr. Levine for me.

Later, Dr. Tucker would tell me that he did the commitment because he “thought things would flow better.”  My freedom was sacrificed to “better flow” between two physicians and two hospital units.

My people were farming in the 1600s before Philadelphia existed as a reference point; before William Penn arrived.  My ancestor, Hannah, stood with her babies while her husband and teenage sons went to fight the British, who were twenty miles away.  That farm is still in our family.  The willingness to fight and die for our freedom has been handed down, generation after generation, in the family that has continued to live on the land.  We have a spirit of pride and a habit of independence.

My people fought and died for freedom for the people of what would later become the United States, and a doctor took away my freedom with a stroke of a pen.

For two decades, I have aligned myself with the men and women who have fought for freedom from the abuses of the psychiatric system.  My single greatest horror was the possibility of again being committed to Unit 3-6, inpatient psychiatry.

In less time than it takes to wash your hands, “my” doctor and his associate committed me.  It was wholly unnecessary; I was willing to go voluntarily.  A doctor did to me what the entire British army (with German mercenaries) failed to do.  A doctor!  A man supposedly committed to healing had me legally bound over without benefit of lawyer, judge or jury.  Because he told me there was no further hope of treatment and, left in the hands of a bus driver, I acted against a long and painful death.

Dr. James Tucker committed me for “better flow” in the hospital in which he is a director.  My civil rights were immaterial to him.  It was all expediency without principle.  Had our positions been reversed, I would have fought like hell to keep Tucker free.  I would have stood against Levine, et al, and said, “No, I will not commit him.  He wants to come voluntarily and I will not rob him of his freedom.  He is here for treatment and I will not make him a prisoner.”

My freedom had been reduced to an inconvenient truth.

Friday 19 April:

I am currently on a locked unit inside the locked inpatient psychiatric unit.

Saturday 20 April

Snacks are served on the unit at 8:00 p.m.  I asked Chrissy, my staff person, to bring me a snack.  She left saying she would.  She never returned.  It is now 6:00 a.m. and I am having stomach pains because I haven’t eaten in twelve hours.

[It was two and a half days before Chrissy returned.  I had been talking to her of the life and death decisions I faced, and she cared so little that she never came back.  When I did get to ask her why she hadn’t returned, she said, “The cookies were all gone.”  When I told her how crushed I was that my dilemma meant nothing to her, she said, “I had other things to do.”  When I said, “How could you have left me like that?” she said, “I don’t have to listen to this,” and walked out of the room.

[This is the treatment modality that Roger Levine role models:  If the patient says anything that makes you uncomfortable, turn your back and walk away.]

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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
This entry was posted in Inpatient psychiatry, NYS Office of Mental Health, patient, physician, psychiatry, St. Joseph's Hospital, Unit 3-6. Bookmark the permalink.

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