Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Comments by robinwren217

Showing 12 of 12 comments.

  • I have been strip searched many times. I have been forcibly stripped by male guards and put into restraints naked, I have been assaulted by an ER nurse (this happened in the ER lobby so a video camera caught it and the chief of police decided to press charges but that was after the arriving cops refused to take my statement and a PRN order for four point restraints plus haldol injected against my will when I was not in any distress just listening to music lying on my gurney.) I have been restrained after I was asleep and forced to defecate in my clothing then publicly changed into a see through gown. This was all so terribly disturbing to me that I began to shit on the floor and smear feces in response. When I saw a young woman’s “safety plan” involved restraints, I called out time and again, stop sexually assaulting her! The hospital hated me for that, but some aides privately acknowledged th truth in my objections. Finally I am out of the system completely and will never allow such violations to occur again. Nevertheless when I was briefly kept overnight for observation (physical reasons) the final diagnosis was itself a violation: I had told them I went to medical school in the 70s —which is true! But they decided to diagnose “delusional disorder” as a result.

    Thank you for this podcast and for speaking out, someone whose voice is heard, unlike mine which has been silenced. I appreciate it more than I can say.

  • I know nurses like the one you describe, Luna Llena, the kind that are so burned out that they would cut off your tank top not because it was necessary but because it is purely a sadistic thing to do…Why else would she do it, after all there was NO reason for it, except to dominate and humiliate you. But that is the sine quo non for psych patients in any ER and you needed to learn that ASAP, as you surely did by the time the Haldol hit your system ( I betcha twenty to one the injection was HAldol By the way … an older antipsychotic that ER staff tend to use for “difficult” or resistant patients but a very problematic drug indeed, and one that can make things much much worse.) In any event, even though I have been through such things myself and often, I was still horrified to tears on your behalf. It always makes me cringe, screaming inside when I hear the lengths and depths to which human nature can and does sink in efforts to humiliate another human being, and i do not understand why…I feel so sorry for you, and I hope you someday get either peace from these memories or some kind of justice or both. Blessings, RObinwren aka Pamela Wagner

  • After they restrained me spread-eagled naked, raping me aith their eyes, and strangled me in order to inject me with their punishment drugs, which they never denied WERE punishment, and after they denied me a blanket, only threw a draw sheet over me, they not only left me alone and unattended in that room but i heard them say to turn off the intercom so “we dont have to hear her scream…” it was horrendous, becauase i was freezing cold and bitterly traumatized and in pain with my arms tied above my head and my legs anchored to the edges of rhe bed so i could not move. I begged them to reposition me but of course they paid no attention and since they had turned off thenintercom and left me locked in alone, no one heard me. So i did scream, bloody murder, in the hopes that i would awaken the entire unit to what they had done to me! But no one came ans no one bothered with me…as usual. And fhe doctor just called me a liar the next day when i told him what they had done. Oh, he registerd how despicable the behavior was they displayed, but he simply blamed me and told me they woukd never do such a thing to a patient of his…hardy har har ha! What a bastard. His name was Michael E Balkunas, MD and i am still trying to get justice for everything that they put me thru there but the attorney general refuses to look into it ans so does the dept of health…in CT you are screwed if you are a psych patient in a city hospital. No one but no one gives a good goddam!

  • Yes, my chart was enormous at 1000 pp but the details of each of many episodes of seclusion and or four point restraints use were minimal and scanty. Sometimes one episode simply copied verbatim the details used against me in the previous episode to justify the use of seclusion—- but they knew no one would ever investigate or see the chart so why bother making up new false details when it was just as easy to copy older ones?!

    When I told the doctor what they were doing to me he was incensed, said “my staff would NEVER treat a patient in such a fashion ! No. you are a liar!!” But i did not lie then and I had not lied when I told him they invented a reason to restrain me in the ER…. saying I had assaultrd s nurse, which I was not even aware of until much later… so how could I defend myself ? I thought they told him I was a danger to myself — another lie but not the one i needed to defend apparently ! The problem was that I came in completely mute and he would not even permit me a crayon to communicate with so I was utterly helpless … and so things only went from bad to worse

  • Samruck2 i dunno whether your reply was to me, or to Lauren’s original story, but if to my comment, i thank you for it. So few people in Connecticut care about what happens to patients in the city hospital system or even know, but when they know they tend to react with brutal comments like, well, what were you doing that “made them react like that to you?!” Nothing gets through to people, they just blame patients automatically.

  • Thank you, Richard Lewis, that was a brilliant and wonderful piece! As someone who has been reduced to defecating on the floor and smearing shit on herself and the walls, post-forcible injections of “helpful haldol” i can only second your plea that the force should never ever be with us. Force begets violence, and even though i have been designated as “assaultive” by the system, i wonder whether they have ever considered what it looks like to me, when a goon squad presenting a “show of force” intended to intimidate (which is by definition “assault”) comes at me? What do they expect me to do?! What do they really believe they themselves would do? Honestly, the training in hospitals is so outrageous that my brother once asked in his psychiatry residency, to be restrained so he could know what it felt like, but they refused him, telling him, it would be too traumatic! Ooooh, so they are fully aware of the nature of what they are doing to vulnerable psychiatric patients… Wtf!

    But i have literally never hurt anyone unless threatened or coerced first…or belittled and humiliated into a power under situation…that is what hospitals do to patients, on purpose.

    POEM IN WHICH I SPEAK FRANKLY, FORGIVE ME

    
GOMER: ER-speak for a troublesome,
    unwanted person in the emergency department, 
acronym for Get Out of My Emergency Room

    
So many times gurneyed in by ambulance and police escort
    
“dangerous to self or others,” and too psychotic 
to cooperate or scribble consent,
    you suspect by now 
you are just a GOMER to the snickering scrubs in the ER 

    who whisk you in back with the other disruptives 

    lying in bed, waiting for “beds.”

    

When you dip paranoid into the inkwell of your purse

    extracting a paring knife more amulet than effective protection, 

    they strip-search you, then, unblinking, eyeball you all night
    
through a bulletproof plexiglass window. 

    In the morning, 15-day-papered so you can’t leave, 

    they send you ominously upstairs.



    Later, at home, the voices decree your left leg 
should go up in flames
    to atone for the evil within, 
and you listen, and you do it, you do it:
    
the searing flare of cobalt actually crackles. 

    This time you tell no one, the char too deep for pain, 

    until fear of worse trumps your fear of being taken away.
 


    This is not the story of your life. 

    It’s not the story of your life–

    but every time a hulking goon squad clamps restraints
    
around your flailing wrists and ankles, threatening 
to prosecute you
    for biting those hands that shackle you, 

    you wonder if there will be any other

  • IN 2014, just before I departed my home state of Connecticut after nearly 60 years, after nearly being murdered in a University psychiatry hospital there, I was interviewed by Connecticut public radio about my experience of being put in four point restraints and seclusion in Connecticut hospitals. The interview with Davis Dunevin lasted more than 2 hours and though I had my doubts, I was informed that it would indeed air some few weeks later. As it turned out, it aired, in brief, in very brief, edited down to two sentences, that had very little to do with the hospitals and my experience in them. Almost all the hourlong show was given over to the hospital personnel and staff who spent it defending their practices or denying that they used restraints at all. Some of the nurses interviewed I knew quite well, and when they spoke about rarely using restraints or only in extreme or severe situations I might have laughed…had i not been so angered by NPR’s betrayal. Oh, I ought to have known, after all, they are sponsored by Hartford Healthcare, so what could they do but kowtow to them??? Anyhow here are a few of my comments that I posted at the NPR website where they had the transcript of the broadcast.

    “As someone who has been subjected to more use seclusion and four-point restraints over the past “decade of change” than in the two decades previous it boggles my mind that anyone would even dare to state that things are improving in Connecticut mental health care institutions. During my nearly month-long captivity in the winter of 2013, the Institute of Living in Hartford regularly restrained me to a bed for as long as 19 hours at a time, without ever releasing me for so much as a bathroom break — I had to defecate in my clothing. I was not even released to eat. When I was not in four point restraints “for not following directions, I was in seclusion, which they called the “Quiet Room” and not seclusion, but by CMS definitions, it was seclusion as I was separated from the rest of the patient population by force, and was not permitted to leave the room I was isolated in.

    “The one time I did actually saunter away, walk down the hall to look out the window, and return to my non-seclusion Quiet Room, I was punished with immediate use of four point restraints, into which I was placed without a struggle, hoping that would make it easier to win my freedom. Alas, for me, there was no way to earn freedom from restraints I never “deserved.” The entire point was discipline, and that would last as long as the staff wanted me to be in shackles to learn my lesson. There was literally nothing I could do, –stay calm, sleep, quietly ask for release — nothing, until they were finally satisfied that I was submissive enough to obey their orders, some 6-19 hours later. But I had to cry Uncle, and submit to a set of degrading humiliating “debriefing questions” that assured them that I took responsibility for my own being restrained and that my behavior would henceforth conform to their norms.

    “I was surprised to see Natchaug Hospital being given good ratings of any sort. One of their chief psychiatrists on the Adult Unit, (Dr Pence) a longtime presence their Emeritus psychiatrist you might say, was so insouciant about this job as to be nearly incompetent, but probably hard to fire even for negligence. HIs name I will not mention. He routinely did drive-by visits with his patients– a wave in the hallway might not be a completely standard morning meeting, but it happened often enough that peatients knew that would be all of this doctor they would see for the day. He routinely discharged patients with GAF scores at or around 60, the highest “global assessment of functioning” that one can have and still be rated “disabled” — not because he knew this level of functioning to be the case, but because it made him and his psychiatric ministrations at Natchaug look good. After all, if person comes in with a GAF in the 20s, and barely able to function, and you discharge him or her a week or two and some drive-by counseling sessions later with a GAF of 60, you must be doing a terrific job, esp for a 75 year old doctor not too keen on using anything like trauma-informed or patient-centered care. I had never left a hospital before Natchaug with a GAF higher than 40, but suddenly I rated a 60….by a doctor with whom I never spoke.

    “Natchaug Hospital, when the nursing director was Sharon B Hinton, APRN, was a decent place, because she made certain that abuses like restraints and seclusion rarely to almost never happened under her watch. I know, because I was there about three times during her administration. I also knew her when she was Hartford Hospital’s psychiatric Head Nurse at CB-3, where she and her never failing humanity and respect for the dignity of every patient made all the difference in the world. I might have come from an abusive hospital in the early 90s, like University of Connecticut’s Dempsey Hospital, which in those days four-pointed people to an iron bedstead, by shackling them spreadeagled to the four corners of the bed, a stress position that is not just tantamount to but is in fact torture. But I would be rescued by someone finding me a bed at Hartford Hospital, where Sharon would discover me arriving there in tears and tell me, unfailingly,”Its not you, Pam, you did nothing wrong, It is the hospital that treats you badly…We don’t have any problem with you, because we treat you well and you respond to it. When they treat you with cruelty, you respond badly…That’s very normal.”

    “But as to Natchaug…Bravo if they have done away with restraints completely. They had not done so when I was there last in 2012. Nor with seclusion, which was imposed in mostly a disciplinary and arbitrary fashion. Largely it was used to force medication on loud obstreperous patients or for angry fed-up senior nurses to take out their peeves on patients they didn’t particularly like (e.g. me). I still remember one APRN demanding that I be dragged to locked seclusion, and left there alone (despite all Sharon’s previous assurances that such would NEVER happen, that someone would ALWAYS remain in that room with me if I ever ended up there.. Alas, Sharon had left by then, so rogue nurses like D could have their way…) and when I peed on the floor in panic, and took off my clothes they rushed in to take them away from me, and inject me with punishment drugs, then made me stay for an hour alone on the pee-soaked mats, freezing cold, pretending to sleep and calm myself just to convince them I could leave and not bother anyone. I managed to do so, or at least the APRN D. got over her fit of pique and finally released me, but I was not really calm, and when they finally draped two johnnies over my naked body so I could decently traverse the distance to my room, I left, disrobing as I went…Who gave a damn about my flabby flat behind? I certainly did not. And it served them right if everyone got an eyeful…served them right..

    “Natchaug’s biggest problem was and probably still is a lack of staff cohesiveness and bad morale between the staff nurses and the well-educated techs/mental health workers who were all very dedicated college grads but were treated like grunts…The MHW’s did most of the important patient contact, but were not trusted to write patient notes, or the notes they wrote were never read, or accorded any import. This was not just despicable but very unfortunate in more than one instance during my stay, as the notes they took personally might have saved me from some terrible misunderstandings and outrageous misdiagnoses that harmed me terribly..

    “Most places use techs who are trained by shadowing for a day or two, which means, badly trained, if at all…

    “You have to take all such in-hospital diagnoses with such a heavy grain of salt, you know, even when they are labeled with the words, “THIS IS A LEGAL DOCUMENT.” Because they get so much of fact-checkable, factual material garbled that you cannot believe a word it says. And as for diagnosis, well it is all of it opinion, one, and two, it depends largely upon whether you are a likable patient or a disliked one, what they finally say about you on any given day. No one should have that sort of power over another human being, frankly. And the idea that they can brand one for life with certain psychiatric diagnoses just sickens me.

    “Be that as it may, my recent last experience was beyond the beyond, at Hospital of Central Connecticut, The old New Britain General…and I expect to go back to talk to someone there about it. And I have much to say to them, after the pain and rawness have worn off a little. They considered it SOP to strip me naked and leave me alone in a freezing seclusion cell without any access to human contact, unless they chose to speak to me over a loudspeaker hidden in the ceiling. If not, I was utterly abandoned, no contact or even view of another human being for as long as they wanted to keep me secluded. They also restrained me, having male security guards four-point me stark naked in a spread eagle position to the bed, before they had the decency to cover me with a light sheet, even though I begged for a blanket for warmth. (A nurse manager came in and shivered, saying “Brrr its cold in here!” but did they relent and let me have a blanket…No, clearly I was not human, didn’t need warmth.)

    “This is just the tip of the S&R iceberg in Connecticut in the current years, Remember this is happening right now, not ten years ago, or before the so-called reforms. Nothing is getting better. Things are worse than ever, And when you are a patient in these hospitals, you have no help, no recourse, anything and everything can be done to you and you have no way to refuse or say “no”. No one will help you, or offer assistance. They can just grab you and seclude you or restrain you without your having the power to stop them or any recourse to make them pause and reconsider. You are powerless to stop anything…And so they get away with it every time. And once it is done, who will fight for you? What lawyer will take your case if the guards hurt your shoulder rotator cuff, or bruise you up, or degrade or humiliate you? No one….so you are deprived of your human and civil rights, completely, but the hospital knows that no one cares enough to fight for you, so they get away with it each and every time, and they know this when they do it. They have nothing to worry about,….You are just another mental patient, a nobody, a nothing.

    “That’s what you are if you are diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized in Connecticut hospitals in 2014. A nobody that the hospitals can abuse with impunity and will. Just wait and see if any of this changes…I doubt it highly. They have no motivation to change. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong now.”

  • In a funny way, stigma is appropriate because it originally meant the brand from a hot iron imprinted on a wrong-doer’s face as a mark of shame and as a public display of “this person is a sinner” — so psychiatric stigmata or that notion feels right to me, having felt very much branded by my being labelled and publically marked out as a “mental patient”, even to the point of having my name on a federal list so i cannot purchase a gun…

  • Oldhead,

    Thank you for making this point. I have been reading these wide ranging discussions and thoroughly enjoying them, but realized that i too, though for decades diagnosed as “schizophrenic” and “psychotic” because of my experiences and behaviors, really do not like the words being bandied about here. Why is our calling ourselves and our experiences “mad” or “crazy” any less devaluing and stigmatizing than “schizophrenic” or “mentally ill”. After all, to use such words is only to reappropriate the slurs used against us in the more distant past, is it not? It is emphatically not to rename ourselves or better yet reject all such names and labels on our experience.

    Yes, i agree that “extreme” or outlier experiences happen. How could i say otherwise when i have had hallucinations of every sense? And for decades heard command voices telling me to set myself on fire? I understand that this is perhaps not a common experience in the wider public. But to call myself “mad” because of it just seems to invalidate both my experiences and me myself all over again, when i am only just now beginning to understand that despite more than 15 years of inpatient hospital stays, i might actually have been treated differently, that i did not need to be brutalized and restrained and secluded for weeks on end, or tortured by sadistic guards as a scapegoated “mad woman”. No, i might have been taught by a kinder society to regard my sensory perceptions as a gift, and the thoughts that they engendered as another…and this might have led me down a pathway to enlightenment spiritually rather than a lifetime as a “mental patient”. So as for “Mad” and Mad Pride, while i will work with those groups because i generally support the individuals, i just do not feel these are anything but more labels that perpetuate the “Other” and the sense of “Otherness” in all of us. And let’s be clear, no matter how different we each may feel from one another, we are truly all very much wearing the same human skin.