Friday, October 23, 2015

Hostage Situation? You decide. Part 4

In the first part of this blog series, I was not overstating any of the hypotheticals. You've learned about her experience of the first three days in the second and third parts of this. I left off when she went into the psych ward. Which, though the shortest part, for me, was the most frightening part. 

Thank goodness for the patient advocate that came to visit her Wednesday evening/afternoon! Besides making sure my daughter got better care, she also gave her advise on how to handle the psych ward. She visits patients there too, and she had seen how dark of a place it can be. One small piece of advise, that we didn't realize was so important at the time, was to ask for pen and paper when she got there. Besides prayer that was the most important piece that kept my daughter from having a panic attack while she was there.

So to continue where I left off in Part 3...

At 6 in the evening, on Wednesday, a security guard, Meg, and I went with my daughter to the psych ward.

The first thing that happened was that we were told (Meg and I) that we would have to have our things, including our cell phones, locked up while we were there. From then on-- when we came to visit we could only bring our keys. So our things were locked away to be given back when we left.

The second thing was that the visiting hours were 6 p.m. To 8 p.m. & 10:30 a.m. To noon. That was it.

Next up... My daughter had to sign a good 30 pages of intake paperwork to be admitted. That was where we found out that the longest they could hold her was five days- even if she had been forcibly put there.

My daughter was then given stiff gray scrubs to wear, and told she could not wear her own clothes until she was there 24 hours, and most likely she would be there at least 24 hours. She still was not allowed to have her things. She was given a folder with papers on what to expect. She and Meg read it over multiple times figuring out all the ins and outs-- They are both like that. A nurse with a constant smile ordered a food tray for her and made sure it didn't have gluten or apples.

This is very similar to the room, next to this would have been
another bed just like it. 
The nurse was nice, so don't get me wrong, but the constant smile was a little hard for me to deal with right then, but he did genuinely seem to care which was nice. We spent a little bit of time in her room-- which by the way was a double occupancy room. There was not another person in there, at that point, but there were no 'private rooms' and they could not promise one-- Yet the psychiatrist had. They had blocked it off for that night so that she would have the room to herself that night, but there were no promises of what would happen the next day.

It was a 'suicide prevention' unit, so nothing pointy or dangerous was allowed. Including cell phones. Yet she was allowed to have a pen... Some of the rules kinda contradicted each other, which didn't make sense.

After a few moments we were told that we weren't allowed in her room. So we went to the common room where all the patients were. Here is where I need to take a deep breath. --In fact I am going to go into morning mass and come back to this in a moment because this was the place that first shocked me the most and it still makes me have a little shiver...

This was close to how it felt, but worse in that common room
In the common room, on one side, was a large television set up like a living room. Some game was on-- I think it was football. There were many people there. Some looked extremely tense, some nervous, some I would have run away from if I had met them on the street. No one there was someone I would feel comfortable with. On the other side of the room were long tables and hard chairs, almost like cafeteria style seating. That is where we sat down.

Right near us was a young man with tufted hair with eye glasses, but on top his head instead of on the bridge of his nose. His eyes were wide and almost bulging out of his head, and he very much seemed like a human peacock. He was loud, not in a good way, and a little frightening, and I noticed he kept watching us... -- looking, but not coming near us. That frightened me more. If he had come over and tried to talk to us that would have eased my fears. He didn't and literally he was peacocking around as if looking for attention.

My daughter held my hand and Meg's, and we sat quietly talking, trying to not make any commotion. Someone noticing you just didn't seem like a good idea in this place. So we stuck close together and talked lowly. I could feel my daughter's tension. The worst part-- this is where we were suppose to leave her and she would stay over night at least.

Her food came and she began to eat it as best she could. No apple or juice this time around. That was good. It was the same thing she had had for lunch, and for dinner the night before-- I mean that literally. But it was food. The problem was it was a breast of chicken, uncut and she was given a plastic fork and plastic spoon, but no plastic knife because it was the suicide unit. Seriously! You could have a pen but not a plastic knife! If this was the way they wanted it fine! They could have given her fajita chicken then. 

She tried to cut the chicken with the plastic fork, but no doing. So finally she picked it up, took a couple of bits, then gave up the attempt.  It was really tough and had quite a bit of gristle. She ate the green beans and, even though she doesn't like rice, the rice. The milk she left.

Next to us was the only phone, by the way, and we got the number to call in to check on her and also to give to her boyfriend. She was also told she could call
her boyfriend or me from the nurse's desk and they would transfer the call out to this phone. A little good. Except the coiled metal cord was about two feet-- maybe three feet-- long, so you were stuck standing there or pulling a chair over and kinda squatting on it to be the right height.

While we were there the psychiatrist called her into his office. When she was talking to him Meg and I got her water jug that they had assign her, and went to find a nurse to fill it again for her, and ended talking to another nurse who was understanding. He promised to keep an eye on her. He had a brother-in-law that has Asperger's like both my daughters do, and when we explained what was going on he was a little appalled they would force her to be there. He truly got it, and he was the first to show understanding beside the patient advocate. Meg and I seeing we had an allie told him everything that happened. He was the first to say strongly, she didn't belong there. That was the reason he promised to watch out for her. The next day several other nurses were saying the same thing.

A little while later, we had some more time with my daughter before we had to leave. I really saw how even here in this place that seemed so horribly dark and scary, God had put a little light. Though I was frightened to leave her-- especially with Mr. Peacock strutting around, I prayed and hugged her, shed a few tears, then left her there. That was not what I wanted at all, not what she wanted, not what Meg wanted, but what we were forced to do. 

That night was dark. I prayed the rosary on the way home, and got lost (I never lose my way where driving is concerned). The darkness wasn't just the sky, but it was night around us.

I finished my rosary and saw a highway I knew, hopped on it, and was home a little later. Meg was already there playing with her son when I walked in. I got the biggest hug from my cantankerous 14 year old son, took a shower, then helped my 4 year old little sweetie get ready for bed. All night I tossed and turned while waking and praying. I didn't know then, but my daughter was having the same kind of night, and had spent a teary half hour on the phone with her boyfriend.

I gathered myself together in the morning, then left the house and got to the hospital early, just in time for a call from my daughter's boyfriend. He was worried because she was in tears last night and this morning it wasn't any better. I told him I was there and I would be up there as soon as they would let me in the door. I brought a brush, band, and a clean pair of underwear with me, stuck in my pocket. I left my cell in the car after talking to him, and grabbed my keys and ran inside. If they would open that door early, I would be there. They didn't. In fact, they were late.

I found my daughter in the common room in tears, shaking, and telling me she could not spend another night there. I held her and helped her calm down. We sat down finally, and she began telling what the night before and that morning had been like. The peacock had been irrationally yelling in the hallway in front of her room the night before after getting on the phone screaming that he was being tortured and hadn't been fed since he had been there. 

Yeah-- He was kinda like this
But his hair was tufted and
had glasses on top his head
At that moment he was yelling out a verse from an open bible every time the room quieted down at all. That is the only time in my whole life that I would say that scripture really seemed like an unholy thing when it was read!

In the morning she had went to her room and he stood at the doorway staring at her and making little noises as she pretended to be asleep. She said she didn't know what to do. She hoped if she didn't act as if she was affected by him that he would leave her alone. The standing at the doorway staring at her really frightened her because no one seemed to notice or care. At least the night before someone had finally stopped him.

To top it off, later, before I got there she got a roommate. She was told, they didn't have the room to keep the room private. --Even though she had been promised a private room by the man that ran this unholy unit! My daughter has a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. Most times she deals with life like anyone else, but she is not comfortable with people she doesn't know or new situations. Privacy is a very important thing.

It is the way both she and Meg have been all their life. In stressful situations she is able to remain calm as long as she has a place she feels safe. That is the purpose of her having a private room. You would think that the head of mental health at this hospital would understand about Asperger's since it is fairly prevalent, but he didn't seem to understand at all. The things he saw as depression and anxiety are common to Asperger's. He thought she needed to be more independent and was trying to force that, but didn't take any notice that promises being kept are even more important than being 'independent'. He didn't understand that people with any form of autism can go into sensory overload from loud noises and new places. And believe me the psych ward is full of the wrong kind of sensory input! He didn't take into account that she was independent enough to work 25-30 hours a week and go to college classes twenty hours a week-- including clinicals! He was convinced she would be better being there. Instead that morning she was close to a panic attack or seizure because of being thrown in there without consideration to how she would deal with this!

Thank goodness we had worked with biofeedback years before to help her handle herself no matter what was thrown at her. (Boy was this proof that we had done the right thing all those years ago!)  She had learned to calm her brain down. In fact she is amazing even when she has a panic attack. If you give her some quiet and some space she can bring herself back under control and then go on with her day. A seizure is a little more difficult, but she still is able to calm things... This is not enough of a space to explain fully, but I will leave it at-- she is amazing.

In this case, that pad of paper came in handy!  She spent time writing poetry and doodling to keep her calm. Then they added the roommate.  Thank goodness I got there right after, because, if not, she may have lost it. She laughed after she was out and said “I knew if I had a panic attack they would want to keep me, so I kept coaching myself, telling myself, 'I can't loose it. I have to keep it together.' ” You know in the whole messed up situation, when she told me that it made me so proud of her. She is such a trouper! I really wish that psychiatrist could have seen that!

While I was there a different man, a therapist, called us back to a room. And he listened. He was another light in this dark place, and part of the reason things began to get better. He understood when we told him we had had a counseling appointment already set up. He actually understood Asperger's and why this place was so bad for her. By the end of talking to him, though he didn't have the power to release her, he promised to talk to the psychiatrist. He said out loud he didn't see why she had been forced to be there. He also brought her lunch into a private room where she could eat and we could talk without dealing with all the commotion in the common room. That gave my daughter over a half hour to begin to repair so she could face whatever would come.

I left after hugging her again. This time she was more calm. We had hope that she would be released. After I left the student doctors came to talk to her, but that was when the patient advocate came too, so she missed visiting with her. Good thing though-- they, along with the nurses, and the therapist, all pleaded her case to the psychiatrist. Who finally relented. At around 2 in the afternoon, my daughter called me and told me she was going to be released in about an hour.

Her last meeting was with the psychiatrist. Who said... “Even though it seems like this was a control issue, it really wasn't.” I say—Whatever helps you sleep at night buddy!

My daughter's experience also has happened to others. From the posts I've read this seems to be happening at different hospitals across the country in all different people groups. The hospital my daughter was at has been sued several times for the same thing she went through. Meg did some research, and found several different scenarios that sounded eerily like what happened to my daughter. Others have done what I have here. I almost cried as I read their stories. It was hard to hear that it isn't just my child, and it isn't just here in the QC. So now you know our story. Please listen. If you have the power to change these situations-- do so. If you are an ordinary person, then please be aware. Because honestly, parents of a three year old have gone through the same thing. A woman giving birth has gone through the same thing. Many others have gone through the same thing.

Don't tell me the doctors know best because I don't believe it anymore. They broke my daughter's trust and my own. Thank goodness there were a few shining lights that did care or it could have been worse. If you are in the medical field, please play the part of the shining light. She could have used so much more light!

It has been three weeks now since my daughter was released from the hospital, and I am starting to calm down. Life has gone back close to normal. I don't see any way I am getting anywhere close to a hospital any time soon. Doctors now freak out our whole family a little. My daughter has said, she really has to think about her choice of career. She was in classes planning on going into the medical field. For now that is on hold.

Now we are trying to regain peace.
Any kind of plan was never talked about in the psych ward. That definitely did not constitute a break either! Her anxiety tripled while there. She still isn't depressed, though she is now wondering if she has Post Traumatic Stress because of what happened in the hospital. She is working on ideas for a plan. School is on hold, but that had more to do with seeing the way things were done while in the hospital. She loves her counselor (the one I wanted to take her to on Wednesday), and feels safe talking to her. She has the option of having me there or not. That is up to her. 

She has begun doing yoga for stress relief-- that idea came from the patient advocate and Meg. She is working and smiles a lot. Her boyfriend is thinking about learning some kind of alternative healing. He is also considering switching schools to be closer, but I am letting the two of them decide how they want to go about things. We are all healing from that Monday through Thursday hospital stay. Though, honestly it is something that none of us will ever forget, it has redefined us in ways we can't even tell you yet. I truly hope that me posting this will give voice for others that have gone through this, and hopefully leave everyone else a little wiser so they don't ever have to go to the place we have been.