MENTAL HEALTH – STIGMA IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM

Mental Health – Stigma in the Emergency Room
The Fourth House
by – Sheri de Grom

 Journal Entry: Random entries beginning Dec. 7, 1987, Monterey, California.

My husband, Tom, and I had endured a year-long odyssey of medical exams for him.

HealthyPlace.com

HealthyPlace.com

Neither our internist nor specialist could find causes which rendered him unable to digest food. He also experienced irregular heartbeats and anxiety attacks with uncontrollable shaking.

Our internist always welcomed us and listened carefully and conscientiously, never suggesting that Tom might be a hypochondriac, or I, a hysterical wife. She met with both of us and conveyed her earnest desire to continue searching for the cause of his decline.

She’d guided us through the medical maze until we ran out of options. The day came when she suggested to me, “You might want to consider going through the Emergency Room for a mental health evaluation. It’s not the perfect solution but it’s the only choice you have.”

Our arrival at the emergency room that first time on December 7, 1987, seemed surreal. A stiffly starched nurse, features empty of emotion or sympathy, recorded Tom’s vital signs. She moved abruptly, and never spoke. Somehow, I knew this foray into mental health care would be barbaric compared to our previous health care experiences.

A no-nonsense orderly escorted us into a private room, with two chairs and a table. A holding cell couldn’t have been bleaker. I felt the loss of freedom and entrapment as brutally as if we had both been handcuffed and strip-searched.

Forty-five minutes dragged by. Then, without warning, a psychiatric nurse burst into the room and relentlessly fired questions at Tom, seeming oblivious to his emotional state and physical symptoms. Tom’s body shook with tremors so severe he could barely stay seated. He couldn’t speak to answer her questions. Where were her observation skills? Anger strangled me. Had we interrupted her gossiping at the nurse’s station? I gritted my teeth to suppress my rage. I struggled to stop myself from shouting: my husband is an ordinary human being in extraordinary pain!

When the nurse left, Tom remained locked inside his mind. I tried to no avail to see in there, too. Was it safe? Was it dark? What was it like on the inside looking out? Could he even see out or had the hatch been secured so tightly that only shadows, phantoms and gloom resided there? What happened when a mind was capable of only one thing – suffering? I felt powerless and interpreted the terror in his eyes, ‘what’s happening to me? Please help!’

A rumpled-looking admissions clerk entered the room and handed me some papers to read and sign. Wordless, with an air of false authority, the orderly reappeared and plunked Tom into a wheelchair.

“Wait!” I shouted. “Where are you taking my husband? You don’t have permission to move him.” I’d always had control of Tom’s care. Who told this brash stranger to remove Tom from my sight? No one could care as much for Tom’s well being as I did.

The admissions clerk returned and spoke in an unbearable monotone, “Mrs. de Grom, your husband is safe now. Come along and we’ll complete his paperwork. You might be able to see him later tonight.”

‘Come along?’ I was enraged but at his mercy.

A nerve-racking two hours later, I approached the admissions desk again. “When can I see Tom de Grom?”

The clerk looked up with a bored expression and an upside-down name tag. “Let me check.”

He made a call, then rested the phone in its cradle and advised, “The unit is processing Mr. de Grom tonight. You can see him during normal visiting hours tomorrow. That’ll be five to seven p.m.”

“What? What do you mean? That’s only two hours.”

“Tomorrow you’ll get information about how the unit operates. Have a good trip home.”

I’d been dismissed. Just like that. My world had forever changed.                                                                                                                                                           

As I left the hospital, I’d never felt so lost and alone. I’d always had a plan and a method for executing it. I’d always excelled in my profession but nothing had prepared me for this.

Clutching the leather steering wheel of my trusty Volkswagen, I slumped over and sobbed. I cried for Tom, for myself, for the life we had planned so carefully. I cried for the sweet promises we’d made to each other the day we’d wed and danced under the flower-covered gazebo overlooking the roaring turquoise Pacific Ocean. We’d laughed and declared the song, Strangers in the Night, our own. It was our song, our dance, our story.

Yip, my little Shih Tzu, snuggled into my lap as I started the drive home. He seemed unusually quiet, but the steady, familiar beat of his heart was bittersweet against my churning stomach. Would I ever feel the beat of Tom’s heart against mine again? How could I have left him there?

###

This blog as well as all my previous Fourth House series blogs are dedicated to every person suffering from a chronic mental illness and their families and loved ones.

A Canvas of the Minds is a unique collaboration of different perspectives on mental health and life. I’ve elected to continue my fight against the stigma that accompanies mental health.

Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project

Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project

With this post, I pledge my commitment to the ‘Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project.’ I will continue to blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. The time has come for everyone to set aside the stigma that haunts those with brain disorders and those of us who love them.

The blog I’ve posted today is taken from my journal notes beginning December 7, 1987 and moving forward approximately ten days. I was emotionally wrung out the night I left Tom at the hospital and drove home alone with the exception of my dog, not knowing if I’d ever see the man I married ever again. His haunting gaze, trembling body and inability to form words filled me with a terror I’d never encountered before. Tom’s illness brought me to my knees time and time again.

I was supposed to be the strong one. The one willing to take on the toughest case The Staff Judge Advocate could throw at me and obtain the conclusion he demanded in the government’s interest. I’d never lost. Failure was not a part of my world. I was fearless and never afraid. With Tom’s illness I’d met an enemy I had no idea how to conquer.

The professionals where Tom was admitted on his first of twenty-seven mental health admissions demonstrated to me how severe stigma is against the mentally ill and their loved ones. When the professionals in the mental health arena demonstrate inappropriate behavior, how will the child in the schoolyard learn to act differently?

Thank you for reading with me.

INDEX TO FOURTH HOUSE BLOGS:

Our Lives Disappeared With Bipolar Disorder

Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy – Barbaric Torture for the Patient and Family

The Aftermath of 55 Years of Memory Loss

The Wrongs of Psychiatric Care – Part 1 of 2

The Wrongs of Psychiatric Care – Part 2 of 2

Medical Care Discrimination – Physical vs. Mental

Therapy – Who Needs It? – Part 1 of 3

Therapy – Who Needs It? – Part 2 of 3

Therapy – Who Needs It? – Part 3 of 3

One Is A Lonely Number

Anniversary Trigger Dates

Christmas Memories

This Moment In Time

You Can’t Go Home Again

Sharks At My Grave

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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68 Responses to MENTAL HEALTH – STIGMA IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM

  1. Pingback: IS YOUR MEDICAL RECORD ACCURATE? | Sheri de Grom

  2. Gallivanta – I’m doing a bit of long over-do house cleaning on my blog today. Here’s proof again that more and more hours are taken up by care giving full-time for my husband. I’m far behind in reading your posts and they are always so exquisite.

  3. My dad was admitted countless times for what we THOUGHT was alcoholism efore a diagnosis of bipolar disorder was even in the lexicon. My mom witnessed all of his admissions, but I am glad I was spared that. I’m sure he must have experienced the (mis)treatment that you and Tom did.

    • John – Without a doubt your parents went through the same experiences with ER admissions that Tom and I did. Your parents might very well have even had it worse (if that’s possible) because everyone thought your father’s diagnosis was alcoholism. We now know alcoholism is one of the many ways those with bipolar disorder elect to medicate themselves instead of taking their medications. There’s also the population who never receive any medical care: the homeless, the individuals that cycle through the prison system, etc. Alcoholism and drug addiction takes over with those whose families have turned their backs.

  4. Dace says:

    I have no words. All I can think of is – how terrified you were and how lost and scared Tom was. No one should experience a trauma like this.

    • Dace – You are so right. No one should ever be treated the way individuals with mental health concerns are in the medical environment. We’ve been in the same position over and over. Tom has had 27 admissions and I’d guess that over 20 were as brutal as that first admission in 1987. Thankfully we’ve entered a protective environment and have absolutely no plans to leave.

  5. Jane Sadek says:

    So poignant Sheri – but every time you write about this, it always is.

  6. jbw0123 says:

    It hurts to read this, but I do because I love your honesty, and your courage. Funding for mental health care is STILL at the bottom of the pile, the last in line. I taught yoga as a volunteer at the local psychiatric unit for four years. When I suggested they might attract more teachers if they offered a token fee to teachers, say $25 per class, the administrator practically laughed. “This unit is here because of the hospital’s charity,” she said. “We have no extra money for anything.” She did offer to buy mats for the class, and came forward with an envelope of lose change and dollar bills — the staff had taken up a collection of their own money! I write this not because yoga is the most important thing a psych unit should offer, it isn’t, but to illustrate how hand to mouth things are. I was distressed by the blank-eyes of the staff, who often looked too overwhelmed to care about the patients. I’m not surprised to read about the insensitive treatment of you and Tom, especially back in 1987. Excellent post. But so sad.

    • Julia, Thank you for stopping in to read. It’s individuals such as yourself that remind me why I’ve chosen to write honestly and openly about Tom’s and my struggles within the mental health arena and beyond. I for one can vouch for how important the yoga classes were. One of the hospitals Tom was in happened to have a geriatric unit (not exactly the best place to put someone that’s suicidal) but the unit had an exercise group for 1 hour each day. Tom told me it was gentle exercises but he added it was the only thing that kept him from going insane.

  7. heila2013 says:

    Dear Sheri,

    This post brings tears to my eyes. It so tangibly painful brings back the memory of when I had my son hospitalized involuntarily (involving the police…) in a psychiatric hospital. His psychotic thoughts and obsessions had become so bad that he couldn’t function properly, didn’t leave the house anymore and suffered extremely. I HAD to take an extreme step because he wasn’t willing to take medication, which at that point he urgently needed for stabilization.
    I know that the trauma is very present in his mind and will maybe never leave him. Just the thought of what I made him go through kills me. BUT I had to do something and sometimes he admits that hospitalization did help him. Fortunately, the staff in the hospital was mostly very kind.

    • Heila – Thank you ever so much for stopping in to read with me. I applaud you for doing what you had to do. Thankfully, Tom has always been willing to take his medications and we have a contract in place that if I say it’s time for him to go to the hospital because I don’t think he’s safe any longer (from himself) then he doesn’t argue with me. We simply pick up and go.
      At a time when you had to involve law enforcement, you definitely needed all the kindness available in the world and I’m happy the staff mostly came through for you. Sheri

      • heila2013 says:

        Thank you so much for your kind comment dear Sheri. It really means a lot to me! And what a very wise idea to draw up such a contract. I will bring it up at our next volunteers (of the Israeli Mental Health Association) meeting. I wish you a tranquil weekend. Heila

  8. A very distressing experience, Sheri.
    (Sorry I didn’t see this post earlier. Though I am a follower of your blog, for some reason I didn’t receive notifications about your posts lately.)

  9. Patty B says:

    What you and Tom went through should never have happened. As I read everyone’s comments I agreed with all of them. You are an inspiration – and I must admit you are one of the strong women I know that have gotten me through this first year as a “widow” – there I not only said it but I wrote it….I keep you and Tom in my prayers daily. It is my way to hug you each day. Blessings dear friend!

    • Hello, Patty: Thanks for stopping in and reading with me. Has it been a year since you lost Tom? It always seems like yesterday to me but on the other hand–you’ve had to live through each and every day and each and every night without the man you love at your side.
      Sometimes I wonder how we survived those early years of Tom’s illness. Those early years when I had yet to learn about mental illness and how to fight the system that continued to try to give Tom care that was dangerous to him.
      And, then I stop and recognize, it was one simple prayer that led me to keep on learning and searching for the answers for when I knew I couldn’t take any more, the prayer came so easily, “May God’s Will Be Done.” He’s never let me down.

      • Patty B says:

        Yes God is so good – this past year He has not let us down either, He has picked me up each day. It is hard to believe it has been a year, some days it feels like it just happened and other days like its been a life time. I keep thinking how can he be gone when his presence is still so strong. I could not have gotten through this year with God and with each special person He put in my life to help me. You are such a blessing. I keep you and Tom in my prayers daily.

  10. ksbeth says:

    this is heart wrenching –

  11. atempleton says:

    What a harrowing experience. No one should have to go through something like that.

  12. This breaks my heart for you both. And I can only imagine how frightened he must have been when you weren’t allowed to stay with him. So sad. Thinking of you.

    • Renee – Thank you for stopping in to read with me and comment. Thankfully we’ve learned a lot since 1987. I faced a steep learning curve in the first 15 years or so of Tom’s illness. Of course, the literature tells us that individuals with bipolar disorder do not live beyond age 55. However, with advocacy, amendments to law, training of law enforcement, educating medical personnel and family members we now have more family members willing to stand up and fight back for quality care and respect for the person they love.

  13. Sheri, I’m not bipolar, but throughout the years I’ve suffered with illnesses of the mind and heart. Most doctors I’ve visited, when I describe the symptoms of my illnesses, either ignore me, reduce my symptoms to an inaccurate diagnosis (but one that fits their comfort zone), or “test” different medications on me. The telltale sign — the sad one that amazes me — is that one doctor, not knowing that I’ve received an opinion from a previous doctor, will oftentimes give me an entirely different diagnosis. Lack of training, lack of proper study, and lack of sensitivity. Sad to say that this egregious lack still exists in the 21st century.

    • Anthony – Thanks for stopping by and reading with me. How well I understand the symptoms being misdiagnosed over and over. It happened to Tom in the early stages of his illness. He was first diagnosed with single episode clinical depression. Thus, he was given major antidepressants. You are probably aware that antidepressants are the worst drug an individual can be given if they are bipolar. Tom’s psychiatrist, the one we ended up with due to the ER admission, was seeing Tom 3 times a week after his discharge. Of course he loved the idea that our insurance paid at 100% and I’m sure that’s why he billed at $300/office visit. I bet that helped pay for his office in Carmel.
      I’ve learned through the years that internist along with general practice doctors don’t want to deal with the symptoms of mental health, the same as you described in your comment. Of course, Obama care is advocating the general practice physician will be the first line of defense, yet they receive no training in medical school.
      I’ve always been an advocate of finding the right specialist for whatever issue you are dealing with. Thankfully, I had mine lined up before age 65. However, I had to sort through the trash before I found physicians in the medical world I could actually communicate with.
      I’ve watched the number of medications that have been tried with Tom and I know the devastation they have caused to his body. Thankfully we now have one of the leading experts in the field of treating bipolar disorder as Tom’s psychiatrist and I can’t say enough good things about him.

  14. willowdot21 says:

    It is a dark harsh day when the care of a loved one is taken out of your hands. I remember my husband breaking down completely and ending up a tearful huddle on the lounge floor. The dr came and told me the best thing was to section him it was awful . Alone with three small children and a terrible mess and he is born off in an Ambulance to hospital and you have no control at all. xx

    • Oh, dear sweet Willow. How terrible for you. At least I didn’t have to worry about small children at home. I cannot imagine how I would have survived that. I did deal with Tom’s ex-wife managing to get through to see him although she wasn’t on the approved visitor’s list. I was furious the staff had let her through. She had some nerve when she told me, “Tom was never sick a day when he was married to me.” Oh the things I wanted to hurl back at her. I did manage to get her removed from his room and from the approved visitors allowed list (no one could visit except myself) and no one could call except myself. Tom had two teen daughters from that marriage and, well I could dedicate another blog to that, but I’ll leave that topic to someone else.
      I applaud you for your courage and strength. That must have been one of the worst nights you lived through. Hugs coming your way. Sheri

      • willowdot21 says:

        Thankfully Sheri it was a long time ago must be nearly thirty years. It was a dark time, leading up to my husband being taken into hospital the days and nights were so black. I could not drive then and so I had to rely on my neighbours who were sterling. It was a long drive to the hospital and I needed babysitters. I think my husband did not think I visited enough but it was a long way and we often sat silent the whole time I was there.
        He has blanked all those years hidden them away … they did not happen. Sadly they did, I know because I was there and holding the fort! Time past best move on … big smile. Huge hugs to you and blessings too. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  15. Barb Estinson says:

    Sheri, my brother David Walker shared your blog with me. Your courage to share your horribly abusive experiences is amazing. I sincerely hope that in the years of seeking care for your dear husband, you have encountered more of the professional in the same caring category as Tom’s current psychiatrist and your therapist. As a retired mental health professional, the brutal care that you and he have endured is really painful to me.

    • Barb: I’m pleased David passed my blog along to you. Tom and I were thrown into the world of mental health in 1987 and I was a career woman fighting white collar crime. I knew next to nothing about mental illness. I knew the basic reasons people committed crimes and what drove them to such behaviors, but mental illness at home, never. I could find the criminal but I couldn’t seem to find appropriate care for my husband.
      I knew I had to find competent care for Tom plus I couldn’t talk to anyone other than my best friend, Catherine. I wrote about how important my relationship with Catherine was and still is in my blog, ‘This Moment in Time.’ You’ll find the link to this blog under the index of ‘The Fourth House’ series.
      I was willing to do anything to lessen Tom’s mental pain but I also had to keep my job. My career was where the 100% pay insurance was and I knew somehow we were going to need a lot of insurance for the remainder of our lives.
      I will be talking about some of the great mental health care we’ve received along the way but we’ve had our share of the bad. I believe we’ve encountered some really inappropriate care for Tom due to my career moving us so frequently. I often felt cornered and it was a tough place to be.
      One again, thank you for reading with me. I always love to have opinions of individuals that have worked in the mental health field.

  16. Sheri, your willingness and ability to bare your soul before total strangers to get the word out about Tom’s and your battles continues to amaze me. Well, maybe we in the blogging community are not total strangers to one another, but I still stand dumbfounded at your strength.

    • David – My friend, thank you for sticking in there and reading with me. You are one of my earliest blogging friends and here we are, sticking together through thick and thin. You’ll never know how much your series of blogs on the Bible have helped me during the times I’ve been writing about Tom’s and my journey. I have a few sites I go to for strength and to tap into courage and you are definitely at the top of the list. Thank you for being there. Sheri

  17. Sheri, as my late brother’s 74th birthday passed last week, I thought of all the missed moments we never had, the things we could never share. His battle ended, but my bitterness would remain with me for my entire life.The stigma of his illness was like a mountain my family would never climb. He saw his zenith alone with none of us there to help.

    What you are doing is so important to all those who suffer, their families and loved ones, and if you can help even one person with their journey, you will have done wonders. Thank you so much for having the courage to tell your story.

    • Florence – Thank you so much. I’ve said all along, if I can help just one person find appropriate care and to offer hope for a better life, then my blogging about our journey will be more than worthwhile.
      I know you’ve suffered from your families unwillingness to address your brothers mental health issues and to help him address them head-on. Today, so many families continue to turn their backs on the one member that needs their assistance the most. Tom’s extended family always said there was nothing wrong with Tom other than he was spoiled due to his being an only child. Today, we know more and more about the genetics that passes bipolar disorder from one generation to another. Of course, those that seem ok with the exception of their alcoholism, womanizing or the woman that can’t stay away from men, the drug addict, the gambler and the list goes on: those are the family members most likely to be carrying the gene of bipolar disorder and the most likely to have the disease themselves.

  18. sue marquis bishop says:

    Sheri, There are too many stories of missed opportunities to comfort, support, and help patients and their families who enter the health care system expecting care and treatment. When it works, it’s wonderful. When it fails, it reverberates across time creating lingering mistrust, anger and hopelessness. So much still needs to be done. Hospital ombudsman are a start if they do their jobs. Thank you for sharing your story. Sue
    womenlivinglifeafter50.com

    • Sue – Thank you for dropping by and reading with me. If I remember correctly, you were a mental health professional for many years.
      I cannot imagine you allowing anything but honesty, compassion, empathy and trust to build in any relationship.
      Tom and I were brand new to the world of mental health in 1987 and being admitted via the ER was a little like playing Russian Roulette with the psychiatrist you were going to end up with. Needless to say, we didn’t get the luck of the draw.
      I’ve learned much about finding appropriate care for Tom and myself since those frightening days of 1987. I knew what we received on that awful night in 1987 wasn’t right and that I’d make it my job to figure out how to access quality care. I’ll be addressing some of the heroes of mental health care during our long journey. Additionally, I’ll be talking about how to get out from under professionals who believe they have you locked into their care forever (as in how to fire the doctor).

  19. That just sounds so damn scary. I feel so bad for you and Tom that you had (and still have) to go through such insensitive reactions by hospital personnel. It just makes me wonder why. Are these people simply incompetent, non-caring, ignorant or just plain stupid? Treating people this way in a setting this is “supposed” to be helpful is incongruous.
    My heart goes out to both of you.

    • Patti – I’m so sorry it has taken so long for me to respond to you. You are always so quick and I know you’ll always be one of the first to respond to one of my post. I’ve had to take a bit of time after posting this particular blog to step away from it and regroup my thoughts. It’s so easy to be pulled down into the gunk of today’s world within mental health. I do have a mental health happy post coming up in the near future – I think we could all use a little happiness and you and my other followers need to know there really is happiness in between the events of tragedy.
      Recognizing and celebrating the events of happiness is crucial for making any marriage work and absolutely vital for the marriage wherein one individual is bipolar disordered.

  20. Kim13 says:

    Hugs Sheri…As I was reading this I was taken back to the many ER admissions I faced back when I was in the worst of my illness and treatments. I wish that I could find a way to post about my experiences without “reliving” them.

    • Kim – I understand. One of the reasons I leave a bit of distance between the mental health, fourth house blogs is that I need the space to recover. I don’t think it’s possible to write of those terrifying situations without reliving many of the terrors that take place.

      • Kim13 says:

        I agree Sheri. I did my years of therapy, and now..I just want to live for today, and use the tools I have found to be healthy. I don’t forget my past, but I don’t relive it either..it’s just better for me.

        • Kim – We’ve learned in therapy to live in the present. I think that’s one of the reasons it took me so long to start going through my journals. I actually started the process of going through them 3 years ago and marking subjects I felt should be told honestly and straight-forward. One of the reasons I mark my blogs with the date of my journal entry is that some of our experiences have been so painful, I simply can’t write a blog on a particular subject at a given time. I simply have to back up and give something else a try.
          I continue to read your blog and you are doing great. I’m so proud of you and the progress you’ve made. Sheri

  21. This is unacceptable behavior in the medical world. It breaks my heart how plastic these professionals were at that time. I can only hope more humanity is be found today among those who have chosen these careers.
    As I read this post, I felt terror. Had I been in Tom’s shoes (or yours), I don’t believe I would be sane today. The breaking point is fragile and sometimes once broken is never healed again.
    I marvel you survived through incompetence of these institutions over all those years.

    • Tess – Stigma and hurtful behavior is unacceptable anywhere. Then when someone is aiming at my Tom, they’d better know how to cope with me. This experience was our first admission through an emergency room and it was indeed dreadful. It’s a night I’ll never forget. Unfortunately we had many more admissions just as bad as the one I wrote about here.
      We live where we do because we have the best medical care for Tom that we’ve ever had anywhere in the world. I’ll be blogging about that one of these days. It took us 16 years to find the doctors we have and I’m not about to leave them.

      • I don’t blame you. I’m so sorry it took so long to find the proper care for your husband. ;-0
        A childhood friend in a large city hospital told me horror stories about doctors and nurses. The bottom line is: they seem to be in the job for the prestige but won’t touch a sick person let alone a bedpan. Of course that was years ago but I wonder that it has improved much.

        • Tess – Hello my friend. There’s so much that goes on still today that is worrisome about all facets of health care. Tom had a major surgery in 2008 (I think I have the year right) and his room didn’t get cleaned in three days by housekeeping. I was appalled. Finally one night I couldn’t stand it any longer and made a call to the night hospital administrator about the state of sanitation in Tom’s room (and we were paying extra for his private room). I hadn’t hung up the phone more than 30 minutes before housekeeping appeared with their cleaning supplies and they cleaned that night but the following 18 days of Tom’s hospitalization. My concern is what about the family member or caregiver that doesn’t know how to go about addressing inappropriate standards of care. Those are the individuals I worry about. When you consider the room rate on the surgical floor was $17,000+ per day and then I paid extra for the room being private, I thought about what we were getting and how our insurance company was being ripped off. I found it all totally inexcusable.

          • Oh yes, these establishments know how to get their money first and dealing with an insurance company that will pay—ouch. when you complain, sometimes the billing party will ask, “What do you care? Your insurance company is paying.”

            Yes, indeed, it’s a sorry place to be if you do not know how to put up a firm stand. ‘-)

  22. gpcox says:

    That frightened woman who stopped on the side of the road to cry emerged the strong willed person we all admire today! Your ordeals molded both you and Tom into the solid couple of today. God bless the both of you.

  23. sharechair says:

    Simply put … you are a hero. I don’t understand how people who enter a field that requires compassion are so … cold.

  24. My heart hurt as I read this. It was as though you were describing the exact experiences we have had with my brother for so many years. You are compassionate and brave to share your stories with the world. Thank you for that.

  25. Skye says:

    Sheri, I wish I had the right words to say, but they fail me. Throughout reading this post, all I wanted to do was climb through my screen and hug you. In tears, I write to you saying that I will be praying for you. You are an inspiration to me–I wish I could share how much. Please know that you are a blessing that is needed in many lives. Your sharing is a gift. Much love…Skye

    • Skye – Thankfully those awful days of 1987 are behind us and we’ve located the best medical care we’ve ever encountered for Tom. We had so many dark and dreary days, days when I had no idea how I was going to put one foot in front of the other yet I had to go to work and function as if nothing else was going on in my life. I was also reading everything I could get my hands on about Tom’s disease. I knew I had to learn everything there was to know because the medical establishment wasn’t going to tell me anything.

      One of the reasons I’m posting on the early days of Tom’s illness is this is the time so many marriages fall apart and I so want others to know that a marriage can only grow stronger and gather more love as it triumphs each victory.

      • Skye says:

        I did realize, when I went back to read again, that it was from a much earlier date. But, tears still rolled down my face as I felt all that you were going through. You are an incredible blessing and inspiration, Sheri. In so many ways. I thank the Lord I found your blog and your friendship.

  26. Gallivanta – Hello and how are you. I loved your post about the definition of precious stones, et. al. Here I am married to a custom designer who also makes many of his own designs and I’d never thought to look up the definitions you set before me.
    Now, as to your question about the eyes of the mentally ill being so blatant and what many would say, unable to be missed because the look is ‘so in your face.’ I’ve placed the mental health care professionals in 3 categories. There are those who genuinely care and go beyond any standard of care manual to insure the well being of the patient and the patient’s family. We have that in Tom’s psychiatrist and my therapist at the present time and I need to blog about that soon.
    Then we have category #2. These individuals are simply putting in their time to get a pay check. They don’t mean to do harm but neither do they care if they help. They certainly won’t try to help in any way which calls for praise.
    Category #3: The worst of all offenders. They not only don’t care who they hurt but will go out of their way to cause harm to both the patient and the patient’s family. These individuals will talk about patient’s outside of the work environment and use their given names, allow anyone to call through to the patient even when there’s a restricted telephone contact list, and the list goes on.

  27. Thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone. Your frustration and angst are palpable. Professional detachment is supposed to help the medical professional remain objective. It helps them protect themselves from the rigors of a demanding job. Professional empathy would be much more powerful for both the patient and their loved ones.

    • Michael: It’s nice to see you. The blog I posted was our first experience with an ER admission and certainly not our last. Each and every ER admission was just as brutal.
      I understand professional detachment but I don’t understand disregard for standards of care. During my professional career I had occasion to serve on JACHO teams and had we ever discovered anything remotely close to the treatment of the mentally ill or any patient, those hospitals would have been shut down immediately.
      The last JACHO team I served on we witnessed severe abuse to the elderly.
      Stigma haunts everyone, in one form or another.
      One of the reasons I blog about our experiences with the mental health world is that I want others to know that although we were covered by insurance 100%, the quality of care was the same as those with no insurance. Individuals have asked me about the difference in Tom’s quality of care due to our having the insurance and those with no insurance and mental health care is mental health care.

  28. Gallivanta says:

    The fear and the confusion in the eyes is so blatant, so extraordinary….how do medical personnel not see it?

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