In 5-Point Restraints For Six Hours At Vermont’s State Hospital VPCH

 

Fist Protesting Restraints
Fist Protesting Restraints

I admit i had been slamming the doors at 2 o’clock in the morning but this never triggered anything before from the unbelievably patient and forbearing staff at Vermont’s Psychiatric Care Hospital, Unit D, except some bemused bewilderment at what had set me off and offers of PRNs to help calm me. After all, with only two other patients on the floor and those two either stll awake or dead to the world, it really did not matter if I raised a ruckus. But this time, because Hannette was the nurse on duty, my nemesis, it mattered a great deal more than it ought to have.

 

Instead of letting me slam my door a few times and cool off, as i had so often before. or if not, then opening the safety door so when I slammed it it closed only on air, thwarting my attempts to make noise….instead of any of these non-personal interventions, Hannette decided to take another route no one else had ever done. She came right into my personal space and inner sanctum almost no one ever violated without asking me first. Not only did she enter my bed room, but she came right to the door way of my bathroom where I had pulled my mattress and situated my small bedroom stall inside there underneath the shower head.

 

I stood on the mattress, by the toilet, higher by a couple of inches, boosted by the mattress. But Hannette pushed up close and yelled at me, “You will not slam any more doors tonight, do you understand?! You WILL CALM YOURSELF right this instant!”

 

That was like yelling at me, BE spontaneous! Yeah, right. I had gone to the med window at this state hospital I had been committed to weeks before, asking for a second tiny dose of Ativan for severe anxiety and because I had been unable to speak for a few days. The next day the people from my recovery residence were coming and I needed to be able to sleep to meet with them in good form and i had to have a voice to speak with them…

for years catatonia and mutism have intermittently plagued me, and it was only in 2003 that we discovered how effective Ativan was for catatonia…later on, when mutism was the bigger problem, Dr C decided to try it, seeing it as as a feature of catatonia, with good results.

 

However, here at VPCH the on-call doctor,Lasix,  knew nothing about my relapsing mutism, nor my need for Ativan. He only knew about my complaints of sleeplessness and anxiety. So called around 1:30 AM he refused me a second .5mg dose and ordered me to try to relax on my own and sleep for another hour, before he would consider a second dose.

 

This is what occasioned, at 2:00 AM my panicked outburst of door slamming. But I did not start the melee that ensued. Properly the trigger was Hanette’s grabbing my wrists. She restrained me in such a fashion for some reason, but now I dunno why exactly. Maybe she saw my mute shaking my fists at her as threatening. Even so, she ought to have just backed away from me, having cornered me in the bathroom, where I felt threatened by her!

 

As it was, however, she approached closer and grabbed my wrists, another mental health specialist nearby saying at the same time, “we dont want to go hands on here at VPCH.”

 

“Then don’t grab my wrists!” I screamed silently. But reflexively and in terror, I bent to nip her fingers with my teeth in order to get her to release me.

 

Well, that of course was where all hell broke loose… and much more to say but the library hours end now so I have to leave this for tomorrow when I can spend more time at the hospital computer.

 

 

———

So, what happened next you can guess.  She yelled for help and help arrived in seconds in the form of staff prepared to go “hands on” not only to stop me from biting her but to actually restrain me completely.

 

As they  bodily hoisted me off the floor, screaming wordlessly, one man asked, “What now? And HAnnette answered promptly, “Seclude her!”

 

This horrified me. Not again, not a third time in weeks. not in Vermont where they were trying so they assured me everywhere to reduce these events to zero…This was ridiculous.

 

But Hannette had had it in for me ever since the episodes early on in my stay — when there had been forced medication, something my Advanced Directive had explicitly advised against for good reason, and which the “good doctor ” had for some reason seen fit to decide to go for anyway…with predictable consequences. So for several days as a result I had been a version of the Exorcist’s  Linda Blair over that first week or two and that is only a small exaggeration. The foul language spewing from my mouth in hourlong torrents was utterly uncharacteristic of me, both in kind and sheer amount.

 

But it was now nearly week three and after I had filed a grievance, the forced meds had been stopped and so too my involuntary Linda Blair imitations. Only Hannette it seemed still held those horrors against me. Everyone else had been both forbearing during those horrendous days and extremely forgiving afterwards. What is more, during my outbursts, even when I tossed chairs and overturned tables, no one had over reacted or punished me for the extreme and extremely disruptive behaviors i had exhibited at the time, no one.

Only once, when I became apparently dangerous, did the charge nurse put me briefly in five point restraints. and that was when I literally splashed urine all over him and other nurses and urinated on the rug in public and then hit him and two other people…But at no other time did they even come close to suggesting involuntary procedure such as meds or seclusion or restraints. Or at least not that I knew of.

 

Now here i was being dumped in seclusion largely because Hannette had grabbed my wrists, standing too close to me in my own bathroom!

 

Worse was to come. After the panoply of staff dashed from the room,  I ran after them in anger but they closed the door and locked it, locking me in alone.

Hopeless, I sat back down on the mattress dazed and sad but not moving. I heard them talking  but scarcely listened, trying to calm myself and wondering how long they planned to keep me in this god forsaken room. Then I heard someone say, “She has her glasses and watch. We have to get them!”

 

Soon they piled in again, all of them on top of me at once, peeling off my two pairs of glasses and watch and my medical band. And then they searched me for pockets of which I had none. All this time I was screaming, wihout verbalizing a word…and fighting them in protest at the intense violation of my person. Then as they tried to dash off I followed closely and almost escaped the room with them. This time they did not succeed in closing or locking the door, no, because I was wedged in-between. So someone said. “Back inside!” and we all moved as one back towards the mattress.

 

I thought they were going to use the maneuver Scott , that charge nurse. had used the other time, to twist my arms and legs in such a way as to make it difficutl for me to untangle myself and give them time to get out before I could follow. Not pleasant for me but not painful either and rather clever nonetheless.

 

But no, instead, to my dismay I heard Hannette call, “Get the Bed.”  The  BED??? For what? What had I done to deserve The Bed????

 

But the bed was gotten and within minutes I was trussed up in FIVE POINT RESTRAINTS for nothing more dangerous that holding up my fists at Annette and nipping at her fingers when she herself had grabbed my wrists!!!!

 

The worst is yet to be related alas. much worse. But I do not have enough time tonight in the library to explain it all and I need to post it tonight or it will be lost. I go home to MRR on Monday , which may be news to many who have been wondering where I am or have been.

 

It has been a long long journey and it is not over yet. More tomorrow on this story and perhaps I can also catch you up on other parts of it as well. In the meantime  know that VPCH is by and large a good place all told, just not a place to call home, not if you have any life of your own left to live.

 

Tata for now.

 

Pam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “In 5-Point Restraints For Six Hours At Vermont’s State Hospital VPCH”

  1. Pam, the things that happen to you are violations. You are very articulate and these events must become public knowledge. Such behavior by so called professional folks must stop. I send a friendly hug to you tonight. Carolyn

  2. When psychiatric survivors are alone with each other or in the company of our non-Mad friends, we often meticulously quantify the instances of abuse and neglect we’ve endured from our caregivers and tentatively estimate how far this inhumanity will entrench itself into our flesh and souls. As useful as this accounting of our experiences is for catharsis, building intimacy in our personal relationships, and public safety, it is long past time for members of the general population to make an effort at beginning a productive dialogue with psychiatric survivors like Pam once these survivors have invested their time and parted with their privacy in order to informally audit the psychiatric systems. The hardest part of interactively reviewing patient-conducted audits of these systems is going public with the lowdown details about what happens to psychiatric inmates when they are at odds with rogue clinicians. Pam has taken care of that herself, but now her fellow Americans need to listen to her, believe her, and punish her unfit psychiatric clinicians the same way they would punish unfit clinicians in every other branch of medicine. Though no member of the general population asks psychiatric survivors to be watchdogs of these systems, it is part of the social compact in this society to respond promptly and effectively when people have been demonstrably harmed by sectors of the economy that are underperforming. Pam’s local, state, and national communities are falling down on their job.

  3. Wow! Pam. I’m sorry! I’m sorry for you, and completely moved too by your story. You write amazingly. I thought of my son and hospitals and had insights. Needed insights.

    Please take care of yourself! Give yourself a gentle hug. I am sending you my love and you will be in my thoughts.

    Do write! As much as you can and your art is a gift to us as well.

    Your friend,
    Michelle.

  4. Like Marie, I, too, am so happy to hear from you! I’m so sorry you’ve been treated so horribly. How I wish you had the ability to express your needs to the people who are entrusted with your care. Praying for you. Love, Mai. ❤

  5. Pammy, I am glad to have some news from you! I am saddened by such events! I am appalled by such rash and completely unwarranted treatment! I fully empathize with you! I wish I were there to hug you and help calm you! Loads of love, Marie

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