After they had me trussed up in restraints…No, let me back up a bit, because it was not that easy…Hannette was the point person, shall we say, the person who had my head between her hands and was cradling it, “oh so gently” as she “oh so soothingly” commanded me to CALM DOWN RIGHT THIS MINUTE!” Again and again, she subjected me to these absurd demnds as if I could possibly do so upon her order. And as if I ever would do anything but attempt to writhe away from her clammy awful grip on my ears that nearly deafened me to her voice even so.
Finally the job was done and they had fastened a thick plate of velcro across my chest so I could not even sit up or do more than bend my neck a bit to see their handiwork, briefly, before i lost strength and had to lie back down. But I was emotionally overwrought with the situation, and what had happened in the space of only minutes.
WTF? How could this have happened when all I ever wanted was an Ativan to calm down and help me speak? And now what?
But they just trooped out, with Annette leaving last, saying, “You will tell us in WORDS when you are safe enough to be released, or you will remain in restraints.” She then departed too.
Although two monitors were posted silently in the adjoining room, I could not see them for my position, nor were they permitted to speak to me, as I knew from prior experience. I let out a scream that echoed through the empty chamber like a banshee howl but it made no difference. Yes, I could hear Chelsea from somewhere, — a sweet female staff member who remembered my Advance directive and the other times I had been restrained — saying, “Pam, take a deep breath, try to stay calm, I am here, you are not alone…” And I mentally thanked her. But as soon as I could remember that she was there, she was taken away, removed by someone who was told not to talk to me….and so it went. A Dr. Lasix came to me within the half hour and told me he wanted me to come out of the restraints as soon as possible but I would have to agree to talk with him. What did I have to say to that?
I could not respond with a shake of my head or a simple nod so I remained silent. He shrugged and left.
Several people attempted to engage me in conversation, but as no one phrased their comments as Yes or NO questions, I had to remain still. I was not unwilling to answer, simply unable to. But time and again they told me I was “unresponsive” or non-compliant, though I was calm and had been rewarded with the requisite assessment to possibly come out of restraints every fifteen minutes. But no one let me, because they would not let me answer their questions without speaking aloud.
The hours passed. First one then two then three. Finally the nurse Jennnifer decided to relent and allow as how I might answer the safety questions with a shake or nod of my head.
“Will you remain safe and not hurt anyone?” she asked me, standing above me.
I nodded my head.
“Will you remain safe and not attempt to harm y0urself?”
I nodded again.
Will you get up go back to the unit to and to your room and continue to behave safely if we let you out of restraints?”
Nod nod nod.
Jennifer seemed happy with my responses but also at a loss as to what to do with them. She paused. “Okay, thank you Pam. I have to go back and confer with Hannette and see if she will agree to take you out of restraints now that you have agreed to be safe.”
She left, turning her back, promising to be back within a few minutes.
Instead, it took a good half hour, and when she did, both she and Hannette arrived with a plan. “We have decided that we want to free up one hand and you will write a safety plan with the free hand. Then we will approve it and if it is adequate we will see about taking you out of restraints.”
I frowned. Even as she spoke, Hannette had moved to the end of the gurney where my stocking feet lay exposed. Her belly squished against my toes and soles of my feet, and I felt an immeidiate disgust and worse. I felt instant revulsion, as if I were being deliberately molested by someone who knew I was helpless to resist. So I kicked at her mightily. If I could have spoken in words I would have yelled something too, like “You effing …something or other…!” but alas, I could say nothing in protest, only scream, and kick. This did have the effect I wanted of getting her to stop and move away. Someone told her to move past me at the head of the bed next time and she did…
But the safety plan writing thing was their way of upping the ante abominably. How dare they? They had already illegally kept me restrained in FIVE points for far longer than necessary, just because they wanted to prove a point and force me to speak. without even offering me Ativan to calm down let alone to promote speech. Now this??? I flat out refused. And so somewhat triumphantly they trooped out, leaving me alone again, still in restraints at 6:00 o’oclock in the morning.
I knew I had to remain as still as possible to earn yet another assessment within the next fifteen minutes. But my muscles and veins hurt becuase I had remainedstill for so many hours, and no one had done any range of motion exercises on me, actively or passively. I was becoming afraid that I would develop a blood clot if I did not move my limbs on my own, and no matter what they interpreted it as, I began a methodical program of movement. I carefully circled each leg ten times in each direction, the restraints clanking as I did do. Then I bent each knee up and down, up and down. Ditto with my arms, until I was satified that I had exercised them at least a minimum and could relax into the required absolute stillness for the next fifteen minutes so I could earn an assessment.
Finally, Jennifer returned a final time. But this time it was only to tell me that they were leaving for the night. “First shift will have to take you out of the restraints. It is too let for is now.”
when end I herd this, I let out a bnshee scream of exhaustion and utter frustration, but it was too no avail. Only when first shift finally came on and found me still in restraints at 7:00 am did they relent and give me Ativan and take me out by 7:30.
6 thoughts on “Five Point Restraints At Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (cont)”
Thank you for sharing these experiences Pam. Your words are invaluable, and should have a wider audience, especially among healthcare workers. Unfortunately, people don’t like to be distressed or uncomfortable, and so most will avoid reading them. I wish there were more Chelseas in the world. My best wishes go out to you.
Thank you, Form 22 for your support. It is absolutely true that I both feel a prisoner of psychiatry and unable to entirely break the chains, partly because decades of antipsychotic medications ( not benzos ) have so damaged my brain that it seems impossible to get off or even lower the doses without major disaster ensuing which is what happened a month ago…yet I keep trying to, because I cannot reconcile myself to staying on them!
Again my thanks for your continuing support for my struggle and your understanding of my ambivalence.
GaviaSwimmer, this is supposed to be a safe place for ALL Mad people, both those who’ve given “the finger” to psychiatry and those who can’t do that, don’t want to do that, or aren’t sure if they should do that. Pam, like the rest of us, is doing whatever she can do to stay healthy and live the way she wants. Maybe you do have real questions about why Pam appears to you as though she keeps putting herself in harm’s way by trying to cooperate with her psychiatric clinicians, but your tone is very accusatory. Could you please lower the treble a smidge?
Dear commenter, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Ativan’s addictive potential which is why I take it very sparingingly. However it is not without its uses and if you had suffered the eternities of either catatonia or months of mutism as I have you might feel a tad more empathy for those of us who employ it upon rare occasion.
> “There is no negative space, only the shapely void. Hold your hands out, cup the air. To see the emptiness you hold is to know that space loves the world.” P. Wagner
What concerns me about this post is all the talk of “needing” Ativan. Nobody needs Ativan and difficulty functioning due to psychological stress is no indication of an Ativan deficiency. Ativan is a drug, a chemical just like heroin or meth – and nobody would get away with saying they need those either. Just because Big-Pharma backed FDA says it’s a “medication” doesn’t make it so, and absolutely doesn’t make it a solution. Psychosis is the result of unresolved trauma – NOT a chemical imbalance in the brain. Why do you keep ending up in the hospitals, is my question? Why do you depend on people you know will only drug you enough to addict you, then deny you your addictions and convince you that you “need” them to dispense the chemicals they’ve got you hooked on? How long has this gone on, and how much longer will it take for you to realize that what you really NEED, is to get out of the “Mental Health System” indefinitely?
List of substances developed by the CIA in 1955, the production and “research” of which was then turned over to the public sector (AKA psychiatry):
* Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
* Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
* Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
SOUNDS LIKE ATIVAN.