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I am reposting the next one, a very painful if a not very skilled drawing, because I made some changes. I put a very mean smirk on the face of the woman in the front, who is meant to be facing us and pointing over her shoulder, though it was hard to get this in, given how little space I’d left myself… Also, I wanted to change the face of the man kneeling on me, and strength the look of the grip of the hands on me. If you compare the old version to this one, you will also note that I am purely naked here where as in the other, I have underpants on. This is the accurate one, but I didn’t understand that at the time I started the drawing. Alas, or perhaps this is good, I am rapidly recalling things I had not for two years about my experience at Middlesex. At least I remember stuff that happened BEFORE April 28th. For the other two restraints incidents, I still have no recall whatsoever or what I suspect is mostly confabulation drawn from what I read in my chart, though of course I cannot be certain. In any event, what I am remembering is not good at all, and I cry a lot…it is very difficult, and I feel so very very alone, because NO ONE understands and can talk to me, or more to the point can even stand to listen to me talk or cry about it. But it is difficult even to keep it under wraps all the time. If you have survived trauma, I think you know how it is. And that is why I avoid people when I think I cannot be “good enough company.” I don’t want to bring my friends down, but I cannot control the tears and shakes when they start…But the picture forthwith. Although it is disturbing as is, be aware that in the real incident, there was a great deal more violence, and more guards and staff members involved…these are just a paltry few. I simply didn’t know how to draw a crowd or a crowded room yet!
This next picture I did as an attempt to express the guilt and shame I feel over having been traumatized at all. But I do not think I succeeded at all. Why? Because it became too intellectualized, with symbols like the Scarlet A and the guilt-crucifix, and even the hands wringing in shame, rather than pure expression…I want to do it over again if I get inspired to do so.
The next three drawings were just “fun” or for practice ones. The first two are presents for Tim, simply because he likes cars and is so wonderful to me. The third was an exercise in drawing two people together, and was copied from an “old master”, the name of whom I simply cannot recall at the moment. It might have been — nope I don’t dare guess! I would have to get up and search for the book, and I ain’t gonna do that at the moment — too danged lazy. Anyhow, here are 1) two 1973 Volvo Sportswagon ES 1800 2) jaguar XJS and 3) the sketch taken from the old master’s painting.
NOTE: As I wrote this, “dream” talk, that is to say, nonsensical writings seemed to keep appearing in the middle of what I wrote. I seemed to find myself in another world every few minutes. I would write about that world, then “come to” and start writing about the subject below again as if nothing had happened. But when I reread the paragraph it made no earthly sense whatsoever, being an amalgam of two entirely different trains of thought. So a caveat: if some of what follows devolves into gibberish at any time, forgive me, and be patient. You can email me to alert me, if you wish, that would help. But otherwise, know that I will eventually come back more able to proofread and catch such idiocies…and fix them. For now though, you are on your own. (The reason for these brain blips, I think, may be, but may not, the fact that I took a very small amount of Zyprexa today in order to be able to read and concentrate. 2.5 mg 2X a week should not make me gain weight, according to Dr C, But we thought it might do some good, without doing the usual harm. So I agreed to try it out once more, just at the minimal level as a PRN. Well, I find that I am very sleepy, have been ever since I took the pill, except for when I took a walk and for about 1/2 hour afterwards…and I do think that I slip into dreamworld while awake, and literally dream while writing this. Hence the gibberish.
I have put the statement I read to the CEO and various administrators etc of Middlesex hospital on Youtube if anyone is interested in hearing it read outloud. Do a search for “Psychiatric restraints and seclusion abuse” and you should be able to find it if this link doesn’t work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZybDwMbzA (I realize that I read it without much feeling, but it is hard to do so accurately and also look up at camera, and read without losing my place. Anyhow, it might be worthwhile to check it out.
The newest sorta development in the “case” this week was that a lawyer from the hospital, or someone who told my advocate he was a Middlesex Hospital lawyer, asked Wiley R (who is behind me 100%) “what does Pam want, what can we do to have her drop the complaint or withdraw her complaint to the DOJ and Joint Commission?”
Now everyone I told this to almost to a one, and immediately said this meant, “We are willing to pay handsomely in order to buy a gag order from her” I had trouble digesting such crassness, but to a one, those to whom I related the words of this inquiry told me the lawyer was insinuating something about paying me off. I mean: money. I felt slimed, completely slimed. For a few days this was the sole topic of my conversation, but to make a long story short, after I had decided to ask for several sessions with the hospital psych unit staff, educational sessions with me, to teach them how better to deal with patients, and have them experience forced restraints themselves…and so forth, my brother and I met with WR my advocate from the Protection and Advocacy (for persons with disabilities and mental illness) Office, and he informed us that the lawyer really was offering nothing, not even an official apology. Clearly, if so, then my real desire, to do hands on, face to face work with the staff that had so tortured me, was going to be out of the question, utterly forbidden. So we just decided in practically the same words, to let them “swing” in the wind.
In point of fact, when WR said that the DOJ might bring them up “on charges” if it was warranted, I asked him why I didn’t do that myself. He looked at me, and then narrowed his vision looking at a point beyond me. “Hmm, let me ask around and I’ll see what we can do.” I hastened to assure him that it wasn’t malpractice I was after. I knew that I had no real case, even if the statute of limitations hadn’t just run out a week or a few weeks ago. After all, what lawyer is going to take me on one a contingency basis, and what jury would find for me in any event, seeing as how I did not die in their “care” nor suffer “grievous BODILY injury” which of course is all that counts…as usual. I am not sure what sort of case I would have in any sense of the word now at all…But as I told him, that is in his hands, and certainly is his bailiwick (and if not his than that of my lawyer-friend, Sharon Pope’s. If there are other “cases” to be made of any sort, I am more than game, I am ready and on alert to go and do whatever is needed in the pursuit of justice and reform of the Middlesex Hospital psychiatric system. It was really shameful, and despite the Public Health Department’s so called investigation, it was such a shameful joke, that despite WR’s impassioned plea to investigate MY case, and the psych unit in particular, they did no such thing. All they did was go back to spring 2011 (ie looked at the records of the entire hospital, or one of two representative records from most of the units, except for Psych so far as I could determine…) and do a random case study to look for general evidence of irregularities. Sure, they found some, and one case even involved the ER use of unnecessary or at least excessive use of restraints in a dually diagnosed young man…
But NOTHING was even looked at that had anything to do with what they did to me, or even the psych unit in particular. NOTHING was specific to my complaint, so I don’t know how they expected this evaluation to give them any sort of reasonable results. They may or may not have censured or sanctioned the hospital. I did not read the entire huge file of support the bill got over the years. But I got the drift and the worst punishment meted out for repeated violations seemed to me to be a whipping on the wrist with a flimp ramen. Period.
Yet I was punished by the psych unit staff time and time again.
I know, I know! I was loud, I was angry, I was impossible to “handle” — I know this. Partly this was par for the course for a Lyme disease flare up for me. But I think Lyme wasn’t all of it. Why else was I so irascible (aside from them giving me Abilify without the requisite Geodon…) if not in response to perceived and real threats from them? I am not generally irritable and snappy at Natchaug, and never was at Hartford Hospital in the 80s and 90s. ONLY at hospitals where the standards of care are coercion and control and abuse is the name of the game do I react with anger and hostility…I wonder why.
More to tell, more to say, but as I wrote in the first paragraph above, sleep is overwhelming my desire to do just about anything. I will try to get back to this asap.
Okay, this is for the boys!
Some sad news that I only feel able to share now, is that I had to put my beloved cat of 17 years to sleep on Friday last…and it was truly awful. I didn’t understand that it would be so fast. The vet injected something in Eemie’s vein, and she lifted her head as if in curiosity — then put it down — I asked how long it would take, and the vet said softly, “She’s gone…” I burst into tears, having had no understanding that in fact she wasn’t curious, she had been taking her long last breath. Oh god, I miss her so. I keep wondering where she is when I get up in the morning, and when I get home from wherever I have gone out to, I feel that someone is missing, that I need to feed her, and find her… and then I realize I don’t have a companion any longer, that Eemie is no longer…I am tearful even as I write this, and I wish I could post the video that a friend made of us a week or two before she became seriously disabled. She was ill, yes, but you couldn’t really tell on the video since we just cuddle. I am so glad that the friend had the foresight to encourage it. Because now I have that to remember Eemie by. I know it wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. But like any doting grieving mother, I would post it because I still feel the grief and feel somehow that everyone else would want to see it too. (Which of course would be silly but the grieving do silly things. I know that.)
To lose Eemie on top of my father, Leo, and Joe too just exactly one year ago April 27th feels like really too many losses piled on top of one another. But one gets through or breaks and I cannot let that happen. I do believe that I am strong enough in general to get through it, and while I did take Haldol for a few days it had more to do with the Middlesex stress (yes, a little to do with Eemie I admit) than anything else…Okay, it did have to do with Eemie, but I think without Middlesex coming up I might have weathered Eemie better.
But I got through it and I stopped taking Haldol on Monday, haven’t needed it since then, or have slogged through without it. Did the car picture since then, so things could not have been too too bad. Artwork is always good therapy anyway. Better than drugs if I can get myself out of bed and organized enough to do it.
By the way, my art show is up and on exhibit at the WETHERSFIELD LIBRARY right now. I have work on three walls, plus the display case, for those of you who live near enough to Wethersfield or Hartford to stop by and see it. If not, you can always check out Photobucket and see what is there, though you lose a great deal by not seeing things “in person” of course. It cannot be helped, naturally!
Enough for now. I hope last night’s post was not too negative, not too mean-spirited and revengeful. I was very angry, and very upset. The very idea that the director of the Middlesex Hospital psychiatric unit said anything at all, rather than simply remaining silence just incensed me. I think that was a grave mistake, and he likely regretted it afterwards. I suspect that the CEO probably told him that it was not something he should have indulged in…But what he said is said, and it only retraumatized me if anything. The notion that he, who wasn’t even there during the episode, and ought to have been appalled, simply took the side of my torturers was to me itself disgusting and appalling. But he will get his comeuppance, one can only hope, and I won’t have to do anything about it, since presumably the Joint Commission and the DOJ will do it all.
Enough of that. I am really tired and need to eat something. Ta ta for now.
Those of you who are familiar with my “older”works (meaning the ones I did in 2009 when I first started painting) might recognize the earlier piece, more recently uploaded, called Woman with Earring, or Sister Soulidad. Well, this painting is a palimpsest of that one, a palimpsest being simply a painting over another painting. You can see hints of the old one underneath this one, indeed, as the earrings are the same, as is the necklace and even the lips. Even though the rest of the face is much changed, nevertheless there are definitely echoes of Sister Soulidad in her.
This piece and many others will be on exhibit at the Wethersfield, Connecticut public library from May 1- June 30, 2012. Another new small sculpture below will be in the display case, along with The African Queen of Paranoia, which may be seen if you do a search for it on this blog site or go to my photobucket artwork site, and small jewelry or pill boxes I made with reproductions of my artwork on the tops.
I made this bird because I wanted simply to make a hummingbird. But after I did so, it reminded me of the poem “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens.
Of Mere Being
by Wallace Stevens
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Speaking of Wallace Stevens, here is a poem I wrote that one of Stevens’ lines inspired. It will be in my next book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS (saison d’enfers means “season of hell”)
THE SONG OF THE ANT
by Pamela Spiro Wagner“For the listener, who listens in the snow…”
In those days I was always cold
as I had been a long time, mindful of winter
even at the solstice of my high summer days
always, always the crumb and crust of loss
and near-loss of everything held dear
before the saison d’enfers and the ice to come
But there was the wind
There was still the wind making music,
and I, at one with the quirky stir of air
bowing the suppliant trees
bowing the branches of those trees for the sound
of songs held long in their wood
Changes change us: rings of birth, death, another season
and we hold on for nothing and no reason
but to sing.
Things really are stressful, not least because this lovely 17 year old cat refuses to eat and barely drinks…
It is too late to write much and I am much too tired, but suffice it to say that I am overwhelmed with sadness for, well, my father, my dying cat, and the stress of a face to face mediation that has been scheduled between me and the people who tortured me at that certain hospital about which I am always writing. You would think I would be happy to be getting somewhere but no, I feel only worn out and sad beyond belief. I wish I could look forward to it, somehow. But I just feel guilty, because I did not do anything to prevent their abuse. I should have refused to lie down on that restraint bed! I should not have gone like a lamb to the slaughter just because I was afraid…I should have just stood there and made them carry me over. Not fought or resisted just done passive non-violence…I feel so slimed that I actually went to that bed and lay down on it, naked (covered with part of a sheet, that they moved away to restrain my limbs so cruelly as to cause me exquisite physical pain…) I feel so guilty and so terribly sad. WHy didn’t I resist? Why did I do what they said to? I had always resisted up until then? Why did I let the fear of their assaulting me again get the better of me?! I cannot forget that, I cannot forgive MYSELF for it. I feel more degraded by that than by almost anything… I feel dirty and scummy and like a disgusting piece of garbage…