Maureen Kissane (?) the Mental Hygiene Legal Services attorney came next. I had two more bowel movements and vomited on the floor. By then they had given me a tap bell beside my bed. Ms Kissane sat by my bed while I repeatedly tapped the bell and no one answered it.
Ms Kissane immediately filed a three-part thingy, first, requesting that Levine be removed from my case; second, that I get the medical attention I’d been requesting (all I’d gotten so far were nurses saying, “I’m sorry, honey. Sweetie, this is so bad.”) Third, all my ID, credit cards and money had been taken, without a receipt or inventory, and nobody could find them.
Gary Scott found me. He’s a “counselor,” i.e., therapy aide, who is smart, experienced, mature and wise. He took one look at me and said, “You need a hospital bed,” and proceeded to get the manual bed and have me moved into another room where I could reach the call bell. That night I had diarrhea in bed (it started while I was sleeping; no time to call for help). The evening staff came, cleaned me up, and changed the sheets with me in bed. This was proper nursing care.
The next morning, Levine was back on my case, although somewhat subdued: attorneys have that effect on doctors. Levine said that my transfer to another doctor was wholly dependent on another doctor being willing to take me. There are only three doctors on 3-6; they no longer let Dr. Ghaly or other attending physicians admit patients. Levine is the director. The other two doctors are Jane Kou and O’Connell. Jan Kou was previously investigated by the OPMC consequent to her roll in a suicide attempt that left me on life support for the month of December 1999.
O’Connell had interviewed me in Observation and concluded I did not need, nor would benefit from, psychiatric hospitalization. She cleared me. So what was I doing on Unit 3-6?
According to Dr. Tucker, they put all the medical data and algorithms in the computer and crank it. Administration said I didn’t qualify for a medical bed. What they meant was that insurance would not reimburse them for a medical bed so I would not be admitted. There is no place in the system to factor in the unknowns of lithium poisoning. I knew, from twenty years of living with the damage from lithium, that I needed bed rest, monitoring and support. Dr. Tucker, who has been my physician for less than two years, didn’t know that all hell was going to break loose.
When sickness increases and services do not rise to meet the level of need, I get suicidal. I learned this fifteen years ago when one home agency had me listed as homebound and another had me listed as independent. What this logically meant was that I couldn’t go grocery shopping but I had to. Dr. Ghaly readmitted me to 3-6, we got the discharge planner on the case, proper services were put in place and I was discharged and did fine at home.
Now I am way too sick to take care of myself. I have severe, unstable obstructive sleep apnea; left ventricular hypertrophy; right branch bundle block; pulmonary fibrosis; uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, type 2; nephrogenic diabetes insipidus; stage III kidney failure; an indwelling catheter; fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue syndrome; lithium poisoning; immune dysfunction, type unknown; hypersensitivity to all medications (I can’t take anything for anything); executive dysfunction learning disability; spinal arthritis; hypersensitivity to pain.
Following the death of my fiancé in 1974, I was kept on antidepressants every day for 26 years. I was hospitalized about fifty times for a total of about three years. I attempted suicide about a dozen times. In 2001, I stopped taking antidepressants. My last hospitalization was around 2003. About four years ago, Dr. Kevin Antshel, now at Syracuse University, administered psych testing and found no signs of psychopathology. I am an emotionally healthy person; my depression and suicide attempts more than a decade ago were caused by antidepressants. My physical illnesses were all either caused by or exacerbated by antidepressants. On Tuesday, with my glucose 458, Dr. Tucker told me there is nothing more he can do to treat me. I went home and took an overdose of insulin, choosing a quick death over a long painful one.
I was too sick to go home from the Observation Unit and St. Joe’s administration wouldn’t admit me to a medical floor because they wouldn’t get paid. I took the only option left: I looked Dr. Tucker in the eye and said, “I will kill myself if I am discharged home.” That got me committed to inpatient psychiatry and the malice of Roger Levine. I did not know he was still the director of Unit 3-6; I hadn’t been there in a decade.
At home, I had an aide who only came three half-days a week. In the first three days I was on 3-6, I had a hypoglycemic crisis, vomited on the floor twice and had in-bed diarrhea twice. What would I have done if I was at home alone and bed ridden? If I had been admitted to medical there only would have been one instance each of vomiting on the floor and crapping in bed. On medical, they would have figured it out real quick, monitored me better, and responded quickly to bell calls. On 3-6, I was not provided minimal health care.