Medical Records and associated thoughts

Oh…I’m swimming around in a soup of pain and disgust. I got hospital records yesterday. I made several comments over on Off-Label about them where there is a general discussion on medical records. I wasn’t going to blog them but it’s all that’s on my mind today and I suppose some more purging might do me good. To begin with I’ll just cut and paste my comments and then perhaps add some more commentary. First:

well, I had my records sent to my therapist, just in case they wouldn’t send them to me. I got a hold of records from three different hospitals today comprising 5 hospitalizations. Some of the earliest hospitalizations were already destroyed. The two stays I was most interested in were not included, though I have one more hospital possibly coming.In any case it wasn’t as distressing as y’all warned it might be. It wasn’t pleasant either.

I actually had a good belly laugh when I read, “attractive young woman presents with startling bleached orange hair.”

Something that bugged me that had nothing to do with me in particular was how in every admit my looks were referred to. Early on I was in each case “the attractive young woman.” The last hospitalization I was simply “obese.” I guess I lost my attraction when I got fat.

Otherwise the records were just really slim. I only got actual hand written notes from one doctor from one hospitalization. She was clearly a narcissistic bitch and I vaguely remembered her when I read the note she made that I told her I thought that she had become too emotionally involved with my case and that was why she was not releasing me. That made me laugh too–I remember telling her that–but I would never have recalled it had I not read the records–I’m quite sure she was NOT emotionally involved now–she was a cold control freak instead. She called me manipulative in each daily entry at least once.

Anyway…so much was missing. All the horrible abuse on the floor was not even mentioned. Being carried by my arms and legs to the restraint table for instance–or the time they left me in isolation on the restraint table until I had to pee myself. No note of any of that. Only one obscure reference to my being restrained. “the patient was marginally in control of her behavior on admission…control was lost on the afternoon of Dec. 11 at which time the patient required 4 point restraint until control was regained.” what the fuck did I do? I guess context doesn’t matter to them.

It’s a mystery along with all the other times I was restrained and it wasn’t even mentioned.

Well, I have to say too that it was sobering to have my psychosis thrown in my face all these years later. I was indeed fucked up. It’s a bit scary. Unfortunately no one wrote anything remotely insightful or helpful. I guess I’m lucky that they didn’t say anything terribly difficult for me to read either. But again, I didn’t get doctors handwritten notes and I imagine they probably left those out for a reason. I had some really nasty ass doctors. All I got were typed admit and discharge reports. Bare bones.

Then:

I have to add…I just read these a couple of hours ago and it’s still sinking in…I do have a general sickening feeling in my gut. To be described in such cold clinical terms when I was in obvious critical distress is more than just a little disturbing. I think it may sink in more later. I read them all really quickly in an impulsive manner in my therapists parking lot right after therapy and then drove home. I haven’t really sat with the feeling and I suppose I will read them over again slowly when I have the stomach for it. The truth is, I don’t want to read them carefully because I am disturbed. It was all such a terribly scary time…I’m developing a sinking feeling that I haven’t really processed them at all. I’m kinda hyper at the moment and I don’t really feel like I’m in my body. A bit of dissociation perhaps?

Then after a night of dreaming:

I had a very creepy dream last night. I imagine it was the result of getting my records, though it was about my outpatient doctor of 10 years. The one who got me all liquored up on all these drugs. I loved him when he was my doctor. He was always “good” to me. Believed in me, in a fucked up sort of way–told me I should go to medical school and become a psychiatrist–how in hell he thought I could keep the long hours demanded in internship and residency on 11 mg of Risperdal and 4 other sedating drugs–how I could function when my cognition was so impaired–it was all a lie to keep me happy with him–an ego trip he was putting on me. I knew I couldn’t do it–it was cruel to make such suggestions– when I got married he told me I should have a baby. Forget that the drugs would probably produce a deformed or retarded baby. He insisted none of them were particularly toxic.I’ve been angry with him for the last year, since I had my realization of just how fucked up even the most seemingly well-intentioned doctors are.

But my dream has truly left me sick to my stomach. In it I was searching him out. I wanted to be his friend. I have in real life made an attempt to tell him, through email, what I’ve managed to do so far. Get off more than half the crap he put me on and he responded with a one-liner. “Glad you’re doing good.” This is a man who when I left the state told me to stay in touch and that we could be friends.

Fuck him. God, he was the worst of the bunch. He smiled the whole time he was poisoning me and fed me lines to feed my ego–which served only to make me beholden to him. He acted like an encouraging older brother who had no idea what the drugs were doing to me, when he had no excuse to be so ignorant. That I could barely function–I went out on disability repeatedly, taking three months off work every year and a half or so because the strain would get so debilitating. All I could do was go to work and then straight to bed. I had to get 12 hours of sleep in while holding a full-time job because I was so drugged up and I had a 2 hour round-trip commute. Sleep and work. How in hell did he think I could take care of a baby. He pretended that he had faith in me. If he had actually listened to how much I struggled he should’ve known that having a child would be an abuse to that child.

I feel rage now. He, the man who “believed” in me, has hurt me the worst because I trusted him. I never trusted the out and out assholes. And the worst part is that I still have, underneath the sickness I feel right now or actually contained within it, a feeling of warmth for him. Ugh it’s repulsive. What is the name of the syndrome that makes one attached to their abusers? Maybe I’m thinking of attachment to kidnappers. But what I’m feeling now should have a name too.

Ah…yuck.

So I didn’t really have a strong reaction to getting the medical records until today and it came in an unexpected form. Not so much hurt about being mistreated in a somewhat anonymous fashion within the psychiatric ward, but associated pain with the realization that someone I trusted so much hurt me. The strangers in the psychiatric ward don’t have the same power over me anymore. Perhaps it’s because it was so long ago. I don’t have clear memories. It’s much like my childhood abuse. I have very vague memories. It dulls the pain. I know horrible things happened. I have isolated memories of, for example, being slammed across the face and flying across the room into a wall. My sister fills in many gaps for me. But they are her memories. Not mine–so they don’t have immediacy–though my last visit with my father brought back the felt sense of them in a big way. I had to leave his house and not see him for the rest of the trip. It’s later in life that abuses become much more tangible. Early adulthood. One of them committed by my father. Some of them by boyfriends and then the story of my therapist I share here. Most of these I can’t even speak of. They’re too painful. I can’t say the words. I suppose it’s because there is shame involved. How do we let these things happen to us. I was an adult after all for some of these incidents. I was conveniently in the way for them to happen. Couldn’t I have made other choices?

But all together, including those I don’t remember well and certainly the time spent in the psych wards have left me feeling–I don’t even have a word for what I feel. It’s insane how it’s all coming to consciousness now. Insisting on being dealt with. Now, when my brother is dying. Somehow it makes sense. But I don’t know why. But maybe it’s a good thing it’s all coming at me at once. Perhaps I’ll be able to deal with it faster and sooner that way.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

13 Responses

  1. Gianna

    Ruth Deming said:
    “However, if indeed your suffering is overwhelming, you should contact a good psychiatrist & get on the right meds. I’ll forward you a list I’m preparing for our New Directions members about helpful points in choosing a psychiatrst.”

    Thank you for your concern and I enjoyed your whole response. It’s so wonderful to hear about people who recover. I, like you, stick to a strict diet. I also add nutrients.

    My suffering at this point is entirely circumstantial. My brother is dying and difficult memories are surfacing. The last thing I want to do is take meds. They dulled and numbed me so that I could not feel my real feelings. I welcome my real feelings. Suffering is part of life.

    I also have a wonderful prescribing psychiatrist who is cooperating in my coming off of meds as well as a holistic orthomolecular psychiatrist who is assisting me in the natural, non-toxic, treatment of my symptoms.

    I feel very grateful for the professionals I currently have in my life. My present circumstances are vastly different from my past.

    Like

  2. Gianna

    Ruth Deming said:
    “However, if indeed your suffering is overwhelming, you should contact a good psychiatrist & get on the right meds. I’ll forward you a list I’m preparing for our New Directions members about helpful points in choosing a psychiatrst.”

    Thank you for your concern and I enjoyed your whole response. It’s so wonderful to hear about people who recover. I, like you, stick to a strict diet. I also add nutrients.

    My suffering at this point is entirely circumstantial. My brother is dying and difficult memories are surfacing. The last thing I want to do is take meds. They dulled and numbed me so that I could not feel my real feelings. I welcome my real feelings. Suffering is part of life.

    I also have a wonderful prescribing psychiatrist who is cooperating in my coming off of meds as well as a holistic orthomolecular psychiatrist who is assisting me in the natural, non-toxic, treatment of my symptoms.

    I feel very grateful for the professionals I currently have in my life. My present circumstances are vastly different from my past.

    Like

  3. Liz

    It strikes me that 99% of us spend years weeding through the flotsam of practitioners (Dr’s, psychiatrists, therapists etc) to find one that seems to fit or is willing to fall remotely within our system of belief without forcing their’s on us.

    As I read through your post about the medical records, I felt like I was reading my own frighful and maddening experience of doing the same. It WAS frightening as hell when I got my records from all the pysch admits and thought how untruthfull they were..and how convenient some of those summaries read of situations that resulted in my getting not so gently placed in 4 pt restraints…along with a forced shot of whatever seemed to be handy. But, no mention, as you say, for the cause. What an interesting and all too maddening ommission, expeically when I DO recall the sordid lack of reasoning for this to happen.

    Being placed in 4 pt restraints was like being raped all over again. They knew this, but insisted that it was for my own safety. Aside from reading these all to inaccurate accounts on paper by others, It was one of the most demoralizing treatments I have ever received. And, it happened over and over again. They just don’t ‘get’ how damaging this is. Chalk it all up to institutionalization.

    Well, I didn’t mean to focus on this restraint thing so much as I wanted to comment on the similarities I see in our responces to reading psych hospitalization records. I finally realized that they have to make comments about us that cover a certain list of aspects of any patient and they have to follow a certain format. So, when one is given restrictions like this, it provides the perfect (lack of) space and format for lousy descriptions that leave out the real truth, I believe. I agree with one who left a comment to burn those records. I fianlly did. It is the past, Gianna, and these do not define who you really are, and they probably never have. I think they may be hitting you extra hard right now as you may still be processeing and mouring the loss you felt during these years…along with that of your brother. This is the connection I see between the two.

    You really do have a wonderful gift of being able to go to the real heart of every matter you write about. You seems to depict so well the experiences I’ve had, and with the words I have yet to organize in my own head. Thanks again.

    Like

  4. Liz

    It strikes me that 99% of us spend years weeding through the flotsam of practitioners (Dr’s, psychiatrists, therapists etc) to find one that seems to fit or is willing to fall remotely within our system of belief without forcing their’s on us.

    As I read through your post about the medical records, I felt like I was reading my own frighful and maddening experience of doing the same. It WAS frightening as hell when I got my records from all the pysch admits and thought how untruthfull they were..and how convenient some of those summaries read of situations that resulted in my getting not so gently placed in 4 pt restraints…along with a forced shot of whatever seemed to be handy. But, no mention, as you say, for the cause. What an interesting and all too maddening ommission, expeically when I DO recall the sordid lack of reasoning for this to happen.

    Being placed in 4 pt restraints was like being raped all over again. They knew this, but insisted that it was for my own safety. Aside from reading these all to inaccurate accounts on paper by others, It was one of the most demoralizing treatments I have ever received. And, it happened over and over again. They just don’t ‘get’ how damaging this is. Chalk it all up to institutionalization.

    Well, I didn’t mean to focus on this restraint thing so much as I wanted to comment on the similarities I see in our responces to reading psych hospitalization records. I finally realized that they have to make comments about us that cover a certain list of aspects of any patient and they have to follow a certain format. So, when one is given restrictions like this, it provides the perfect (lack of) space and format for lousy descriptions that leave out the real truth, I believe. I agree with one who left a comment to burn those records. I fianlly did. It is the past, Gianna, and these do not define who you really are, and they probably never have. I think they may be hitting you extra hard right now as you may still be processeing and mouring the loss you felt during these years…along with that of your brother. This is the connection I see between the two.

    You really do have a wonderful gift of being able to go to the real heart of every matter you write about. You seems to depict so well the experiences I’ve had, and with the words I have yet to organize in my own head. Thanks again.

    Like

  5. Gianna

    Yes, it is the past, but I need to revisit it because I never processed it. I don’t see it as masochistic. I want to own my past and let it go. I’ve been running from it all my life. Writing about my journey, past and present seems to be proving the best therapy I’ve had. And hearing from so many people like you in both comments and emails is incredibly validating. So many of us have come through this only to be stronger. So many of us have truly recovered and it’s the best kept secret out there. So I share it all so that people can see…we are here and we are healthy and we are strong.

    Like

  6. Gianna

    Yes, it is the past, but I need to revisit it because I never processed it. I don’t see it as masochistic. I want to own my past and let it go. I’ve been running from it all my life. Writing about my journey, past and present seems to be proving the best therapy I’ve had. And hearing from so many people like you in both comments and emails is incredibly validating. So many of us have come through this only to be stronger. So many of us have truly recovered and it’s the best kept secret out there. So I share it all so that people can see…we are here and we are healthy and we are strong.

    Like

  7. Ruth

    Do I ever wish I never looked at my records? You bet. I’d been contemplating it for a couple of years before I actually did so, and for most of that time, I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly stand up to the stress of reading all that garbage. But what’s done is done, I think I had to do it, and I don’t think I’ll burn them or throw them away. All this due to some weird, no doubt pathological, belief that it’s better to know than to be happy… 🙂

    I can think of one positive outcome though – occasionally the records would shed light on some practice or behaviour that had confused or distressed me at the time. For example, the matter of mental state examinations. Because I was a kid, I had no idea why the nurses kept asking me, over and over, what day it was, did I know where I was, who was the Prime Minister, etc. I just thought they were being rude and insulting, calling my sanity into question for the hell of it. But then I read the records, which included clear instructions given by the shrink in charge that I was to be given MSEs by the hour – he was really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something wrong with me, I guess – and the behaviour made sense. Not that it was appropriate or anything, but at least I could see that it wasn’t personal.

    Oh, and the bright orange hair – that cannot have helped. I always went for what was described as the “neat, tidy, hair brushed and tied back and all ablutions completed” look.

    Like

  8. Ruth

    Do I ever wish I never looked at my records? You bet. I’d been contemplating it for a couple of years before I actually did so, and for most of that time, I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly stand up to the stress of reading all that garbage. But what’s done is done, I think I had to do it, and I don’t think I’ll burn them or throw them away. All this due to some weird, no doubt pathological, belief that it’s better to know than to be happy… 🙂

    I can think of one positive outcome though – occasionally the records would shed light on some practice or behaviour that had confused or distressed me at the time. For example, the matter of mental state examinations. Because I was a kid, I had no idea why the nurses kept asking me, over and over, what day it was, did I know where I was, who was the Prime Minister, etc. I just thought they were being rude and insulting, calling my sanity into question for the hell of it. But then I read the records, which included clear instructions given by the shrink in charge that I was to be given MSEs by the hour – he was really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something wrong with me, I guess – and the behaviour made sense. Not that it was appropriate or anything, but at least I could see that it wasn’t personal.

    Oh, and the bright orange hair – that cannot have helped. I always went for what was described as the “neat, tidy, hair brushed and tied back and all ablutions completed” look.

    Like

  9. Ruth Deming

    Gianna, for some reason, although I’m a registered blogger I can’t leavemessages for other people. So here’s my comments. You can say they’from me – Ruth Deming – and list my url – http://www.newdirectonssupport.org.

    I found your post very interesting, well written, poignant, and sadly, true.I was hospitalized only once, here in suburban Philly, at the infamous then Bldg. 16 on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital, & vowed I’d never be hospitalized again. I managed my mania roller coasters and psychosis with various psychiatrists who I hired and then fired. If I didn’t like someone I got rid of them. Having a good psychiatrist is the key to recovery, as having a good therapist.

    When I was about 58, I had the last session with my psychiatrist. It was a terrible session. I was only on 1 mg of Klonopin (which I still take, plus Synthroid b/c lithium left me with 38 percent function of my kidneys, enough to live on), but the man, who had been my great doctor for about 12 years starting making nasty remarks to me. He told me I must take Navane (an antipsychotic) every other day IN CASE I went manic.

    I wrote him a letter telling him I was firing him. I always write letters as a way of expressing my feelings.

    He refused to believe it was possible to be cured from bipolar disorder one. I am living proof, as is my ex-boyfriend Simon, age 67. It’s also written up in Peter Whybrow, MD’s book “A Mood Apart.”

    In my opinion, Gianna, never read notes of the professionals who treat you. Yes, I got one also that said I was obese. I never do things that are going to make me unhappy. That’s called being a masochist. If I were you, I’d destroy that paperwork.

    Who cares what the fucking psychiatrists think of you? You shouldn’t care. I don’t care if any psychiatrist believes I’m cured. You bet I’m cured, but the assholes won’t believe it. They should be studying MY BRAIN to see what cured it.

    Personally I believe it was he lithium I took for 16 years that may have cured it. I also spent 13 years working as a psychotherapist & helping others, which is a great way of helping yourself.

    I spend time doing things that make me happy – like answering your email – and by being with my new boyfriend, who lives right next door to me.

    I also engage in aerobic exercise (raises the endorphins in the brain) at least 3 times a week in the gym. I don’t drink. I gave up caffeine. I eat only healthy foods. I’m really strict with myself. You’ve gotta be disciplined to survive this illness.

    Anything that makes me unhappy I get rid of. It contaminates my house and therefore my mind. Throw away those goddam doctors’ and therapists’ reports. Don’t give so much credence to what professionals think.

    However, if indeed your suffering is overwhelming, you should contact a good psychiatrist & get on the right meds. I’ll forward you a list I’m preparing for our New Directions members about helpful points in choosing a psychiatrst.

    Where do you live?

    Nice speaking to you. Enjoy the beautiful weather. I read the local
    paper & find fun & cheap things to do. Tomorrow morning an astronaut is speaking at Barnes & Noble and I’ll go hear him. I think it should be fascinating, plus it stretches our mind to the stars.

    Good luck!

    Ruth Z Deming of http://www.newdirectionssupport.org

    Like

  10. Ruth Deming

    Gianna, for some reason, although I’m a registered blogger I can’t leavemessages for other people. So here’s my comments. You can say they’from me – Ruth Deming – and list my url – http://www.newdirectonssupport.org.

    I found your post very interesting, well written, poignant, and sadly, true.I was hospitalized only once, here in suburban Philly, at the infamous then Bldg. 16 on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital, & vowed I’d never be hospitalized again. I managed my mania roller coasters and psychosis with various psychiatrists who I hired and then fired. If I didn’t like someone I got rid of them. Having a good psychiatrist is the key to recovery, as having a good therapist.

    When I was about 58, I had the last session with my psychiatrist. It was a terrible session. I was only on 1 mg of Klonopin (which I still take, plus Synthroid b/c lithium left me with 38 percent function of my kidneys, enough to live on), but the man, who had been my great doctor for about 12 years starting making nasty remarks to me. He told me I must take Navane (an antipsychotic) every other day IN CASE I went manic.

    I wrote him a letter telling him I was firing him. I always write letters as a way of expressing my feelings.

    He refused to believe it was possible to be cured from bipolar disorder one. I am living proof, as is my ex-boyfriend Simon, age 67. It’s also written up in Peter Whybrow, MD’s book “A Mood Apart.”

    In my opinion, Gianna, never read notes of the professionals who treat you. Yes, I got one also that said I was obese. I never do things that are going to make me unhappy. That’s called being a masochist. If I were you, I’d destroy that paperwork.

    Who cares what the fucking psychiatrists think of you? You shouldn’t care. I don’t care if any psychiatrist believes I’m cured. You bet I’m cured, but the assholes won’t believe it. They should be studying MY BRAIN to see what cured it.

    Personally I believe it was he lithium I took for 16 years that may have cured it. I also spent 13 years working as a psychotherapist & helping others, which is a great way of helping yourself.

    I spend time doing things that make me happy – like answering your email – and by being with my new boyfriend, who lives right next door to me.

    I also engage in aerobic exercise (raises the endorphins in the brain) at least 3 times a week in the gym. I don’t drink. I gave up caffeine. I eat only healthy foods. I’m really strict with myself. You’ve gotta be disciplined to survive this illness.

    Anything that makes me unhappy I get rid of. It contaminates my house and therefore my mind. Throw away those goddam doctors’ and therapists’ reports. Don’t give so much credence to what professionals think.

    However, if indeed your suffering is overwhelming, you should contact a good psychiatrist & get on the right meds. I’ll forward you a list I’m preparing for our New Directions members about helpful points in choosing a psychiatrst.

    Where do you live?

    Nice speaking to you. Enjoy the beautiful weather. I read the local
    paper & find fun & cheap things to do. Tomorrow morning an astronaut is speaking at Barnes & Noble and I’ll go hear him. I think it should be fascinating, plus it stretches our mind to the stars.

    Good luck!

    Ruth Z Deming of http://www.newdirectionssupport.org

    Like

  11. Gianna

    if this comment thread seems a bit odd it’s because Ruth Deming’s comment should come FIRST. I had to make a small edit and now it comes last.

    Like

  12. Gianna

    if this comment thread seems a bit odd it’s because Ruth Deming’s comment should come FIRST. I had to make a small edit and now it comes last.

    Like

  13. Kelly Stiver

    I read part of your blog. The symdrone in which a victim is attracted to her attacker is called “Stockholm Symdrone.” Also try typing up “Joseph M Carver, Ph D” on the internet. He has a nice self therapy article that tells what to do about bad experiences posted on the internet. Even the stuff that bad shrinks do to you.

    Like

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