Pondering the past, revisiting hospital records and general musings

I looked at an old post today after reading Seaneen’s post that included her mentioning reading some of her records by accident while her CPN was visiting. It’s a strange thing indeed reading what the “professionals” say about us. I think they get a special kick out of the “attractive” and “intelligent” ones and the fact that they need to take note of such things is disturbing. My notes were riddled with how “intelligent” I was. I left it out the first time, embarrassed, but Seaneen got the same “attractive, intelligent” crap and it just made me think what do they say about the ugly, stupid people? Why does it matter what we look like especially??

I sought out my hospital records a couple of years ago, 20 years after most of my hospitalizations. I had one weird hospitalization more recently after all the drug use, after the weight gain. That was about 6 years ago. I was not in need of hospitalization but my doc convinced me it would help me adjust my meds which were making me profoundly ill. It was shortly after that hospitalization that I started withdrawing from drugs.

Anyway, again I revisit my doctor who in recent correspondence told me he felt cautious engaging with me because he read about my anger towards him. When I read this piece which I’m going to repost below, I was shocked. I WAS really super angry with him two years ago, AND, I have indeed healed and grown profoundly because I don’t hate him at all anymore. I’m talking about the doctor I talk about at the end of the post. The one I worked with for 10 years. We have a email relationship of sorts now, though I have no idea what he is really thinking about all that I’m doing. He’s not being forthcoming. In any case, I do not harbor anger anymore. Seriously. And that shows me I have grown. I have forgiven.

That doesn’t mean I think what happened is acceptable or can ever be. It was by no means acceptable. But much human behavior should be questioned. Much of my own behavior throughout my life has been less than stellar. And so I let go and move on…but just look and see how angry I was and how far I’ve come.

So from June 1, 2007:

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 developmentally-disabled 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.

You know I never did revisit those records after the first rapid reading in my therapists parking lot. Don’t know if I ever will.

In any case I am so much more at peace now. And I again know that my long-time doc, as misguided as he was was well-intentioned as I speak of here recently and that he did care about me. And that is both reassuring and sobering. I’m still angry. Very angry. But now the anger is being harnessed to help others and it’s not poisoning me anymore. This release with Neal really did some good healing.

I think it’s cool to watch my progression. This is truly a healing journey. And I want people to see that being angry and admitting it and dealing with it head on is healthy. I also want people to know it can be transformed into something positive and I knew this most of the time since I’ve been dealing with it.

This post describes part of my healing process as well–NOTE: it does not have to be read as a spiritual process. It can be understood in a secular humanistic/existential fashion as well. I choose to use spiritual language but I’m not personally attached to it. So you need not be either.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

4 Responses

  1. Gianna,
    I’m impressed you could forgive this guy, but we both know forgiveness isn’t my strong suit. And I had no idea you’d been restrained, or that he’d screamed at you, and undoubtedly lots more. How horrible for you, and my heart goes out to you!

    I also think it’s great that you and Neal wrote about this. I’ve recently read a book on forgiveness, and human rights trials.

    And the author said something that I found really important, and I wonder if it applies to you albeit in a different fashion. It was that once people who had been injured (or had family members killed) were able to speak to the people who’d hurt them and to the court, they were far less concerned with how the convicted people were punished.

    The key element was that they needed to “bear witness to what happened” so that it was out in the open.

    Susan

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  2. Val

    I still love to quote from my old radiologist, who referred to me as “well-nourished” (i.e. FAT) almost 20 yrs ago – can’t imagine what adjective(s) he’d use now?!?!?
    Then he as well as his whole staff carefully instructed me to keep my weight STABLE throughout my treatments, so they wouldn’t have to recalculate those painstaking measurements/dosages…

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