My 2016 Birthday Prayer
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 108 Comments
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
First, my birthday prayer:
The personal story behind both the prayer and my recurring nightmares follows below.
PLEASE God, we seriously need to upgrade the health-care system in this country. We need a clean sweep of the Mammon-worshipping insurance industry, God, clearing out everyone who is getting rich off the health challenges of the citizens of this country.
Please make everyone aware that, most importantly, we desperately need to FIX America’s woefully inadequate mental health care system, as we vastly improve mental health awareness in the entire country – including empathy for the poor, the homeless and every single one of our veterans.
Lay it on the heart of every single American with breath enough to speak, God. Let them know it like *I* know it, feel it like *I* feel it
Make them realize that action can no longer be procrastinated, regardless of whether America’s new administration is willing to understand or is otherwise uninspired to take effective steps toward solutions that are more than sound-bites and cronyism.
Let the world finally understand that jails and prisons are no place for those who are mentally ill, God, and that Law Enforcement without in-depth mental health training has NO place dealing with the mentally ill.
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The personal story behind my prayer
Three years ago, in the heat of a hot July of 2013, I lost my friend and colleague Peggy Ramundo. She became a shell of her former self when, after a series of losses already, her son Jeremy was shot twice in the kidneys by a police officer — at point-blank range — while he was secured face-down as police officers tazed him.
Peggy is only now beginning to return to her positive self well enough that we are are beginning to talk about making plans to resume our ADD in the Spirit training.
I’ll know I have her back once more when I no longer see the darkness in her eyes every time we hear a siren, or with every mention of having to jump through the hoops to get the monthly medication she needs to drive her own ADD brain.
Awakening today from another nightmare of the events, I believe it is finally time for me to describe them, hoping to somehow lay them to rest in my own mind.
Jeremy was killed by a police officer, supposedly “in self-defense,” despite the reality that Jeremy was securely restrained — murdered by a man who was “merely” doing what he was trained to do to protect “society” from criminals.
The problem is, the young man he murdered wasn’t a criminal.
He was a highly intelligent, seriously mentally ill, desperately terror-stricken young man who was thought well of for years of even-tempered, kind interactions with all who met him, even by the vendors of the commerce section of our our small walking neighborhood in the Gaslight District of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The vet who cared for his cats for several years told my friend Peggy that the care of Jeremy’s last surviving animal was no-charge for the rest of Kaiser’s life – such was the regard in which Jeremy was held for the love and consideration he had always shown his pets.
Everybody in the medical profession dropped the ball on this kid — despite his mother’s desperate attempts to get him effective care.
LOUSY Mental Health Care
During a prior hospitalization, when Jeremy went peacefully with the officers who were called to escort him, the hospital staff made sure that he would never go willingly into their care again — ignoring his pleas that they contact his doctor for verification of his assertion that he was to be maintained on his anti-anxiety medication.
They stood by, leaving him to cower in abject terror in the corner of a shower for three solid days, overcome finally with the severe anxiety that had been managed adequately – but not well – for ten solid years on the Xanax that was suddenly refused him.
Even before they have graduated, any of my coaches would have known better than to neglect to taper that medication — or at least to check the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) before suddenly withdrawing it. Anti-anxiety medications of that class cannot be suddenly withdrawn — especially after so long a time — without bringing on the possibility of a psychotic break.
Even my ADD Coach Trainings cover the need for some medications to be tapered – and that one of the side-effects of a sudden withdrawal from Xanax is paranoia. LOUSY idea for a patient who comes in with paranoia level anxiety, huh?
How could any mental health facility not know that?
- Since they don’t seem to have covered this vital information in nursing school – and doctors don’t seem to take the time to read patient charts anymore – wouldn’t you think that the hospital would at least have a rule that the DSM must be consulted before starting or stopping medication?
- Not at THIS hospital’s psych ward, apparently, ironically considered one of the best here in Cincinnati, which at least one advocate attorney that Peggy consulted claims has some of the best mental health training in the entire country.
And what does THAT tell you?
BAD medicine overall
The most knowlegeable of the doctors in New York who are treating patients like Jeremy prescribe Valium. When Jeremy inquired about a trial, after many years of meds-compliance, he was told by his supposedly expert Cincinatti doctor that he didn’t even believe in prescribing Xanax – that Jeremy was an exception.
He went on to say that if Jeremy continued his “drug seeking behavior” by mentioning it again, he would refuse to continue to sign off on the Xanax. He went on to threaten to put his name “on a list” so that he would be unable to obtain anti-anxiety medication from any other doctor.
Why is that NOT malpractice?
Whose care is that “respected” doctor mangling now?
(the head of one of the psych wards here, btw)
This particular doctor heard the hospital tale above after Jeremy returned home, swearing that he would NEVER allow himself to be “incarcerated” like that again. Wasn’t there a time when a patient’s primary doctor paid a visit to hospitalized patients WHILE they were in the hospital? I wonder now, did Jeremy’s doctor even bother to pick up the phone and call the admitting office?
“Next time, call here, come here” the doctor said, listening to Jeremy’s tale of his treatment. You learn to expect periodic relapses with severe mental illness. You try – in vain – to plan ahead.
Jeremy called for an emergency appointment THREE separate times in the month before he was murdered – only to be informed by the receptionist that there was no room at the Inn for at least another month.
His doctor didn’t even bother to return a call to find out what was going on.
Only once his mother made her frantic and insistent call, informing this “professional” that Jeremy’s mind had shattered, were they willing to make an exception and squeeze him in — AFTER it was too late and Jeremy could no longer be persuaded that there were any good intentions toward him from that office.
And so the police were called to escort him back to the hospital, fully informed of all parameters of the situation, one of which was the gun that Jeremy, highly paranoid by this time, tucked into the front waist-band of his pants for his own protection.
Mental Health Training? Hardly!
Several of the five officers they sent to ambush him had NO mental health training what-so-ever. They caught up with him, bursting through the door commando-style, on the back porch area of the local Bar and Restaurant where he had gone to smoke, after calmly eating a hamburger at the bar, speaking amicably to another patron sitting near him (and willing to testify to that fact).
When Peggy got word of what was happening she rushed to the area, where police treated her like a criminal. They locked her into the back of a police car, without even so much as cracking a window – refusing to let her out to join Jeremy’s father and sister, only a few yards away.
Even pet owners know NOT to lock an animal in a car: aware that it can reach temperatures of 90 degrees and above very quickly in that situation – and that death can result. ONLY once the ambulance left the area with Jeremy’s body, was she freed, woozy and dripping.
There were witnesses to what happened, but neither the press nor the police investigating this incident chose to report what was seen.
I learned of the events in time to join Peggy at the hospital, where NO ONE would even tell her whether her son was alive or not. You don’t want to know how she finally learned that her beloved son was dead.
The press appeared like maggots, so we hustled her out an alternate exit.
She couldn’t even go home, thanks to insensitive reporters camping out in front of her house, eager to shove a microphone her way and photograph her grieving face, hassling her neighbors for comments. She hid out at my apartment for two weeks, where I handed out tissues to dry her tears and listened to her repeatedly describe every single detail of this ordeal.
Is it any wonder that we BOTH continue to have nightmares over this situation?
Related Post: When Breaking News Becomes Personal
So it seems we’re on our own here
I pray that none of YOU experience insensitive “treatment” of this type from your health-care “professionals,” even as I am aware from reading the blogs of many of the readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com that you do.
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