OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnfortunately, as we get older, we begin to notice changes in our body and don’t have the same confidence as we did when we were younger.  So, sometimes we call upon others for help.  For me, that was a big mistake when I asked my niece to take me to the hospital.

You see, I was carrying my elder dog to my bedroom when I slipped on a small rug.  Both feet flew out from under me and I landed on my back onto a hardwood floor.  My concern at the time was to be sure I did not injure my dog.  So, I slowly got up and checked her.  She was OK, but I had also hit my left elbow which apparently caused damage to my left shoulder and neck.  Undaunted but sore, I wrapped an elastic support around my middle/waist area and went back to the kitchen to finish making the chili.

As a result of the fall, I started having “freezing” joints:  hands, shoulders, knees, feet and eventually a sudden sharp chest pain that caused me to double over sending me to the hospital for testing and a hospital stay.  I also experienced sharp pains through my head and began having a quivering jaw when I spoke.  I kept up with most of my daily routines and went to many doctor appointments and massage treatments.  But as time went on, I started to fear losing more control of my body and had difficulty functioning.  I was also having difficulty with anxiety – including the thoughts that I had no one on whom I could depend should I not be able to take care of myself alone.  I was not able to sleep properly, getting up all through the night putting cold packs on my back and neck.  I also had hypoglycemic issues with proper food intake.

So, my niece and nephew agreed to take me to the hospital for what I thought was a sleep study for my insomnia and for the hypoglycemia blood work ordered by a physician.  Well, after the standard tests were done in the ER, I did not end up getting the sleep study or proper blood work done – but, instead, I ended up in the psych ward!  Forced – against my will by my niece, nephew and a hospital employee!  I told them that I was not going there, that I did not need to go there; but they would not let me leave.  I could not fight the three of them to escape.  It’s like being kidnapped for ransom by my own family.  You wonder, how could that happen in this day and age?  Well, apparently, very easily!

My niece, without my knowledge or permission, contacted a doctor and gave him some incorrect information about me.  The doctor was not one I had seen as a patient, but one I had challenged because I believed he was giving my older sister too many drugs.  I do not use nor do I believe in the over use of most drugs – they cause more problems than they cure.  That doctor apparently contacted the hospital to have me pre-admitted to the psych ward without even seeing or talking with me to check any of the information given to him; and that doctor was not even present at the ER to verify the information either.

Because the doctors involved have not answered my letters or called me back, I still do not know the extent of what my niece had told them.  I have written rebuttal statements to all of them even though I do not know what exactly I am rebutting.

My family knew of my fear of being trapped like that, especially in a psych ward – a fear I developed after seeing the movie Suddenly, Last Summer with Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn when I was a child.  That’s partly why I am so against the terrible movies, games and television shows to which children are exposed today.  But, there are real people who, for their own benefit, use others’ fears and weaknesses against them.  I did not realize until it was too late for me that I had such family members with those horrible desires and skills.

In addition, I have just recently discovered that I even signed a form allowing the hospital to do that to me.  Unfortunately for me, I did not have my glasses and did not read the form.  I did ask the nurse about the form before I signed it and was misled because she indicated that it was for the hospital to perform the tests – but not the tests I thought I was getting.  The form did not mention the words “psych ward” anywhere on the form, but was obviously prepared to protect the hospital if there were to be any objection afterward.  I mistakenly trusted my niece, nephew and the hospital where I had always gone before for my emergency medical needs.

When they did that to me, my mind and life went black.  I even had a stroke as a result of the fear and hypertension it brought on.  They kept me in that facility for over six days – it was absolute hell – I almost lost my mind for real and was in shock when I was finally released.  But, that was only the beginning of a long, traumatic ordeal that lasted for quite some time.  They apparently had other things in mind for me because no one questioned them or tried to stop them!

They tell me that they “love me” but I know it is GREED that made them do this to me.  That kind of “love” I can do without.  They tried to get me to sign proper documents to give them legal control over me and my assets – but, of course, I refused.

I am lucky to have survived the ordeals of what they put me through.  I have gone through many emotions, fears, angers, embarrassments, humiliations, frustrations.  My getting over these ordeals has not been an easy process – it has taken a few years.

I am still working on some issues to make sure this does not happen to me ever again.  I even asked for apologies from them – they will not even do that – no one apologizes!  So, I have completely disowned and disinherited them.

I can say that, in a way, I am stronger than before – at least, I know for sure about them – what I had questioned before.  There were “red flags” but, as we usually do, I ignored the signs and did not place proper attention to the hidden meaning of their words and actions (or lack of actions in most instances).  I am back in total control of myself and my assets.  I do, however, still suffer from PTSD occasionally because of having my worst nightmare come true.

I have learned a lot from these experiences – things I really did not want to learn.  I took care of my mother for the last 15 years of her life so that these things could not happen to her; and I thought that I was strong and independent enough to take care of myself – I really was the last person to whom this could happen – I thought.  But it did happen to me.

I do want to get some laws changed to protect the vulnerable, the elderly, based on the knowledge I have gained about the procedures, protocol, or lack of it.  Doctors and attorneys need to be able to recognize elder abuse – abuse that seems to be ignored by so many.  There needs to be more awareness.  There need to be better protections and services available for vulnerable seniors who have to deal with abuses.  Such a traumatic circumstance should not happen to anyone – there should be better procedures established by hospitals and doctors.  I’m still looking for that advocate or agency to help.

So, please be careful of whom you trust.  READ what you sign and even ask questions because the words on the paper do not actually mean what they imply.

I was not the only person who should not have been in the psych ward – there were others who were tricked and did not know how to get out.  I still wonder what has happened to some of them.

Being a victim is very hard – try not to let it happen to you.  

Jane Webster