I was in the hospital on a section. I didn’t know they had a section on me. They put “sitters” in my room for no reason, or no reason that was explained to me. “Sitters” are people hired to watch you 24/7. I had no clue why they were watching me so closely. The “sitters” were mean and abusive, not all of them, but many. You don’t know what I am talking about until you’ve had “sitters” yourself and gone through what I began to call “sitter hell.”
Some stare at you. I mean really glare, they don’t move their eyes from you, they keep on staring. That is bad enough. Some are bossy. One shoved me this way and that repeatedly, physically shoving me. Many insisted on watching TV even though I wanted it off. They would grab the TV control from me and turn the thing on. The TV speakers were located on the side of my bed and blasted into my ears while I lay there. I couldn’t stand the flickering of the TV either. I paid for the corded hospital phone I had in my room and several sitters insisted on using it. They never asked me for permission to use it, they just grabbed it and started talking. One used my phone for the entire shift, and when the nurses walked by, she put the phone down right behind the bed, so none of the nurses walking by could see that she was speaking on my phone.
I was so fed up. I tried to report this sitter to the nurses. I went up to the first nurse who turned her back on me and said, “I saw nothing wrong. I saw the sitter doing her job.”
I felt like crying. Would no one believe me? What kind of place was this where I was never believed and everything I said was automatically bullshit? So I told the next sitter who came. She believed me. She told another sitter and the two of them did in fact believe me and wanted justice for me. So they told me to go to another nurse. “Just keep going to them,” the nice sitter said, “and someone will listen.”
It was finally midnight when the two sitters who were on my side got the nurses to see what had happened. In fact, they got the nursing supervisor up to my room where I gave a report. I was so fed up.
The nursing supervisor finally came and I told her what this sitter had done. I explained how she used my phone for the whole shift. I explained that when someone from the outside called for me, this sitter answered MY phone and told the caller, “You’ve called the wrong number,” and hung up, then resumed her own personal calls. I told the nursing supervisor that this sitter had received her own personal calls on my phone as well as made them.
At one point, as I explained to the supervisor, I picked up the phone and it was some guy, obviously calling for the sitter. I gave her the phone, disgusted. She babbled into it and hung up, saying to me, “That was a wrong number. Some Chinese guy. I don’t know what he was talking about.” I said, “Oh,” to the sitter, knowing she was full of baloney. Then I saw her call him back and tell him how she fooled me. She was cackling, again hiding the phone when nursing staff walked by, so no one ever knew what she was up to. Doing her job, eh? For the entire eight-hour shift, she babbled on my phone.
“I pay out of pocket by the day for that phone,” I told the supervisor. “When I asked her to stop, she wouldn’t. She insisted she needed the phone to make calls to doctors’ offices. For eight hours?”
It wasn’t just one sitter. Many of them were abusive. I liked it when they slept on the job because when they closed their eyes it meant privacy for me. Once, they sent a guy sitter. The johnnies the hospital had didn’t cover me well. No matter, I had the right to ask for a switch. So I asked for a switch and right away they said there were no others and I’d have to have a guy sitter for the night.
I slept in my clothes that night. I had no choice. Those johnnies didn’t cover me at all. So in the morning, the nurses were talking about my sleeping in my clothes and maybe was doing so because I was going to “escape.”
The next day, they sent another guy sitter. It was Monday morning. He said there were no other sitters. I said, “It’s Monday day shift. I find it hard to believe there are no female sitters available on a 7-3 weekday shift. Will you please call and find out?”
He said, “There are no others. I’m a nice guy.”
I said, “Will you call?”
He said, “I’m a nice guy.” Then I realized that he had heard I was “easy” and he wanted an “easy” shift, so he wanted to stay with me and maybe be lazy instead of being assigned to another patient. I insisted, though. I was tired of not being heard.
I said, “If you don’t call, I’m going to go to the nurses and ask them to call.”
He said, “Oh, no, you can’t go into the hall. Oh no!”
I said, “Well, if you won’t make the call to see about a schedule change, I’m going to have to have the nurses make the call, right?”
“There are no others. I’m a nice guy.”
So I went to the nurses station. They all acted like I was a pain in the butt and they wanted nothing to do with me. I could get no one’s attention. The unit secretary always talked to me like she was a kindergarten teacher. Finally, I got a nurse’s attention and I explained the problem. I explained how I had told the sitter to call for a change and he had refused.
Immediately, they responded and got me someone else. So Julie isn’t so crazy after all. Wow, that took so much damn effort though.
The foolish sitter left his papers with me, the papers he was supposed to leave with the nurses. It’s a yellow paper telling the sitter that if I talk about escaping or if I talk about suicide, they are supposed to report it. I still have that yellow paper. Dumb guy.
So anyway, if you haven’t been through Sitter Hell, then you don’t know what I mean at all. Try being stared at for eight hours straight and maybe you’ll see my point. Try being started at for over a week straight. Add to that being weak, immobile, attached to an IV pole, and pretty much having all your rights taken away and maybe you see where I’m coming from. Add to that deafening construction noise, loud nonstop beeping noises in the hall, and threats of going to yet another “hospital” after this one.
So one day, the doc told me he would not let me out of there unless I got onto Zyprexa. I had to take this pill otherwise I would not be discharged, he said. I told him this was forced drugging and I would not take it and I had tried Zyprexa in the past and the doctors decided it was not a good med for me. Then he changed his tune.
“You have a choice, Julie,” he said. “You can take Zyprexa or Abilify. Your choice. One or the other but you have to take an antipsychotic otherwise I am not going to discharge you.”
I thought this guy must be nuts. Zyprexa and Abilify are like night and day. They are not at all alike. Abilify makes me manic and Zyprexa turns me into a zombie. Which would I prefer? I figured he was the one who needed the drugs.
So I figured since Abilify would make me so manic that I’d be hospitalization material in three days, I’d better go with Zyprexa and sleep forever and get fat. After all, I could fight it in court after getting out, or so I figured. I tried to tell the doctor that I’d already tried Abilify in June, but he never believed a word I said anyway.
It was so weird, cuz they had me on Zyprexa, but the whole time I was there the doc never took the order for Abilify off. So every morning, the nurses would try to give me Abilify. The whole time I was there they tried to give it to me and I refused it, but the doc never erased the order even when I explained that it made me manic. Even after I agreed to Zyprexa, the order for Abilify was still on there and they were still trying to give it to me.
I took one Zyprexa pill. No, I didn’t immediately double in size but I was scared that I would. After that, I said I wanted no more Zyprexa. That was when there was some sort of staffing shift and I had new doctors suddenly. The new ones weren’t threatening me like the old ones were. They were willing to give a little.
So anyway, I’ve been through an ordeal. I’ve been traumatized. Badly traumatized. Scared out of my mind by these people. Threatened and called a liar, discredited, treated like a caged animal.
This is healthcare?
They didn’t want to let me go for fear that something would “happen” to me. Well, if anything does, it’s because of the way they treated me, a reaction to the trauma, not because I have gained my freedom too soon. I’ll bet some of them know this, too.