Words of wisdom by Rachel Ann Klein, a link, and my belief that Rachel’s death was suspicious

Here’s the link. Rachel commented on this article, and you can find her wonderful comment right below. She was an inspiration to so many people.

‘Our little songbird has flown the nest’

I am now remembering stuff about Rachel, a few things she told me and that I witnessed. I didn’t put two and two together, but now, I have more information about patient harm than I had before. I see her death as tragic.

She told me the following: She stated that she’d had a procedure or surgery done for ovarian cancer. She stated that something hadn’t gone right about the surgery. She said that due to medical error, her cancer, which could have easily been eradicated, wasn’t. She said whatever medical people were involved had caused her cancer to spread. And she added what I’ve come to learn about malpractice: The patient has no recourse.

The last time I saw Rachel was in 2013. I recall I visited her in her home in 2012. She and I were on the phone first and then she invited me to drop by. This is what I saw.

She sat at the far end of the room. She looked different. I realized she had no hair. Rachel apologized, explaining that she had her wig off. She said, “Some people get uncomfortable around me when I don’t wear it because a bald head reeks of cancer.” I told her it didn’t bother me in the least. She was finishing up some work on her laptop. Her service dog, Zoe, came to say hello to me.

Rachel finished up what she was doing. I told her that I was amazed at her apartment. “It’s beautiful!” I said.

Rachel told me I should apply for Section 8. I explained that already I was in my 50’s. Should I apply, the waiting list was now ten years. I didn’t want to say to her that I didn’t think I’d live that long. She knew what I meant, though.

I met Rachel through my church. It didn’t take long before she reached out to me. I recall one thing she said was that folks found it difficult to be friends with someone who has to face death at far too young an age. She knew I’d been in the mental health system just as she had been.

Rachel told me she used to deal with suicidal urges, so to her point of view, facing impending death meant a double-whammy. She told me she had a feeling I could relate to what she was saying. I told her that many people with eating disorders like myself come close to death due to low weight, dehydration, or other medical complication related to malnutrition. I told her that I had gone to bed at night so many times wondering if I was going to wake up alive in the morning.

May 23, 2014, Rachel died in her sleep. This has been a mystery to me ever since I heard the news. She was ten years younger than me. Why had this occurred? Was her death dismissed and forgotten about? Was there no investigation? People don’t die by magic.

Let no person’s voice ever go unheard. I know in my heart that this was a suspicious death and should have been thoroughly investigated. I personally need answers to this, knowing what I know.

I know more about malpractice now that I did before. A person who is victim of malpractice is often totally discredited. I’m sure that’s what happened to Rachel. Someone saw to it that she was made to look like a complainer, nothing more. Someone saw to it that people around her doubted her claims.

I know this, because that’s what happens to people who are victims of malpractice. Those who have been wronged get screwed. Rachel was intelligent and insightful and I personally believe what she told me. People who are victims of malpractice often are illegally denied medical care, and are lied to as a way to cover up wrongdoing. We think of it as blacklisting. She was flagged. Of course she was!

Rachel told me she still took cancer pills. Yet one day I recall she announced in church that she was cancer-free. Who told her this? Were her medical records fudged to hide wrongdoing? This is fairly standard procedure, to cover up the truth.

If the medical profession wanted to see to it that she believed she was cancer-free, then how did she acquire the cancer drugs? Were these prescribed or did she obtain them illegally? She told me she knew that cancer drugs killed noncancer cells as well as cancer cells. But if these powerful medical institutions were lying and covering up the truth, then maybe she knew she needed something, and took her problems into her own hands. Why? Because people who are denied care take care of themselves any way they can.

I agree that Rachel could be difficult at times. I know anyone who is victim of malpractice tends to be bitter for a long time. Of course she had no recourse, not only that, the doctors who were so scared of her (due to her awareness and intelligence) saw to it that she was screwed every time she tried to get medical care. She must have felt trapped, with no way out in sight.

It was difficult for Rachel to be tactful, and at times, she came on strong. Of course she had these problems! So many others who are abused end up angry, especially when they aren’t believed by most around them.

Rachel, if you can read this now, I want to let you know that you were one of the key people who helped me realize that Mental Health Care is a farce and a lie. I admired you so much, even when spats between us kept us from communicating. Right after I left the States, I wanted to call you. I never had the chance. You died ten days after the day I departed.

I don’t know what killed you, Rachel. I have always contended that it was lack of love.  Call it a broken heart if you wish. They should have believed you. They should have listened. May we all listen now, and hear your words. Rest in peace.

What is insane? ATTN: Montgomery C Brower, Forensic Psychiatry, McLean Hospital

Regular readers of my blog know that I am all in favor of transparency. So in the name of transparency I shall state that I was once a patient of the above Dr. Brower. He was a young resident at McLean Hospital. I was not yet 40 years old. My father was still alive. I met Dr. Brower, a rather young, energetic Dr. Brower, while I was inpatient on one of the “units.” I’m trying to recall the name of the “unit.” I believe these were shuffled around quite a bit as the hospital downsized over the years. They seemed to have sold some of their buildings, making some into condos. I laugh now. They once had apple orchards, pear trees, even woodsy areas. All that got sold off. So if you read my book you might not make much sense out of the “forbidden path” bit. Truthfully, there once were a bunch of “forbidden paths” on the McLean grounds, and I’m sure there were plenty of patients and former patients and probably disgruntled staff who hung themselves from the trees or otherwise died in the woods there. Didn’t Anne Sexton mention these woods too? As did Sylvia Plath. I suppose I shouldn’t. I’m not dead, either way. I doubt their literary mention of the woods is what did them in.

Okay, this was called NB. North Belknap. Yeah, there was also a South Belknap. Of course, if there’s going to be a North, they might as well build a South. There are North and South America. However, North America has forgotten that South America exists. Hola! (Oops, they didn’t quite hear me. Shall I call out a little louder?)

Yes, and there were two North Belkaps, 1 and 2. These were NB1 and NB2. There was a 3, but this was a floor of offices. I hear they made that floor into a Clozaril clinic for a while. Most hospitals shuffle around all the time. Why is that? Can’t they make up their minds? Why are hospitals always under construction? They can’t sit still. They are always on hills. Elevated moods. They must have ADHD, high anxiety, and by all means, delusions of grandeur. Shoot ‘em up with some Ritalin. They’ve got a brain disease. It’s permanent and they clearly lack insight into their condition.

So there I was, a lowly patient on NB1 I believe. I met Dr. Brower for the first time. He wasn’t my doctor at first but he was the Unit doctor. You guys know what I mean. The one on the Unit that is your doctor while you are inpatient. I didn’t like him. I started to like him after a while, though. I guess he grew on me. But at first, I found him super annoying.

Now you guys gotta realize, when you deal with a shrink, you don’t just deal with that one shrink. There’s a hierarchy. There’s the shrink, his boss, his boss’s boss, the insurance company, the hospital they are working for, the administration, and on and on. Of course, your family, too. Never mind YOU. Do you think you actually have a say in what happens? And of course, your prior shrinks and whatever bullshit they may have put into your records that you cannot control.

It was then 1996. Records were mostly still on paper. I’d say electronic records were coming into the fore and were about to take over, but not yet. It was quite common for the next decade to enter a hospital and find out that you’ve been billed under the incorrect social security number.

Know what happens when you leave the country? You look at your Medicaid card and burst into laughter, because suddenly, it’s meaningless. It feels like a terrific Fuck You. Or it did for me. I still have mine but I have no clue what to do with it.

So there was a rather youthful Dr. Brower. I had no clue what to think. Know what NB was like back then? It smelled like an old library. Like books. We did have books there, in fact. This was back in the day when books were allowed. It wasn’t all gross there the way it is now. Or shall I say in 2011 I was there and it was downright disgusting. Dirt all over the floor…never mind the bathrooms. I cleaned them myself, so I would know.

Joe told me, later on, that Dr. B looked “preppie.” Joe was right. He did. Kinda. I always felt somewhat embarrassed talking to Dr. B because he spoke too loudly. So I’d be talking to him and the whole world would hear his half of the conversation. I would wonder: Does he think I am deaf? Why does he speak with such a loud voice? One day, I heard him speak to an elderly lady and as far as I could tell, she was hard of hearing, so I figured that speaking loudly might be perhaps appropriate, but to speak to everyone with an elevated voice like that, wasn’t that assuming some sort of air of importance? I never quite figured that one out. Finally, I was so annoyed and so embarrassed that I got up the courage to speak up.

This was after I had long left NB and was seeing him outpatient. I’d been seeing him for a long while and we’d developed a rapport. I told him flat out to kindly lower his voice. I told him that his voice was so loud that it carried through the walls into the other doctor offices, and thus violated my confidentiality. During this same appointment I had to remind him a number of times. I felt silly. Was I his mother?

So back to 1996. I admit they were sick of me. I’m sure of it. I was a frequent flyer by then. Who knows? I wish my PCP had had more of a say in the goings-on. She was the one who was concerned that my weight was dropping, but no one else gave a shit. Then, she ended up moving her practice and I never saw her again. She also was well aware that the Risperdal was causing me to miss periods because it raises Prolactin. No one else gave a shit about that, either.

Then, I had shitloads of shock treatments. One after the other. Dr. Brower was not in favor of the shock at all. Actually, it was my idea originally because I’d had it the previous year, 1995. However, Dr. Michael Henry, new on the staff at the time, was the shock-happy one who decided I “needed” lots and lots of shock. I believe Dr. Henry recently left McLean, but I’m not certain about this. I am rather certain that he was still working there in 2012. I recall specifically what he looked like. I am certain that anyone who gets “ECT” won’t forget him. You can’t.

Dr. Henry has dark, dark eyebrows. You don’t forget those eyebrows. I think those eyebrows are the last thing you see before you go under. They have an anesthesiologist tell you, “Pick a nice dream!” and then, rather quickly, you are out. When you wake up, you might find out they’ve taken your clothes off. They might tell you that they had to do that because you wet them. Yep, shock does that. When you wake up, you might find yourself puking up nothing, too. From the anesthesia. Or you might not wake up at all. They don’t tell anyone about those folks, the ones that die. How do they get the bodies out of there? (Oh, Julie, stop talking like that, it’s triggering people….) No, really, do they wheel them through the tunnels? Maybe they serve them up for dinner. They might save money that way. We all knew the food was gross.

So, seeing as my posts get posted up on Twitter, and I’ve addressed this to the attention of Dr. Brower, I assume this lovely little post will eventually make its way to him. See, McLean knew they’d done wrong by me. They knew they’d screwed me bad. They knew they’d given me way too many shock “treatments.” So what the heck were they gonna do?

You screw up a perfectly normal, okay lady. She was fine before, now she’s fucked. She’s a basket case. What do you tell her doting parents? How do you explain this to her boyfriend? What about her former therapist, who might inquire at some point? Here you had an intelligent 39-year-old woman who had a job and had been considering college, and you gave her so many shock treatments that now, she can’t think straight.

Her parents suspect. Her boyfriend suspects. One of her old friends has made a call to the hospital demanding an answer. What if there’s a lawsuit? What then? What if her father actually doesn’t die from cancer and decides to sue? What about the brothers, they might actually wake up and care about her even though right now they apparently don’t? After all, they might get some real money out of this….

The doctors had to think quickly. This woman’s insurance was running out. That was it. State hospital. But she needed a new diagnosis. Quick. They needed an explanation. She complained of feeling “confusion.” Of course she did, it was from the shock, but McLean was NOT going to to the ethical thing and apologize.

Imaginary scenario:

Dr. B: Miss Greene (he always called me that), I want to tell you that it’s entirely our fault. We gave you too many shock treatments and that’s the explanation for the intermittent mental confusion that you experience. Honestly, we don’t even know if you will ever get your mind back. We’re quite embarrassed about what happened.

But no, that’s not what he said. Of course not. Patients never get an apology. Nor are they ever given an honest answer.

He told me I was “dissociating.” Yep, dissociating. I look back and laugh. No way did that one fit, but they tried real hard to give me a new phony diagnosis to fit their gross malpractice.

Another thing he tried was to get obsessed about my periods. So many male doctors get obsessed like that. Dr. Brower was no exception. He wanted to chart them. I felt like rolling my eyes at him.

I feel so sorry for my parents. I remember when my mom said, “It was the shock that ruined her, wasn’t it?” She really did word it that way. Seriously. Yeah, maybe it was tactless. But I value my mom’s honesty and the fact that she dared to come out with it when those doctors were so dishonest and cagey. For all their bogus terminology, I really wonder how they manage to stay in practice.

I’ve looked Dr. Brower up. He’s testified in court in some famous cases. One was a school stabbing. He stated that a kid was “not insane” when he stabbed a student.

I ask you right now, Dr. Brower: What is insane? He stated that the student wasn’t delusional. Okay, so delusional is insane. But is delusional the only excusable insane there is in a court of law?

How about this insane? What if I go out for coffee at my usual place. I turn away from my coffee momentarily to speak to a passerby. While this is happening, someone drops a drug into my coffee. I don’t know much about drugs really. Let’s say it doesn’t affect the taste of the coffee and it dissolves right away. So I finish my coffee and a bit later, have no clue what’s going on, get into my car, and deliberately run someone over. Am I insane? I’m not delusional. But that’s insane, isn’t it?

How about this insane? I am given a drug by my doctor. Let’s say it’s to treat a rash. Oh, a steroid let’s say. I tell my doctor, “This drug is making me feel terrible. I feel like I am gonna murder someone.” But my doctor says, “Don’t worry, just finish the bottle. What you feel is only a feeling. Accept it.” So I get in my car and deliberately run someone over. Is that insane? I’m not delusional. I willingly took the drug. I obeyed my god-doctor. I was competent. I was treating my rash. So was I insane?

How about this insane? You heard about Rehteah Parsons? Yep, the kid who was bullied. She was badly bullied, driven to suicide. We know about just how bad that bullying was. This has gone to court and it’s been in the media and in petitions. Do you know how many kids that happens to that we DON’T hear about?

Think about how they treated her. You drive someone crazy like that. You torture someone to the point of suicide. Is that insane?

Looking back on my own years in the MH system, looking back on ANYONE’s years and years and years locked up, tied up, forced to take drugs, forced to appointment after appointment, told how incapable we are, how stupid we are, how limited we are, how we are doomed for life, lied to, treated with deception, not told of consequences of this bogus treatment we are given, not told of what was REALLY done to us over the years and years, no explanation given for the deaths of our friends, and the ruined lives of our comrades, the families we’ve lost or never had or never had the chance to bear…..Is this not torture? Is this not bullying? Can you not blame us for one minute for feeling a little bit pissed off?

No, it’s all medicalized, pathologized, compartmentalized into insurance numbers so you can safely bill us and call us by yet one more diagnosis.

Good grief. If I could paid for every diagnosis I have ever had, I’d make damn fortune. If I could earn a dollar for every pill they coerced me into taking, I’d have enough money so I wouldn’t have to worry about the next meal for quite a while. Puzzle and I could eat like gourmets. I wonder how much money I could make if I got paid for all the minutes I spent waiting in shrink waiting rooms. I should be compensated for my time! They didn’t call me Frequent Flyer for nothing. You accumulate brownie points, right?

I think I need honesty points. Honesty points for every single freaking time I didn’t lie to a shrink. Every single time I walked into a shrink’s office and said in earnest, “Can you help me? I’m having a problem with _____.” and actually thought the jerk was going to help instead of out for himself. Out to puff himself up. Cuz Dr. Brower, I saw your photo. You sure looked nice in that shoot. You sure they didn’t touch up that photo a bit? Sure they do. It’s the age of Photoshop, ain’t it? I know how to use it, too.

No, I doubt Dr. Michael Henry did up his eyebrows. They were real, all right. He didn’t grow them that way to deliberately spook someone before they went under. It’s just that I have a good memory. I doubt you shrinks are too pleased that I remember this crap, either. I hear you don’t care for whistleblowers too much.

Either way, I remember you well. I liked you a lot. It’s just that I want you to think good and hard on what I asked. What the hell is “insane”? After all, folks like you have a lot of clout in the courts. That’s all I ask, Dr. B.

Julie Greene, your former patient, 1996-1998

Can a person with MD after his name be wrong? Yes! Can health care be bad for your health? Or is it always the best choice?

Anyone can make a mistake.  A professional can be totally wrong about things.  I, of course, am often wrong about things.  I am human.

I dropped a pan the other day.  It landed on top of a container of silverware.  The silverware all dumped into the crack between the stove and the wall, a crack that’s there due to slipshod design here in public housing.  I said lots of swear words after that silverware fell into the crack, but no one heard. Then, I figured out how to retrieve it all, and went about my day.

Can a doctor make a mistake?  Well, you might be thinking that if a doctor decided something, it must be valid.  Most people assume that ALL doctor decisions have validity.  Not true!  That’s why we get second opinions.  Doctor #1 says, “I think you need an operation. It needs to be taken out.” Doctor #2 says, “Wait a minute.  Looking more carefully at this x-ray, I see the problem is caused by something entirely different. Amputation won’t be necessary at all.”

Of course, this happens all the time. The patient ends up happy.  We just decide that Doctor #1 was wrong and we stick with Doctor #2.

Unfortunately, if you are locked in a hospital, under the care of a psychiatrist, and that psychiatrist sees you and then decides your fate, there’s not much you can do.  You can’t even leave, go elsewhere, and get a second opinion. You rarely get a change of staff, cuz everyone says you’re “not cooperating with care,” or they tell you you’re nuts.

There’s a case at Children’s Hospital in Boston right now that I’m involved with that’s about this same thing: misdiagnosis.  The hospital is using force and not allowing second opinion.  In this case, the patient is a minor.

Of course, this abuse happens to just about every psych patient out there. Psychiatric imprisonment is the status quo, condoned by society.  How many times have we heard, “She’s nuts and should be locked up!”

Can mistakes be made? Sure!  I once had five teeth pulled and lo and behold, after that was done, they STILL hadn’t pulled the cracked tooth. They had pulled out five wrong teeth.  I had a cracked tooth in my mouth and it got infected.  Know something?  This is minor compared to the mistakes psychiatry made on me.

The point is not that they make mistakes. The point is how they handle them.  Cuz you can’t go to a different shrink when you are stuck in a hospital.  Once they realize they are wrong, do they act like asses, or do they gracefully apologize and undo what they’ve done? Or do they never, ever admit they are wrong even though they know damned well they are?

A wrong pill is one thing. That’s gonna happen. But to keep on giving the wrong pill, despite repeated complaints, or obvious bad reactions…..This is inhumane.  Or to keep someone locked up when they shouldn’t be, or to take away their rights without medical reason….this is inhumane.

I would say I used to hear people who came home from the hospital with a smile on their face.  Not anymore. Now, 90% of people I speak to tell me horror stories.  Not just mental patients.  I mean people on the bus, strangers, and anyone elderly I know.  All nightmares. They say they will never go back if they can help it. What’s wrong with healthcare?

Oh sure, you hear the occasional “good” story.  But this is how it’s worded: “I had to fight the staff every step of the way to get good care,” or, “I was in care and it was bad but then PROVED to them that I WANTED to get better.”  Oh, please.  This implies that people receive bad care because they don’t want to get better or have bad morals.  Some people claim that “care” only works for people who have the right attitude, but that’s an excuse for poor care.

There is no bad attitude, there are only folks that care so deeply about their dignity that they stand up for their rights a little more than others.   They make a little more noise. For that, they are called “uncooperative” and given the boot, or locked up worse, or treated with cruelty, or refused care entirely.

And claiming you have to have the “right attitude,” that you have to be “ready for it,” puts the blame on the patient for what in fact is lousy care.  We all want to get better, we always did, and there’s nothing to prove. Why should we have to fight for good healthcare?

Why do so many people have to get “sectioned” to hospitals?  Is it because they don’t want to get better?  No!  People I’ve spoken to refuse to go back because of a prior bad experience. They are terrified just like me.

Everyone I’ve spoken to is dying to get better.  Literally dying.

So will we all get together to see that things change? I hope so.

Update: My recent conversations with attorneys

I was finally able to have real conversations with not one but several lawyers yesterday.  I received both good and bad news.

I suppose the first bit of good news is that these telephone conversations actually took place, and that I wasn’t speaking to voicemail machines!  There was interaction, voice-to-voice.  Nowadays, voice-to-voice conversation with ANYONE is priceless.  I’m so tired of people thinking that e-mail, texting, exchanged  voicemails, and Facebook is “social interaction.”  It is, but it’s not half as productive, efficient, satisfying, effective, confidential, heartfelt, or accurate as real conversation.

So I need to pat myself on the back for insisting on OUT LOUD SPEECH.  I got that far.  I’m surprised that lawyers do in fact answer their own phones.   They’re not like most doctors, who don’t answer phones at all.  I don’t know a single one that has anything but voicemail, secretaries, and nurses, and my last PCP had no voicemail and no way to leave private messages.  I found that every lawyer I called I could speak to right away, directly.

Okay, so a couple I called I said about two words and they said, “No, we don’t take that kind of case,” without really hearing much beyond two or three summary words.  One was a rude secretary and it wasn’t my fault that I was mistakenly referred to their office.  I apologized and hung up.

A couple of the lawyers, several in fact, said that my case was too involved, and they only did simpler cases that only involved one doctor and one incident.  I can imagine the types of cases they might take on, such as a surgeon that amputates the wrong arm.   That’s rather cut and dry.  Or the example that a commenter gave on here: the dumbasses that took the wrong patient to ECT…a name mixup because both patients in the same room were named “Debby.”  So this lawyer I spoke to said he took on that kind of case, and not what I was presenting to him, which was too complicated.

So at this point, I knew what I was up against.  I knew what to say next time I got on the phone, that my case was complicated and that it would be lengthy and time-consuming for whoever was willing to tackle it.  Being turned down, in a way, only fueled me to push onward.

Finally, I had a wonderful call with one lawyer who didn’t cut me off.  In fact, he seemed fascinated.  Believe me folks, I had been becoming increasingly frustrated, but somehow, I did okay.  I was amazed that someone would truly take interest.  I told myself that this lawyer was NOT shaking his head and saying, “What a crazy lady.”  No, he was saying to himself, “What an amazing story.  This highly intelligent woman is telling the truth.”

I know he believed me.  I know in my heart that he did, and if one lawyer did, then there would be others.  Sure enough, not much later I finally got hold of the lawyer I had been trying to reach for about a month where she has “voicemail only, ” and shockeroo! she answered the phone herself!  What a fluke!  So we spoke for a bit.  Yes, there are indeed others.  Make that two lawyers that say, “Julie Greene IS NOT CRAZY.”

However, so far, most of these people are backlogged and they cannot take on a case as big as mine.  It’s going to involve tons of paperwork.  Thousands of pages.

I’ve gotten as much help as I can get from this one organization that assisted me.  At this point, one thing I can do is tackle it myself, piece by piece, incident by incident, and try to file individual reports on particular people and institutions one at a time as much as I can.  I’d have to obtain my records.  Because I am low income (very) the fee for photocopying should be waived, at least that’s what I read.

So I asked, “Should I write a book about all this?  Would that be the approach to take at this point?”  The problem is that I am so darned tired from low functioning kidneys that it’s hard to work on any project at all.

If I did write a book, I’d have to publicize it really well.  Do something sensational with it.  Make a splash.  I have no clue how.

I refuse to pray for all those docs and therapists in order to “make peace with myself.”  I wasn’t born a Christian so please don’t proselytize.

I only want to help others who are trapped.  I only want to prevent more abuse, and to embrace others trapped inside and welcome with all my heart those that are escaping the System.  You are not alone even though it sure feels that way.

Shutting up, for me,  is not an option.  Giving in is not an option. Turning the other cheek, no, that is not on the table either.  I will not back down.