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.
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.