2 Day Vacation in RI Leads to 9 days of False Imprisonment


On June 26th of this year, I went on what was intended to be a two day trip to Providence, RI from Harwich, MA on Cape Cod. I was working on a screenplay idea and had posted some of my notes on Facebook as is my usual custom. (One never knows if someone will have something particularly insightful to say, as is more often than not, the case, with regard to my particular group of Facebook Friends, who are, and always have been, very supportive and encouraging, with maybe only two or three exceptions.)(And also, this renders them, my notes, easily accessible to me virtually anywhere, and the only thing that I need to carry with me, is my iPhone; and a means to charge it, lol.)


In an area I had not visited since I was a young child, and under the intense heat of the sun (Providence being much hotter than Cape Cod, especially in June), and exacerbated by a urinary tract infection, severe enough for blood to have appeared in my urine, four days previously (then being effectively treated by medication), I experienced heat stroke and dehydration and became disoriented looking for shade, leading me to enter an unknown  residence, as no respite was to be found outside in the yard.


The owner entered, and I realized the total foolishness of my mistake, and rather embarrassed, I apologized and continued on my merry way, in an effort to return to my car, which was parked in a parking garage in downtown Newport. Within minutes, 3 police cars with sirens descended upon me. ‘This has my mother written all over it!’ I thought to myself. (She had done something similar about 20 years ago. The policemen, back then, after speaking with me a few minutes, rolled their eyes, and told me that I should call my mother.) (Back in the present, I had placed a call previously to my parents, looking for a recommendation for the best steamers (steamed soft-shell clams) in the area. My father, who is hard of hearing, which I sometimes forget, as this hasn’t always been the case, answered. Here too, I was being affected by the heat and dehydration but was taking steps to address it. I said that I was on my way to retrieve my car, which, relative to my present whereabouts, I wasn’t sure which direction it was, but having traveled solo in Cambodia, Thailand, Greece, and Italy, in addition to America, and being very, if not fiercely, independent and single my entire life, except for a very brief engagement, I felt confident in my ability to redress the situation.)


I passed the health and safety check with flying colors, so far as I know, based on the policemen’s gracious and sympathetic behavior towards me, they too believed that I was experiencing the effects of heat stroke/heat exhaustion and I was taken to Newport ER, for what I assumed would involve my being hooked up to an IV and given a long lecture on proper hydration, which would no doubt, also cover the importance of carrying and applying sunscreen while traveling. 


Instead I was offered a CAT Scan (my academic area of interest, aside from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, being inter-hemispheric conflict, cooperation, and communication), I therefore said, YES. “I’ll take two, lol!” And that is where and when  it all went horribly, terribly, unimaginably, and unbelievably wrong.


The doctor returned and told me that I had a bleed in my cerebellum (I did not, by their own subsequent admission, a fact which I only discovered upon returning home and a day or so later, receiving the paperwork), and I agreed, per their recommendation to be transferred to what turned out to be a locked ward (Surprise!!! What!?), in the Neuro Stroke Unit of RIH. What they did in fact find however, was a stable, non-bleeding Brain AVM (ArterioVenous Malformation), which is, I guess, rather rare, and which might account for their subsequent treatment of me as half lab rat/half sideshow circus freak, although my having survived this long, I being 49 and 11/12, without it rupturing, which can occur, although it is considered highly, highly unlikely at my age, would seem to suggest that their concerns were totally unwarranted. So much so that my own doctor, advised no change in my activity level which regularly includes 50 mile bike rides and 3 to 6 hours on the kayak, two weeks later, upon my return.


The psychiatrist/neurologist then called my place of employment, according to the report, and was permitted to speak with an unspecified number of my coworkers, of which there are only 8, two of whom I have more than once reported for violations of our stated drinking policy, two of whom I have not worked or interacted with for more than a few hours or so, as they started after we were all laid off in mid-March due to COVID-19. 1 of whom, I believe was absent, and one of whom was my boss. Leaving two others, with whom I am still in contact. One or more of these coworkers, as apparently the phone was passed around, said that I seemed ‘sped up,’ and ‘told stories that made no sense.” Spearheaded by the individual I consistently reported for infractions of our alcohol policy at work, who just so happened to answer the phone that day.  Remember, I was not even physically working there at this point, since mid-March. I was on furlough.


I attended one unpaid training session, which I had been repeatedly led to believe was mandatory, and attended a dinner off-site with 6 of the 8 coworkers. These are the only two interactions I had with my coworkers, as a whole, and in both instances I had had one alcoholic beverage, one being my limit, because one was a social function, and another occurred immediately after one, and it’s not like I am getting paid, I reasoned, the goal being to get in, finish the assignment I was given as soon as humanly possible, and then get out, but this was never asked of either myself or my coworkers, but my coworkers responses were considered sufficient to reinforce the psychiatrist’s diagnosis of Mania, and subsequently Bipolar Disorder, such that I remained locked up in the Neuro-Stroke Unit of RIH, for 7 days, then was transferred to the Psych Unit for 2, for a total of 9 days of false imprisonment, due to an involuntary hold, despite my intake of alcohol being a disqualification according to the DSM-5, and despite my presenting no harm to either myself or others.


ALSO, they decided, on account of behavior which someone, unidentified in the report, defined as ‘bizarre,’ of which I myself have absolutely no recollection, despite my being able to recall all events up to my being placed in the ambulance for transfer to RIH, that I am manic, and therefore Bipolar, despite there never having never been a depressive episode in my entire life, and they begin to subsequently push for me to begin taking Zyprexa. A drug so powerful that it is also used as a first-line treatment for schizophrenia and which has been the subject of lawsuits.


I believe that they may have given it to me anyway, previous to their attempting to obtain my consent. I must have been drugged in the ambulance as I awoke much later, surprised to find myself in a bed out of which I could not move without setting of an alarm, as soon as I was given the opportunity, quickly realizing that I had been lied to, as no (as in absolutely zero, none) symptoms of anything so serious as a cerebral bleed were at all apparent, nor in nine days of repeated neurological testing were any such symptoms found.


I vehemently, but always politely and graciously (being that I am a Professional Server, as in Waiter,  and have been for the vast majority of my life, specifically, one who is very passionate about the Forbes Five Star Service Standards, so much so, that I strive to adhere to them, even in my daily life), refused it. For a certain period of time, I was also refused food or water, due to the bleed which of course, never was. It was either a complete fabrication in order to get me to agree to be admitted to the hospital or the neurologists/psychiatrists/radiologists are incapable of accurately reading a CAT scan.


Neurological testing was done daily, sometimes by teams of doctors who all filed in to see me.  All of these tests I passed, and when they came up with new ones, I passed those too. That, and the fact that they would try to convince me that I was manic, as I sat quietly on my bed, looking up at them. They also tried to persuade me to take blood pressure lowering medication. My blood pressure is consistently 120/85, I measure it regularly and have done so for years. I politely, but vehemently declined. Unlock the door, I told them, and my blood pressure, will decrease rapidly. Blood pressure, I found myself having to inform them, is labile and responsive to stress. They refused to do so.


The diagnosis as revealed to me upon discharge and as charged both to myself and to insurance; consisted of the aforementioned stable non-bleeding Brain AVM, no threat to me what so ever, a congenital defect present likely since birth, and and Bipolar Disorder, No Psychotic Symptoms, Mild. In their write up, they called it “apparent,” and said that the absence of symptoms, was due to the fact that I take magnesium as a migraine preventative.


However, what they don’t know, never having bothered to ask, much less do any sort of psychological or psychiatric evaluation, much less take a patient or family history of any kind, was that I have only been taking magnesium for 2 out of almost 50 years. So what explains the absence of symptoms since then? Who knows?


The only information they do have, is that which I personally volunteered. For nine days, I would awaken, shower, get dressed, in the dress and pashmina I wore when I was abducted, in hopes that this might be the day that I successfully negotiated my release. It was the most traumatic experience, of my entire life, as you might imagine, truly the stuff of nightmares (“We’d like you to agree to a lumbar puncture, no it won’t hurt.”)(Seriously?! I thought to myself.) And  I truly feared that I would never succeed in escaping without acceding to their daily insistences and considerable pressure, that I take the medication which they prescribed, the aforementioned Zyprexa, and Lisinopril, which, given that my blood pressure at the doctor’s office yesterday was 118/82, very likely would have resulted in serious harm to me at the very least, and was definitely unwarranted, even in my own unmedicalschooled opinion, as was the Zyprexa, due to the “apparentness” of my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, there having been no symptoms, as stated in the paperwork, which I subsequently received upon my arrival home, mild with no psychotic symptoms at all, but somehow still considered Bipolar Disorder.


But, every cloud, as they say, has a silver lining, for now I can remain on furlough indefinitely. At least until the middle or end of January. And perhaps even, never have to work another day my life, if I succeed in holding RI Hospital accountable, which a surprising number of others have already done. (I Googled RIH and lawsuits and Holy Shrimp!!!)


My own doctor, was so unimpressed by the whole thing, he promised a set of referrals, advised me that it might take a bit of time due to COVID-19, especially for imaging, and assured me that there was no cause for a change in my activity levels, outside, alone, where I would not be wearing a mask, so long as my home monitoring of my blood pressure continues to reveal no cause of concern, and I avoid stressful situations (like being falsely imprisoned in RIH due to an involuntary hold?), these being the only issues, which he believed that the neurologist would raise as a concern. Otherwise he’d see me in November for my yearly physical.


The End.