Part 2 Admitted to the Hospital
It seemed forever until 2 men came in with an ambulance stretcher. One of them asked, “Are you going to cooperate and move onto our stretcher?” They were big guys. I nodded. Two nurses untied first my left arm and leg, and re-tied the straps loosely to the top rail of the bed. They released my right side restraints, and moved me over to the stretcher while my left side was still tied down. They secured my right limbs with new nylon Velcro closure restraints, and then moved my left limbs over and restrained me. The views of the busy hospital passed by: nurses, doctors, patients waiting, people on stretchers, ventilator noises, babies crying. In a moment I squeezed my eye shut as we passed into the bright sun.
The ambulance was more of a transport vehicle than the paramedic type, not having all of the monitoring equipment. They did have oxygen. One of the guys rode in back with me as we rode the ½ hour to the mental hospital. I felt a few jolts as they unloaded me.
The attendants rang the bell, and shortly the automatic wide steel and glass door opened. Two aides, a man and woman in scrubs with badges greeted us. The 5’6” slim dark haired lady took the papers and leafed through them. She asked the attendants to raise the head of the bed so she could talk to me. It seemed important that we were almost at eye level.
“Good morning, Ted, I’m Samantha. This is Paul. We’re going to take you over to where you’ll be staying.” I looked up & sideways from the stretcher as we went through several airy pastel painted corridors, some with murals, and locked doors, then passed through an open courtyard about 25 yards square. It had a covered walkway on 3 sides, a grassy area in the middle, and a high concrete fence. “This is a smoking and exercise area,” said Samantha. She turned a key at a receptacle on the cream colored concrete wall, & we passed through a final metal door. The hall ways were about 10 feet wide. We passed an entrance to what seemed to be an activity room on the left. There was a table & 6 people in street clothes were apparently doing craft activities. On the left we passed door to a 15 x 40 room with windows (I noted they were thick glass with wires). Maybe it was a lounge; it had a lot of couches. The nursing station was glassed in with 2 Dutch doors, half doors with a shelf. Samantha approached one of the doors and talked to another one of the nurses.
The tall blonde haired nurse came out & approached me. She wore a print scrub top and blue cotton slacks & running shoes. Her name tag had large letters ‘IRENE RN.’ She reminded me of the tree fairy in the Lord of the Rings. Irene didn’t look like Nurse Ratched. “Good morning, Ted. I’m Irene, the charge nurse on floor today. I want to welcome you toDel RioHospital. We’re on the NTC unit.” Whatever NTC meant.
“Please, let me go home. I don’t want to be in the booby hatch!” I tried to sit up and ineffectually tugged at the restraints. “Please let me out of these,” I begged. I continued jerking spasmodically for a few seconds and quieted down.
She glanced meaningfully at my restraints. “Have you been struggling at the other hospital? Were you fighting anyone?”
“I just didn’t want to go the booby hatch,” I replied. “I tried to get up go home, so they restrained me.” I lifted my right arm showing her the restraints. “I’ll be okay. I won’t cause any trouble if you take me out of the restraints.”
Nevertheless, she asked one of the other nurses to get some of their restraints.
“Please don’t put me in a strait jacket!” I cried. “I’ll be good.”
“We won’t apply more than we think is necessary for your safety, Ted,” she said calmly. “But when we have a new patient in restraints we need to have some control until we know you.”
The 2 attendants and 2 more aides were also at hand to bring me under control, if needed. Samantha & Irene took off the right wrist restraint; the Velcro straps made a ripping sound. Samantha held open the heavy padded leather cuff. As Irene put my wrist into it I was struck with an unreasoning fear. I jerked my hand away but an alert attendant seized my arm and Irene forced my wrist into the cuff. Samantha quickly wrapped it around firmly, and put on of the slots in the cuff over the bracket. Another aide threaded a belt through the loop and quickly buckled it to the rails. I jerked at it for a few seconds futilely.
Irene said, “I thought you told me you’d cooperate.”
“I..I’m afraid of being tied up, nurse,” I whined.
She took a deep breath; I read it as a sign of exasperation, then continued, “We don’t want you to struggle, fall, hit yourself on something hard, or dislocate something, Ted. And we have to take you off the stretcher. Would you feel safer in an isolation room for a while?”
“No, please. I’m not crazy. Don’t put me in a padded room! I’ll be good.”
“If you let us put the restraints on, quietly, we’ll take you to the regular exam room and finish admitting you to the ward. But I do have alternatives for controlling an un-cooperative patient,” she warned. The nurses put a leather belt around my waist, and locked it in place. They applied the leather cuff to my left hand first and looped the belt to the waist restraint before loosening the ambulance nylon restraint. I let them cinch it up & attach the right wrist. They applied the leather cuffs to my ankles, and put a short strap between them. They lowered the stretcher & sat me up. Samantha noticed I was barefoot and got slippers from the large linen cart in the hallway.
“Let’s go to the exam room, Ted,” said Irene. I stood up, and found I could only take short steps. The 2 nurses led me gently by the upper arms through the Dutch door to one of the 2 rooms in the back of the nursing station. I noticed the other room, looking like a lounge, had couches, chairs, and a large board with room numbers, names and comments. I was led to a classic looking exam room with ophthalmoscope/otoscope on the wall, a rolling console with blood pressure, temperature, & oximeter instruments on top, an exam table, doctor style scales, cabinets, and on the wall, number markings that looked like height measurements
It was scary. I was really in the booby hatch. The 2 women in the room looked nice enough, but appearances could be deceiving. I was in leather restraints again; they could call any number of other persons to overpower me.
“So how are you feeling, Ted?” Apparently they used only first names here.
“I’m scared. I’ve never been in a mental hospital before.” I was shaking and it showed.
“I don’t know.” I looked at Irene. “I know you’re not Nurse Ratched,” I blurted out. “But I don’t know what you’re going to do to me. I’m scared of shock treatments & lobotomies. The other patients might be all weirdos, crazies, and nut cases. I’m scared of them. And I’m scared of being put in a strait jacket.”
Samantha said in an even voice, “I can see that you’re scared of a new environment, especially when popular media portray hospitals in frightening ways. First, we’re here for you, for your safety and recovery. We’re not going to mistreat you, and this is not the Cuckoo’s Nest. Lobotomies went out of style 50 years ago. I just read about them in a text book. We’re very concerned about patient safety. We don’t want any one to hurt you, especially yourself. You tried to kill yourself today?”
Her question led to why I had been admitted to the hospital. I told them I had been very depressed and that the pain was too much. I hadn’t been able to work; taking care of myself had been hard; I’d lost 15 pounds; I either slept too much or couldn’t sleep; I stopped sailing & fishing; my house looked like a garbage pit. They let me babble on. After a lot of therapy (at $150 an hour) I was used to spilling my guts. “Finally I got in my car and ran it into the tree. The cop said I should have used a cheap car,” I added disgustedly.
They had figured out I was depressed, & asked about other psychiatric disorders; I wasn’t bipolar, schizophrenic, had no other admissions. Irene went on the mental exam. I told them it was Monday (wrong answer), thatClintonwas the president (it was Bush). I had some trouble concentrating, subtracting 7’s.
Meanwhile a clerk had arrived and brought in the sack with my belongings from the other hospital. We checked everything: keys, watch, ring, money, credit cards. Marcia went through my pockets and extracted a handkerchief. Irene & I decided to keep $60 on the ward in an envelope in case I wanted to buy something, like snacks, or take out food. He sealed the valuables in a heavy plastic envelope and we both signed the front. Although the admission was involuntary, he had me sign a lot of other forms I really didn’t understand. Samantha inventoried my clothing, just what I had on my back.
Efficiently another nurse was waiting. The short 5’ high slightly overweight, looking blonde, about 30, introduced herself as Marcia, the nurse practitioner. She was going to do my physical exam. Irene left, leaving Samantha with us. Marcia was more detailed than the ER doctor who needed to check me out for injuries and get on to other patients. I told her my face & head hurt, my neck and lower back seemed to ache, and I was sore where the seat belts bruised me. She asked about my medical history: I had been hospitalized as a child for asthma, pneumonia, had an accident with hand injuries, a knee and hernia operations.
“Okay, let’s look you over, Ted,” she said.
Marcia re-did the mental exam, confirming I wasn’t all there. She found bruises where I’d apparently hit the glass with my head. She had me look all around, checked my side vision shined a light in my eyes, and looked in my retina with the room lights off. I grimaced, stuck out my tongue. I had a small gouge in my lower lip where I bit it. Samantha was careful to note that. She told Samantha I had abrasions on my face. I told her my neck was sore as she moved it around. “Not having any numbness or pain when I move it, tells me there’s no serious neck injury.” She loosened the gown top, dropping it down to the still restrained wrists. Now we could see the ugly bruise on my left shoulder and chest and the matching bruise over my right anterior hip where the seat belt kept me from pitching forward. Samantha had a chart with a male body outline and sketched the bruises. Marcia carefully prodded all of the ribs, shoulder, arm, back, & sternum, re-assuring me I didn’t have any fractures. While she was on the hands Marcia showed Samantha the scars on my hands, and left upper arm bruises. She thumped my chest with a finger on top of another, and then listened all over both sides of my chest.
“Breathe deeply,” she said. In, out. “Fine, Ted. Now just breathe normally.” She put the stethoscope over the right, then left side of the sternum, then out toward my left nipple. “The heart sounds okay, she said.
“We’ll want you to take off everything underneath your gown.” I only had on my pants and shorts on anyway.
Irene asked, “Are you going to cause any trouble if I take off your restraints to undress you?” I shook my head. Nevertheless she only took off the chain between the leg restraints. She had me stand on the step on the end of the exam table, reached under my gown, unzipped my pants, and stripped off my khakis and shorts.
Someone’s mother told her child, “Always wear clean underwear. You never know when you might wind up in the ER. They weren’t the newest; I had a little brown on the back and I hadn’t realized I’d wet myself. Even my pants were damp. I was humiliated. “I’m sorry,” I mumbled as Irene inspected the soiled clothing. Samantha quickly put on a pair of nitrile gloves before accepting the clothing from Irene. Now I was feeling very vulnerable, naked under the gown. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Samantha folding and inserting the clothes into a red bag that said ‘Danger. Biologic Contamination.’ Irene re-fastened the strap between my ankles, more loosely
“We’ll wash and dry these as soon as we can, Ted,” she said. “We have our own laundry, out in the patio for our patients.”
Irene & Samantha took off the belt and pulled wrists out of the gown, draping it over my lap. “Shall we take them off his wrist, Irene?” asked Samantha. “We’ll wait a little longer,” said Irene. I let her fasten a belt between my wrists, giving me only about 8 inches of slack. She was rapidly becoming Nurse Ratched.
While I was still seated Marcia brushed both sided of my body, face, arms, back and several places on my legs, and using a pin she jabbed me again to detect any sensation problems. She had me push and pull with my head, arms and legs for strength abnormalities. She noticed my left thigh muscles were smaller. “It may be that you favor your leg because of the injury and surgery,” she commented. She used a rubber hammer to check my reflexes: knee, back of the heel, elbow, wrist, inside of the elbow. “Everything is fine so far, neurologically it seems, Ted.” She flexed, pushed and pulled at my left knee, commenting that the anterior cruciate ligament was loose.
“Lie down for me please,” she said. As I did, Samantha pulled out the slide on the exam table; she put a small paper towel on the plastic. Marcia gently probed my abdomen with her fingers; I only reacted when she pressed on my sore abdominal wall. My anxiety level increased as there was only one part of the examination left, and it was going to be embarrassing and humiliating. “I’m going to look at your hernia scars,” Marcia said. She slid my gown lower, just above my penis. The embarrassing part is that I cut my pubic hair about 3/8-1/2 inch long, and shave my genitals, and now the nurses would see my ‘grooming.’ Marcia didn’t comment about the hair, just pointing out the scars to Samantha who was standing on the other side of the table, peering down at my scars.
Now Samantha said, “For a few minutes we need to expose you, Ted.”
I quickly clutched clutched at my groin. “Do you have to do this?”
“We realize, as a psychiatric hospital, that many of our patients have issues with being exposed or touched, especially by the opposite sex. If it’s necessary that we see you without your clothes on, we always have 2 staff members present.” After a moment she added, “If you like, I can get a male nurse or aide to be present.”
Marcia added, “Your genitals and rectum are as important as your heart and head. I can check to see if your hernia repairs are still okay. Didn’t you let the nurse shave you in surgery? You must have let nurses take care of you when your hands were injured,” she added trying to persuade me to let her continue.
“I’m…I mean I’ll be embarrassed if you see…” I was breathing hard, really red now.
“What are we going to see that will make you upset? You know that I see & examine men all day long. Samantha’ s a nurse, and is used to seeing men as part of the job.”
I blurted out, “I shave myself.” There. It was out. I was blushing profusely, waiting for…well I didn’t know what she’d say.
Marcia responded, “You don’t have to be ashamed for that, Ted. It’s a little unusual, but maybe 5% of my patients shave. It just makes it a little easier for me to examine you.”
I looked at Samantha. She shrugged her shoulders, as if to say, ‘No big deal.’ I relaxed the grip on my gown.
Recognizing the non-verbal signal Marcia continued, “Good on you, Ted. Please stand up for me.” Samantha pushed in the slide, transferring the paper towel to the step at the end of the table. I clutched the gown over my groin as I stood.
“Let’s have the gown now, Ted,” said Samantha.
I took my hand off the gown, and she whisked the gown off, leaving me stark naked, my baldness exposed to the nurses. I turned red, wondering what they were thinking seeing that I shaved. Were they thinking I was some sort of a pervert? But Marcia continued on with her exam as if I had hair. She was much more thorough than anyone who’d examined me, including the hernia surgeon. She commented, “Right hip ecchymosis extends to base of penis.” She lifted my penis looked all around, then pulled on the head, stretching it out. “Uncircumcised; 1 ½ inches, extended 4.5 inches.” Oh shit, she was having Samantha write down my penis size. She felt the shaft of my penis with both hands, and then retracted my foreskin. It’s tight, but with some effort my glans showed. She held it between 2 finger of each hand, pried open the slit, and then pulled back the foreskin. She probably took less than 20 seconds. Now she pointed her index finger of the left hand & put it into the top of my scrotum on the right. I felt like I was impaled (which was true). Her probing gloved digit dropped into the hole of the outer ring.
“Turn your head to the right & cough.” She retracted her finger and with the right index finger, impaled me on the left. I coughed again.
“Why did you have me turn my head to cough? Does it pull on the hernia?”
“No,” she smiled. “I just didn’t want you to cough in my or Samantha’ face. Ted has a left varicocele,” she commented.
“Spell that pleases,” said Samantha. After getting the word right, she asked, “What is it?”
“Come over closer & I’ll show you.” Samantha had been off to the side seeing me nude in profile, but now she moved to look right at my genitals. “The veins on the left cord are all swollen; it looks like a ‘bag of worms.’ The spermatic veins drain into the renal vein on the left, causing more back pressure. It’s not a severe problem no most men.”
“Does this bother you?” Asked Marcia.
“I get some pains, once in a while. My pediatrician found then when I was about 12. She told me to wear Jockey shorts rather than boxers, to support the, um, testicle.”
“The veins should go down when he’s lying down, if the pressure isn’t caused by a tumor or something.’ She had me climb back up on the table. She held up my scrotum for Samantha to see that the veins were now not dilated. When I stood up Marcia continued the exam, sort of pushing each testicle between the thumb and 2 fingers of each hand. “About 22 ml,” she commented.
“Now turn around and bend over the table.” I gasped, giving her a pleading look.
“Is this going to hurt? Do you have to do this?”
“No. I’ll be gentle. You told me you had some pain in the anus and blood on the toilet paper. Remember? So I have to check. Even if you didn’t, the hospital wants to be sure new patients aren’t hiding anything up there.”
Samantha had me rest my head on my crossed arms. The better to hide my red face. I knew my balls were dangling between my legs. They had the same view as the hind end of a dog or bull with their balls dangling.
I heard the ‘glorp’ noise of the jelly being squirted out of a tube, and then two hands separating my cheeks. “There’s an external hemorrhoid,” said Marcia. “That’s where the bleeding and pain’s from. It’s a little red. I’ll prescribe a steroid ointment & sitz baths for him.” Another glorp and cold stuff coated my hole. “I’m going to touch you now,” said Marcia. I felt the finger touch my skin. I clamped my anus closed, but she continued, “Take a deep breath.” I inhaled. “Now push like you’re trying to have a bowel movement and the feces are firm.” As I did what she said, her finger slipped in smoothly. It moved around my anus, then pushed in, resting on my prostate. As she pressed and felt around my penis stiffened. I was mortified. I’d heard about guys ejaculating during a prostate exam. But she pulled it out before anything happened. I heard gloves being removed and simultaneously felt my ass being wiped. It had to be Samantha wiping my butt. I gasped again as a hand picked up my scrotum, holding it taut as the paper wiped the lubricant from my scrotal skin. I felt a pat on my butt.
“You’re all clean, Ted. Have a seat on the table,” said Marcia. I turned around and sat on the table, still naked, covering up my erection. The damned thing wouldn’t go down. The gown was well out of reach behind Samantha.
“I think you have minimal effects from the accident,” she said. “I’m worried that you’re not all there. You probably had a concussion. So the nurses will watch you closely. Since you’re on a suicide watch, they’ll be keeping a close eye on you anyway. The only other thing is the hemorrhoids. Have you had any treatment?”
‘I just use Preparation H.”
“What I’ll prescribe will be a little stronger,” she said. Marcia took the chart from Samantha and started writing orders.
Irene had slipped back in during the rectal exam. There had been 3 pairs of eyes looking at my butt.
“Can I have my gown back? I didn’t bring any extra clothes. What am I going to wear?”
“We’ll get you some pajama pants to wear,” said, Ted. “But we can’t let you get dressed for a few moments. One of the important things for hospital admissions is that we have to document any scars or injuries that you have at the time of admission. Some patients try to or successfully harm themselves. For example cutting the wrist, for suicide, or just cutting to resolve emotional pain. We don’t want people to accuse us of injuring a patient. So I need to take photos of your injuries and scars.” She had a Polaroid camera with a flash bar and close up attachment. I had no problem as she snapped shots of my head, face and shoulder.
“I need you to stand up, so I can get photos the lower part of your body, where the bruises are,” she said matter-of-factly. I was shocked. She was going to take photos with my genitals showing!! I stood up keeping my left hand on my still erect penis.
As Samantha removed my hand, I blurted out again. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help getting hard when she pressed on my prostate.”
Samantha said, “That happens. It’s no big thing. Your having an erection doesn’t bother us, and no one seeing the photos will be offended. These aren’t porno pics. They’re health care documentations. We’re going to keep them separate from your chart, so no one’s going to look at them unless there’s need, if you have further injury issues. Please put your hands behind your neck.” She took the loop of strap holding my wrists together and put it behind my neck, holding my hands on either side of my neck. Now I was hopelessly exposed as Ted snapped photos of the bruises, my 2 hernia scars which showed my penis, & the knee scar.
“I just want a couple more, showing the whole extent of the bruising,” she said. “Please stand up against the wall there, Ted.” Samantha posed me looking straight ahead. I had to stand there naked while the photo popped out. She showed it to me. It was like being a centerfold; a full body picture of me naked wearing leather restraints. “It’s a little over exposed. I can’t see all of the bruising.” She took another one. I had to wait another minute standing naked while the photo came out. Now I had to stand sideways while she took one of the bruise extending along the side of my butt…with my penis sticking straight out. While the last photo popped out of the front of the camera & developed, I cowered in the corner with my manacled hands raised. The 2 nurses ignored me while labeling the nude photos with a marking pen, making sure everyone looking at them knew it was me. Finally Irene put down the pen and took a step toward me. This was the low point of my hospital experience so far. Even Nurse Ratched didn’t punish & humiliate her patients by making them stand in a corner naked in restraints. Irene was about 3” taller and maybe 10 pounds heavier. She seemed to tower over me, a threatening evil nurse. I shrank back into the corner; my knees buckled and she now towered a foot over me. She reached over and lifted the strap behind my head.
In tears I pleaded, “Please, no more, Miss.”
She seemed puzzled. “No more what? I’m going to take off your restraints to get you dressed.” As she & Samantha used the Allen wrench to open the locks, she said, “I hope you’re okay now and won’t need the restraints.” When I was free she stood me in front of her and held me by the shoulder. It was the same position my housekeeper had me after I’d been paddled, my pants & shorts at my ankles, genitals exposed. “Promise me you’ll behave, Ted.” Irene even used the same words.
“I’ll behave Miss,” I whimpered.
Samantha handed me the gown. While a lot of people laugh that hospital gowns were designed by the German “Seymour Heinie,” I was grateful not to be stark naked. Samantha poked her head out the door and asked someone to get slippers, a robe, and pajama pants. I couldn’t pull the pants on fast enough.
Just across from the nursing station was a tiny room with a bed, couch, chair and a phone as it doubled as a conference room. But when someone needed watching closely, like me, they had me stay there. There was a large window, and the door had a window, and it was in the entrance hallway, so there was no privacy. However there wasn’t any privacy anywhere on the ward. I had been stressed out of my mind by the admission process, and collapsed on the bed. My depression took over, made worse by being trapped in the mental hospital I curled up into a ball, feeling sorry for myself, not moving. I hadn’t been to the bathroom, eaten or drunken anything since this morning, but I didn’t have the energy to go looking.