Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On being reported to Adult Protective Services

I have been reported to Adult Protective Services. I was reported by the same social worker who wanted me to leave the hospital with Louella under the care of hospice. The same social worker who said, I ought to “let her go.”

I have hesitated to write this post. For one thing I have been so angry that I could not write about it without using profanity and I try not to use profanity, especially in my blog. I have felt indignant and and outraged. I have just now calmed down enough to where I can write and report about what happened.

The other reason I have hesitated is because some people close to me advised me against writing about it saying some people would believe the charge simply because it was made and it would harm my reputation. After considering that I thought, “What the heck.” I don’t have a career to worry about. I am not climbing the latter of success; I am coasting toward retirement. I don’t hold public office and have no plans to seek public office. I blog but don’t get paid for it, so I won’t lose any money. I don’t believe people who know me personally would believe it anyway and for those who want to believe the worst, let them. I have nothing to lose and I don’t care. As Kris Kristofferson said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” I am free to speak my mind.

The only people I would rather not know about this revelation are Louella’s children but I don’t really care that much about that either. In any event, they have most likely already been notified. Her children have not even contacted her or inquired about their mother in over five years, ever since I caught them “gifting” themselves her wealth and robbing her blind and I had to sue them. If they want to cause me some grief; bring it on. Not caring enough to call or send a Mother’s Day card or birthday card or Christmas greeting in five years, I don’t think they want custody of their mother and I don’t think they are in any position to cause me grief. If Louella had of been under her children’s care for the last five years, she would have been abandoned in a nursing home and be dead by now.

I decided to write this post; one to vent, two in hopes that it will help someone else avoid what has happened to me, and three to make the point that being accused of something does not mean you are guilty of it.

It is hard not to personalize my ordeal and blame the social worker who caused it. When I have not been referring to the social worker who caused me this grief with impolite profanities and vulgar pejoratives, I have been referring to her as “Nurse Ratched.” She is not really a nurse however; she is a social worker working in the Behavioral Health unit of St. Thomas Hospital. When I don’t think of her as “Nurse Ratched,” I think of her as the “Gestapo Social Worker.” No doubt that is unfair. She is just a cog in the wheel of a dysfunctional health care system. She is just one of those people who justify the evil they do as, “just doing my job.” I don’t know, but I would bet, that if she does not turn in a certain number of people a week, she will be considered to be under performing. It must have just been my unlucky week.

The last six weeks has felt like I have been a character in a Kafka novel. In addition to the difficulty of getting Louella the health care she needed and being forced to take her to the emergency room when that was not what she really needed, and being told by the Gestapo Social Worker that I should just “let her go,” and being turned into Adult Protective Services, there have been various other minor bureaucratic annoyances that tend to add up.

While Louella was in the hospital, every Tuesday morning there was a meeting with me and her health care team which included the doctor, the head nurse, the Gestapo Social Worker, recreation director and another person or two. We would set around the table and they would talk about our objectives and Louella’s treatment plan. During one of these meetings, they say that I said something to the effect that when Louella was raging and not sleeping that I did whatever I had to do to calm her down. I don’t even recall saying that. They took it to mean I gave her excess doses of medicine or that I gave her medicine that was not prescribed. I have never given Louella medicine for which she did not have a prescription and I have never given her more than the prescribed dosage.

During Louella’s first full week in the hospital, following the first Tuesday morning health team meeting, the Gestapo Social Worker came to Louella’s room to talk to me. We must have talked for over an hour. I did not know it was a fishing expedition. I did not know it was an interrogation. I thought it was just a friendly chat and she was a sympathetic person and she was trying to help figure out Louella’s needs.

After I learned I was being reported to Adult Protective Services, I reflected back on my conversation with Nurse Ratched and I should have picked up that she was probing. I have been told by knowledgeable people that in situations like this that the social worker probably has notified Louella’s children that I have been reported to APS. During our long “conversation,” she asked me the names of Louella’s children, their ages, where they worked and where they lived. It did not dawn on me she was compiling data with a purpose in mind. I was na├»ve and blindsided.

During the full second week of Louella’s hospital stay, Sue, Louella’s care giver for over the last five and half years, returned from a vacation on a Tuesday. The Gestapo Social Worker and another person pulled Sue aside and started questioning her. At first Sue did not think much about it and then Sue became uncomfortable and realized she was being grilled. Sue was upset and said it seemed they were trying to get her to say that I was somehow abusive to Louella. When Sue realized what was going on, she terminated the meeting.

On the Thursday of Louella’s second full week in the hospital, the Gestapo Social Worker took me to a private office to go over several things related to Louella’s discharge. The first item of discussion was the arrangement that had been made for Louella to get under the care of a Psychiatrist when she left the hospital. The second was arrangements for home health care to serve Louella. The third item was the suggestion that I put Louella under the care of hospice and “let her go.” That is when it got tense and I told that that was not going to happened. I said, “Under hospice she could die from something as simple as a urinary tract infection. I am not going to let that happen.” She said, “Well you know she is dying, don't you?”

After that tense moment, she said, “The next thing is awkward to talk about, but I have referred Louella’s case to APS.” I did not know what APS was and asked what that was and she told me it was Adult Protective Services. I asked why, and she explained the suspicion that I was over sedating Louella and she said she had to report me to APS out of concern for Louella’s safety. Nurse Ratched apparently did not see the irony of point three being that it was time to “let her go,” and her trying to persuade me to do just let Louella die, and point four being that I had to be turned into Adult Protective Services because I may be endangering Louella’s safety.

APS has paid a surprise visit to my home. I let the young lady in and answered all her questions. She was respectful and pleasant. If however there is a follow up, I am not talking to anyone without my lawyer present. I have talked to my lawyer and he is standing by.

If you are ever in a group meeting of the kind I described or have a one-on-one conversation with a social worker, think about every single word you say before you say it. They can wait while you gather your thoughts. Think about how what you say could be misinterpreted and used against you. Choose your words carefully. If you must meet one-on-one with a social worker, keep in mind that it is not just a friendly chat to figure out how to best care for your loved one. The social worker is out to gather evidence to turn you in, in order to justify her job. The social worker is not your friend. The social worker is the enemy interrogator.

I have always had Louella’s best interest at heart. I would never do anything to harm her. If not for the care Sue and I have given her, she would have died on several occasions. I know her mind is mostly gone, but she is still “Louella,” an individual deserving of dignity and respect. She gets the best care possible and she is loved. It is the healthcare system that has failed Louella; not me.

I know that when one hears someone has been turned into Adult Protective Services or Child Protective Services or a woman has gotten an order of protection against her husband that many people assume the person reported must have something wrong. Many people think the person would not be accused if they had not. Often they have done nothing wrong. Being investigated or even being charged does not mean one is guilty of anything. Anyone can be investigated for or charged with anything.

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  1. I read your blog fairly often, and just have to let you know that I find your recent posts about Louella absolutely heartbreaking. Our broken healthcare (rationing) system is infected with all manner of evil. You, sir, have a beautiful understanding of the sanctity of human life, and your wife is very blessed to have you caring for her. My prayers are with you both in the days ahead. God be with you and bless you.

  2. Rod, David Hall here. Michelle and I have always been impressed with your tender patience with Louella. If only all husbands/wives/brothers/sisters/neighbors would strive to set such an example with one another. If you need a character witness (or anything else) please don't hesitate to call on us.

  3. Rod, that's an amazing cautionary commentary. Your care for Louella has been absolutely heroic and lovable. You've been a wonderful husband and soul mate to your lady love.

  4. Mr. Williams, I am extremely sorry that you are going through the APS issue. If it is any consolation, a very good friend of ours was also reported to APS in Falls Church, Virginia. He too was a very loving and effective caretaker. We will keep you and Louella in our prayers.