Living Within The Ripples – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the continuing story of “Sarah” as told by her Mum. I will continue to serialise this on a Sunday until it is complete.



The next day I visited Sarah……………..

Oh how my heart broke………..

She had stitches from ear to ear where she had cut her own throat…………. on the ward……………….. what can I say…..I wept!

I quickly recovered from the shock and had a really long talk with Sarah. I told her how the boys were doing and what had happened in court. I told her we had been granted an interim residency order with “prohibitive steps” attached (to prevent Dan removing the children without the courts consent)and that the boys were with her sister and me. Sarah listened but stared blankly, her eyes were hollow!

The next day I was at work as normal and had a long talk with my boss, who was/is very supportive! She was really shocked that Sarah had been able to do such an extreme form of self harm while in the care of an acute psychiatric ward!!!

I was furious this had happened after all it was my belief that Sarah would be safe in their care especially from herself! I decided to take action! I composed a letter to the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Trust and I emailed it to him there and then, I apologised straight off for using work email for such a personal matter, however I was confident he would look into how this had happened.

How wrong could I be????!!!!

I waited and waited for a response which eventually came, several days later, in the form of an official letter to my home!
In the letter the Chief Executive wrote……. “I immediately checked that your daughter was ok and I have ordered an immediate investigation into how this has happened” I had faith……………. Wrong!!!!!

There was an investigation and there was an outcome, I was invited to meet with the Chief Exec to discuss it. I toddled off nervously, taking the PALS officer (a friend & colleague) with me.
We were ushered into his office by the complaints and litigation manager (grand title eh) and the Chief launched into an attack on us!!!!! He gave the PALS officer a dressing down in front of me, entirely inappropriate, accusing her of being compromised a, by being a close colleague to me and b, by having visited Sarah to give her some support! Great start eh and how bad do you think it felt when I had gone to him for help!!!

He then turned to me, he talked through my “complaint” and the subsequent investigation. He accepted that the incident should have been prevented but said that “these things happen” Errrr, not in my life they don’t! He said I hadn’t been informed due to confidentiality and said that Sarah has been further detained “for her own protection”. Hang on a minute…… she has the capacity to refuse consent to share this information but she is deemed not to have capacity to maintain her own safety???? How does that work then?

The meeting left me feeling awful and that I was no longer deemed important in my own daughters life! I showed him Sarah’s wedding photo and how happy and pretty she used to be and I told him how she now was covered in scars and had shaved off all her beautiful long hair!!!!! He said nothing except to tell me I shouldn’t have used work email for contacting him on a personal matter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………………………………..
Nicky and Katie were struggling with the boys! They weren’t used to any kind of discipline or boundaries and were running riot! Not settling at night, not playing nicely, demanding sweets all the time. It wasn’t their fault of course, there is a lot of truth in the saying “ I blame the parents”. the parents though, had problems of their own and weren’t in a position to be good role models for their children. If only they had asked for help……… Nicky & Katie were at their whit’s end and they did ask for help!

Katie called the local children’s services, they were very sympathetic but couldn’t help!!! “The only way we will help with the children is if you but them in care” said the man on the phone!!!! This cannot be right, a family trying their best to keep children within the family and this is the answer they got!!!

We had to move on and find our own way through this, perhaps a carers assessment from the Mental Health Trust caring for Sarah would provide some answers????

Not a chance! Even though it is a carers right, is isn’t always offered and unless you know about that right, how would you know to ask?

It just so happens I am employed by the very same Trust that were providing the Mental Health services for our area, unlucky for the Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN)!!!!

I’d had enough! I was going to fight back, I called the hospital ward where Sarah was detained and asked for a meeting with the Consultant and the CPN. I wanted to know exactly what they were doing about my daughter’s declining mental health and the way she was continuing to harm herself in their care! She had cut her throat a further time, this time her own son finding the stitches and asking what had happened!

I told them that as Sarah’s “closest relative” (you have rights as this under the mental health act) they should have told me she had done it so I could keep the children away in order to protect them!

The first words that greeted me were “ you do realise we can’t tell you anything without Sarah’s consent don’t you? Confidentiality!

Hmmmmmm, so why agree to a meeting then????

And so another battle commenced………….

The sun was shining and I was going on a road trip with a colleague. We were to travel approx 100 miles down the M1 to East Midlands Airport where we were attending a course for the day.
I had collected Sue and off we went, it was 6 a.m.

The phone was ringing “blimey that’s a bit early” must be one of our other colleagues I thought as I pressed the hands free to answer it.

“Hello, is that Linda?” said the voice of a stranger, I could feel the panic welling up in my chest, “Yes” said I, “can I help you?”

My colleague knew all about Sarah and her boys and had been incredibly supportive, as had all my colleagues!

“I am calling from the Intensive Care Unit” said the voice, “Your daughter is with us”

Wild panic had now set in, Sue made me pull off the motorway. “ which daughter” i asked, “Sarah” said the voice, “she’s very poorly, you need to come to see her” “Now?” I asked “Yes” said the voice, “she is very poorly”
We turned the car around and headed back home.

I dropped Sue off and went straight to the hospital, I was met at the door to the ICU by Liz, the voice!
She was to become my rock for the next few days.

Sarah, she told me, had been with them all night. She had been given a couple of hours leave from the ward and gone to a friends house. This friend had a supply of Tramadol in the bathroom cabinet, Sarah found them and took the lot!
Liz told me that Sarah had been brought to A&E to previous night and while being in the usual queue, had starting fitting! And fitting, and fitting and…. after her 5th fit she had been moved into ICU, they were unable to stop the fits and had had to put her into an induced coma!

The tears came then, long awaited, I hadn’t cried till then through all the weeks of grief I had had over Sarah.

Liz took me to see her, there was my baby being kept alive by machines. She looked so vulnerable and small in that huge bed surrounded by tubes and bleeps and doctors and nurses………

Thank the Lord for Liz making that call, the ward staff where she was detained hadn’t called me and they were the ones who had taken her to A&E to night before! Why didn’t they call!!!!! I was incensed!!! My lovely girl could have died alone for all they knew or cared!!!!

To this day I don’t know what they were thinking……………………………………..

Part 3 can be viewed here


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  1. Living Within The Ripples – Part 1 | Nathan Constable - December 20, 2013

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