Living Within The Ripples – Part 3

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………

Sarah was so, so poorly! I truly panicked and I really thought I would lose her this time. I phoned Nicky and Jessie and told them they needed to come to the hospital as soon as possible, I could hear the panic in their voices as they questioned me as to what had happened but I couldn’t tell them on the phone.

As soon as the girls arrived we were taken to the relatives room where the doctor came to see us. Liz came with him and sat next to me holding my hand. Bless that nurse, she was an absolute rock! The doctor went over everything they knew from the day before when Sarah was brought to them. She had been given “section 17 leave” a Mental Health Act temporary leave section which has to be granted by the sectioning doctor. The ward staff knew she was going off with another patient for the day, the girls said they were going to the flicks but went instead to this other patients home. They doctor said that Sarah had returned to the ward alone and dishevelled and not really “with it” so the staff had questioned her about what she had been doing! She eventually confessed to finding a bathroom cabinet full of medication and taking the lot!
The ward staff had taken her over to A&E and been with her in the waiting area when the fits had started, when Sarah was moved into ICU and put into the induced coma the ward staff had returned to the mental health ward.
I questioned why I hadn’t been called the previous night and Liz said the MH ward staff were going to contact me. It was when I still hadn’t been to see Sarah that Liz rang the ward and was told they had “forgotten” to call me as the shift had changed!!!

I spent 5 days in that ICU at Sarah’s bedside and I saw a different world, a caring and highly professional world where patients are given not only their own nurse at all times but their own doctor too! And I felt cared for too as nothing was too much trouble for any of them. I spent a lot of time talking to Liz while we both sat by Sarah’s bed, she couldn’t believe the difficulties I had had with the information sharing, or lack of it, with the mental health services. She told me she had no hesitation in informing me Sarah was there as an unconscious patient cannot refuse consent!
I also saw my little girls exposed arms and the scars upon them as well as raw cuts full of staples. Liz showed me Sarah’s legs too and her abdomen, also full of cuts! I never knew!!! I’d no idea she was self harming like this, such dangerous harming, deep, deep cuts that could have cost her life at any time. I was so shocked!

I am happy to say that Sarah did recover and had no lasting consequences of the actions she took that day although my emotional scars remain!

Time moved on and Sarah spent time both detained under the MHA or as a voluntary patient or as a community patient staying either with me or one of her sisters.

I have a boyfriend, he’s not a “boy” of course, but a fully grown man who has been married and divorced and comes with baggage as do many of us. Keith is a 30+ Detective and CID to the core! He found one of the Yorkshire Ripper,s victims as a young PC and there wasn’t much he hadn’t seen! The dregs of society! His job on a reactive team can be demanding and while sometimes his shift ended on time, more often it did not. There was also a lot of Crown Court attendance expected in this role and with a 6 on 4 off shift pattern full weekends away together were rare!

I, on the other hand, have a 9 to 5 managerial position in the same MH Trust that detain Sarah. I suppose a comparison in Police structure would be Chief Inspector. I manage my own time and as such am able to work staff bank at times and earn a little extra, as well as keeping my hand in at shop floor level which is important. When weekends off together came along we grabbed them with both hands and went off together to enjoy them!

Not anymore……… I now had a child in tow, I was a single parent again with all the demands that role brings! Not that I would have had it any other way don’t get me wrong, but it was to be the demise of Keith and me. He didn’t understand and although he was supportive at first he couldn’t sustain it with all the stress I was under. I don’t blame him, he went from being carefree and able to please ourselves on our days off to having to be structured and plan even 1 day away with military precision!
Keith and I took the difficult decision to part ways……………………. on reasonably good terms though.

I had been working a night shift while Nicky and Katie had an extra child for the night, as I walked up to my front door I could see a note stuck to it. I grabbed it while simultaneously turning the door key. The key wouldn’t budge, I took it out and tried again, no, it didn’t work! I started to get annoyed and a bit panicky really, I was tired, I needed to get to bed.

I glanced at the note in my hand, it had a Police logo on it! “ we have your new keys at ………Police Station!!!

Panic set in properly now, what an earth had happened???? I dashed back to the car and drove to the local Police Station, on arriving at the “unhelpful desk” I rang the bell and waited…….and waited…..and waited some more! The place was deserted! I rang the bell again, more insistent this time, I was starting to get angry! How dare they lock me out of my own home!!!
Eventually a fella ambled out of the back office “can I help you madam?” he said. “ Too damn right you can” I replied thrusting the note at him. He hummed and arr’d at it before returning to the back office with it, “just a moment madam”………..

I sat back down and waited some more, a door opened and a head popped out, “come this way madam” said a new voice who led me into a little room with two chairs and a desk in it. The voice introduced himself as an Inspector and proceeded to tell me how the hospital had reported Sarah missing the previous night! Even though Sarah was a voluntary patient at the time, if they don’t return to the ward at a prearranged time they are reported as vulnerable missing persons.
As the Police were unable to get a reply at my door, they had broken in to look for her “in case she had harmed herself” although if they had found her there they had no powers to do anything with her anyway!!!

To say I was devastated is an understatement. No-one had called me!!! Not the Police, not the hospital, not anyone and my phone had been on all night due to me being away from home and Sarah and the boys to think about. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak, couldn’t ask any questions, just meekly accepted my “new keys” and off I went home.

Once there the floodgates opened and I wept, I felt violated! God knows how many strangers had rampaged through my house, my bedroom!!!!

And still no-one had told me if Sarah had been found………….

Part 4 can be viewed here


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  1. Living Within The Ripples – Part 2 | Nathan Constable - December 20, 2013

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