(Part 2)

l’Affaire Dumoutier

Walking, walking, on the tight rope of insanity, on the verge of losing mind.

February 5, 2020

If you grew up in Québec in the ’80s, you more than likely remember a song by Montreal based band "The Box" called “L’Affaire Dumoutier". It had massive radio play here and was a huge hit for The Box, putting them in the local spotlight. This French titled song is performed in English but does have snippets of French throughout. It features a narrated story by the lead singer, which talks about a murder committed by someone who is eventually deemed as suffering from mental health issues, in this case, a “strange case of split personality”. For those of you who have never heard the song, I won’t disclose the outcome of the story. You’ll have to listen to it!

Montreal-based band, The Box featuring Jean-Marc, the lead singer

I chose this song for this chapter not because of the subject matter, but because I really connected with the chorus, “Walking, walking, on the tight rope of insanity, walking, walking, on the verge of losing mind.” which sticks like glue in one’s head. As a teenager, I sang along to it many times, but I had no idea that someday, I would understand what those words meant.

Before being hospitalized, and post-hospitalization, there were many days when I truly felt like I was “on the verge of losing mind”. Until you reach that point, it’s impossible to describe what it’s like. For me, it’s like my brain is being flooded with thoughts, fears, ideas, memories, triggers, and flashbacks all at the same time. When I’m in this state, everywhere I turn, I see something that triggers a profound emotional response so painful, I burst into an episode of uncontrollable sobbing. It really boils down to a very severe form of depression, which in my case has been brought on by insurmountable chronic physical pain and an endless array of symptoms that eat away at you like Chinese water torture.

THE LONGEST 72 HOURS

There they were, the locked blue doors to the psych ward. Then a nod from an attendant permitting us entry. As soon as I had passed the threshold and officially crossed over into the ward, I knew I was in the wrong place. Fear and panic set in.

They confiscated all of my belongings immediately. My wife spent a half hour speaking with someone, pleading with them to release me, but to no avail. When I was told that I would not be able to keep my iPhone overnight, I lost it. My iPhone and earbuds have been my lifesaver for years now. We were told that we could speak with the attending nurse as soon as she was available. With 25 years of experience dealing with doctors and nurses, I’ve become quite good at using diplomacy and negotiation to have my needs met. I spoke with the nurse at length and carefully explained my situation, making it clear that, in my opinion, I did not belong in this ward, among patients who quite literally were walking around in circles talking to themselves. Some patients were dressed in winter coats and boots singing under their breath, some paced back and forth, while others played board games. Over a game of chess, two patients were getting riled up with homophobic slurs spewing from their mouths; one of the patients was gay.

Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cukoo's nest

It was quite literally like being in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I should stress that I’m not judging these people. I’m simply describing what I saw. They are sick and need help, and seeing people in these states is quite sad. As I said to the nurse, “I’m not crazy, I’m just really depressed” and there’s a difference. I ended up speaking with the head of the department, but nothing I said convinced them to release me. It was there that I learned that a 72-hour restraining order had been placed on me when I had first been admitted. It was a crushing blow. I’ll never forget how I felt: trapped and cornered like an animal in a cage, knowing that there was nothing I could do to change my fate. And it only got worse from there.

ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL

I was deprived of basic health care products and prescription medications that I use on a daily basis. Despite my explaining very clearly to the nurse that I needed these products, they were withheld. I was not even permitted access to my various creams, pumps, and drops, even with the promise of me returning them after use. Imagine! They claim that it has to do with patient safety. No one is permitted to have a tube of cream in their room. Can you believe that? Only products that have been prescribed by the in house doctor are permitted. Even nonprescription products had to be cleared by the doctor. So I made a list and handed it to the nurse who said she would submit it but that it would likely only be approved the next day! I needed my stuff NOW.

"The whole time I was in the ER corridor, I had access to all of my personal belongings and health care products. However, as soon as I had walked through the blue doors and crossed into the Twilight Zone, somehow, the rules suddenly changed. What changed? Nothing!"

The blue hospital psych ward doors that led into the Twilight Zone

I submitted this list twice to two different nurses over the 2 and a half days that I was there, and NOTHING was ever approved. They lie to you. They say they will do something, and then nothing ever happens. Let’s think about this for a moment. The whole time I was in the ER corridor, I had access to all of my personal belongings and health care products. The whole time I was in the ER corridor, I had access to all of my personal belongings and health care products. However, as soon as I had walked through the blue doors and crossed into the Twilight Zone, somehow, the rules suddenly changed. What changed? Nothing! I was the same person with the same needs before I “crossed over”. How can they possibly apply a one-size-fits-all system of rules to patients who have such varying degrees of health issues? I, being without a doubt, the most complicated case due to the plethora of physical problems I have. And this is the problem: there is no proper assessment done of the individual’s health needs before being admitted. It’s assumed, because I look fine, that I’m only there for psychiatric reasons. Which brings this all back to the reason why I started this BLOG - being invisible is really tough.

Just me and a Christams tree in the hospital cafeteria.

MERRY EFFIN’ CHRISTMAS

So there I was, surrounded by people that were truly suffering from mental illness, being denied care that I feel was encroaching on my basic human rights. I was given extra medications to “treat” my depression, which had me stoned out of my mind 24h a day. On day two, after sitting with the psychiatrist for my evaluation, I was given what is called “full privileges”. (There are three categories: “no privileges”, “partial privileges” and “full privileges”.) During my permitted leave times, struggling to keep my eyes open while fighting off the crushing effects of the drugs, I would go walking around the hospital at night by myself just to try to get a little exercise. I took a selfie of me standing in front of the Christmas tree in the cafeteria. It was around 10 PM and I was there all alone. Just me and that fuc*ing tree. It was sad.

More to come in Chapter 8 “Just Like A Pill”!

- Patrick Franc

a.k.a.: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

L'Affaire Dumoutier – The Box

On the 14th of October
Very early in the morning,
The results of a crime were found
In the stables of "le père Choupon".

The old man had discovered
To his absolute dismay,
The dislocated body
Of Elizabeth Dumoutier
So,
The police was called in;
I was handed an inquiry.
Upon arriving on the scene
Some photographs were shot.

A couple of small time journalists
Were rising their fists among the crowd
"C'est l'jeune Austin l'coupable!
C'est lui qu'a fait l'coup, j'vous dis moi!..."
"Viens voir là toi...
Et comment c'est que vous savez ça vous deux?"
"He! Normal!...
Tout le monde les a vu quitter le bal ensemble heir soir!"

Walking... Walking...
On the tightrope of insanity.
Walking... Walking...
On the verge of losing mind.

Walking... Walking...
On the tightrope of insanity.
Walking... Walking...
On the verge of losing mind.

A man was found on a nearby road,
Wandering without a goal.
In a complete state of amnesia
And his hair filled with straw.

Though the whole thing seemed unreal,
It soon became quite clear
That Austin, the author of this crime,
Needed swift assistance.

"Allez, allez là... Mr. Le Commissaire!
Maintenant il va nous faire le coup du type
Qui se rappelle de rein!"
"Toi, je t'interdis du publier tes salades
Dans ton canard de merde jusqu'à ce que
Le procès soit terminé!"

Walking... Walking...
On the tightrope of insanity.
Walking... Walking...
On the verge of losing mind.
Walking... Walking...
On the tightrope of insanity.
Walking... Walking...
On the verge of losing mind.
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Oh say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"

Exhaustive study on the subject
Led experts to conclude,
Austin had been the victim of a strange case
Of split personality.
The trial neared it's end
And though the facts had been exposed,
The crowd still wanted blood.
Well, they were in for a big surprise!

La cour, ... levez-vous.

Walking... Walking...
On the tightrope of insanity.
Walking... Walking...
On the verge of losing mind.
Walking... Walking...
On the tightrope of insanity.
Walking... Walking...
On the verge of losing mind.
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Oh say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Oh say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"
"Say... Say to me...
Please say that this can't be!"

"Non coupable!
Pour cause d'aliénation mentale..."

Comments


  • Be the first to leave a comment!
Add a Comment
Your email address will not be displayed or shared.