I went to open the door in full anticipation of it being a nurse with my long-awaited breast pump, but it wasn’t. Instead, at my door were two women with clipboards in their hands. The pretty heavier-set blonde introduced herself. Her name was Janessa, and she informed me that she was my assigned social worker. Beside her was a young brunette named Natalie, who was shadowing her that day. I remembered her name easily because it’s the same as my sister Natalee’s – only spelled differently. Janessa asked if she and Natalie could come in to talk to me about my experience so far at the hospital and how I was doing.
I opened the door, and the two women walked closely behind me into my hospital room. I sat on the far-right twin bed I had been accustomed to sleeping in, and they sat on the twin bed across from me.
“Well, where do I start? I asked aloud, though somewhat sarcastically.
Janessa answered, “Just tell us whatever you’d like us to know.”
“Well,” I said… I don’t know if you’ve read my hospital notes, but after I met with Doctor Robert, it appears on paper that I’m crazy and trying to hurt myself. But let me explain very briefly. The night of May 5th, Cinco De Mayo, I discovered that the couple’s therapists that my husband and I were seeing were triple charging us and expensing therapy claims for sessions that didn’t happen. Meaning, that they have been billing our Cigna health insurance every Friday for the past two months, as well as charging both of my cards and my husband’s cards for sessions. My husband and I, combined, had only participated in 6 sessions with these therapists, but when I started digging, I realized that they had billed us for 19.”
Janessa and Natalie’s faces looked a bit puzzled, so I added, “Just bear with me while I tell a bit of the back story as to how I got here.”
“Anyways,” I continued, “Since I had recently had a baby, I was all-consumed with my newborn Gracie. Because of this, I wasn’t as focused on our finances, and neither was my husband due to how much he had to travel for his new job with the Predators. Something felt fishy to me about a month into our therapy sessions, and when I asked the wife therapist “Dr. Ann” about the double billings, she told me it was just how insurance processed things and that they would write me a reimbursement check at the end of the month If totals didn’t balance out. Well, things did NOT balance out, and in fact, the charges kept piling up, and the insurance claims did too. On May 5th, I noticed that all the billings were done under her husband, Dr. Robert, even though the counselor we were seeing for those therapy sessions was his wife, Dr. Ann. That was a red flag, and so I had a hunch to Google her. When I did, I couldn’t find her doctorate credentials anywhere. I searched Cigna, and then eventually came across her Facebook page, which showed her face in her profile picture, but she was going by a completely different name.”
I continued. “That night, my husband called to sort out the billing and ask for a reimbursement. She asked to speak with me, and because I was angry and called her out for stealing from us, she said she thought I needed to do a session because she felt I was postpartum and delusional. It was then that I told her I intended to call Cigna and report her and her husband for therapy fraud. When I said that, she got quiet. Then said, threateningly, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I was you.’ Luckily, I had the inkling to film/record the whole conversation on my work cell phone, and I’m glad I did. The cops showed up an hour later with a telehealth order to take me to the hospital because of a mental health mandate that had been called in on me. It wasn’t until I got to the hospital that I learned that Dr. Ann had actually called me in under her husband Dr. Rob’s name (because it tuned out that “Dr. Ann” wasn’t really a doctor after all). I tried to explain to the cops, but they had a job to do. So, I was ripped away from my family, put in handcuffs, thrown into the back of the cop car, and then taken here to this hospital. I was told by the policemen that I’d just have to do a mental health evaluation and would then likely be released and taken home to be with my family, but obviously, they were wrong because I’m still here.”
“When I got to the hospital, I sat in the hallway between a rollaway bed and a yellow room for a day and a half without food, water, sleep, or a breast pump. I was then given three different mental health examinations, forced to take medication, and I experienced a very violating skin check. Because of my refusal for both, Dr. Robert informed me I’d be staying longer till I complied. Oh, and also, he thinks I’m self-harming because I had an acupuncture needle on my floor when the nurses did room checks. But I was using them when I was cuffed and taken here because I’m currently studying acupuncture. It’s totally normal for me and normal for most people into eastern medicine, but he thinks it makes me crazy, I guess?”
My sarcasm was loud, and my recap story was longer than they both seemed ready for. Janessa and Natalie looked horrified. I can’t recall if their mouths were opened, but I remember that I felt for the first time like I had been really heard and understood since arriving at the hospital.
“Oh,” I added, “and this hospital/Dr. Robert still hasn’t even called my actual psychiatrist Dr. T, who used to be the head psychiatrist here, and is the doctor I’ve seen for the last three years for my ADHD.”
“Wait, what was his name?” Janessa asked.
“It’s Dr. T. I guess he used to work here, but now he owns and works out of ‘The ___ Institution of Nashville’ in Greenhills, Hermitage, and I think there is one in Franklin too”
“Yeah, we know him – really well, or I guess I should say I do since Natalie is still pretty new here,” Janessa said while grabbing her notebook and clicking the top of a pen. “Can you say the name of his institution again, and did you work with him directly?
“Yeah,” I nodded. “I’ve seen him personally for about 3 years, as well as my counselor Lisa, who works out of his office.”
“Okayyyyy,” Janessa said while writing. “Do you mind if I contact them?” She asked when she looked up from her notes.
“No, not at all. Please do contact him! I’ve been trying to get someone to call him since I got in here so that he can help get me out! My family can’t get me out of here because I was called in on a mental health mandate, and I’ve been told the only guy who can sign me out of here is Dr. Robert, and he’s a complete dick so, yeah, if you could call Dr. T, I’m certain he would vouch for me.”
Once I finished my story, there was a pause of silence, broken by “Ommmmiiiigodddd! So, you’ve been here for this long and still haven’t had a pump!?” Natalie blurted out!
“Well, yes, since they moved me up here. I did have one briefly while I was downstairs waiting for a room. I’m supposed to get one sent here any minute, and actually, when you were both knocking on the door, I thought it was my pump – because Rusty told me one was on the way. I do need a pump, but I’m actually really happy it was both of you at the door instead. Honestly, no one up until you two have sat down and listened to me.”
“That’s wild; I can’t even imagine what you’ve gone through and how you’ve dealt with being away from your new baby,” Natalie said.
“It’s been agonizing; I won’t lie. Because I’m just a new mom, who was stolen from by my counselors, and somehow, I ended up here. All I really want to do is get out and get home to my baby.” Natalie and Janessa were both nodding in agreement as I spoke. I continued, “I’ve decided I’ll do whatever I have to do, be it medications or whatever, just to get home. So, if you guys could help me and advocate for my sanity, that would be awesome. Oh, and if you could let me know what I need to do to get home, that would be helpful.” I repeated myself, “I just want to know what I need to do to get home. That’s all…”
“Well, we can more than advocate for you, and Dr. Robert isn’t the only one who can get you out of here,” Janessa announced confidently. “We can request for the hospital judge to see you.”
Now I was the one that looked shocked! “Wait, a judge? I remarked. “You guys have a judge in the hospital?”
“Yes, and in your case, it’s necessary that we get you a court appointment,” Janessa answered. Natalie nodded in agreement.
“Wow, I don’t know what to say other than thank you so much. I’m beyond grateful you would be willing to help me.”
“It’s our job, Alexa,” Janessa said. “We have to look into your case a bit more, but we are going to do what we can to get you home to your baby,” Janessa said confidently. “And to get you your breast pump,” Natalie chimed in. Her comment made us all laugh, and it felt good to break up the seriousness of our conversation. “Before we go, Alexa, you mentioned that you were writing everything down?” I nodded. “Can I look through this book that you have been taking notes in?”
“Yeah, absolutely,” I replied as I handed her my coloring book filled with the details of my stay.
Janessa flipped through the pages of my coloring book and seemed impressed with my attention to detail. Especially the fact that I had learned how military time worked while in the hospital and how I would write both standard and military time on everything to time stamp it and date it. She said, “This is really good, but for your court date, I think you should have something more organized than writing on top of the lines of empty pictures. Hold on, I’ll be back,” she said, and when she came back into my room, she had a large yellow memo note pad and a red and black sharpie marker.
Janessa asked me to spend my time over the next few days transferring everything I had written down onto that yellow memo pad in chronological order. “That will come in handy later when you get out of here if you choose to take legal action. Then, you can give this to an attorney,” she said with a furrowed brow. At that moment, she planted the seed for this whole lawsuit thing I’m currently involved in to happen. Janessa saying that further validated the legal actions I took once I was finally released. I still have that yellow memo pad, and in fact, I’m flipping through it right now. It’s probably why writing about that experience is so clean and easy for me – because I’m literally just copying from the entries I wrote while locked up in the hospital.
To wrap this saga up, I’ll make the end of this long story a little shorter! So, those two women, Janessa and Natalee, the social workers who came to see me that day, had promised to help me get out – and they did. I found out afterward that they had investigated my Instagram and called my family members, friends, and colleagues, who verified that I was who I said I was and that the situation had gone down the way I said it did. They also got me a court date where I got to see a judge, who ruled in my favor, and I was released later that afternoon. During the process, the social workers got a hold of my actual medical team to inform them that I had been hospitalized – likely under false pretenses. After the ruling, they got my psychiatric information and ultimately helped me build a case which I’m now involved with. Janessa also reached out to the cops who had come to my house that night, both policeman John F, the cop who drove me to the hospital and stayed with me, and other policeman Jarred D, who was the first to arrive at my house that night and had actually written the police report. The social workers even went as far as to investigate the credentials of Dr. Ann, the woman who had called me in that night via telehealth, and also found that she did not have a doctorate and was practicing under a pseudo-name.
There was a lot more that happened between seeing my social workers and me getting out of the hospital. There’s so much more I could write about, especially regarding my experience with the other patients, the staff, the learning I had, and spiritual moments. I’m so grateful to my family and friends who were doing everything they could to help me get out and to help step in and take care of Gracie while I was hospitalized. I’ve thought about writing it all out, but I’m already on blog part 7, and it would take quite a few more posts to cover it all, so I’ll just sum up the ending and where I’m at with it now.
Ultimately, it was eight days of hell, and then I was billed over $42,000 for it all. Yes, you better believe I’m taking legal action. I didn’t meet with lawyers immediately after getting out of the hospital, however. No, I first had PTSD to deal with for the next few months of reintegrating into my life after the ordeal. In fact, when I was taken home from the hospital, later that night, when I went into the shower, the fluorescent lighting in our shower triggered me so much that I began throwing up and panicking to catch my breath. Over the following months, my husband Ty spent a lot of time helping me work through it, along with my counselor and the help of EFT therapy. When I could bring it up and finally talk about the hospital experience without crying or having a panic attack – that’s when I knew I was ready. I reached out to 4 different attorneys/firms, and each one wanted to take my case, and as stated before, I did select a law firm, and we are in the thick of the legal process now under the premise of “false Imprisonment.” Ultimately, I learned a lot about my own strength and inner resilience. Because of this ordeal, I’ve learned the truest meaning and practice of forgiveness that I’ve ever had to face before. I spent 10 minutes in deep prayer every day for six months, doing forgiveness work to just try to let it go and release the trauma from my body, emotions, and memories. Now, I practice “Forgiveness Fridays,” as it relates to this, and what’s left for me to give to a higher power. Since the hospital, I still have a few trauma spots I have to work through. For instance, since this happened, I have only gone one day without my lashes and being totally ready! Hahaha! And that was only because I was having Lasik surgery and couldn’t wear any eye makeup! I realized how much my appearance that night contributed to people thinking that I couldn’t take care of myself, but in truth, I was just a new mom trying to figure it out. I barely had time to take a shower in those early newborn baby days. So, it may take me a while to be able to spend a day in sweatpants again, but it’s a process, and I’m just living in a way that makes me feel safe right now.
As far as the patients, I learned a lot from them. I learned that they are gifted and misunderstood. I learned about trauma and how, if unprocessed, it can cause the self to fracture to compartmentalize the pain. Pain, unexpressed and undigested, seeks expression to get out of the mind, body, and soul. I came away from that experience with a burning desire for justice (hence why I am now in a lawsuit), but aside from that, I came away from the experience with a deep sense of humility and compassion. I learned that anyone can be misunderstood and that “crazy” can just sometimes be a misunderstanding. We don’t always know each other’s deep hurting points; therefore, we can’t know the lens anyone else sees life through, as well as why others are where they are/made certain choices in their lives. However, I definitely know that we can love. We can love larger than our injustices, our pain, our failures, our sadness, and our shame; I learned that sometimes love just looks like kindness and/or compassion. Sometimes love looks like listening and holding that space for grace to come in and wrap all involved in a loving embrace. Grace is often the answer I’ve found for myself, as well as for those I have feared, judged, or misunderstood. So that’s where I’ll leave it: on my praise of amazing Grace!
So, now I’m signing off, but before I do, I’m taking a moment to intentionally send you love, light, and good vibes! (I’m also praying for my enemies and that I win in court! Hahaha!)
Thanks so much for reading my story. It’s been healing to get it out of my heart and onto this page. Your support through this releasing journey of mine has been exactly what my soul needed. I appreciate you more than I can even convey. So, again… thank you!
I love you -Alexa