Sunday, January 18, 2009
I was placed in the psychiatric ward at UCLA following the cigarette episode. After being shot-up with a ton of valium, I was not much trouble to anyone for awhile. You would have thought that the shot they gave me was far more likely to do harm than a single cigarette, but that's what they did, and neither one of those things killed me.
After being put into the psych ward, the battle of the cigarette raged on. I told the doctor that none of this would have happened if they'd just let me have a cigarette, which was true. On the other hand, he had the hospital rules, regulations, and medical opinions to contend with.
The hospital continued to stand its ground on the issue of the cigarette, while I maintained the whole thing was dumb and could have been avoided. My position, I felt, was somewhat bolstered by the fact that the cigarette hadn't had any adverse effect on me, but the drama resulting from not letting me smoke had gotten me locked up and shot full of drugs.
As the sedative effects of the shot began to wear off over the next few hours, I decided that being locked up in the nut-ward was not acceptable to me. In light of why it had happened, I asked to speak to the doctor. I told him I didn't think I deserved to be there any longer, and asked him to let me out, which he refused to do.
I went on to tell him that the hospital's position was the cause of me being there, and that the cigarette hadn't hurt me, so why were they continuing to hold me in the nut ward when it was obvious that they'd been wrong?
"you made too big a deal about it," I said, but the doctor would not admit to any mistakes on the part of the hospital, which continued to frustrate me.
I felt at the time like I was in jail for wanting a cigarette, but the hospital felt like I needed to stay in the psych ward for observation. The doctor went on to say, "After this particular episode, and your behavior, the staff doesn't feel comfortable with you being in the hospital unless you are here in the psychiatric facility."
"Then discharge me," I said, staring at him. The doctor looked at me and replied, "I don't think I can do that, Mr. Jameson. You need to be in the hospital, and where you are currently is the best place for you." "Well I don't wanna be here anymore," I answered back, "So let me out."
The doctor watched me carefully at this point to see how agitated I was going to become. Knowing this, I did not allow myself to escalate my demand too far, for fear of having someone run up and give me another shot. I was emphatic, but not overly aggressive. I repeated myself saying, "I want to leave this hospital."
The doctor finally responded by saying, "If you're dead set on leaving, Mr. Jameson, then it will be against medical advice, because the hospital's position is that you need attention which we are prepared to offer you."
"Well I don't want any more attention from this place," I said, "I wanna leave." Looking very frustrated the doctor said, "You'll have to sign and AMA before I can legally release you."
"What's an AMA?" I asked. "It's a form that says you are leaving the hospital against the medical advice of the staff. You'll have to sign it before I can allow you to leave, because of the hospital's liability should anything happen to you." "OK," I said, "I'll sign it."
With that, I was given my clothes and escorted out of the psychiatric facility and wished good luck. I have no recollection at all as to where I went or what I did after signing myself out of UCLA.
I would imagine that I went to the closest place I could find and got a drink. My mother had probably gone to a motel to get some sleep, and was unaware of any of this. By the time she got back to the UCLA I was gone. I can only now imagine how she must have felt.