Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I told my surgeon last Friday and I told my psychiatrist yesterday and now I am telling you.  It is more than just the mental health system that needs to be made aware of trauma informed care.

When I was in the military I was transported in a straitjacket from the Memphis Naval Hospital to the psychiatric unit at the hospital at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  It was not a direct flight and I was in the straitjacket for more than 24 hours.  That is not the only type of restraint that has been used on me in my multiple hospitalizations over the 50 plus years I have had a psychiatric label.  Restraints cause lasting trauma among other things.

When I was taken into the operating room the other day, they started strapping me down for surgery without saying a word or explaining a damn thing.  Terror struck like a bolt of lightning from the sky.  One person was talking on a cell phone and the others were talking to each other.

Then I heard a calming voice.  My surgeon spoke to me.  He asked all of them if they had everything they needed and if they were ready.  Then the oddest thing happened.  The surgeon said, “Amen.”  They all joined him.  I went off to sleep, but I woke still remembering the terror.

I remember it still.  It comes in the night with the other nightmares.  Trauma informed care needs to extend to all providers of care and to anybody who cares at all.

© Ed Cooper, November 18, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

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