Chapter 5 – Erie Hammond Children’s Hospital

I don’t remember anything, until I woke up in a white room, cuffed and strap to the bed.

After what seemed like forever in my child’s mind, (I was only ten at this point) a nurse in teddy bear print scrubs, came in and asked in a calm and reassuring voice, “If you behave, I can have these restraints removed.”

I asked in a real quiet, a little shy voice, “Where am I? Why am I tied up?” She came over, sat on the edge of the hospital bed, and in a gentle, kind voice explained that I was at Erie Hammond Children’s Hospital. She restated that if I behaved, she could have the restraints removed.

I quietly said, “Yes, I will behave.”

Then these two big burly guys came over, and I started to thrash. I tried to break the restraints. She told them to back out of the room. She came over and looked at me. The nurse with a gentle smile, again restated that I needed to behave and stay calm. I stopped thrashing, and she unhooked my waist restraint. After a moment, she released my wrist restraints. Finally, after asking if I would not try to run, nor harm her, she would release the ankle restraints. I sat still and let her remove them. I grabbed her arm and pulled her to me. The two burly men came rushing in, but as soon as she realized that all I wanted to do was to give her a hug, she ordered them out again. She asked if I was hungry and if I would like some breakfast.

I was locked in that room for a couple of days. After some visits from the hospital psychiatric doctor, I was released into the main population. The first few days I was a mess. Any time one of the other patients or a nurse I did not know tried to touch or even come near me, I would throw things, scream, and sometimes bite or punch. After each episode, I was either taken to my room to calm down, or if I were really a problem, I would be jabbed with a needle; this always made the world weird and fuzzy. The third day of this, the staff had to wrestle me to the floor and jab a needle in my arse. This jab was different, not only because it was on my arse and not the arm, but also because I felt like I was floating on a cloud.

I soon realized that the nurses and staff were there to help me. I settled into their routine. After about two and half weeks, the psychiatric doctor said I was “all right and stable” to return home. When I heard this I went “nuts,” but they convinced me that everything was going to be fine. That things would be continuously monitored, and be seeing a counselor.

My real father, Josephus, came with his sister, Aunt Joanie, to pick me up. They drove me back Lamont, where Aunt Joanie lived. During the ride back to the farm, Father stated that I was going live with my aunt and her family. I was thrilled, knowing that I was not returning to the farm. It turned out that I did eventually return to the farm, it was a Thanksgiving weekend. Mother, Dew, Ducky and his four daughters came for dinner. That night I was to go back to the farm with them. I was scared and did not want to return, but I kept my mouth shut. After a couple of days of peace, the abuse started again. This time it went on till I was twelve. After running from home several times, I tried to find God at a local Baptist Church, all the while, being returned to the farm to endure worse punishments. By this point, Mother was drunk or high, or both, ninety percent of the time.  Ducky’s daughter looked at me with resentment. The punishments ranged from the usual beatings and confinements to being tied up outside like a dog.