February 28th, 2010

anger

Reprimanded for trying to help a pregnant woman

Had a bit more excitement than I cared to last night.

I live in a cluster apartment owned by a mental health agency (I'm disabled from complex PTSD). Office staff are there to help us. That said, the staff often don't know what the hell they're doing.

Last night, one of my neighbors came to my apartment. She asked to use my oven, then told me there was a problem in her unit. She explained that something was up with the gas (our stoves run on natural gas, but the rest of the apartment is electric). She said she'd told staff, and they'd told her to open her window to let the apartment air out (this is Indianapolis in winter, mind you), and cook dinner somewhere else.

I've been keeping documentation and photographs of the problems here in hope of getting the building owner to do what the City and State are paying him to do. I asked if I could take a look, not sure whether or not to believe her. We walked over to her apartment, and I entered the unit.

The stench of the gas almost knocked me over immediately, and I developed a splitting headache as well as some nausea (came close to losing it) a few minutes later. My neighbor had the same symptoms, but chalked it up to her being four months pregnant. I knew then I needed to get her cleared by a medical professional--I am NOT going to have a dead baby on my conscience.

I took charge of the situation and called the gas company, which staff hadn't done. They said not to ventilate the apartment and to get everyone out of the building until they took a look. I don't remember much else about the conversation. I called a nurse affiliated with the hospital that runs our apartment, and she said to contact the Poison Control Center. I did so, and they also said to evacuate the building. I told them I didn't have that authority and to talk to office staff. Since I was on my cell phone (cheaper than a land line), I gave it to office staff.

They REFUSED to evacuate the building and said nothing was wrong, then gave the phone back to me. At Poison Control's orders, I called the fire department.

What happened next depends on who you ask. The fire department came, but I can't remember much about that. The gas company came as well, and I told him I'd made the call, but again, I can't remember much about that. The paramedics came and upon learning my neighbor was pregnant, immediately checked her vitals, then began oxygen treatment. They checked me as well, saw something they didn't like, so they took us both to the low-income hospital.

Here's where it gets interesting. The FD said that the gas accumulated in that apartment was "on the high end of normal". The paramedics said there was a slight leak, but not enough to be life-threatening. The gas company turned off the gas in that unit and left it off, and said that the building was old (built in 1921) and we needed to repair and upgrade the lines in the building(the City and State have allocated money for just that, but the developer hasn't done jack about it). The office staff said there was no leak. So, if there was no problem, why is the gas still off in that unit?

At the hospital, they told us to sit on a bed (yes, we both sat on the same bed, which didn't help my PTSD) and wait to be checked out. An intern told us that we did the right thing by coming in since we had slight symptoms of exposure, and that the symptoms weren't strong enough to be life-threatening. His supervisor told us there was no leak, so therefore no exposure, and our symptoms were probably just a result of three different smoke detectors going off and the emergency response. That was it--no bloodwork or any tests beyond the routine stuff.

Office staff picked us up. The one who took us home said he had to yell because stuttering made it difficult to talk (yes, he does stutter). He said that we were free to make our own decisions, but that the police and fire department had, on runs sparked by other residents, complained we were wasting their time. He said that 911 would "take care of" the "other residents who call once a week". While he told us we did the right thing and that I'd done what the office should've done, I couldn't help but think "If we did the right thing, why are we receiving this lecture?" And why am I being treated like this when I'm not one of those residents?

I took some klonopin for anxiety. Spent a good chunk of the night thrashing uncontrollably.

Something isn't right here. Random unconnected side note: I have some documents of the developer's plan (thanks journalism degree!) The developer bought this building for $1,200,000, but the "builder's risk insurance" is $10,000. Not quite sure what that means, and it's the only insurance listed. The developer's fee is $222,000--a banker told me that was high, and that there was a lot of money in reserves that doesn't really do anything (replacement reserves $80,000; operating reserves $75,000; rent-up reserves $50,500). Also, no money allocated for permit fees (a source with the City told me several different permits are required for what the developer has proposed).

Something's not right, but I can't figure out what. Even if I did know, the mainstream media don't have much interest in individuals with mental illness unless one commits a violent, sensational crime.

And I feel horrible about the whole thing.