During the course of the case to have Carol and me declared "disabled and incapacitated," the lawyer for my brother Paul asked for our medical records to be produced as part of the discovery process. Judge Carol Aiken--she's actually called a "probate commissioner" under Missouri law--allowed that to happen, even though Carol (my wife) never was served with the complaint/petition in the case. That means Carol never was subject to the court's jurisdiction, but it allowed production of her private medical records anyway. Did the court, my brother, and his attorney (Linda K. Thomas) commit a gross invasion of privacy? I don't know how you could call it anything but that.
As for me, I actually was served with the petition, so I was at least officially a part of the case--and I suppose the production of my medical records was lawful, although it apparently did not provide much of interest to my family.
It did, however, produce information of great interest to me. According to three sources (two lawyers and a nurse practitioner), my medical records include a notation about something called "delusional disorder." How did the notation get in there? The nurse practitioner, Matt Charles of Burrell Behavioral Health, apparently wrote it. Why did he write it, given that he never had mentioned such a condition to me? I don't know.
What is delusional disorder? Here is how Psychology Today describes it:
Delusional disorder refers to a condition associated with one or more nonbizarre delusions of thinking—such as expressing beliefs that occur in real life such as being poisoned, being stalked, being loved or deceived, or having an illness, provided no other symptoms of schizophrenia are exhibited.
Delusions may seem believable at face value, and patients may appear normal as long as an outsider does not touch upon their delusional themes. Mood episodes are relatively brief compared with the total duration of the delusional periods. Also, these delusions are not due to a medical condition or substance abuse.
How can the condition manifest itself? Here's more from Psychology Today?
Themes of delusions may fall into the following types: erotomanic type (patient believes that a person, usually of higher social standing, is in love with the individual); grandiose type (patient believes that he has some great but unrecognized talent or insight, a special identity, knowledge, power, self-worth, or special relationship with someone famous or with God); jealous type (patient believes his partner has been unfaithful); persecutory type (patient believes he is being cheated, spied on, drugged, followed, slandered, or somehow mistreated); somatic type (patient believes he is experiencing physical sensations or bodily dysfunctions—such as foul odors or insects crawling on or under the skin—or is suffering from a general medical condition or defect); mixed type (characteristics of more than one of the above types, but no one theme dominates); or unspecified type (patient's delusions do not fall in described categories).
Was I actually diagnosed with delusional disorder, or was this just a note that Matt Charles decided should be in my records? Is Matt Charles, as a nurse practitioner, qualified to make such a diagnosis? I don't know the answer to those questions, but I'm interested in learning more.
I should say this, however: I like Matt Charles--we both are graduates of Kickapoo High School in Springfield, MO, and we like to think we are the second and third most handsome guys ever to graduate from Kickapoo. (Brad Pitt, the actor, seems to have No. 1 locked up for a while.) Matt has treated me professionally and provided support during the most difficult two years or so of my life; I appreciate what he and Burrell have done for me.
But I don't understand this: If Matt thought I had delusional disorder, why didn't he tell me? I didn't find out it was on my record until our court-appointed lawyer, Dan Menzie, saw the records after they had been produced in discovery. Doesn't a health-care professional have an obligation to say something like, "Roger, a few of your statements make me think you have delusional disorder. Here's what that is, and here is what we are going to do to help you with it"?
I never heard that. When I asked Matt Charles what caused him to make the notation, he said some of the things I'd told him were "outside the norm." He didn't give any examples, but I had this thought: "Haven't almost all people with PTSD experienced something outside the norm? Isn't that why they have PTSD? Wouldn't being abducted in your own home by sheriff's deputies and hauled to jail for five months--with no legal justification--count as "outside the norm"? But that doesn't mean that episode was a product of my "delusions," does it? It's a matter of public record that really happened. In fact, I haven't made any factual statements to Matt Charles that weren't true.
In a few instances, he has asked my opinion about some event, and I've provided it--noting that this was an educated guess, not a statement of fact.
So, how could Matt Charles know I made any statement that represented a delusion? When I put that question to him, he more or less admitted that he couldn't. "I'd have to follow you around for a long time, and I haven't done that."
How did the notation wind up in my records then? I can think of only two possibilities: (1) Matt Charles just threw it in there on a whim; (2) Someone instructed him to put it in there--or someone else did it on his own.
I've visited Matt Charles roughly every six weeks for about two years, and he does not seem like the sort to act on a whim; I think he is too professional for that. Option No. 2 seems more likely to me. In fact, Matt Charles told me he would remove the notation, but I'm not sure if that has been done.
That takes us back to Alabama--home to numerous powerful types who don't much care for investigative journalists who accurately reveal their foibles and schemes. What better way to discredit such a journalist than to have the words "delusional disorder" placed in his medical records.
Why, if a journalist is "delusional," you can't trust anything he writes.
I'll be the first to say that I have PTSD and depression, and I've been receiving treatment for both. But I do not have anything approaching delusional disorder--and my primary health-care provider (Matt Charles) never told me that I did.
Did someone tamper with my medical records, perhaps making both me and Matt Charles look bad?
I don't know for sure, but I would not be surprised.