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Barbara Lynn Terry

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A Tribute To Dr. Darold A. Treffert PhD MD
by Barbara Lynn Terry

Monday, October 18, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Barbara Lynn Terry
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           >> View all 224

This is a tribute to the first man who let me be me.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute To Dr. Darold A. Treffert, PhD MD

by Barbara Lynn Terry

 

He was my Ward doctor for two months after being transferred to the state hospital, and for two hours we talked and talked. He asked me why I thought I was there, so I told him that the child care center didn't like me for me because of the girl I am.

He asked me if I wanted to be a girl physically, to which I replied ever since I was very little. He smiled and told me that people like me were called transsexual and that was not considered a mental disease or defect, and he would do whatever he could to get me out of there.

He said he had just been named as superintendent but he wasn't going to wait until he took the office to start his campaign to get my mother to take me home. He called her from the office while I was there and said I needed to talk to her. She said I deserved everything I got, and I told that to Dr. Treffert and he took the phone and talked to my mom.

After a bit he sighed and said thank you, then hung up. "She won't let you come home, but a girl belongs home her mother, and you belong home with your mother." His voice was soft and kind, and understanding. This man actually cared for me, and didn't want to see me harmed.

He assigned me to a ward, and after I was settled in I began conniving how to get home. A couple of months passed, and I was allowed to go home on a visit, which I turned into a full summer. But when I got home, and I had asked mother why she didn't want me to come home for good, all she said was "because".

Is that a real reason, or just an excuse to get me out from under her resposnibility? Did she really love me, or was she just pretending until she could get rid of me? But after that first summer she allowed me to come home on more visits, and summer vacations as well. Was she feeling guilty about abandoning me and disowning me? Or was she just placating me, so I had a purpose and a hope?

What was her real reason she left me in harm's way? I guess I will never  know, because whatever her reasons were, she took them with her to her grave.

Dr. Treffert was my knight in shining armor, because he was the one man I could actually talk to and get advice from. He was more than just a doctor to me, he was a father figure, a loving, caring, compassionate father figure. After my first home visit I was locked in my room because I was wearing makeup that one of the girl's had loaned me while out on a liberty pass on the grounds. While I was in my room, Dr. Treffert was showing the new ward doctor around, and when Dr. Treffert saw me in my room, he wanted to know why I was there.

The nurse who ordered me locked in my room told Dr. Treffert it was because I was wearing makeup like a girl. He told her he didn't care if I was wearing a dress, I was not to be locked in my room, because I wasn't violating and hospital rules. She argued with him, and he finally told her to unlock my door or she could stand in line at the unemployment office.

She refused, and Dr. Treffert ordered the orderly to open my room, and put my furniture back in. Then he told the unit staff that I was not to be punished for any infraction unless it was a serious infraction and only then after express written permission from him. The nurse and the desk orderly complained to Madison that Dr. Treffert was taking on personal patients while he was superintendent.

The letter that Madison wrote back said that if Dr. Treffert had personal patients as superintendent, then he must have a good reason for it, that is why he was named superintendent, because he was resourceful and understood psychiatric patients better than most.

Dr. Treffert was not the kind of superintendent to lord over others, unless it was for the patients benefit. He was a gentle man, well over six feet tall, but he had a kind heart. Then the next day on liberty I asked him if he meant what he had said about him not caring if I wore a dress or not. He said he did, and I asked him if I could go in to Oshkosh to do a little shopping. His smile was warm and friendly when he said, "of course".

His attempts to stop my abusers was futile though because the ward staff wasn't forwarding my letters to him. But I told him on liberty, and he made it known to the ward staff that all letters addressed to him will either be delivered to him or the staff person responsible will be fired. After I got my female wardrobe from J. C. Penny's and Sears & Roebuck in Oshkosh, I had new rules. The boys rules no longer applied to me, I was to adhere to the rules for the girls. By day I was to be on the girls ward, and by night on the vacant ward, with a key to my room.

Dr. Darold A. Treffert, PhD MD will always be the hero to me every girl dreams of, but he was my reality. I remember him still today and I will never forget the kind
man who had my life in the palm of his hands, but treated me like a lady, like a human being.

Today the Winnebago State Hospital is called the Winnebago Mental Health Institute
and the first street on the grounds is named Treffert Drive in his honor. He was a real
man, loving, kind, understanding, and never once raised his voice. To me he will
always be my ideal man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reviewed by Phyllis Jean Green 11/2/2010
What a moving tribute you have created, Barbara.
Thank all the stars above that you and Dr. Treffert found one another.
He was obviously a wonderful human being, as are you. I am sure
that you both learned a lot from each other. He went more than "the extra mile" because that was who he was. . .and because you were who you were. He sensed that you would become the even more beautiful person you are today!

No one should have had to endure the agony that you did. It hurts
to think about it. But the fact that you didn't let it make you bitter or give in to others' unrealistic expectations is beyond
inspiring.

Thank you so much for sharing, Luv.

For being y o u!!

xOx Phyllis xOx
Reviewed by Kate Burnside 10/26/2010
If this is the first time you have written so full an account of your experience in these circumstances, then I very much applaud you, Barbie, and do hope that it has been a very affirming and releasing experience. Sometimes we can express our heartfelt gratitude to our "knights in shining armour" only a long time past the event in question... it can take time to process the whole impact they have made on our lives and the defining moment they were so instrumental in orchestrating for us. He sounds not only a true professional but the epitome of the understanding and care you so needed - in ways both practical and emotional. I'm sorry that you have not had the opportunity to speak heart-to-heart with your Mom, though. I am in a similar position with mine in that there are things between us of which we were never able to speak and openly share, which would have made us so much closer. You're such a strong person and grounded in "the who you are" and your debt of gratitude shines in your well-expressed and thoughtful tribute. I so hope Dr Darold A Treffert is able to personally receive and acknowledge the high esteem in which you dearly hold him. He is an example to us all. Bless you, xx
Reviewed by Karen Palumbo 10/19/2010
You certainly were and are very blessed to have had him in your life at such a young and tender age, God bless...

Be always safe,
Karen
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 10/19/2010
This is a fine tribute, Barbie. Thank you for sharing it. Your write restores faith in human kindness. Love and best wishes,

Regis
Reviewed by Annabel Sheila 10/19/2010
Thank goodness for people like him, Barbara!


Anna
Reviewed by steve Chering 10/19/2010
Have you written to him...this way?
Reviewed by Christine Tsen 10/19/2010
This is so incredibly moving and beautifully recaptured. This man demonstrated to you compassion and grace, and you so needed it in that cruel setting. You have conveyed power and beauty here, such a far-reaching story, and these compelling renderings will most assuredly awaken compassion in others.

Blessings and love to you,

Christine



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