Woman’s apparent epileptic seizure leads to county confinement

December 15, 2016



For more than three weeks, a woman found dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia in the creek behind Central Coast Brewery has been confined in the San Luis Obispo County mental health ward. Racheal Momsen, 34, had suffered an epileptic episode that left her disoriented and confused.

San Luis Obispo fire personnel rescued Momsen on Nov. 20 after she was spotted sitting in the creek. She had lost significant weight, was dehydrated, suffered from hypothermia and was confused.

Momsen took a walk on Nov. 8 and is suspected of having suffered a seizure. She has no memory of what occurred during the next 12 days, she said. Her blood test showed no use of illegal drugs or alcohol.

It is common for epileptics to have memory loss and confusion following a seizure. In addition, failing to take her daily epileptic and schizophrenia medications would likely have resulted in Momsen suffering more seizures.

When Racheal Momsen was about 12-years-old, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Then in her early 20s, Momsen was handed another lifelong medical issue, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

For almost a decade, Momsen had issues with drugs and alcohol. She suffered from anorexia and began cutting herself, Momsen said.

In about 2012, Momsen checked herself into the San Luis Obispo County mental health facility. Her issues eventually landed her under county guardianship.

After almost a year in the county mental health ward, the county transferred Momsen to a long-term facility. Shen then graduated to a group home and then to Transitions housing where she could come and go as she wanted during the day, Momsen said.

County staffers told Momsen they had reported her missing when she did not return to Transitions housing on Nov. 8. However, Momsen was not listed as missing with the San Luis Obispo Police Department until Nov. 15. Lisa Niesen, Momsen’s county guardian, has not returned requests for comment.

Momsen, who was no longer using illegal drugs or alcohol, was on medication for both her epilepsy and her schizophrenia. She was working to get out of under the county’s guardianship and onto a more productive life, Momsen said.

Because of the incident, Momsen is being forcibly detained in the county mental health facility.

“I was on the way to being off guardianship, and now I am starting over again,” Momsen said. “It was a medical issue and not related to my mental health. You can have schizophrenia and lead a normal life.”

County Health Agency Director Jeff Hamm, whose department includes county mental health, said he is not permitted to discuss patient issues.

“The County is precluded by statute from disclosing protected information about individuals, or even to confirm or deny that an individual is in our care,” Hamm said.

While it took her four years to get to Transitions housing and close to getting out from under the control of the county guardian, Momsen said she is being forced to start over again. It is not because of a mental health issue, but because of her epilepsy, she said.

“I do not like being locked up, especially not for a seizure,” Momsen said. “I was told county mental health is where they put a conserved person who wanders off. They do not know where else to put me.”

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PLEASE change the headline! It’s not only her epidemic seizures and the headline is misleading!

It’s called protective custody and it is exactly the right place. She cannot manage her conditions adequately. It’s not a good place for a person to find themselves but it is much better than dying of hypothermia or pneumonia or being assaulted while being vulnerable and defenseless. She is in danger and a danger to herself.

Lisa Niesen? Haven’t heard that name in a couple of years. Wasn’t she the head of Family Ties and there were all these allegations about her a couple years ago? She accused of mismanagement of funds as I recall. CalCoast said she was being investigated.

Obviously she still works for the county. Not surprised.

Wow. Is this the level of logic, or lack thereof, we can expect from a Poly Professor these days? Please don’t tell us you’re from the Journalism dept.

By the way you’ve written your post you’re either not sure, or being purposely coy about your knowledge, of the identity and history of this county worker. If you’re not sure you should save us your curious thoughts that impugn someone needlessly.

If you have something to say about this person then say it and not hide behind old rumors etc.

As someone with a family member with epilepsy and friends with schizophrenia, I know going off their medication can have serious consequences. If there isn’t family support to help her then she is in the right place.

While she had a seizure that made her disoriented, she also fell of her meds for schizophrenia which would compound her problems. Unfortunately she gets a double dose as the meds for each problem make it hard to function, period. People in this situation are often set back to square one, but it is necessary for it to happen.

She is in the care of the county not for her seizure’s but her schizophrenia. What is the big deal here.

This woman seems upset she is being conserved and having to “start over”, but obviously when a person is found dehydrated, hypothermic, and confused they need help. This article/story doesn’t indicate whether she was actually taking her medications for epilepsy and schizophrenia at the time of her wandering off, but changes are she probably was not. She obviously does not have the insight at this time to see that she is a danger to herself when left to her own decision making, so Transitions and conservatorship is what is needed to save her from her own self for now.

Transitions will fight for her. They are good people.

Transitions gets county funding. They are not going to fight with the county just to help one person when they have their paychecks to consider.

no accountability for this female….just no account.

Police shoot men who act like this. – then ask questions later. they don’t comply. BLAM! Ask Santa Maria Cops.

did she comply or do women get the p-pass in everything?

Really only-when-i-do-this? From the video, she did comply. She needs mental help (her history is long) and this comment is just ignorant. The Santa Mara person was threatening to commit harm to himself and others with a knife.

I agree with Smartmouth…back to Transitions, but maybe they won’t take her:((

Those suffering from uncontrolled seizures should consider the Ketogenic Diet. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet

Also, see Meryl Streep movie, “First Do No Harm.” From Wikipedia: “…First Do No Harm is a 1997 American made-for-television drama film directed by Jim Abrahams about a boy whose severe epilepsy, unresponsive to medications with terrible side effects, is controlled by the ketogenic diet. Aspects of the story mirror Abrahams’ own experience with his son Charlie.”

This is an excellent movie about the use of the Ketogenic Diet for those who have found no control with medications.

Good luck to this young woman who is carrying many burdens!

Nonsense. Put her back into Transitions……….