This afternoon, before sitting down to finish a post about Cuz and his passing, I picked up the phone to call a friend. There was a message waiting. The call came at 3:46 this morning, when I was hard asleep. I didn’t hear the phone. When I listened to the message, I heard Parrish’s voice over a line with almost deafening static.
All I could make out was, “I’ve taken every pill I can get my hands on.”
I called his room. No answer. I called his father. No answer. I called the hospital. Not there. I called the police. There was a raging thunderstorm parked over us, and I knew they could reach him before I could, assuming that he was at home. I answered all their questions and was assured that police were dispatched to perform a “wellbeing” check.
I called Melissa, and she was able to reach Lawrence on his work phone and send him to P’s efficiency. He arrived, a man ill-prepared for theses kinds of things, as paramedics were working in the room. They would not let him in and would not tell him anything about Parrish. So there he stood, trying to stay out of the rain and out of the way, helpless.
At 4:50, the police dispatcher called me and said P was en route to the emergency room, that his breathing was depressed and paramedics were opening his airway. She said his father was following the ambulance to the ER.
I cried. No, I cried like a crazy person. Then I brushed my teeth and pulled up my hair and jumped into some clothes and dried my eyes. Honey and I were out the door in 10 minutes. The rain had slowed down, but the causeway was dangerously foggy. It felt as though it went on forever. About three blocks from the hospital, it occurred to me that P might be dead. Why I did’t think of that before is a mystery for all time. No, it’s not. It has a name and her name is denial. I arrived at the ER at 5:30.
My first glimpse of Parrish was from the door of the ER room where he lay, respirator set at 18 breaths per minute and surrounded by, count them, six medical personnel. His ashen face was flaccid. His eyes were almost closed, so I asked someone to close them. They looked at me like I had just grown another head, and I don’t blame them. Mothers can’t be nurses of their children. He had a gastric pump in place and, of course, the endotracheal tube.
I started babbling that he didn’t want to be kept alive on a ventilator. I played the “I’m his guardian” card.
Then I saw Lawrence at the end of the hall and went to him.
“He’s not going to make it this time,” I sobbed into his shoulder.
“Now, don’t talk like that.”
“13 hours elapsed from the time he called me until I tried to call him back! It was another 30 minutes before he was intubated. He’s finally succeeded.”
There were more assurances from Lawrence, which is odd because he’s always the “glass half empty” person. I, the “glass half full” person, was falling apart all over the poor man.
For the first time since P’s diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder about 18 years ago, I had the luxury of falling apart. Until now, every time I was with him in hospital for a suicide attempt or alcohol toxicity or uncontrolled mania, I was completely alone. Now I have his father for support.
A police officer called me aside and began questioning me about the event. All I could tell him was that yesterday, P and I ate at Longhorn and went to Winn-Dixie. He was fine. We laughed and talked, genuinely enjoyed being together. The officer asked about his medicines, so I told him what I could.
Back in the room with P, we found only one nurse. She was hanging IV fluids and checking lines.
“Are you keeping him alive with that ventilator?”
“We have started him on Versed to make sure he’s in a medically induced coma so he can rest. His brain function is uncertain, but we will know more if he starts to try to breathe on his own.”
It was about two hours later that P took a breath on his own. I told Lawrence it was a good sign, and we sat their like two fools staring at the vent settings to see if he would do it again. He thrashed in bed. We were encouraged.
Melissa arrived shortly thereafter, and I was glad for Lawrence. I was also glad for the Starbucks she brought me.
Two hours later, when he was transferred to ICU, he had not moved a muscle. I’m choosing to believe that’s because of the Versed. He’s having some cardiac arrythmias, probably caused by the almost-full bottle of Elavil, an antidepressant, that he swallowed. His urine test for drugs also showed benzodiazepines (for which he had no prescription), so I can only assume he bought them on the street. The level in his blood was high. He also had a small amount of alcohol on board as well as cocaine. He knows what will kill him, and once more, he tried to die.
After P was safely installed in ICU and we had an opportunity to talk to the nurse, and with her assurances that she would call with any change, we all went home. I will return in the early AM.
There is nothing to do but pray. However and to whomever you pray, just pray.
© 2014 cj Schlottman