Yesterday, when I arrived at Gateway to meet Lawrence and visit with Parrish, I had no idea what to expect. Earlier in the day, I called to confirm our appointment but had to leave a message. This is standard operating procedure, I have learned. I asked for a call back to verify the time but never heard from them. That kind of thing rankles me no-end. How much time could it possibly take to pick up a phone and make a 30 second call? Well, that would be exactly half a minute.
I decided before I left home that I would go into the event with an open mind and a positive attitude, but it was difficult. The day before, when Lawrence dropped off some things for P, the person to whom he gave the things said it wasn’t a good idea for us to visit on the weekend. Funny, but Wayne said the weekend was the best time.
Clint used to call me 1-800-KICKASS when I was angry, and I was prepared to whip out some of that if necessary. It wasn’t.
The staff greeted us warmly and ushered us into an office. They delivered Parrish to us within minutes, and a nurse sat with us. After about five minutes, she left us alone.
P’s pupils were like wide black pools, and he was confused from time to time, floating away to another place and time. But he was not manic. I learned from the nurse that he was off all meds except Thorazine, which he gets every four hours while awake. That would explain the pupils and the faraway look. It’s a psychotropic drug that has been used for decades in the treatment of severe intractable psychosis. Today is the day they are going to start him on Clozaril.
P wants to be Lawrence right now, wants to dress like him, so Lawrence brought him some black socks and black penny loafers (Yes, he still wears them.) Lawrence insisted that he put them on, so P kicked off his Crocs and donned the shoes and socks. He thanked his father and his mind wandered.
Our visit was unstrained and pleasant, only marred by P’s tangential thoughts and breaks with reality. He heels were quiet against the floor. I can’t remember a time his “motor” was not running, so I took some splice in that. On a couple of occasions, he stood up as though to leave, saying he had to be somewhere or that the staff was calling.
For the most part, his affect was flat, but his face lit up when he talked of things that interest him. He knew the day of the week. His thick-tongued speech was easier to understand than it is on the phone, and conversation was actually possible. He talked of historical events, those in his life and in the life of the world. His passion for history is alive and well!
It was easy to bring him back to the present, and I take great comfort in that. He and his father talked of boats and bridges and navigating the fog. P is navigating is own fog right now, but he is pleasant. He expressed slight anger only on the occasions when his paranoia surfaced. He still thinks people are stealing from him, and he still considers the staff a bunch of morons who don’t know what they are doing. There are times when I can understand that.
We were with him for about and hour and 15 minutes. I expected to be completely drained but was not. I am encouraged. I can’t be any other way and face the future, P’s future and mine. Maybe Clozaril will be his miracle drug. Maybe not. His brain may be more broken than ever. I’m not so naive as to think there won’t be more roadblocks ahead, more seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the path we must take, but I am hopeful. I know how toxic my life can be without hope.
Lawrence is grieving. He sees this as another loss in his life. He hasn’t done this before, and I know how he feels. My journals over the years have been peppered with the horrible thought that P is lost to me in a very real way, almost as though he were dead. After years of alienation, P is back in Lawrence’s life, but he’s really not present because of his illness. When we were standing in the yard talking, Lawrence wept openly, shook with sobs. I wanted to console him but didn’t know how.
He told me that when P is dismissed and things are hopefully more stable, he will take him to his Island house to spend the night, give me a break from time to time. I believe him, and I believe “from time to time” will be more frequent than it sounds. I don’t know how to be skeptical about this. Why should I, in the words of my Grandmother Parrish, “run down the road to meet trouble?”
Somebody’s glass has to be half full.
© 2014 cj Schlottman