Before I fetched P from crisis stabilization, I went to WalMart and got him a TV and a tablet. He loves The History Channel, and he loves music, and I so want him to have the things around him that make him feel comfortable and at home.
When I arrived at Gateway and rang the bell, I was left cooling my heels for about five minutes. When the door opened, out stumbled P carrying a paper sack containing what is left of the lounging clothes we bought for him while he was there. I took him sweats and tees and socks and undershorts twice, and I think Lawrence made as many trips with similar items. His brown loafers were dangling from the fingers of his other hand. He seemed dazed by the sunlight and didn’t focus on me at first. When he did, his eyes came alive a little.
The attendant all but shoved him in my direction.
“Where is his bag? I asked.
“Oh, I’ll go and get it.”
“And his wallet?”
“He has it in his pocket.”
“Aren’t we supposed to meet with the social worker and at least a nurse before we go?”
He handed me a sheaf of papers with prescriptions attached.
“No, Ma’am. He’s ready to go and these papers explain everything that you’re supposed to do.”
The door closed and we waited. P finally rang the bell again, and about the time he did, the attendant came around the side of the building carrying the duffel in question.
I had already called June at Active Community Treatment (ACT) to tell her we would be on our way as soon as we had lunch, so we got in the car and drove to Waffle House. Where else? P’s dental problems make it one of our favorite stops.
As we were about to order, what sounded like a jackhammer blasted into the usual cacophony of Waffle House dining. Every head in the the restaurant turned toward the clacking and banging sound of compressed air beating into the floor behind the counter. I had to shout to make myself heard.
Then the sound stopped. The typical clanging of dishes was like a sweet hush after the assault on our eardrums. In less than a minute it started again. We debated whether to cancel our order and leave but decided that the racket couldn’t possibly continue for more than a few minutes, not at two o’clock in the afternoon.
We could hardly eat for the noise. It blasted the air like a machine-gun at frequent intervals as all of us amazed customers sat trying to eat or read the paper of just drink coffee. Talking was completely out of the realm of possibility.
Shit, neither of us was anxious enough, I guess. We needed to have our entire nervous systems raped by a fucking jackhammer while we were trying to eat comfort food. Jesus.
The food was comped, of course, and we each managed to finish our food before fleeing the ruckus as fast as our legs would carry us. An omen? A taste of what was to come?
On the ride to ACT, we tried to make small talk, but P’s speech was still very thick and garbled. He lost patience with me asking him to repeat himself and said for me to just stop talking. So I did.
During the admission process, I couldn't name all of P’s meds so I went to the car to retrieve the bag of bottles I received at Gateway along with the paperwork. That was when I discovered that one of his medicines was missing. Which one? Why the most important one, the Clozaril, the miracle drug with the dangerous side effects that is supposed to bring P back to us. The idea of driving back to the other end of the county to get them left me cold. All I could think of was that it never would have happened if we had a proper meeting and went over all the medicines before we left. Within minutes, one of the ladies at ACT called the crisis unit and arranged for one of the staff to drop off the medicine on his way home from work. A non-problem, it turned out to be.
The paperwork took most of two hours, but during that time, P saw the psychiatrist and so did I. When Dr. Bernstein asked to see me after their visit, P got paranoid and went and sat in the car. When I got there, he was pouting and said he was confused.
“What are you confused about?”
“I’m the patient, Mama, not you! Why did you have to go in there? Did you two talk about me the whole time? That kind of shit isn’t necessary. I can speak for myself.”
In fact, we talked very little about Parrish. He had forgotten to tell the doctor about two of his medicines, and I filled in those blanks, now that we had them all. We talked more about me and my expectations. Dr. Bernstein agreed to work with our private shrink and coordinate his care with her as long as Parrish is enrolled in ACT. We talked a little about me, about my longstanding and mostly controlled major depression, about what I was doing to help myself during this incredibly difficult transition. Period.
“You may be his patient, P, but I am your mother and your guardian. We talked mostly about me and my plans and hopes for your treatment and care. I know it’s easy for you to think you are the only player on this stage, but you’re not. We are a family, you and I, and yes, your father too. There is no need for paranoia just because I had a conversation with the doctor.”
He seemed satisfied with that answer, and we drove home mostly in silence, driving though at Starbucks for a coffee on the way.
As soon as Honey ate her supper, she was ready to walk, and I was too. I had to urge P to go with us. He said he felt tired and weak and didn’t feel like walking, but I coaxed him into going. We cut the walk short because he complained of begin so tired, but I know the exercise and fresh air were good for him.
Then we set up his tablet and ordered a pizza. By the time were sitting down to eat it, P’s speech had cleared a great deal. His daddy called and was impressed when he heard him. After supper I doled out the medicine - six different pills - and within 20 minutes P’s speech was once again slurred and he wanted to go to bed.
Throughout the evening, I noticed that he isn’t really interested in anything. He’s pleased with his tablet but only listened to one song. He expressed no desire for me to set up his television, even eschewed the opportunity to watch in Marnie’s old room. He had no interest in a copy of Rolling Stone or a book of any description. It’s difficult to watch, but I know it’s the medicine. He needs to be sedated, cushioned from his psychosis and paranoia while his brain rests and heals. It’s not pretty, but it’s not mania, either. This I can deal with.
So, I tucked him in, but in twenty minutes he was up again, scouring the kitchen for snacks. Peanut butter cups seemed to do the trick, and he went back to bed where he has been for about and hour and a half.
Not a bad start, I think, all things considered. The doctor assured me that as the dosage of Clozaril is increased, the other antipsychotics will be decreased and eventually discontinued.
So, this leg of the journey begins. . .
Copyright 2014 cj Schlottman