Monday, June 9, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Fuzzy Memories

Things are fuzzy around this period of time so please bear with me if I remember something suddenly and post it another day. It is not only me with the fuzzy memory - it also includes everyone involved during that time. I've been asking around and we all have the same problem.

I think everything is fuzzy in my mind because of how stressed we were over Cid. I know the doctor started him on steroids and his weight ballooned. I have a picture of him sitting on our couch wearing his favorite hat. His face is almost perfectly round and his hat is more perched on top and holding on for dear life. He looks cranky, but I think this was because his huge cheeks overwhelmed his eyes and made them look small. Or it could have been that the specialist had started him on radiation, and the combination of the drugs and radiation made him feel weak and tired.

As his treatment progressed and he became more ill, he opted for spending his weekends here at the barn instead of driving the 7 hours to Lethbridge to visit his mother. He took over the guestroom opposite the kitchen on the main floor and I set it up so he had everything he needed. He liked to listen to talk stations after he had taken his contacts out and before he fell asleep. I’d lie on the bed beside him and put my head on his shoulder as we listened to people chatting miles away and across the universe. Sometimes the talk shows would be full of static and as we lay enveloped in our cocoon of love and friendship, my mind would drift and I would think we were listening to a program from the 1940’s. Strange how that happens sometimes.

On those weekends, D and I insisted that he use our phone to call his mother long-distance. He was the type of son who called his mother every day to check to make sure she was all right and to ask how her day was going. He would sit on one of the kitchen stools and lean on the counter as he chatted away in Italian with his mother. I sat at the other end of the kitchen and listened to his satiny voice speaking in an unfamiliar language. Without fail, the movie “A Fish Called Wanda” would pop into my mind and I would drape myself along the counter and drool as Jamie Lee Curtis did when John Cleese spoke in a foreign language. I just couldn’t help myself. Trying to keep the hysterics at bay while Cid wondered what had got into me was almost more than I could manage. Once he learned what I was doing, he took to ignoring me or looking down the hall so he wouldn’t see me carrying on and burst out laughing himself.

One day I received a phone call from my friend ‘N’ with news that was horrible and sad. Her husband’s daughter had been on the same psyche ward with the same psychiatrist as me. Sometime during the previous evening she had hung herself. The psychiatrist had been on the unit to check in on her and had felt that something was wrong as he stood at the nurse’s station. Running back to her room, he had found her and had cut her down and administered mouth-to-mouth. He revived her enough to put her on life support and my friends were awaiting the outcome.

When she said these words I immediately pictured the ward and the nurse’s station. I had an eerie feeling the daughter had been in the same room and the same bed as me and while my heart broke for the daughter, my skin broke out in goose bumps with the creepiness of it all. Anyone who is suffering enough to commit suicide is someone who can’t reach out for the help that they need and finds not having to deal with the problems any longer just easier for them. I understand. I truly do. But it is not the answer. The consequences for those left behind are something that suicidal victims just can’t think of. It is too hard for them. But for those then left behind - it is too horrible.

A few weeks later they turned off the machines and my friend’s daughter slipped into that land where she had wanted to go. My roommate from the ward went with me to the funeral that was held in this little town where we live. It was the first excursion out of my home without my usual protectors and it was to an event that boggled my mind. Everyone worried that it would be enough to send me back into the hall – but as I sat there, I thought of my friends and their loss and how it would affect them for the rest of their lives.

As ‘N’ and her husband walked past me after the ceremony, I hoped that they knew I was there for them. ‘N’s husband was oblivious to everything, while ‘N’ threw me a grateful glance before clutching his arm tighter to support him during this horrendous time. It later came out the daughter had lied to the psychiatrist and accused the father of sexually abusing her.

(Repeated questioning about the possibility of sexual abuse is something psychiatrists do when they first meet a patient. They almost seem fixated on that possibility - as if every mental break has to be related to sex in some way. I went through it for the first few months on the hall.)

This being said - that accusation has stuck with him since then and destroyed his relationship with his own family. ‘N’ and her husband sued the doctor, and the only thing they got out of months of anxiety and strife was admittance that he hadn’t read her chart from her previous incarceration in a hospital in Edmonton. The chart stated that she was taking meth and was dating her supplier, an older boy who was trying to get her to go live with him. The sexual abuse accusation was false – but the damage had been done and nothing my friends did afterwards has ever changed the minds of his family.

I want to say ‘Psychiatry!’ and leave it at that. But I can’t. I know there are many good aspects about this health field. But there are many bad aspects as well. It is always something to keep in mind. No pun intended.

19 comments:

John-Michael said...

I am delighted. You are deserving. I am immeasurably impressed. You are a remarkable Spirit and Being. I love You. You are absolutely Lovable!

And, that is all as simply stated as I can make the sterling Truth, my Darling Aims.

Daryl said...

Its true that those doctors who really just want a label to pin on a patient will not take the time to stop and get all the facts before pointing fingers. Its very sad that this man's family hasnt been able to get past the lie .. it would seem they never really knew him to begin with or they might not have bought into this so thoroughly.

:-Daryl

Beckie said...

This post really made me think - very interesting.

rilly super said...

I think it takes a lot for anyone who's been touched in some way by suicide to get through it aims. It always leaves so much unresolved and that family seems to have more than their faire share left to deal with

Mima said...

How awful for them, and I should imagine that it opened all sorts of questions for you at a very tender point in your recovery.

Leatherdykeuk said...

How sad for that poor girl.

Living the Dream said...

There but for the grace of God. Superb reading aims.

Maggie May said...

Its dreadful how mud sticks, isn't it?

You have had an action packed life. Like your way of writing your story.

travelling, but not in love said...

Goodness. I'll be charitable and say that a doctor with a heavy workload will work hard to make an easy solution fit a difficult question...

I'd say it's just laziness from the doctor, but that may be a bit harsh.

So many tales of mis- or late diagnosis in your tale Aims. So harrowing every time.

CrazyCath said...

You are so right Aims. Lots of good, but also lots of bad or "it shouldn't have happened" things. Like all medical practices, they have their "fads". Some docs are fixated on asthma, or tonsillitis (I had my tonsils removed during this "fashion"). In psychiatry, it is other stuff. Balance is needed. How sad for the family. And for you and all the other patients who had to go through this questioning. Yes question, but not interrogation.

Anyway, I seem to have caught up now. Whilst you are mending it seems Cid is in dire straits again. I am on those steroids and the side effects are awful. Couple with that the loss of self esteem because you think you look like an alien...

Excellent blogging again. I'll be by again soon. Take care. xx

Potty Mummy said...

Well done Aims - you deserve that award. Congratulations!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Poor Cid - bless him.

As with all fields of medicine and indeed all walks of life there are genuis's and lazy toerags. Suicide - a long term solution to a short term problem. My uncle managed it and the devestation he left behind was enormous. But he was in a bad place and no one could get through to him.

How very sorry for your friend who lost his daughter, family and reputation all in one go. He must be a broken man.

lisa marie said...

I have mixed emotions when it comes to seeking mental health.

laurie said...

man oh man.

bichonpawz said...

I agree with you on your thoughts on psychiatrists....some of them do seem fixated on certain things. My heart goes out to that girl's family. The devastation left behind can be overwhelming. I admire your ability to remember so many of the details of this period of your life, aims. So very glad you were able to be there for your friend. Hugs!

I Beatrice said...

A great deal to take in there, Aims - and as always, you tell it so well!

Cid seems to be fighting back bravely - all power to him! And how lovely that he had the big blue barn, and you two, to come home to between treatments! You were pretty much a menage a trois by then, weren't you? And an apparently perfectly successful one! I think you must have been fortunate enough to find the only two men in the world who could live happily with one another in such conditions - most would be consumed with jealousy and reduced to fisticuffs almost at once!!

I have had close personal experience of both the other tragedies you describe. Most people have I think, at one time or another....

The suicide of a young person breaks the hearts of all around them - and I do agree, that to be accused of abusing his child must be one of the worst experiences a man can be called upon to bear. And so often without hope of self-defence - too awful! Damaging words that can be said in seconds - and stick fast for a lifetime!

Melanie said...

Hia Aims I feel so sorry for the girl's family. I had read that some psychiatrists are capable of planting false memories through uncareful questioning of vulnerable people. The poor girl herself may have believed what she was saying at the time through her mental confusion. The wider family themselves were possibly feeling such guilt about her condition that having a scape goat was easier on them?

Poor Cid too. What a caring man to speak to his Mother throughout this time.

I am so glad you were able to deal with both these situations without being sucked back. You must've been so strong. Well done.

Joy T. said...

Mmmm just listening to your song at the bottom of your blog. Emmylou Harris - Another Pot O'Tea. Nice! And I agree with commenter john-michael. You are absolutely lovable :o)

Mean Mom said...

What terrible times the 3 of you had to live through and what a tragic outcome for your friend and her family, with regard to the suicide. Unfortunately, it's not the first time I have heard of false accusations of sexual abuse, within a family. Psychiatry seems to differ according to the latest craze, in much the same way as guidelines alter for rearing children.

Thanks for visiting my site to attend my virtual event! It was a great day.