Posts Tagged ‘bipolar’

Stubborn Through This Season

2 December, 2008

Well, my mother’s mania continues. Last week, she accused me of stealing family photos.

Mom: Kelly, I think you may have accidentally taken the pictures of my children home with you.

Me: No Mom, I didn’t bring any pictures home with me.

Mom: Well, I can’t find them. I’ve had them since 1965, and I’d like them back. Are you sure you don’t have them?

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t have them.

Mom: Yes, you are sorry. Very sorry. Click.

Now, she won’t answer when I call. I’m not taking it personally, but it does feel a bit odd to leave soliloquies on her answering machine. “Happy Thanksgiving” and the like.

rancho-san-j-barn

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Today a ringing phone woke me up with Dr. H, my father’s urologist, on the other end. My dad has been dealing with bladder cancer for about a year-and-a-half. They basically “took care of it” via surgery to remove a tumor and BCG therapy.

I call my father “Pop”—a compromise between ‘Papa’ (what he wanted) and ‘Dad’ (what I wanted). A few weeks ago I say, “Pop, it’s time for you to get your bladder checked out.”

Pop: What do you mean? They said I’m cancer-free.

Me: The doctor said you have to get checked out every few months to make sure you’re still okay.

Pop: I don’t remember him saying that to me.*

Me: Call Doctor H and make an appointment to get checked.

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Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

The upshot is that my dad went into the hospital yesterday. Dr. H poked around in his bladder and removed part of his prostate because it was blocking the flow of urine. Originally scheduled to go home after the procedure, my dad had to spend last night at the hospital which he loathes and detests. In fact, the doctor called to tell me to get him to an internist ASAP because his blood pressure is dangerously high. I’m sure that some of that is related to his present location.

My father is great insisting he’s perfectly healthy in the face of evidence to the contrary. Like the time he got drunk at DanTana’s and was hit by a car (we surmised—he doesn’t quite remember this) and ended up in Cedars-Sinai. I swear, his body was one giant purple bruise but after one night he checked himself out of the hospital despite the doctor’s recommendation to stay.

My dad had lined up a friend to pick him up yesterday, but he didn’t have a Plan B if they kept him overnight. Fortunately, I’m able to go collect him from St. Joseph’s and take him to his apartment in Hollywood.

*My dad freely admits that he is forgetful. It surprises me that he is forthright about it and not particularly defensive.

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Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, not seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.

-Sylvia Plath

Then the Quail Came

25 November, 2008

Mom update: She’s about the same—perhaps a bit more paranoid. My brother stopped by last night and the meds are all hanging out together in a big bowl, like Halloween candy waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Me update: I’m tired of blogging about my mom (sommayous will be relieved to hear that!). Worrying about her doesn’t do either of us any good. Wishing that things were different leads to the cul-de-sac called Maudlin. So, I’m on the one-day-at-a-time plan, and today is a good day. I’m in Santa Barbara! Specifically, I’m here:

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Java Jones on State Street. Image courtesy of SantaBarbara.com.

The Scout is looking at ranches in the area for a John Deere spot. I’m going to sit here, get some work done, then I’m going for a big ole walk. Later, the Scout and I will probably have a drink and perhaps even dinner at Dargan’s (we’ve had fun watching tennis matches there, and the Irish Stew is good enough).

In this season of thanksgiving, my thanks again to you for your good thoughts, kind words, prayers. For joining me in my outrage about our health care system. For understanding how frustrating it is to be in a relationship with someone who is bipolar. For continuing to read during my struggle to describe mania. To Susan for her verbal spa. To Suebob (I waved when we drove through Ventura!) who left a comment pointing me to a post entitled The Crazy Mothers Club over at Godammit I’m Mad. I’m now a member and have almost mastered the secret handshake.

Though I recognize that I’m emotionally exhausted, I’m having a good day. I hope you do the same.

Here we are, alone on a desert, fed dawn to dark, dusk to day
Every morning we wake up. to find just the measure
Of food we need for the way
Oh once we would ask if we could have more
To see that our future survived
But we know now at last, that nothing is sure
Except that at evening the quail will arrive

Michael Blanchard

Around the Barn

24 November, 2008

I heard Malcolm Gladwell on Rachel Maddow’s show the other day talking about decoding institutions. The journey that I’m on now vis-a-vis my mother’s mental illness is one of not simply decoding institutions, but of decoding a system that involves multiple institutions.

My bipolar mother is not, in the strictest sense, a “danger to herself or others,” so she is not currently in the hospital. However, she is manic, and she isn’t taking care of herself very well. She hasn’t been taking her medication (not regularly; most likely not at all). She’s still ‘cleaning’ her apartment. I don’t know what, if anything, she has been eating. Without medication, she is probably sleeping very little.

forest-grove-barn

My brother called me at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to say that mom had gone to the emergency room via ambulance, but then had been discharged and sent home via ambulance company van (cheaper than full-on ambulance). The ambulance driver called my brother because my mom didn’t have a key to get back into her apartment.

I just repeated the events as they were presented to me. So what actually happened? My mom managed to call 911 and apparently requested that she be taken to the Tuality Hospital in Forest Grove (which is not the closest hospital, but it is the one that has the geriatric-psychiatric unit). She was so sleepy in the emergency room that they could barely get information out of her. She said that she needed to sleep, but couldn’t sleep at home.

They asked her if she felt safe at home. Oh yes, she said. (My question: So why aren’t you sleeping at home?) She said she’s been taking her medications (even brought them with her!). She said that I stole a ring from her but that, upon reflection, there is one more place that she may have put it. She asked for hot chocolate and something to eat. They fed her mushroom soup (she’s decided to become a vegetarian—since this manic episode started, that is). She said she wanted to talk to her psychiatrist (at midnight on a Saturday night?).

Actually, the emergency department staff were talking to the psychiatrist that treated my mom when she was an in-patient about another patient, so they did mention that my mom was in the emergency department. But the upshot of the whole deal is that my mom passed muster (not a danger to self or others) and was sent home. (By the way, all the beds in the geriatric-psychiatric unit were full anyway.)

So she got back to her apartment and didn’t have a key to get in. The ambulance-van driver called my brother, who lives locally but does not have a key. The apartment building manager is on vacation at the moment. After an hour of trying to figure out what to do, the driver looked in the handbag my mom had with her. Sure enough, there were keys in the bottom of the bag.

It is now Monday morning. I called my mom.

Me: Hi Mom, it’s Kelly.

I hear the phone sliding back into its holder. Click.

Since I’m a thousand miles away (literally), my main option at this point is to (once again) call the police and ask them to do a welfare check. That’s how this system works.

Previously in this series:

#7 Uncertainty

#6 Talking to Crazy

#5 A Fist Full of Meds

#4 Blogging in Absentia

#3 Disappointed

#2 Getting Back to the Garden

#1 Mother’s Mania

Uncertainty

21 November, 2008

The Scout has returned from Arkansas. He is glad to be home and is recovering nicely.

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Outside Forest Grove, Oregon.

My mom is at home in Oregon refusing to take her meds. It’s the disease. For those who missed, the previous blather on this topic is here.

I spoke with an attorney yesterday and figured out if I had started the guardianship process when my mom first went in the hospital last month, the process would be complete by now. Nothing like climbing a learning curve.

forest-grove-3

My mom has developed paranoid thoughts about me.

Mom: Kelly, why did you leave all that stuff under the seat of the car?

Me: I’m not sure what stuff you are talking about.

Mom: I think you do. Click.

Later—

Me: Hi Mom, it’s Kelly.

Mom: I don’t think there’s anything else to be said. Click.

forest-grove-1

Just outside the David Hill Winery. Try their Farmhouse Red.

I don’t know what I’m going to do re: my mother. I’m trying to keep the hand-wringing and brow-furrowing to a minimum. That takes a lot of energy, but burns an alarmingly small number of calories.

She’s not answering her phone this morning.  I’m going to call the Hillsboro Police and ask them to do a welfare check.  They have the authority to put her on a hold.

Talking to Crazy

15 November, 2008

After yesterday’s post, I returned to my mom’s apartment to give her the bedtime meds. She couldn’t remember where she’d put them—even though we decided together earlier in the day where they should go. One of the meds, (the all-important zyprexa) can’t be opened until right before it’s taken. She wasn’t able to pop the pill out of the blister pack. It disintegrated into a crumbly yellow mess. Mom became agitated and said she couldn’t do it because I was watching over her so closely.

Later, I was watching Numb3ers, my Friday night network-TV guilty pleasure. She said something completely irrational about the TV needing to be off before she goes to bed. Whatever.

She accused me of wanting her to go back to the hospital so that I could go home. I said that I thought she should go back to the hospital because she needed time to make the transition from the geodon to the zyprexa. I pointed out that she couldn’t remember where she put her medication. She said, “You’re right. Just give me 24 hours.”

First thing this morning:

Mom: Where are the keys?

Me: They are around your neck. (She keeps her keys on a lanyard—carry over from teaching days.)

Mom: What?

Me: They are hanging around your neck.

Mom: Oh, I guess I really am a mental patient. Maybe I need to go to the hospital for two days.

Me: Really?

Mom: No.

A few minutes later—

Me: I know you’re argumentative and you can’t help it. That’s why we’re not going to talk too much today.

She is wearing the green corduroy dress that she wears on Thanksgiving Day, with a flowered skirt underneath that and a pair of long pants underneath that.

I’m staying one more day. My brother will spend Sunday night here. If I’m not home tomorrow, send a posse.

mounted_sheriffs_posse

Image courtesy of cowboypoetry.com

UPDATE: I just packed. I think I’m too fried to stay.

UPDATE 2 (16 Nov 08, 9 am):  I am home, and I am in bed.  I called my mom last night and she gave me a load of BS about taking her meds.  Whatever.

A Fist Full of Meds

14 November, 2008

So I took my bipolar mom to the ER, and they found a bed for her at the same hospital where she was before, and she refused to sign herself in. She had agreed to go to the hospital but had a meltdown once she was assigned a bed. “I refuse to stay in this hospital one more night.”

It’s part of the disease.

People with psychoses are not aware of their mental condition. They live in their own world of delusive ideas and hallucinations in which they strongly believe. They don’t consider themselves as ill persons and that’s why they don’t ask for medical help. ehealthforum.com

Consider using periods of stability to agree to certain safeguards. This can include hospitalization or withholding credit cards, car keys, or banking privileges. Be aware that during an episode, the patient may not comply with the agreement. www.lamictal.com

The doctor couldn’t commit her without her consent, because she’s not ‘a danger to self or others.’ She’ll be even less so once I figure out how to unplug her stove. Yesterday, she put butter in a pan and turned on the burner. Luckily I found it before (fill in horrible scenario here).

The great geodon experiment is over—it didn’t make mother’s mania go away. We’re now back to zydis (zyprexa). The nurse practitioner recommended 10 mg at night. The doctor at the hospital yesterday said it was okay to up the dosage to 20 mg. So the trip to the hospital wasn’t entirely in vain.

hands-full

My mom is also on lamictal (lamotrigene) (mood-stabilizer), seroquel (anti-psychotic) and lorazepam (anti-anxiety).

I gotta tell ya, it was a blow to the solar plexus when my mom refused to enter the hospital yesterday. She needs a couple of days to let the zyprexa start working. Today when I told her that I think she needs to be in the hospital, she said something about how we need to ‘collapse the time frame’ and blah blah blah — it didn’t make any sense. She also insists that she is sleeping 8 hours a night when in fact she slept 5 hours last night and 3 hours the night before.

I’m fried. I’m done. My capacity to help, to be patient with the talkative, restless, agitated patient, is gone. I’m going home and praying that somehow the right thing will happen. My brother will be checking on my mom from time to time.

It’s the disease.

Readers and commenters: Thank you again for your love, support and good wishes. It helps more than you a simple ‘thank you’ can convey.

Previously on this topic:

Blogging in Absentia

Disappointed

Getting Back to the Garden

Mother’s Mania

Blogging In Absentia

13 November, 2008

The thing is that I really enjoy blogging, but I’m not home, and I simply can’t blog right now.  Thanks to all my witty, opinionated commenters.  I feel like the host of a playground in which things are just about to veer out of control at any moment.

Actually, that’s probably a projection.  I’m up in Oregon with my bipolar mother, who is having the mother of all manic episodes right now.  I’m trying to keep her on track (impossible).  I’m dispensing meds as directed, but nothing is working (yet).  This ‘playground’ (her apartment) is a mess because in her mania, my mom keeps taking things out, moving things around, putting things in boxes, putting things in the hallway, etc.  When we go shopping she wants to buy everything that strikes her fancy.  This is just garden-variety mania.

Today we are going back to the hospital.  As soon as we find her teeth, that is.

+_+_++_+_+

Photo by The Scout:

disneyland-by-scout

Disappointed

22 October, 2008

One of my favorite comedy bits is from “A Fish Called Wanda” (which is full of greatness, by the way).  Looking into the empty safe where the loot is supposed to be, Otto (played by Kevin Klein) says, “Disappointed!”  To refresh your memory, here’s The Best of Otto – the bit I’m talking about is in the first thirty seconds.*

My mom, who is still in the Geriatric-Psychiatric unit at Tuality Forest Grove Hospital, has not been taking her medication.  Well, she will, then she won’t.  She continues to exhibit many signs of mania.  She has barricaded herself in her room, wandered around wearing only her bra, and has been ordering the other patients around like a third grade teacher (which she used to be).

Here’s where the legal meets the medical.  When my mom first went to the hospital, it was on a voluntary basis.  This means she can walk out whenever she wants to.  Last Thursday (after one week in the hospital) she started refusing meds, and she slapped a nurse.  So they put her “on a hold” (you may know California’s shorthand for this, which is 5150).   This is a legal designation meaning that ‘she is a danger to herself or others’ and an investigator from the county decides whether that is true or not.

The investigator called me on Monday.  I answered the questions.  Is she a danger to others? Well, not really.  She is not going to be released from the hospital and continue to have a vendetta against the med nurse she slapped.  In fact, she may not even be able to pick that med nurse out of a line-up.

Is she a danger to herself?  Is she suicidal?

Well, I said, if you know anything about this disease you know that that question doesn’t exactly apply here.  Is she a danger to herself?  Yes, she is, because she is manic.  During a previous manic episode, she got in the car and decided she was going to drive from Oregon to southern California to visit me.  She was found by the paramedics wandering the streets of Sacramento at 2:00 am.  She had cut off all her hair and lost her teeth.  (There is something universal about the human face with no teeth that just screams “I am a homeless bum.”)

Is she suicidal? Is she pointing a gun to her head?  No.  Does she believe she can fly off a bridge?  Well, not yet, but mania can go there (she once told me she could fly across the room).  Is she a danger to herself during a manic episode?  Absolutely.  Does she meet the strict criteria that Washington County wants to apply in this instance?  No.

The hold was taken off, but I could tell in the investigator’s tone of voice that she agreed with my line of thinking.  Especially after she visited my mom in the hospital.  My mom had just gone to lie down for a nap.  She hasn’t been sleeping well (sign of mania) so she has made it clear to everyone that she is not to be disturbed if she is lying down.  She even had the doctor put it in the doctor’s orders.  So the investigator gets there and wakes up my mom.  The hospital wants her to sign herself back in on a voluntary basis, but she’s very upset that she’s been disturbed; she’s confused.  She calls me in tears and says, “They’re trying to railroad me.”

Then yesterday my mom’s physician called to say that if she doesn’t take her meds, and if she insists on leaving, they will release her.  So I immediately called my mom and busted out with “You have to take your medicine and stay where you are.  I will see you later this week.”  My mom took her meds right there on the phone with me (thanks to Nicole, who happened to hear my mom say she would take the meds and was right there at the ready).  Apparently, she took her meds last night and this morning as well.

So am I disappointed?  Right this sec, no.  Disappointed comes from two weeks in the hospital and negligible improvement.  Disappointed comes from seeing how completely stubborn my mom is—partly because of the disease, and partly because she just is.

Here’s what she needs but does not want to take: Geodon.  Bipolar disorder is such a painful, debilitating chronic disease.  It is so hard to watch my mother suffer.  Take the meds, mom.  I know you don’t want to feel like you’ve been drugged, but if you don’t take the Geodon, your climb down from mania will be much slower.  Not to mention that you might get released from the hospital, and you are not ready to go home yet.

What is a post without a photograph?  A post needing a photograph.

Near Las Vegas, Nevada.  Photo by The Scout.  The Scout is still in Arkansas with his mom.  It’s become clear that she will not be able to live on her own without assistance.  There are no family members in the area…so for now The Scout is there, trying to figure out what do to…

*A shout out to Suebob, who, like Otto, does not like to be called stupid!

Getting Back to the Garden

9 October, 2008

“We have to get back to the garden” was my mother’s mantra yesterday. “We have to get back to the garden, then I can have a cigarette, and then you can get your work done.” (I’m here in Oregon with a laptop and a report to write.)  (more…)

Mother’s Mania

1 October, 2008

I have spent quite a bit of time in the mental health units of a couple of Oregon hospitals. Not as a patient, mind you, and not as an employee either. I like to call it ‘patient advocate.’ My mother is 73 years old and is bipolar. She has been in the hospital multiple times, with the frequency increasing during the past decade or so. My brother and I are the chief witnesses to these events. (more…)