Posts Tagged ‘mania’

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.

rancho-san-j-window

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.

rancho-san-j-lone-tree

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

Dreaming on Jaybird Street

6 November, 2008

I walk around saying to myself, “Barack Obama, Barack Obama.” I wake up in the middle of the night, and think, “President-Elect Barack Obama.”

The Scout, who routinely invokes the world of alternative lyrics, likes to sing ‘Barack Obama’ to the tune of ‘Rockin’ Robin.’ As in…

Barack Obama (Tweet, Tweet, Tweet)
Barack Obama (Tweet, tweedle-lee-dee)
Go Barack Obama ’cause we’re really gonna rock tonight…

“He out-bopped the buzzard and the oriole“—Oh yes he did.

Readers of this blog will know that I am relieved/overjoyed that Sarah Palin will not be inside the beltway anytime soon. Call me Frau Palinfreude (via Andrew Sullivan).

In the meantime, we’ve got change to look forward to—and it begins with us.

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My mother is still manic. I’m in Oregon, up close and personal with the mania. Here’s a quiz you can take in case you’re feeling a little wired yourself. My mother is so manic she could never make it through the quiz (written or oral). She’s “disorganized” as they say. She thinks she’s cleaning out her apartment, but she’s creating chaos. She also wants to shop like crazy…

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!