Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm tired of my own whining so this is the last I have to say about my life.  My brother was released from the mental hospital yesterday without warning.  He was almost as psychotic as the day I called 911.  He had to be wheeled to the car in a wheelchair because he was so out-of-it.  To add injury to insult he came home wearing someone else's clothes and with an empty clothes bag.  The $200 worth of clothes I purchased for him are no where to be found!  I contacted an advocacy group for mental health and they are looking into the whole situation.  We were given no instructions didn't know when or what meds he had been given.  It was the worst imaginable situation you could think of.  Why can't the people in this country figure out that our healthcare system is completely broken???????  
Now my older brother and I are taking turns staying with him.  I get tonight but not until I get off work around 10:00 pm due to a meeting I have to attend.  I think I got 2 hours of sleep last night.

We took Mike to an intake at community mental health for outpatient services but he can't be seen by a psychiatrist until Jan. 11th and no services can begin until after he is seen by the doctor.   What the heck are we supposed to do in the meantime??????

My daughter's mother-in-law and my childhood friend died on Thanksgiving.  She was diagnosed with terminal cancer on the 16th of Oct. and didn't live long enough to receive treatment.  I just returned from her funeral.  

I'm not going to write anything again until I have something happy to write about!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Have you ever had those days when the only thing working in your house is YOU?  My home computer is on the fritz....the disposal won't dispose....the bathroom heater over heats.....and somewhere in the midst of the caos I have misplaced my mind.  

To top it off I spent the entire day with my "older" brother trying to probate our mother's will.  There are a few snags due to our other brother's involuntary committment.  But that wasn't the most frustrating part of my day....it was the fact that my brother Butch loses everything that he comes in contact with.  He lost a piece of paper walking from the tag agency to the car. (approximately 5 feet)  I don't know how he does it but he is the most scatter brained ex-cop I have ever encountered.

There has been no change in Mike's condition. It seems that his lucid moments were just that....moments.....few & apparently far between. Ron &  I have seen him every day but he's been "way out there" every time.  He likes to test our truthfulness by telling us to "blink once with your right eye".  I think that is some kind of lie dectection method he is using.  He has no idea what day of the week it is and when we tell him he doesn't believe us.  That's when he gets into the whole blink with your left eye business.  I played along for awhile and then I just told him "No".  I wasn't sure how he'd react but he just looked at me and moved on to something else just as bizarre!  

He told us he is going to carry a boat to Alaska and he's going to go moose hunting and when he kills a moose he is going to drink its blood.  He is fixated on some kind of ritual he has heard about or something.  Religion is another key component right now and we are all asked to pray several times during our visits.  He continually repeats, "Blood of Christ"  "I am the Good Shepherd"  "I am protecting my flock".  

When we went to see him Saturday evening we were told he was at a dance!  The security guard asked us if Mike is married and after I said no he said "Well, he may be before he leaves here."  It seems he has been quite the amorous gentleman during his stay.  

I am usually so depressed after visiting I can't sleep.  I just don't know what is going to happen.  I have learned that at some point he will be released to us and it is up to his family to take care of him.  I know he can't live alone and my older brother says his wife is afraid of Mike so he can't live with them.  He asked me if I would do it since I'm alone anyway.  Well, I guess I've been tagged, "Your it".  
I'm not complaining really for he has been my responsibility for the past 18 years.  I'm just feeling overwhelmed at the moment.  Ron is upset about the situation but as I said to him, "What am I supposed to do?"  I won't turn my back on him.  But......he hasn't been released yet.  He has a ways to go but I also know that the way the system works....we will get no advanced notice either.

Enough of my whining!    I've got work to do. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Good News Continues

Mike called me last night and he sounded just like my sweet brother.  He said Tuesday was hard because as he said, "I was confused".  We talked about 5 minutes and he was lucid the entire time.  We need about 3 days in a row just like that.   I guess his new medication kicked in and things are getting better.  Thank goodness!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sun Is Shining

The sun is shining and I'm feeling much better today.  The hearing was held yesterday morning and Mike was cooperative and there were no outbursts.  The judge talked to him and Mike agreed to go to the hospital and was taken straight to the hospital from the hearing.  I can finally relax knowing that he is now in the least restrictive environment possible and receiving the treatment he needs.  

I am beginning to see the silver lining in all of this.  I have realized that I can't take care of my brother alone.  I am glad that we are now receiving outside help not just for him but for all of us.  (This is bigger than we are) We also received a diagnosis of Schizoaffective bipolar disorder.  That is the most definitive diagnosis we have ever received.  All these years we thought it was schizophrenia alone but it is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar which explains so much.
But.....most of all I am grateful he is getting the attention he needs.  I can breathe!

Thank goodness everything went well yesterday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A New Day

I don't know what finally clicked in my head but I have finally accepted the fact that all of this is out of my control.  Sounds weird since obviously I do not have power over cancer or schizophrenia but I guess somewhere in the back of my egocentric mind I thought I did!  Understanding oneself isn't an easy undertaking but I think it is important in order to understand the way we think and react.  

I grew up with mental illness.  My mother had several breakdowns during my life and at an early age I developed this feeling that as long as I was near her I could somehow make her happy.  She suffered from chronic depression and anxiety and I guess I thought my mere presence could somehow make that go away.  (I started building my ego early)  So anyway, that's how it began, this intense need to take care of everyone who crosses my path.

Schizophrenia is an entirely different world than depression and anxiety although they are certainly part of the component.  But, when you throw in a little paranoia mixed with delusions and hallucinations it becomes even bigger.  And when you have never known anything else it isn't always easy to recognize the signs that things are getting out of control.  This past month I missed all the signs with my brother, not that I could have prevented anything. I felt so much despair because I remember promising my mother as I held her and just before she took her last breath that my brother would be OK and that I would take care of him.  

I have to let go of all of that now.  I have to finally realize that I can't "fix" everything or take care of everyone.  We learned that Mike hurt 3 people yesterday, the aides that were trying to get him into his room and he strangled one of the aides and nearly castrated another one.  Of course he didn't know what he was doing but I finally accept the fact that I can't help him.  I have to let it go and stop feeling guilty for something neither he or I can help.  We didn't either of us ask for this.

We are waiting to receive information about today's hearing and if he is being transferred today to the state mental hospital.  I hope to know more by the end of the day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I've got to learn to lower my expectations.  I hang on to every positive sign and then I'm devistated when things a back slide.  I was so up after Ron's Saturday visit with Mike.  Then yesterday Ron went back to see him again and Mike refused to go to visitation.  Ron asked the aide if it had been a bad day and the aide nodded in the affirmative.  Once I heard that I just crashed again.  I'm just so sick worrying about him.  I can't sleep or eat.   I was driving to work this morning and passed the mental hospital and that's all it took, I just started crying.  I've got to get a grip and a new route to work!

I wanted so much to make the holidays good for Ron and for us to have this time together but now my mind has been pulled toward my brother once again.  My older brother is just sick with worry also and I've been trying to stay positive for him.  He's so scared Mike won't come out of this and will be institutionalized from now on.  I'm not sure I could handle that and I just can't let myself go there.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Shout Out

My sweet wonderful Ron went over to see my brother yesterday for about an hour.  I wasn't sure if seeing me would get him upset and he'd want me to take him home so we declared Ron a neutral country and he went instead.  He found Mike in pretty good spirits and he seemed to be more lucid than he's been in a week.  He says he's willing to do whatever the psychiatrist recommends.  That's a big improvement.  He only has visitation from 6pm - 7-pm daily and Mon-Wed-Fri mornings from 10-11.  He's been too psychotic for us to see him until yesterday.

Tuesday there will be a hearing to determine what comes next.  Either inpatient treatment at the mental hospital or outpatient through community mental health.  I'm feeling more hopeful that we will get past this and hopefully not get into a cycle.

It's a beautiful day and Ron and I have ran errands and now we are just relaxing and slowing down a bit.   Ron got a little sick after lunch so we needed to slow down.  I don't know what I would have done without his support this past week.  I can't imagine going through all this alone.

Friday, November 12, 2010


As we work our way through the mental health maze we were told yesterday that a competency hearing will be held probably next Tuesday.  Of course my brother knows none of this and I can only imagine how he will react.  Yesterday he had a meltdown and believed that he was in the hospital because we accused him of being racist.  Now that tells me he's still out of it.  I talked to him last night and he had calmed down and stated he was willing to stay "one more day".  After the hearing on Tuesday he will be transferred to the state mental hospital which fortunately is here in town.  At least there he will begin receiving treatment.

I had my own Ahhh Ha moment yesterday.  For the past 40 years I've struggled with resentment toward my brother and the guilt associated with having those feelings.  In one moment of clarity I realized I resent his disease and not him.  By being able to separate the two it allows me to feel the anger and the resentment without feeling the guilt.  I do hate his disease and I hate what mental illness does to a family but I love my brother with all my heart!  He is a good and kind man who loves people deeply.  He's so tender hearted that he never speaks to anyone without saying, "Well, Bless Your Heart".   I needed to realize that I can hate his disease and love him at the same time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting educated on the run!

I'm trying to educate myself on the subject of the civil involuntary commitment process.....I guess it is like the "Reader's Digest" Condensed Version of education".  I'm trying to understand my brother's rights as well as ours as a family.  From what I now understand my brother is currently only in protective custody.  Protective custody occurs when a law enforcement officer detains a person the officer (or in our case the hospital ER doctor) reasonably believes is a person who is a danger to himself or others.  Then the officer transports the individual to a facility for an emergency examination which must occur within 12 hours of admission.   If determined that the person does require treatment then they are placed into protective custody.  None of this requires a court order at this point.  

What I have been able to determine is that the moment they no longer believe he is a danger to himself or others he will be released and taken either to the place in which he was taken into custody or the patient's residence.  Now.......I'm pretty sure that will either happen today or Friday.  

I talked to my brother on the phone last night and he was definitely coming out of his psychosis.  He doesn't remember everything but he knows he had a psychotic break.  I'm sure his medication has been increased and that is bringing him out of this.  What I'm hoping is that he will be referred to the community mental health center here so that he can get follow-up treatment by a psychiatrist.  We have tried to find someone to treat him but none of them take medicare.  (of course) however the community mental health facility will.  So keep your fingers crossed!  We're not out of the woods yet!

Well, I retract that.....I just got a call from my brother and he's not talking rational again.  He wanted me to bring him $300.00 so he can loan it to "his new good friend" he just met.  Now, I know he's not in  his right mind because my brother is tight with money and wouldn't loan money to a relative let alone a "new good friend".  I guess we are in for a longer stay than I thought.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Wonderful World of Schizophrenia

I don't even know where to begin....I am exhausted both physically and mentally. 

On Sunday morning I had a very confusing voice message on my phone.  It was around 8:30 am and I was just relaxing and reading and enjoying my extra hour of leisure when I decided to check my messages.  It was from my brother Mike and it made absolutely no sense what-so-ever.  My alarm went off in my head and I immediately called his house but got no answer.  I thought maybe he had gone out to get breakfast, which he does every morning, so I waited about an hour and called again, no answer.  I called Ron and he came to get me and we drove over to Mike's house.  I saw that the front storm door was open and so was the front door so my first thought was that he had been somewhere but had returned.  Then I saw my brother lying on the porch half in the house and half out.  He started screaming the minute I called out to him.  He was naked and psychotic and I have no idea how long he had been there.  He didn't know where he was but he knew who we were.  Ron covered him with a blanket and I called 911.  He was then transported to the hospital where after an examination they determined he wasn't physically hurt.  Since he had been admitted less than 30 days ago they have a rule he couldn't be admitted on the psych. unit again within 30 days.  I had no idea what we were going to do if they released him to us.

We got to the hospital by 10:45 am and by mid-afternoon he was still in the ER under restraint.   We were finally told they were going to admit him and that I needed to go get his clothes.  Ron and I left and by the time we returned Mike had become combative and evidently squeezed a nurse's hand too hard and wouldn't let her go.  At some point he told the doctor he was going to cut his wrists.  The doctor said that was all he needed to hear.

About 4:30 they wanted to get him dressed but Mike became combative again.  They asked everyone to leave the room except me because they decided he responded better to me.  I was able to coax him to get dressed and then they got him in a wheelchair.  I was thinking he was being taken to the psych. unit upstairs but instead in walked a uniformed police officer.  The hospital had said nothing to us and the next thing I knew he was wheeled outside to a patrol car.  That's when Mike freaked out and was frightened, refusing to get in the car.  The officer was being verbally tough toward him and then called for assistance on his radio.  Next thing there is another patrol unit, lights and siren, going 90 mph into the parking lot.  Well, if you were not psychotic that would certainly push anyone over the edge.  Mike started screaming and calling my name because he thought the car was going to hit me.  Then another unit came and 3 officers told us to walk away that they would handle it.  

I had to go behind a wall because I couldn't stand watching all this.  I heard Mike screaming for me and then our mom and dad.  It was horrible.  

Finally they got him hand-cuffed and into the car and just drove away with him.  We had to chase down one of the officers just to find out where they were taking him.  We found out they were taking him to a Behavioral facility on the mental hospital grounds.  It is just a holding facility until the person is no longer a suicide risk.  No treatment mind you.  He will probably only be there 3 days and then released to us.   I have NO IDEA what I'm going to do.  I just want some kind of mental health services for him.  I'm not sure he can live alone and our mental health system is basically non-existent.  Families are supposed to take care of their mentally ill family members but that isn't always possible.  We've been doing it for over 40 years but he's way too strong and when psychotic way too dangerous for me to handle.

I spent all day yesterday just trying to repair the house and get it cleaned up.  I think we are in for a long battle right now.  I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't been for Ron's emotional support.

So, God, The Universe, If you are trying to get my attention.....you have it.....if you are trying to tell my I'm not in control of anything....I get that too.......I'm listening so can you back off just a little?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Ocean View

A group of 15-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner.
Finally, they agreed to meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View restaurant because they had only $6.00 among them and Jimmy Johnson, the cute boy in Social Studies, lived on that street.

10 years later, the group of 25-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the beer was cheap, the restaurant offered free snacks, the band
was good, there was no cover and there were lots of cute guys.

10 years later, the group of 35-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the cosmos were good, it was right near the gym and, if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids.

10 years later, the group of 45-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the martinis were big and the waiters had tight pants and nice buns.

10 years later, the group of 55-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, the restaurant had windows that opened (in case of a hot flashes), and fish is good for cholesterol.

10 years later, the group of 65-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the lighting was good and the restaurant had an early bird special.

10 years later, the group of 75-years-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food was not too spicy and the restaurant was handicapped-accessible.

10 years later, the group of 85-years-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.
Last night Ron finally called his daughter and told her about the cancer relapse.  He didn't say much but did say that she seemed to handle it very matter-of-factly.  He wondered if he should have waited until after his next PET scan to tell her but I just said that at least she will not be shocked no matter what comes next.  Bless his heart....this is so hard for him.

I'm looking forward to the weekend.  I have no special plans but since every day is special I guess I don't need a plan. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Last night Ron and I were on a quest.  We went in search of a CD by the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.  Yesterday I heard his song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World".  I had heard it before and it is beautiful!  I'm happy to report I found it on Amazon and it is on its way as we speak!  I haven't told Ron I found it so it may just be an early Christmas surprise!

A fun memory I have is of my mother.  When she was in the hospital I would sit by her bed and sing songs.  She was so hard of hearing she really couldn't listen to the tv but she could hear me if I sang in her ear.  We would sing all kinds of songs but one that I really love is "What A Wonderful World".  I memorized the words so I could sing it to her.  Evidently I wore out the song's welcome as one night she tactfully asked me not to sing it anymore.  I don't know if she was tired of the song or just my rendition of it.  I still get tickled when I remember that.

Ron has Veteran's Day off so I arranged to be off as well.  I wish it were on a Friday so we could have a long weekend and maybe take a short trip but it will be great to have the day.  There are so many things we are wanting to do but time is the enemy.  Ron says we are just putting the icing on our cake!  I like that!  It's a fantastic cake!

I wish everyone could remember to live in the moment!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm learning something new every day.  It's amazing how you figure out what your priorities are when you know that your time with someone may be short.  Yet, shouldn't we be able to realize that we only have a finite number of days with each other without a doctor telling us?  Ron and I are closer than we have ever been and I have always thought we were very close.  We have always told each other we love one another every day.  He shows his affection in so many ways.  In the 10 years we've been together I have never opened a door for myself.  He has always taken my hand when we walk and always positions himself on the outside to make sure I am protected from harm.  He is a gentleman through and through.  I have never heard him say a curse word (wish I could say the same about myself).  There are not enough hours in the day for me to tell him how he has touched my life.  I can close my eyes and still see the 6 year old little boy I met in first grade, just as shy and just as sweet.

It's all the little things that make you appreciate someone and how they show their love for you.  I was divorced at the age of 28 and never remarried.  I was so accustomed to doing everything for myself.  I never imagined having someone come along at the age of 51 who would spoil me to death and that I would actually allow him to do it.  Now, I can't imagine life without him and would give anything to never find out. 

Everly Brothers said it so well.......

         Devoted to You
Darlin’ you can count on me
Till the sun dries up the sea
Until then I’ll always be devoted to you

I’ll be yours through endless time
I’ll adore your charms sublime
Guess by now you know that I’m devoted to you

I’ll never hurt you, I’ll never lie
I’ll never be untrue
I’ll never give you reason to cry
I’d be unhappy if you were blue

Through the years my love will grow
Like a river it will flow
It can’t die because I’m so devoted to you

I’ll never hurt you, I’ll never lie
I’ll never be untrue
I’ll never give you reason to cry
I’d be unhappy if you were blue

Through the years my love will grow
Like a river it will flow
It can’t die because I’m so devoted to you

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Waiting Game

Well, I can't say that we learned anything new yesterday from the doctor.  The PET scan showed that the 3 places in Ron's lung had not changed.  He said they were nonmetabolic (which according to the doctor) was a good thing.  The tumor on the aeortic artery had not changed either but it is metabolic.  The radiologist believes the spots in his lung are cancer but that they weren't large enough at this time to show up on the PET scan.  So the doctor said, let's wait 3 more months and do the test again.  If there is no change in the lung at that time he will do surgery to remove the tumor on the artery.  If there is change then he will recommend chemotherapy.  He said he doesn't want to put Ron through surgery unnecessarily if the cancer has indeed spread to the lung.   I had a lot of questions but I was sworn to silence by Ron.  He made me promise to just sit and be quiet so I did as asked.  So, for now I'm taking the 3 months and being grateful that Ron is still feeling good and we know we have 3 months.  Count every blessing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It was a weekend of nervous anticipation, fear like I've never known, reflection, and love.  I am learning something about myself every day as I go through this journey along side Ron.  

The first thing that became apparent is that there isn't a material posession in this world that really matters in the overall scheme of things.  When faced with end of life issues you realize that we all become stripped naked of everything that is of this world.  We are as naked as the day we were born.  It all comes down to what and who we are on the inside.  It is about the love we have given and the love we have received.  That is what we take with us, the only thing .