I’m dedicating this post to this comment by my dear Peepers McPeep:
Katie, such a lovely poem.
You’ve given John a great gift.
That of Hope..
His is a new beginning, learning to walk again with confidence.
You, as his guide, lighting the way.
Give yourself permission to rest along his journey,
There are days when he will carry you.
You will find what you seek,
Cradled tightly as you listen to the heartbeat of your love.
That will be your Destiny.
She left that yesterday responding to my post about Faith.
I can’t tell you how close John was to being hospitalized again over the last 24 hours. It was as bad as it gets. Both of the programs he participates in were responding in crisis mode. I moved him here indefinitely. His case manager met with me twice today very concerned about Alfonse and problem solving how to keep him out of the hospital. He said to me “you know you are the reason John is alive”.
I thought about that comment later and thought, no, I am a big part of the reason he’s done as well as he has over the last year, truly a miracle in comparison to the last 20 years. But what’s kept him alive is far and above me. He’s been in so many dangerous situations, taking his hands off the wheel of his car when voices told him “it’s time to go to heaven” on a major highway, etc. I don’t want to revisit these. But something, someone far beyond me has kept John alive all these years, that’s for sure.
As I left John at the program, I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him and the nurse he was visiting with said “You have a good sister” as I walked out and he said “yes I do” in that flat distracted way he gets when he’s bombarded by voices and paranoia. I am so aware when I go there just how rare it is that mentally ill patients have support. I often feel like a unicorn when I’m in there as so often patients are sitting there alone. Just like John was for so many years before he moved out to Arizona. It just breaks my heart thinking of it then, seeing it now.
I came home, with thankfully almost a full day off, and crashed hard. I barely got off the couch all day, laying there dozing on a heating pad. I have to say I was in some pretty extreme pain all day so I just rested and did my best to rest and breathe and wait it out. Gallstones make their presence known on their way out, I’ll just say that. They don’t let go that easily. They like to make a grand exit.
I had no idea what I’d get around 2:30 when the shuttle dropped John off. He was really pretty bad when I left him at the program this morning. I didn’t know if I’d have another night of acute psychosis and how I’d deal with that not feeling great myself.
On first look, he was already more connected when he walked in the door. I think the hardest thing about mental illness is the way it hijacks someone’s personality. It’s like John disappears behind a wall of that. And that is so far from his sweet charming little personality, it’s just depressing. It’s almost like a death in itself.
So he came in and went straight out to smoke. I asked him to do some sweeping for me so he didn’t track in the palm debris when he came in and out smoking and he did so readily. He’s usually very cooperative and doesn’t complain when I ask him to do things. He doesn’t often initiate but that’s ok. He cooperates.
He saw the heating pad by the couch and asked if I was in pain. I told him that my back and stomach were killing me all day and I’d been working on it. He said “Oh I’m sorry you’re not feeling well” then stood up from the couch.
He walked over to his suitcase , opened it, pulled out a bag and in it was a medication vial. He handed it to me and said “I have these ibuprofen tablets from the hospital and I think it will help you. Why don’t you take one?”. I sat there, stunned that he was initiating this help to me. I just said “ok that’s a great idea, I hadn’t even thought of that”. He instructed me not to take another one for 8 hours and no more than 3 over a 24 hour period. Like a good little nurse.
How sweet was that? And you know what? It worked!
I leaned down to hug him as I left to work for a bit and he hugged me back so tight saying “I love you my dear Sister”. I thanked him for helping me with his ibuprofen and told him it was really helping, because it was.
I made it in to treat my client and back home again pain free after a day of misery.
As I walked in the door, I saw John on the phone and stepped right in to these words “Why don’t you call me next week? I’m staying at my sister’s for awhile. She’s not feeling well so I’m staying here to take care of her”.
Ok, if that just didn’t bust up my paradigm right there. I love being proven wrong in cases like this. He thinks he’s staying here to take care of me.
And so I’m going to let him.
We had a lovely dinner together undistracted by the voices that consumed him just this morning. And now he’s resting quietly over on the couch stretched out watching The Next Food Network Star. The key word of that sentence is quietly.
Alfonse and I will get through this life together, extending a hand, hopscotching ourselves over each threshold we encounter. Together. Hand in hand.
(took this photo the first step we took in to our Sedona home last February)