Archive for the 'People Who Help' Category

Four Police Encounters in Three Weeks – Part One

Monday, December 17th, 2007
police and lightsphoto by Aubrey Tennant

Four Police Encounters in Three Weeks – Part One–
This is the next installment of Recollectionswhere I am catching up my son’s story from last summer. These four encounters occurred between hospitalizations one and two… between June 19th and July 13th. My son’s diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder with psychosis, although no one had told us that yet.

A couple of days out of the hospital my son, DS, was home alone with his father. His father was in the next room when he heard DS’s voice saying, “I would like to report a crime,” and realized that DS was talking on the telephone to the 911 operator. DS was telling her something about there being dangerous narcotics in the house. When DS was done talking to the 911 operator, his father got on the line and informed the operator that DS was having a bit of trouble with reality, having been recently discharged from the hospital. The operator said the police would need to come anyway to investigate. Dad said that was fine; he used to be a police officer himself, and he understood that.

When the officer arrived from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, DS told him that the drugs were in a plastic grocery bag with some paperback books in it. These were books that had been borrowed from an informal paperback exchange in his  grandparents’ neighborhood. DS was very concerned about the officer touching the bag because the drugs were so dangerous they were giving off fumes. The officer humored DS by putting on latex gloves and making a careful inspection. He asked DS if it would be okay if he disposed of them properly. DS agreed.

The officer took the bag outdoors and asked Dad to join him so DS would not hear. The officer asked if Dad wanted the books. Dad told him to just take them away.

Another day I had taken my five-year daughter and three-year old son to play at a playground in the early evening. When we got home, I gave them their baths, put them to bed, and got on the computer to take care of some business. I did not see DS from the time we had gotten home and I did not think much of it, assuming he was asleep in his room. At 10:30 pm I got a telephone call from a police officer. He said, “I am with your son.” Of course, I stupidly say, “Which son? DS?”

“Yes,” the officer tells me. “We are down at the Cherokee Recreation Center and he says he wants to get out on his own, but we don’t think he is ready.” There is a family member at home to stay with the little ones so I drive three miles down the road to where the Cherokee Recreation Center is. There are two men and two women standing out in front of the building. I felt like I was running some type of a gauntlet with their eyes staring at me as I walked past them to get to the door. I realized they were probably curious people who worked there, and they had the excuse of needing to hang around to lock up after we leave. (Does it take four people to lock up one door?)

When I get inside DS is there with two Woodstock City police officers.  (Good. A new jurisdiction.) He had his packed suitcase with some clothes and a telephone book.  (I was rather glad at this time that his car was parked at his grandparents’ house, where he was unable to drive it. Who knows how far he would have gotten if he was not on foot?) I actually had to work at convincing DS to come home with me and not be homeless. We left together, running the gauntlet again, and DS gave me the story that he went to the Health Department first next door, but it was closed. When he went into the Recreation Center he waited around for them to unlock the door to the payphone that they keep locked up because they don’t want dirty, homeless people to use it. (I don’t think they have any payphones there.) I can just imagine what clued this good folks in that they were dealing with a mental illness, to prompt them to call the police. A few other quotes I have from my notes around that period is that he wanted me to call him Russet, for russet potatoes. He wanted the story of where his real name came from. He seemed to be suspicious about it, or he just wanted a name change to protect himself from the bad guys out to get him. He told me the architecture of the house was all wrong. It was dangerous to have the clothes washing machine so close to the kitchen. He told me his eyes needed to be checked, he could hardly see and he was bumping into things. I made him an appointment with the eye doctor, but later I had to re-schedule it about three times. (story to come)

I will finish telling my “police stories” in Part Two. In summary, I will say I was satisfied with the kindness with which the police handled these situations with my son.

Psychiatrists Assume Medication Noncompliance

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

memo book kept of mental illness

This post is another one of my Recollections posts where I am trying to catch up the story of my son’s schizoaffective disorder from summer 2007.

After my son, DS, got out of the hospital for the first time (June 2007) it became apparent pretty quickly that in many respects he was just as delusional as he was when he was in the hospital.

From my notes in my little red memo book (pictured), here is a sampling of what I was hearing from him all the time:

He suspects alcohol or drugs in the household water. He knows people who are not in his family are here in the house pulling pranks or putting alchohol in the water. He was washing his sheets everyday because someone is putting something in them, like drugs. He takes his sheets with him when we leave the house to go to therapy. He thinks someone shot a paintball at our window because there is a small speck of dirt there. One time when he took his medicine he said they dissolved instantly in his mouth, and he felt immediately worse. A gang is swapping his pills for poison. He left a note for the family that some cups are “dangerously laced – drink at risk to health and state of mind.” He said someone was playing pranks on him, contaminating the bathroom with some unnamed substance, as he cleaned some surfaces in the bathroom over and over, something he usually never did. (Too bad he never did a thorough job of it.) He announced that he was certain someone has been tampering with his income tax returns in his file drawer, although he had not looked at them yet.

That’s just a small sampling. I will write some more in some later posts.

I was very distressed, and on top of it all, he was often cranky with me and his five-year sister and two-year old brother. Sometimes I would call it downright verbally abusive.

I felt we needed help right away, and we could not wait for the intake appointment with Highland Rivers in Canton, Georgia, that was two weeks after his discharge. I thought I wanted to have DS’s follow-up care with them because the social worker at the hospital said they could offer therapy and possibly other help. We went there for an emergency appointment. When we got in a room with a therapist, after doing some preliminary paperwork, we were told their psychiatrists were too busy. It might take three days for one to get back to us. I did something I hate to do in front of strangers. I cried. The therapist suggested I needed a support group. That made me bristle. The real need here was help for my son.

I called the psychiatrist DS had before he went in the hospital, Dr. DB. He was more willing to help. He first assumed that DS might not be taking his medicine. Since I trusted DS to take his medicine, and he was always very good about taking it before, I did not take charge of it after he got out of the hospital… although I thought of it. This is a word to the wise. When there is a severely mentally ill person in the household, a non-mentally ill person should take charge of the medicine. Dr. DB wanted to wait a few days while we made sure DS was on his medication.

He Says, She Says

Monday, December 10th, 2007

talking headsToday the owner of the personal care home, CA, telephoned me to let me know that Friendly Neighbors, the company/agency that referred her personal care home to us, was recommending a day program for my son, DS. I asked if it was mandatory for him to attend a program, and she said no. That is good because DS had a bad experience with a program in October. I was certain he would not agree but I said I would discuss it with DS.

When I spoke with DS about it he was opposed, as I knew he would be. Then I thought I would bring up with him the issue of his washing, and I asked if I cleaned the carpets with the rug machine whether it would help him to feel better. He did not promise that it would, but he said it would be nice if I cleaned the carpets. I said I would come on Sunday. Then he wanted to know what CA had said about his washing. I said she said he was showering twice a day, changing his clothes twice a day. He denied that, flat. I don’t know why she would make something like that up, but I suppose she could have mistaken the sound of water running upstairs for a shower when he was washing hands or cleaning. And I can easily suppose that DS is sufficiently aware of what is going on to hide anything that could be construed as strange because he does not want his medication increased or to end up in the hospital again.

I was a bit worried about him sounding angry again. It seems like he is always angry with me. I am the one who does most of the helping and taking care of him.

Losing, but Not Losing, Someone Who Cares

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Today I was delighted to receive a phone call from my son’s caseworker, whom I will call DG. I already knew she was resigning her position to take a new job, and I am happy for her… a little dismayed for ourselves, though. She is trying to finagle things so certain of her clients she most cares about, like DS (my dear son), will go to a particular coworker in her office. She wants her replacement to be someone who will stick with DS and not discharge him at the first sign of trouble. (To make a long story short, DS has already been discharged by a transportation program, a day nursing program and his last psychiatrist. I will try to tell those stories when I have the time.) She wanted to hear my report about the new personal care home also. She says she will definitely visit DS in December before she moves on to her new job. I feel she is a true friend. She says I can call her any time.