Well Beyond Nixon

People have mentioned the corruption in our current administration as “Nixonian” in scale.  Watergate has nothing on our growing Russiagate investigation.  In fact, Trump’s administrational misdealings, illegal activities, and lies make Nixon’s activities look like child’s play.  It’s more than just admiration of and fawning over dictators and despots like the Philippine President Duterte, Putin, Kim Jong Un (CNN-Jake Tapper).  It’s all his other great plans for our nation that takes him well beyond Nixonian.  We’re reaching Orwellian proportions here.

About the only dictators Trump hasn’t personally approved of are Hitler and Mussolini. I’m guessing he considers them both losers, since they didn’t stay in power for decades. He called Un a “smart cookie” for having his uncle killed to gain the NK throne! He’s ok with Putin and the murders he’s complicit in.  “The US isn’t innocent,” Trump said in an interview.  Is he implying our President’s have murdered people for personal gain? I think if any US president had ordered a hit on someone history would’ve revealed it by this time. He seems to feel a dictator is a more competent, stronger leader than someone merely elected by the people.  Neither of which applies in this case.

He’s complicit in Russiagate, spending all his time covering up or burying as much information as he can.  Setting up one person at a time to take the fall.  My only hope is that he takes out the wrong guy and all the republicans turn on him.

He wants to revise the Constitution!  The First Amendment in particular so he can remove the Press from its protection.  Of course he had been talking about doing this throughout his campaign.  It seems to be getting more important to him.

He wants to keep us ill!  Healthcare Bill.  His budget proves it as well.

He wants to keeps us stupid!  Have you seen anything on his new budget?  He plans to cut $11 billion from education.

Trump’s an embarrassment everywhere he goes.  Pushing people aside to be front and center.  Saying ignorant things.  Acting inappropriately. Being happily ignorant of other cultures.

And my country elected this mess.  The world is totally screwed until we impeach this beast.

Obsessive Behavior

Son is not much improved.  It’s terrible to bring your mentally ill family member to a hospital ER.  It is not set up to handle the kind of obsession, frustration, and anger.   When Son is in this state, he does not fully comprehend what is going on.  The longer the wait the more manic and frustrated he becomes.  There are a few Urgent Care centers for mentally ill, but they are not open 24 hou.rs a day.  When Son gets like this there is no where else to turn but to the ER.

It was all I could do to keep him in the ER long enough to be seen by a doctor.  Twice he’d run outside and missed a bed.  By 3:30 Tuesday morning I had to call 911 to get the cops to corral him and keep him inside the ER.  He was extremely agitated, belligerent, and combative.  Pacing wildly, and screaming at people in gibberish.  All in all a very pleasant Tuesday morning, especially after Son locked my keys in the car and I couldn’t rouse Husband to rescue me.  I ended up walking home at 4 AM.  Luckily it wasn’t a long or unpleasant walk.

Mental illness or alcohol?  Both probably.  We just don’t know.  I was going to call to make sure they kept him 72 hours, and ask them to keep him another 2 weeks, but never had the chance.  Son called first thing in the morning begging me to pick him up.  Sounded so contrite, talking in a small voice.  Nothing I’d ever heard before.  He admitted he’d been drinking, that he has a problem.  He said he’d go to meetings and all the group stuff, and everything, if I would just bring him home.  I said I wasn’t picking him up until I talked to a doc.  That happened in less than an hour.  The doc did not feel son was danger to himself or others, and despite reiterating the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, practically threw him out.

So angry!  We had hoped the hospital would keep him at least the 72 hours.  Give us a little time to find a sober living or halfway house for him and dismantle his business.  We did clean his room, picking up dirty laundry, general straightening, hoping if it was tidy he would not come home and obsess about his business.  Stupid me, for thinking it was a nice thing to do, but he was angry and belligerent about our help.  Apparently, we ‘threw everything’ away.  I handed him the trash can and invited him to go through what we tossed out.  He said something about how he feel’s he’s lost his mom, and that I don’t care or I wouldn’t treat him like this.  He doesn’t believe me when I try to counter that claim.

He is unable to comprehend my behavior and attitude toward him, and I don’t know why.  I’m here, available, and speaking to him, yet he thinks I sound angry.  He still angry, argumentative, and just plain wrong!  He believes I am angry with him, though I have tried to explain I am angry at the obsession.  I don’t hate him, I hate the addict in him.  To him that said I don’t love him, and am not willing to help him.  He feels I don’t care that he has a mental illness.  I told him it was a diagnosis, not an excuse.  You can imagine how that went over.

He has needed round the clock watching since coming home.  He is obsessing over these damn accounts.  Important stuff, sure, but he won’t write down his passwords, and he screws up his accounts every time he has an episode like this.  He has called help lines, tried a dozen different passwords and now wants my help!  How can I do anything with his accounts if he has gotten locked out?  I explained there is nothing I can do for him without his passwords.  So now I’m a shitty mom for ‘not supporting’ him, to hear him tell it.

And he’s not able to use his iPad since he somehow ruined the plug in and can no longer plug it to a charging cord.   He has a big expensive gaming computer that he barely knows how to operate, but he can’t obsess about learning how to move around on that.  Instead, he is using his dad’s iPad to sign into his accounts.  He keeps asking for his dad’s passwords.  When I asked why, he said he needed them to get into his email.  I don’t know what he is thinking.

He is putting words in my mouth, twisting what I say, and in general is just being a big dick.  He can’t seem to understand anything that is said to him, as it does nothing to change his behavior.  He is practically inconsolable in thinking I hate him and that hurts more than he could ever know.  Nothing I say comforts him or reassures him.  I don’t know what else to do.

He is driving me absolutely mad!  Where is the ‘throwing up your hands in surrender’ emoji?

Drug Abuse & Brain Damage

Right now I hope my son is using something, because if he isn’t, he has permanent brain damage that may require hospitalization or institutionalization. I’m scared.  He has spells of normal behavior then suddenly he turns into this psycho who cannot articulate what he means to say–he uses the wrong words.  Nouns elude him.  He also gets obsessive and damn near impossible to communicate with.

He got lost coming home from his ex’s the other night.  She lives just one town over, about a 25 minute drive on surface streets.  She has lived at this location for five years.  The other night he ended up on the freeway going north into South Los Angeles.  A fairly unsafe place for a confused long-haired white guy.  It took 10 minutes of talking with him to get him headed in the right direction.  Stay on This Road, I told him, and it will bring him home.  5 minutes later he calls back.  He’s lost again.  Husband figures out where Son is and tells him to wait, that he will come lead him home.  Another 15 minutes and he calls, they’ll be home in just a minute, Son was right behind him, and they were 2 blocks away.  Unbelievably Son called about 10 minutes later.  Now he is headed south on a different freeway some 35 miles from home!

When he get’s home, it’s not much better.  He’s in and out of the house.  Front yard, back yard.  He comes into our room looking for various items, usually something that we would not have in our room, like the car.  He won’t go to his room, he won’t lie down.  He returns to our room repeatedly, goes into the bathroom 4-5 times in an hour.  He took two showers.  One less than an hour after the first.

It’s like having an extremely mobile 3 year old.  So afraid thinking about him driving on the freeway, probably speeding, considering how far he got from home in just a few minutes.  How am I supposed to deal with that?  What is that?  What is happening?  He gets single-minded and resolved to a particular action and seems unable to stop.  He listens, but he doesn’t hear.  He speaks, but he makes little sense most of the time.

Here is a sample of some things he said today:

“If I want to pick a fruit, just let me pick a fruit.”

“I’ve got to go to Armstrong’s (a gardening store) to get a thing, a, a, a, rope for my my my, the, that, my couch.”  He  meant he needed to go to Best Buy for a new charging cord for his iPad.

“It won’t work and no one will help me.”  This about his iPad, which isn’t the problem so much as he can’t sign in to any of his accounts, his passwords no longer work.  This happens each time he has one of these episodes.  I cannot do this any longer.  Husband can no longer handle this.

“You guys do so much for me, too much.  But I need help and you’re not helping.  All you do is yell at me.  And I’m not allowed to be to be upset or get mad.”  At times his anger feels like a physical presence and I am acutely sensitive to it.

One doc diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder.  A scary mix of schizophrenic and bi-polar symptoms.  He fits some of those guidelines.  I also came across something called semantic dementia.  A truly horrifying illness with a limited lifespan.  He fits some of that criteria as well.  The only information I really find on these illnesses is a description of symptoms and prognosis, or I end up on some rehab site that tells me nothing except ‘drugs bad’.

I have an appointment to see my therapist with Son tomorrow afternoon.  I need someone I trust to give me an opinion as to what is going on.  I think he needs to be hospitalized, properly diagnosed and treated before returning home.  Except that won’t happen because there are too many mentally ill or addicted individuals in the area.  There are not enough facilities for all the mentally ill.  Not enough beds, nurses, doctors. The help is not free, does not take most insurance.  What are poor addicts supposed to do then?  What options do we provide them?  None.  What help do we provide to the families of those with serious mental health issues?  None.

None.  And with the new Trump NonCare it will only get worse for people like us: Sad losers (to use Trump’s words) who never caught a break in life.  How can people not understand the allure of suicide?

I Blew It

It is so easy to have an Us/Them mentality.  Us good.  Them Bad.  Us smart, Them dumb. Us openminded, Them not.  Us arrogant!  I’m past 50 now and have obtained a tiny amount of wisdom.  Unfortunately, that newfound wisdom doesn’t undo all the stupid, insensitive, arrogant and closed minded things I have done.  It doesn’t mean I won’t still do these things, but being aware has made this far less likely.

I attended the “Coffee and Conversation” with my Long Beach rep the other morning. The room was a small, but full, and there were plenty of people standing.  We even had the added treat of having a few Trumpsters attend as well.  One woman stood up,her hands and voice shaking, to protest the fact we are giving minors poison that will give them cancer.  Turns out she’s talking about the Pill and wants to defund Planned Parenthood. I must say we were not very kind, and simply told to her please shut up and/or leave.

I blew it.  This woman was waiting outside and stopped people as they passed.  I blew it. I should’ve taken that chance to speak with her.  I lost the opportunity to listen to her.  She was moved to show up at this event, we should respect her resolve, and her opinion, no matter how misguided.  She feels this is an important issue and we are wrong to dismiss it this way.  This would’ve been an opportunity to understand her side, find the common ground of caring for the next generation, while calmly explaining to her the realities of withholding birth control of any kind to anyone.  I’m ashamed of my knee jerk reaction and anger.  Now that I am aware of the opportunity, will I take it in the future?  I plan to.

We must all learn to control our angry reactions to Trump and his supporters.  Avoid dehumanizing the Trumpsters.  Once a group becomes ‘less than human’, the chance of violence increases.  Trumpsters are not the enemy.  Not directly.  Sure they may have voted for the egomaniacal wizard in the orange wig, but many are uneducated, mostly unaware, and were misled and lied to.  If we shut them down when they show up at rallys and meetings, we will never make any progress.  We must include these people in the discussion.  We need to help them understand they’ve been lied to.

The American Revolution didn’t start overnight.  It came after years of anger and not until the majority of the population felt pinched did the war begin.  Armed revolution will come to the US and it won’t take 10 years.  If TrumpCare passes the Senate as is (which is unlikely), people will begin to really feel the impact of Trump personally. The GOP will continue to cut these benefits and deny them outright to more and more people.  When people are barely surviving or dying because of lack of services like Welfare, Food Stamps, Disability, Medicare, they will stand up.  The tighter one is squeezed, the less one has to lose.  It’s as simple as that.

We have the chance to ensure that we avoid violence by choosing conversation rather than confrontation.  Let’s take it next time.  I will.

Health Care

cropped-cropped-we-stand1.jpgOK, we all know what’s at stake here with the new Trump NonCare.  They ‘guarantee’ everyone will ‘have access’ to health care.  “Access” to healthcare insurance is not the same as “having health care.”   The GOP cannot be ignorant of what they propose; these changes will hurt more people than it helps, especially with the MacArthur Amendment, which will let states obtain waivers that will allow health insurance companies in that state to:

  • Not cover mental health and substance use treatment (also known as letting insurers scrap “essential health benefits”)
  • Charge people with mental illness more

Many addicts are self-medicating because back when Oxycodone was being pushed by every doctor on the planet, some poor guy who has been taking this stuff for 8 years, suddenly he’s cut off because of new regulations.  These new regulations only made criminals out of people who are/were ill or hurting.  They can’t get a drug strong enough for the pain.  Of course not.  Oxycodone is strong and the guy’s got an immunity.  But the doc will only give him tylenol.

It’s hard enough for people with mental illness to get through life.  I’d guess more than 60% of all addicts have an underlying, undiagnosed mental health problem.  Mainly because GPs are not skilled in identifying mental illness.  They are also not trained in the best course of treatment for an addict.

So our poor addict is in  withdrawal and extreme pain.  He goes to the ER hoping for pain relief.  For 6 1/2 hours this poor addict lays on an uncomfortable, too small bed in a 60 degree room as he begins to withdraw.  When he finally sees a doctor, they view him as an addict and therefore will not provide him with anything stronger than tylenol for the pain.

What’s a guy to do?  He goes online where he can get anything from anywhere at any price at any time.  He finds a supply of his drug and finds relief at last.  But now he is using an illegal substance.  He doesn’t know how to figure out the proper dosage because the stuff comes in powder form and he has to fill his own capsules.  One day he takes too much and doesn’t know, he gets in his car and gets arrested.  Now he’s a criminal.  His boss finds out and he loses his job–no one wants a druggy working for them.  His wife leaves him, and he ends up homeless.  Now he’s “in the system.”  Now he needs a homeless shelter, Welfare, Food Stamps, job training.  Now he is trapped.

Why do we go to the ER for an addict?  Because we don’t have anywhere else to go, it’s not like there is an urgent care specific to addicts and the mentally ill.  Someone on Medi-Cal (and many other government programs) is extremely limited in their choice of doctors.  Finding a mental health provider is pretty hard when there are only two psychiatrists in your area and neither will take on a new patient.  Or worse, you find one and they turn out to be a quack.

You can’t get your adult child into a half-way house or outpatient therapy because he’s still using. You can’t get him detoxed because there is a wait list a year long.  I say that again for emphasis:  a waiting list a year long!  I guess you just let the addict in your life continue to use for another year in the hope that at the end of that year they will still be willing to enter detox.   ER staff do not understand addicts or recognize someone who is mentally ill.  They aren’t trained to.   That needs to change.  I know medical staff are always getting additional training and there is no reason that can’t include a crash course on the most likely cases they’d come in contact with.

 

Our healthcare system is very good at making us addicts, but really really bad at providing good complete healthcare.  I guess if the new health care bill passes with mental health provisions slashed it just makes our national insurance (DumpCare) as bad as our national insurance (Medicare).  Which begs the question: why are there three national programs: One for Congress, one for the poor or retired (which is often the same), and one for the rest of us.

I feel so defeated by this administration, but I’m not giving in.  I have to believe that the protests work.  They certainly get Dumpty’s attention.  He demanded there be a “probe” into the Tax March.  How do you probe a protest?  And the idea that protesters are being paid by Obama to undermine the new administration.  I don’t have to tell you how ridiculous and paranoid that sounds.  And as for protesters being paid. I’m thinking someone owes me money.  What is the going rate for a protester?  Is it by the hour, by the day, specific to the event.  Are travel expenses covered?  If so, I’m going to the next march in DC.

Don’t forget to call your rep and tell them to vote No on the new plan.

 

 

 

This Was Bad

It happened again.  We saw it coming and had no way to stop it.  How have we not learned how to curb Son when he goes manic.  This time was so frightening.  I’m not sure he’s going to fully recover.  I think it’s because of his benzodiazepine addiction of a few years ago.  Which he still has, apparently.

Things had been going so well.  The four of us were getting along better than we had been in years.  I was getting out and doing my own thing and feeling good.  I should’ve known it wouldn’t last.  Damn that optimism!  Son had been in a great mood for weeks, his business was doing very well.  He’d started some cannabis seeds and his plants were looking good.  He was staying up late; 2 and 3 AM.  But he didn’t seem bothered by it.   This went on for three days or so.   Then on Wednesday he started acting odd.  Muttering, shuffling, off balance.  Mostly confused.

This we recognize and we do as we had agreed, that if Son started acting drunk or sleep walking we were to give him an extra 1/2 dose of Seraquil.  He stayed up very late and was agitated, bumping into things, dropping things.  We sat and talked for a while, but he was pretty incoherent.  He asked the same questions: what’s going on, I don’t understand what’s happening,  why is this happening.  Then he’d ask what day it was or what time.  He was always surprised by my answer.  He began to hallucinate.  I started to record him, but had to put the camera down while I cleaned up the mess he made urinating in the middle of his room.  By then he was calmer and sat down on the couch, where he finally fell asleep.  I went to bed about 4 AM.

Next morning he seems better.  He gets up, talks with his dad and has some coffee.  But later in the day he started acting weird again.  Still, he wasn’t as bad as the previous day, so maybe he was still getting better.  But that’s not how it played out and we spent Friday night in the ER.  He admitted himself and I went home.  Husband is picking him up as I write.  Don’t know what good it did for him to just stay the night.

Still, I spoke with his caseworker and she was probably the most helpful one by far.  It’s been a different person every time he’s been in hospital.  She told me she didn’t any reason Son wouldn’t qualify for disability.   She told me to call my local SS office.  They’ll send paperwork which Son takes to his doctor.  We have an appointment with a psychologist in two weeks.  We make an appointment with the SS office and meet with their counselor.  Then in about two months he should have an answer.

I’d never heard of this, but the caseworker said she’d been doing this for 10 years and she’s rarely heard of anyone in Son’s condition be denied disability benefits.  I hate the idea of him being permanently disabled, but if he had these benefits, he wouldn’t have to work so hard out of our living room.  Plus he would then qualify for Medicare, which is much better coverage than Medi-Cal.  That’s the most important thing.

I was so angry when I tried again, in vain, to find help.   All I got was recorded messages telling me to call another number.  I called a dozen phone numbers for an hour and in the end had no where to go but the ER.  Where I had to sit and keep him calm for 6 hours, because you know they won’t give you any drugs until all the tests come back and you see the doc.  Once Son was medically cleared he finally was seen by a caseworker.

Son kept asking us if he took something or if we gave him something.  He also asked what we found in his room.  Did we take something from his room.  So we checked out his room.  A small bottle of a type Benzo in powder form.  He and his dad just came back and I told him we found it.  Now he is angry and wants it back.  He wants people to leave him be, that he’s better when he’s on them.

It’s going to be a long, long two weeks before he meets with the psychologist.  Maybe I can get him into the psychiatrist sooner.

Sometimes life just fucks you.

 

Cynicism

The state of mental health care in the US is atrocious.  Not as bad as when it was thought the ill were possessed by demons, and people were kept chained and naked in dank cells.  It hasn’t improved enough. People still treat mental illness as a personality flaw, something we could change if we only tried.  It is something many medical doctors, and ER staff do not recognize.

Most public hospitals prior to 1900 were operated by religious orders, and evolved from Almshouses.  As so many other things, hospitals were often as squalid as the Almshouse.   With time, hospitals became less of a place where paupers died and more of a place of improving one’s condition.  As more of those with funds chose to go to hospital, more changes were made.  Eventually public hospitals were cleaned up and money for improvements and new buildings became available.  Now, the people who would like to donate don’t have the money, and those with money don’t care.

When psychoactive drugs were introduced in the US in 1955, their use lead to increased discharges from mental hospi­tals. Over the next 50 years there was a dramatic decline in hospital beds from 560,000 in 315 hospitals to 53,000 beds in 230 hospitals.  Certainly doesn’t sound like much.  Currently, according to the Mental Health America, the prevalence of untreated adults with mental illness ranges from 43.1% in Vermont to 67.5% in Nevada.  That’s awful!  Mental illness can be as deadly as cancer.  Those with AMI (A Mental Illness) deserve better.

I discovered that the largest mental health facility in the country is in Los Angeles and is part of the county jail.  The article: Inside The Nation’s Largest Mental Institution (heard on Morning Edition, on NPR August 13, 20083:09 PM ET, by ) wrote, in part:

           The largest mental institution in the country is actually a wing of a county jail. Known as Twin Towers, because of the design, the facility houses 1,400 mentally ill patients in one of its two identical hulking structures in downtown Los Angeles.

The End Of Public Mental Hospitals

Until the 1970s, the mentally ill were usually treated in public psychiatric hospitals, more commonly known as insane asylums.

Then, a social movement aimed at freeing patients from big, overcrowded and often squalid state hospitals succeeded. Rather than leading to quality treatment in small, community settings, however, it often resulted in no treatment at all.

As a consequence, thousands of mentally ill ended up on the streets, where they became involved in criminal activity. Their crimes, though frequently minor, led them in droves to jails such as Twin Towers, says Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

 

 

And yet, we do incarcerate the mentally ill.  All the time.  Because there seems to be no where else to place them.  It’s awful when the police become involved.  At a minimum the person with AMI will be dragged to the ground and handcuffed as if they had committed a crime before they are dropped in some overcrowded, understaffed county hospital.  There they will receive minimal care and a quick discharge.  In the worst case scenario someone with AMI can end up dead simply because they do not understand what the police are telling him to do.  Like drop a weapon, or to lie on the ground.  Just google “mentally ill man killed by police” and you will find hundreds of incidents.

Most insurance plans do not provide adequate coverage for mental health, as if it is less important than someone’s physical health.  There are limits to the number of doctor visits, hospital stays are too short.  How does the insurance company know if you are healthy enough to leave after just 2 weeks?  It must be up to the doctors to determine when a patient is well enough to leave.  And what about someone who will spend their life institutionalized?  I’m sure most insurance plans do not have that covered.  There are not enough doctors and nurses.  There is just not enough.

My cynical side tells me that the only way we can make changes is with money.   Sure, there’s legislation, but that does not help people who cannot find a facility that will admit them.  There just aren’t enough beds.  That must change!  More mental health facilities need to be built.  MDs and hospital staff need to be made aware of symptoms of a mental health emergency.  Mental Health America is important to the improvement in mental health care and education.  Please support their #b4stage4 campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and take the pledge now to help make mental illness stigma free.