Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Living in Interesting Times

Image credit: UrbanDigs.com

You know that old Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times? Well aside from the fact that it really hasn't even been shown to be Chinese (how perfect is that? I ask), I'd really like to know why times have to be so damn... interesting. But first and foremost, I have to say thanks to the readers that wrote me to ask if everything was okay. I know a couple of you received cryptic answers that may even have sounded terse. One of my Iranian readers wrote me through a friend in France to say that she hoped I was okay because she was worried when I didn't blog about Sakineh and the despicable interview last week. I was so very touched. And I am okay. It was just a good fraction of everything else around that has been my sticking point of late. It had me majorly down and, with house guests for the past three weeks, dark thoughts, and family need, it was hard to pound the keyboard.

And, to be honest, it's hard to write when the only things that you can think of writing about seem too personal, or as more than a few people have warned me, are just too taboo. I try not to be a whiny sort of person, but as the Comtesses and several close friends can attest, I have been way beyond whine in recent weeks. Some people told me to write about it anyway. Some told not to write about it all. Some people have been quiet comfort. And then there are the well-intended people who are anything but. Oh, the well-intended can just cut you to the bone, can't they? You can see their sincerity- that they really don't want you to be sad, feel bad, be stressed. But the things that they say are, if anything, sometimes even more like flint sparks to kindling than the events that surround you.

So what, my friendly readers, is entailed by interesting times?

We can start with the most recent and lesser bad of the really bad. There's the dear-heart 14 year old, who with all his spunk and resilience continues to be all boy, in spite of being blind in one eye, having the lateral cataract in the other eye, having the resolving (now mild) neurological issues and having the worst ADHD known to (wo)man (okay, I know at least one of the Comtesses is going to argue with me on that one, possibly more than one...). He still likes to ride his bike like a fiend, and really, with helmet on, I think we have to let him because he has so few outlets since his school won't let him do sports or even participate in PE. I prefer him to ride with his friend Connor, who is attentive and sharp-eyed, but hey, the world isn't perfect and sometimes he rides alone in our quiet neighborhood. So imagine the golden Sunday on which the Bikester is riding on a dedicated biking path with Dad in front, Mom in back, into a public park with safe, wide drive areas. What could possibly go wrong? Well, Dad could slow and the Bikester could accelerate and then, at the last minute, slam on his brake. Please note the singular. That would be the front wheel brake. As anyone who rides will tell you, that is not a good plan. Indeed, one 360 degree flip, multiple contusions, lacerations, abrasions, two fractured teeth, three loose teeth and six sutures later, one can say without further discussion that it was purely awful. More than a week later I still have a very achy and banged up little one. And I notice how many people riding bikes in the Greater Miami area are tempting natural selection by riding, unlike my child, without a helmet.

So, imagine that that's the least bad thing. Pieces of my child were on the asphalt. But there's a certain amount of definitive outcome involved with is the jaw broken? is his knee okay? how many sutures in the chin? does the molar need a root canal and crown or not? There are other things that are far less definitive, which evolve over months like the slow-motion action sequence of a train wreck until the seconds just before the train crashes, in which case it all speeds up and you realize that here is a situation with no brakes at all. 

Families are kind of like a train. Everybody is connected and when one car, one life, derails, it impacts the whole train, which can't keep chugging along like everything is a-okay. The question is whether a derailed train car always knows it's derailed. And whether everyone else is willing to admit that car is derailed. And then there's how to get back on track. Or whether you have to build a whole new track.

So a member of my family (please note the emphasis, thank you) has been in a four months long downward spiral, now stationary. Our best case scenario is that it was a complicated psychotic break due to substance abuse. Our worst case scenario is that it was a complicated psychotic break due to a mental illness that can have psychotic features. The break, which spread itself out over two weeks at the end of October into the first week of November, was much worse than the milder one which occurred in the late summer. After three hospitals and a weeklong stay over the course of only twelve days, our family was practically numb. It was bad enough so that none of us even recognized the person. It was like the person we knew and loved had not just left the building, but the continent. Some of us were afraid we wouldn't get that person back. All of us are afraid we will lose that person yet again. And it's been really charming to feel that I adopted a child who was removed by the State of Florida from family circumstances that involved substance abuse and mental health issues on the part of a parent and that he was plonked into a family with no such history and that life ironically just had to provide him with a little PTSD opportunity in the form of a family member who could echo all that nifty stuff from 0-5 years in his mind. That bike accident, echoing a tricycle accident related to child neglect at age 3, was just the capstone to the entire month of November for me.

When I have the presence of mind to do so, I am going to write a blog post about the despicable state of mental healthcare in this country. A country where they release someone because they were stable for twelve hours after giving them Ativan while they were restrained then counting them stable because they were asleep and not raving.

My family guests are leaving this afternoon, to return to the other side of the Atlantic. I am preparing for a Thanksgiving where I get to be thankful for bike helmets, paramedics, the one good psychiatrist, attending physicians who can suture like they're plastic surgeons, Abilify, Duoderm, the UM Law Clinic's RTI defense of my GAL youth, comforting friends and supportive parents and spouse and the fact that I can, in spite of the wickedest Irish genes when it comes to alcohol, evidently get by without drowning my sorrows.

I'll be back later to blog about all kinds of stuff. Like the TSA body scanner battle that took place a couple of days ago on my personal Facebook page. Or the fact that Ahmadinejad was almost impeached. Or maybe just even that my delicious Maine Coon boycat has a 12 cm long whisker that is just ridiculously charming (hey, I'll take a smile anywhere I can get it these days...)

Oh, and now that I think of it yet again- To the charming person, now counted solely as an acquaintance in my mind, who said I shouldn't feel so bad because this family member, who is related to me by marriage, isn't like my direct biological responsibility or something, I would kindly suggest that caring for someone for the past 18 years kind of makes you look at that person as if they are your own. At least if you are human, in my mind. Of course, I have heard all manner of stuff in recent weeks. Maybe I am just a very misguided person.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010


  1. I bet those same people say stuff like, "It's just a dog!"

    Those people suck.


  2. o_O


    I... I don't get it. I don't get why someone would say that and think it could possibly be taken as a comfort.

  3. Well I think they were obviously trying to make me feel better about the fact that the person wasn't related to me and that therefore it wasn't like it reflected on me. Because clearly having a mentally ill family member iz le deep, dark stigma, right? I kid you not when I say that they were well intended. I, meanwhile, have told myself that insight into other people's perceptions, values and priorities is always valuable.

    Anyway, what PF said. Spot on.

  4. That sounds like a perfectly lousy couple of weeks. I hope things go better from here on out, for you and your family both.

  5. Steam was coming out of my ears earlier when I read what "Charming Person" had said... but I had to go do actual work and couldn't respond at the height of my righteous indignation. Now, a couple hours later, I've cooled down to the stage of just being appalled, aghast (and probably another "a" or two, as well), at this person's absolute lack of understanding *anything*.

    Why on earth should being (or not being) related matter?!? Most of us would feel just as distressed if a good friend (no relation whatsoever) were dealing with a serious illness or major problem... but I guess "Charm" would a). thank her/his lucky stars it was "only" a friend, and b). probably just find better things to do than be there for said "friend". Grrrrr...

    With that said, I *highly* recommend going (yes, right now!) and indulging in a mutual admiration session with the delicious Maine Coon and his charming whisker. You both deserve the happy it will bring... :)

  6. Glam, all I can say is that the Maine Coon is one of the only things keeping me sane. He just purrs. It's like the Aussie Shepherd on my feet- Sometimes support is just quiet. No opinions, just shoulders.

  7. Michael, I thought I replied from my charming iPhone earlier but it clearly didn't add....

    Thank you for the kind wishes, which are much needed, and wishing you a happy Thanksgiving.