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First Visit

Chrisa Hickey2 comments1111 views

So – Tim’s been in RTC for two weeks now. We saw him twice over the holiday weekend, for about an hour on Friday, and about 15 minutes yesterday. Friday was a good visit – he told us about his “friends,” was happy to say he got the posters I sent him for his room (one of Superman, his hero, and one of the Green Bay Packers), and showed us how he was keeping his room clean, which has been a huge issue for us. I was sorry to see that he’s gotten out of the habit that I worked on with him very hard – looking at the person he’s talking to – but I didnt’ make an issue of it. He started school, but they are mostly testing him to determine the best classes to place him in, and they have him switching classrooms for his subjects, which he handled well the first week, but I fear that won’t last. We’ll see. He acted very “grown up” but did want us to stay for hours, or go out with us. I’m glad we took their advice and didn’t take him off campus. I don’t know if we’d have been able to get him to go back. He didn’t verbalize it, but it has seemed to sink in that this is different than inpatient hospitalization – there is no twice a day calls, no five times a week visits, no end in sight to his stay. His case manager had told us that he’s shown some agitation with a few of the residents on his floor, but I expect that to get worse before it gets better. It was hard for me after we left, particularly because he wanted us to stay, but I managed to hold it together.

Yesterday we stopped in to bring him a few things he asked for on Friday – a new electric razor (the other was on its last legs when we sent it with him), headphones for his music with a really long cord so he can listen to his stereo – which is on his dresser – while lying on his bed, some tempra paints, and composition books, which he goes through faster than underwear. But the visit was very different. He was all energy – high motion, rapid fire speech. He didn’t want us to stay this time, another sign of high agitation. This type of behavior is usually a warning sign for us that mania is on the upswing, and psychosis is usually on the backside of it, so I’ll be emailing his case manager this morning just to give him a warning to keep an eye out, and let us know. I’m also going to email because he said on Saturdays they watch a video, and this past Saturday is was The Shootist – R rated, and violent. NOT a good choice for a bunch of kids with rage issues!! Tim said he didn’t watch all of it because he got tired and went to bed, but still, not a good choice, especially if he’s heading manic. I’ll be interested to know if his sleeping habits are starting to change at all.

I have a hard time every time we talk on the phone or visit Tim. The permanency of him being gone is making me more emotional than I thought I would be. Tom is more stoic. I don’t know if it’s just him keeping a stiff upper lip, or just the numbness of it all, after all that we’ve been through. You’d think after 19 years of marriage I’d know. But, looking back, we are both more stoic. I remember the first time we had to put him in the hospital. We didn’t sleep for two days, and we both wept. The last several times, we practically flipped a coin to see who would go to the hospital with him and go through the paperwork, and who’d get to stay home. It was just a normal part of the cycle of our lives, as sick and sad as that sounds.

We have yet to tackle the smelly, stained, disheveled mess that is Tim’s bedroom at home. We just shut the door and left it, intending to not address it for the first few days. Now two weeks have gone by. It’s pretty bad – we have holes to fix, the carpet will probably need to be replaced, and there’s an odor we hope won’t linger after wiping every surface down with antibacterial cleaner. If I think about it, I have to say it’s probably a combination of not wanting to tackle the disgustingness, knowing he’ll come home for visits starting next month and not wanting to have to redo the cleanup after every stay, and the permanence of what his room clean and staying that way means. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

2 Comments

  1. Wow. Composition books. What kind of music does he enjoy, and like to make? Does he have any instruments? What about music therapy?

    (David Helfgott and his composedlies come in here. He uses everything to make his pieces, despite not having done well in it after he went to London, he has to write the music in his head).

    A guy named Michael talks about cathartic reactions with audio/visual material. No, it would not be a good idea to watch movies like The Shootist. When I was very sick I did not like any movies at all, and I had to be doing something other than watch the TV – usually something manual and repetitive.

    It can be hard to tell between numbness and stotic … with the stotic you are choosing not to feel or react.

    Just yesterday I have read an article about what RTCs are like. I hope this one is nice.

  2. Tim likes all kinds of music – rock, pop, rap, jazz, reggae – not too much of a country fan, and some classical is ok, but he really has to be in the mood. We tried several times over the years to get him into playing an instrument, but he found it too frustrating. He's a BIG fan of karaoke, though.

    I can usually tell his mood by his choice of music. Heavy duty rap or rock means it's a "don't poke the bear" day. I often wonder if he's trying to drown out the voices when he is in the heavy metal mood.

    They do some music therapy at his RTC, but he actually does better with yoga and relaxation therapy.

    Tim is a huge movie buff – again, I think it is a distraction from the noise in his head. But on the subject of repetitive tasks, he does like painting, very much. He has a french easel in his dorm room, and reports are that he is at it several days a week during his free time.

    The composition books have always facinated me. Tim will draw in them, write in them – not always legibly, and not always words – but he can fill one a week. He must always have paper and pencil on him at all times. Without it, he gets highly agitated. I love trade shows because I pick up all the free note pads they give away for Tim. He tears through them.

    For Tom, I really think it's stoic, because if he allows himself to react, he might get overly emotional. He needs to maintain control for me, for himself, no matter how illogical that is, he has the need to be the "backbone" of the family. I both admire him for it and feel badly for him for it.

    So far, ODTC is nice. Nice dorm rooms, nice classrooms, beautiful grounds, big gym, greenhouse. We saw several on our hunt for the right facility, and there was at least one I wouldn't leave my dog at. Very run down.

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