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When My Crazy Father Actually Lost His Mind
New York Times ^ | June 22, 2012 | JENEEN INTERLANDI

Posted on 06/23/2012 2:51:21 PM PDT by nickcarraway

We were on something like the 15th round of rummy, and my father was winning decisively. He cracked a wide, toothy grin as he laid his cards on the table. “That’s 321 for BaBa, and 227 for String Bean,” he said, tallying the ledger we were keeping on a piece of scrap paper.

Before he finished writing the numbers, he began a rapid succession of anecdotes about his first car. And his second. And his third. He reached for a magazine to show me the vintage Mustang he said he was planning to buy my mother for their 45th wedding anniversary, which, he reminded me, was just six months away. Then he began speaking Sicilian, instructing me to repeat after him: “Napeladan mangia pane!” (“People from Naples eat bread.”) “Calabrese testa dura!” (“People from Calabria have thick heads.”) My father has the most amazing blue eyes, and right then they were wide and eager, like an overexcited child’s. He was rambling, and the inflections of his voice betrayed sheer manic joy. It was a mood completely incongruous with our setting.

We were playing our card game at the Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services, or PESS, a small locked-down unit in the community hospital near my parents’ apartment in Somerville, N.J. Harsh fluorescent lighting fell on cracked and faded yellow walls. A disheveled, rail-thin woman paced and wept in the room across the way. Down the hall, a police officer guarded locked double doors.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Health/Medicine
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1 posted on 06/23/2012 2:51:22 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

So much for honoring your father and mother.

2 posted on 06/23/2012 2:56:51 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (they have no god but caesar)
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To: nickcarraway

Let me guess, it was just before he named you “Jeneen”?

3 posted on 06/23/2012 3:00:59 PM PDT by MIchaelTArchangel (Da Bro' Gotsta Go!)
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To: nickcarraway
When my grandmother started her decline in her mid 80's her brain started acting up as well. It was as if her cardiopulmonary system had stopped being able to deliver enough oxygen to her brain. She couldn't remember what she ate for lunch, but she could tell you about hiking trips she had taken 70 years before. The doctors didn't help much, prescribing some blood thinners that made things even worse. When we asked about the effect of these drugs on her cognitive abilities, they would say that was to be expected with patients her age.

It was terrible watching a woman with such a great mind robbed of it in the final years of her life.

4 posted on 06/23/2012 3:01:04 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: nickcarraway

I hate, hate, hate good intentions.

The most egregious wrongs in this world are perpetrated by those with “good intentions.”

It was “good intention” policies championed by liberal organizations like the NY Times and here in California, the LA Times, that resulted in legislation making it all but impossible for family members to commit relatives to state mental hospitals. Subsequently, nearly all the California state mental hospitals were defunded — for lack of patients! — and closed in the 1970s.

Why, no one had any idea that so many mentally ill would end up homeless and dying on the streets! Why, who could have predicted they would get no treatment whatsoever? Why, this wasn’t what we intended at all! We had good intentions! Didn’t everyone see “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?” What about their RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHTS?

I love that your complicity in these tragedies goes unmentioned in this article, New York Times. You and your lib mindset buddies condemned the mentally ill to life on the streets in this country. Reap/sow. Stop sounding so appalled and astonished.

5 posted on 06/23/2012 4:05:17 PM PDT by Blue Ink
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To: the invisib1e hand
Re: So much for honoring your father and mother.

Did you take the time to browse the article? What do you think she should have done?

6 posted on 06/23/2012 4:06:30 PM PDT by ken in texas (I was taught to respect my elders but it keeps getting harder to find any.)
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To: ken in texas

“Did you take the time to browse the article? What do you think she should have done?”

That’s a good question. She knew about his moods, and that his moods subside over time.

Rather then just give him money - they would have been best to hire someone to watch over him at the brother’s house. Do not give him a key, but have his caregiver with the key in the hours that the brother isn’t home, cannot watch his father.

Being family is tough. When my father passed on, I had to look after my brothers and my mother until they recovered and were able to look after themselves again. Would I do it all over again? Sure. Someone had to be strong and look after them - who else was going to do it?

7 posted on 06/23/2012 4:12:43 PM PDT by JCBreckenridge (Texas, Texas, Whisky)
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To: ken in texas

kept her father’s private life out of the New York Times, for starters.

8 posted on 06/23/2012 4:13:07 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (they have no god but caesar)
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To: nickcarraway

Having had a crazy parent, I can sympathize, because there’s really nothing you can do except (a) hope they don’t show up at your house and kill you or your children and (b) hope they don’t die in a gutter somewhere.

Involuntary committals stopped in the 1970s. While involuntary commitment had probably been abused, it was a way of getting treatment for people, and by that time a lot of mental hospitals were on the cottage system and were really very nice places. I had a non-relative (who I had to visit because of my job) who had been committed to a beautiful place in lower Upstate New York, surrounded by great nurses and houseparents...and then the Great State of New York “deinstitutionalized” and sent them all to live in triple decker bunkbeds in the unheated garages of local residents who had opened “half way houses.”

We rescued him from one of these but then the state stopped funding even this level of care and he disappeared.

People like him, however, have killed people and filled up the police and EMS reports, as well as your local ER, for 50 years now. And even if you don’t care about them, think about the cost.

Bizarrely enough, Ronald Reagan was the one who unleashed the mentally ill on California. When he shut down the state mental health residential facilities, he actually said these people could go out and get jobs as playground monitors....

I think Reagan was an excellent president, but on some things, the conservatives and the left came full circle, and he was Governor of CA at that time. The conservatives wanted to save money and the left was screaming the Langian theme that the insane were the only truly sane persons - because they had been driven mad by capitalism.

In reality, the cost of deinstitutionalization - between policing, health care, courtroom costs and lost work hours of persons murdered or severely injured by the mentally ill - has been enormous.

9 posted on 06/23/2012 4:52:47 PM PDT by livius
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To: USNBandit

What you have described about your grandmother not being able to remember what she had for breakfast but could accurately give details of something 70 years ago.....When in nursing school we learned that is normal for many elderly...short term memory goes first and long before long term memory leaves the mind....Just listen to her tell her old storys with understnding....and understand that short term memory goes first....God Bless...

10 posted on 06/23/2012 4:55:53 PM PDT by goat granny
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To: JCBreckenridge

My wife and I are the primary caretakers for seven, count’em seven relatives in their eighties and nineties.

We are the ones responsible for making sure the ones out of nursing homes are safe, clean, and fed. We are the ones that had to deal with getting the ones in nursing facilities placed and taken care of. We are the ones who had to deal with Probabte court for guardianship and conservators hip. We are the ones who dealt with the medical insurance folks. We are the ones holding their hands in the ER on Christmas Eve while they are read their last rites.

We are the ones who did not move away. We live with them. We haven’t had a four day period of respite for five years because of one or another of them.

And when one of them is dying, or is dead, we are the ones that have to listen to all of the crap from the peer relatives about what we could have done differently.

And we are the ones that get no financial assistance to do all of this stuff because these relatives had no wills and all of their money is going for their care so the state doesn’t have to...which is really OK with us. They saved for a rainy day-—and it’s raining.

And we bitch about it to each other only. Everyone else sees a smiling grateful face.

And all of the relatives comes to the wakes and ask about where the money went.

We are teaching our kids about how families should work. But sometimes it’s like shuffling sand against the tide.

11 posted on 06/23/2012 4:57:01 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (I just hate our government. All of them. Republican and Democrat.)
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To: All
It starts out with "We were on something like the 15th round of rummy"

On my 15th round of Bacardi (Or Sailor Jerry), I become a little . . . . shall we say delusional as well. It just means slow down.

12 posted on 06/23/2012 4:57:38 PM PDT by BipolarBob ("These aren't the droids you're looking for.")
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To: livius
I know that the numbers of mentally ill in our local jail are disproportionately high. A mental health court (similar to drug court) where they are sentenced to a program would be a relief for all, but those only exists is large counties because of the population needed to support them.

The mentally ill in CA pretty much only get triage, crisis and maintenance services. Most treatment now a days is chemical.

13 posted on 06/23/2012 5:02:14 PM PDT by marsh2
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To: Vermont Lt

God bless you and your wife. You are doing the right thing. You are now on my prayer list.

14 posted on 06/23/2012 5:24:49 PM PDT by Bigg Red (Pray for our republic.)
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To: marsh2

The treatment is chemical, but somebody has to make sure that they take it, and the problem is that all of these people are roaming the streets hallucinating because nobody can legally make them take their meds and there is no system that can absorb them.

I read that the cost of the homeless mentally ill...between ER admissions, sanitation costs for cleaning up after them, police costs for crimes committed, and wages lost by the victims of their crimes almost exponentially higher than the costs of a good residential treatment program.

And we’re not even talking about the emotional and psychological misery this would spare the mentally ill and their families.

15 posted on 06/23/2012 6:20:57 PM PDT by livius
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To: Vermont Lt

Prayers for you!

Probably the worst thing of all is the other relatives with their spiteful or simply clueless remarks. That must be really hard to bear.

Please don’t let them and their criticism injure either you or your wife.

Also, if there is some way you can get state assistance, take it. Your elderly relatives did pay for it during their taxpaying years, and while we may all think there are better ways of handling this, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

You and your wife have lives too and you owe it to her to remember this.

16 posted on 06/23/2012 6:26:25 PM PDT by livius
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To: nickcarraway

When I saw the headline I thought the article was about me. Thank goodness.

17 posted on 06/23/2012 6:28:31 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong!)
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To: Vermont Lt

Grinning and bearing it.

Think I’ll fit an extra prayer in for you tonight.

18 posted on 06/23/2012 6:58:41 PM PDT by free me (heartless)
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To: livius
Involuntary committals stopped in the 1970s.

IIRC, JFK got the ball rolling during his administration.

19 posted on 06/23/2012 7:23:34 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Liberals, at their core, are aggressive & dangerous to everyone around them,)
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To: Balding_Eagle

The late 60s was the beginning of the “only the mad are truly sane” movement, which was actually an offshoot of Langian radical-leftist psychological theory. Lang blamed everything on capitalism.

This bled out into the media hyperspace, and suddenly we got bizarre reports such as Meadobrook, meant to rev up public animosity towards mental health institutions. Meadowbrook was actually a good institution, and since I was working in something associated with the mental health field at that time, I knew that patients at most NY mental health hospitals were treated very humanely and that many new programs had been instituted to reflect new thought on how to deal with the mentally ill.

But as usual, the media got hold of it and ran with it because it supported the Dem mantra that our society was sick because of capitalism and the mentally ill were just mirroring this, and therefore hospitalizing them was political repression. (Tell that to somebody who’s hallucinating.)

Unfortunately, it hit a bunch of state-level short-sighted fiscal conservatives who thought they would save money by deinstitutionalizing these people and putting them all on welfare or getting them on SSI.

This was a double whammy that destroyed the mental health systems of all of the states and led to untold misery and huge expenses because of the problems created by the free-roaming mentally ill.

20 posted on 06/23/2012 7:37:00 PM PDT by livius
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