Friday, March 6, 2015

(part 288) The Doctor And His Patient And The Death Of A Family

Somewhere down the line, with the passing of time, what I write here now will have become part of the larger context of this story. These latest posts will have become markers of one of the saddest periods in my life. A time when losing so much stood out as almost unbelievable in it's scope. The loss of my brother, Bill, who was basically sentenced to death by a healthcare system that treats the mentally-ill like disposable trash, and the loss of my mother, soon after, who for all intents and purposes died from a second stroke brought on by her overwhelming sense of remorse over Bill's preventable death.

After reading some of the medical reports about what was done to, Bill, by various doctors, my mother could not rectify in her own mind the inexcusable actions of those whose care he had been in. She felt, that if she had not been sick herself, and had been able to, that she could have saved him as she had done so many times before, during the previous half century of both of their lives. Preventing idiots from doing Bill harm, decade after decade, had become part of my mother's life work, even though it had never been planned that way.

Living with a schizophrenic teaches you something about the system and the disease itself. The hardship on both the schizophrenic, and the family, is something only those who have done it can understand. So in my mother's mind, at the end, it was her belief that Bill's death was strictly brought about by the fact that he had been left alone in the hands of people who had no idea, experience, or qualifications, in how to treat him successfully. She could not get the image of Bill's unnecessary suffering out of her mind, and it killed her. We spoke at length about this prior her second stroke, so this is not speculation on my part, it was the way she felt and what she believed.

The things I write here today are driven by the facts. My feelings about what happened, and my anger at those who I thought I could rely on in a time of extreme vulnerability, left me to question who my friends really are. In the same way Bill was left on his own in his time of need, I too, was hung out to dry by the very people I looked to for solace. Time after time I sought their support, and time after time was disappointed by them. Their unavailability and justifications for it, their dismissiveness, and callous remarks, left me in turmoil during those many days. I was like a bewildered child reaching out to the only persons I had to reach out to. I found myself emotionally spent and completely isolated. It led me to conclude that my trust in them had been sorely misplaced...a mistake I have regrettably made too many times in my life.

The drawing above, done some years ago by my brother Bill, captures the essence of what my mother spent fifty years protecting him from. "The Doctor...And His Patient" In the end it is almost prophetic. Bill's own fear of being schizophrenic, in a world where those expected to help may be the greatest threat of all...