It just seems to be impossible to catch a corner of sanity here. Mr “smoke till you stroke, stroke till you croak” is having a full on “get your f’n hands off of me”, wrestling with security in the entrance having a meltdown today.
There are many days when you are in a hospital full of people that have so many things going on that really make you wonder about yourself. When my friend here came in and announced to me his view on life with a stroke, he told me that this was his third time in the rehab ward to get help for a stroke. Apparently this time he had been walking on the street to get some smokes from the local convenience store and while he was walking he had his stroke. He lost his balance and rolled off onto the grass beside the public sidewalk along a reasonably busy street. He walked with a cane, and he wore dirty, torn sweats and a torn, loose fitting sweatshirt that must have been easy for him to put on. Just thinking of what it must have looked like to the dozens of people that left him laying there on the grass beside the sidewalk, I imagine most of them felt they were watching a drunk homeless man try to gather himself together and get back on his feet. There was no one to help him that day.
To make matters worse, he finally got back on his feet, made his way back home and was greeted by his “soon to be ex” (as he put it in a group therapy session one day) with her yelling at him about the amount of time it took him to get back home without what he went to get. Eventually he got things sorted out with his wife, and she ended up calling an ambulance to get him to the hospital. He strutted around the rehab ward as though he was a veteran at it. He knew where all the extras were stashed that patients were allowed to take advantage of. The routine was old hat to him and he showed up and put up with his helpers and therapists doing what he already knew they would. Things don’t change. For him it was staff expecting different results doing the same things they had last time he was in. And for those that don’t know, this is the definition of insanity…doing the same thing but expecting different results.
I’m not sure he divulged this to everyone, but he matter of fact told me that when he was admitted this time, he was “committed” by the doctors and his family as a danger to himself and others because he wouldn’t take care of himself. It was made clear to him that if he left the rehab ward and the hospital grounds, he would be picked up by police and brought back, sedated if they had to. In this way, I can imagine the feeling of anger over a sort of betrayal. I wondered right up front what would drive a man like this to have such a dangerous and cavalier outlook towards his stroke and the impact it had on his life. Not to mention that it seemed really selfish to skip out of the hospital and not take the rehabilitation treatment seriously. What exactly was it that was going through his mind as he melted down and was fighting with security? Was it the betrayal? Abandonment? Or was it the loss of connection to anyone and everyone who could have been important to him?
My roommates son lives just down the street from the hospital. The cops had picked him up as he rolled with a wheelchair belonging to the hospital down the sidewalk on his way to his house. Visions of Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest ran through my head. Surely after a meltdown like this, they would do something to him to tame him down. No one in here has time for those willing to cooperate, let alone those who take 6 people, including 3 security guards to deal with him.
I feel somewhat guilty telling you his story, even without names. Except that its my story too. Having to stay in a place I don’t want to be, for reasons I didn’t ask for or expect; the difference is I’m working at not being selfish. I want to get better for my wife and children, those who count of me. But I want to get out of this insane asylum. Fortunately, I don’t feel abandoned, betrayed, or disconnected. I am surrounded by those that love and support me, especially when I can’t do that for myself.