Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chapter 30 ~ Round Two

Photo by
Brendon Stuart

Eddy stayed longer the second time around, still without much effect. It would be another year, and a third trip to the hospital, before he was willing to try medication and psychiatry—to make a serious effort to come back.

When we passed the three-day threshold of the 5150 “hold for observation” without comment from the doctors, we knew we would be in for a long haul.

On the fourth day, Eddy told me the staff wanted him to escape, drawing me over to the big window in his room. “See that bike down there?” he asked. Four stories down, by the fire escape, leaning against the back of the building, was a bicycle.


“They left it for me. They keep doing things like that—leaving openings for me to escape. They are hoping that I’ll take the hint.”

“Who do you mean by ‘they’ Eddy?”

“You know. The people who work here. The ones who are connected to the larger organization.”

“What organization is that?”

“Come on, Mom. You know I can’t tell you.” He sat on the wide ledge which framed the non-opening window. He wore a hospital gown—white with small blue flecks—and green slipper socks with white tread on the bottom. He was careless about how he held his legs; I hoped he was wearing underwear.

On the fifth day he was in a surly mood. They had transferred him to a teen ward that worked on a point system. “Why don’t you participate in group therapy so you can get privileges?” I asked him. “Then you could listen to the meditation tape I brought you.” He cleared his throat and spit on the wall. A big wad of green phlegm stuck there, not moving.

“I think we better go now,” Lawrence responded, putting his hand on my elbow and steering me toward the door.

“No, no,” Eddy protested. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I won’t do it again. Stay awhile longer.”

The glob of green phlegm stuck tight to the wall and became a fourth party, a silent witness.

“Are you going to clean that up?” I asked Eddy.

“No. I mean yes.”

“When are you going to do it?”

“Later. After you leave.”

When Eddy called home that afternoon, I had to ask him, “Did you clean up the wad of spit, yet?”

“Not yet, Mom.”

I pictured it on the greenish wallpaper, and worried that the housekeeping staff wouldn’t notice it. But the next time we visited, Eddy was in a different room, and I forgot to check on the phlegm.

On the sixth day I brought Gem, a friend of Eddy’s from camp. I called Dora. I called Charles. I called Mike Goodman. I called Sonia. I asked everyone I could think of to visit Eddy in the hospital. They did.

On the seventh day, I didn’t go inside. I sent in my sisters Jean and Claire instead. Jean was on her way to Santa Cruz for the annual summer reunion at the beach house. Claire had come to Sunnybrae to see both Jean and Ed. On the way home from the hospital, Dr. Brand called my cell phone to tell me I had ductile carcinoma in situ, “the best kind of breast cancer to have.”

On the eighth day, Eddy was the only one left on the teen unit. The black girl who mostly cried in her room but sometimes stared blankly at Teletubbies on the TV in the common area, the white boy in a baseball cap who wouldn’t stop talking, the blonde girl with bandages encasing both forearms, had all been released. “I guess those other people were saner than I am,” Eddy opined.

Also on the eighth day, Dr. Hu asked to see me and Lawrence. We met at his office off hospital grounds. The entrance was around the back of a small building—a house divided up haphazardly into offices. The waiting room was miniscule. The door to his office was almost too small for him to fit through. His room was cluttered with books. Books on his desk. Books on bookshelves. Books on the floor. We sat down in two chairs opposite his big desk. He asked us questions about Eddy’s childhood, then repeated what he heard, putting it in his own words and skewing the meaning.

“So, your son has difficulty making friends.”

“No. He didn’t make friends at his elementary school. But he made friends at church. He made them at camp.”

“So your son has difficulty maintaining his friendships.”

“No. He has had long-standing friendships with people from camp. He made friends in high school that he still sees.”

“So your son has been in a lot of trouble with the authorities.”

“Not a lot of trouble, no. But some.”

Dr. Hu nodded sagely. After a 45 minute interview, he knew all there was to know about our son. “So what do you think is the problem?” we asked him eagerly.

“It could be anything. It’s hard to say.”

On the ninth day, Eddy decided to stop taking medication. He had read his patient rights and knew they couldn’t force him. He sat quietly, with his legs crossed, in his habitual guru pose, as a nurse talked to him about it.

“I understand your wanting to do this,” she said. “Just pay attention to how you react. If you think you’re getting worse, stop the experiment.”

“Eddy, don’t you think you should do what the doctors tell you?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

On the tenth day, the insurance company decided that if Eddy wasn’t taking medication, he didn’t need to be in the hospital. Dr. Hu called to say he couldn’t prevent our son from being released. We met hurriedly at the hospital—Eddy and Lawrence and I and Dr. Hu and a social worker—to talk over the exit plan. Eddy agreed to attend a day program for the next two weeks. They called it partial hospitalization. Lawrence and I were given phone numbers to call about residential programs for people who are mentally ill.

On the eleventh day the hospital called Lawrence at work at 10 a.m. to say Eddy would be released in half an hour. Lawrence rode his bike over and the two of them walked the three miles home together. Eddy wore the clothes he had checked in with. He still didn’t have any shoes.

Come back next Sunday to read the next chapter, or buy a paperback copy of the whole novel HERE.

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