Sunday, 30 August 2009

Autumn leaves again so soon

We're now at the angry stage. We're also at the stage where realism begins to show its head among the delusions. Zach's aware that he's not in some crabby hotel room or a prison cell. He's in hospital and he's not happy. He wants out but he's not sure how to make that possible. The consultant emailed me. They're going to start psychotherapy when there's something to work with. Until then, it's taking the meds and sleeping and, hopefully, eating.

Three messages were left on my mobile yesterday by Ragesh. Zach wants to talk to his mother. Another voicemail from Zach on the house phone. Difficult to understand what he said. Sounds pretty doped up. And angry. How sad.

I spend time considering what can be done so that this doesn't happen again but that likelihood is remote. What I do think is that something should be done to divert Zach's attention; change his behaviour patterns. Coming back to London and facing the autumn and then winter and the dark days and the cold will not help his equilibrium. The boredom will return. The unaltering days. Re-visits to where he was before he left. I have an idea but more of that later.

I can't believe that summer is almost over again. It goes so fast - here, especially, where we have such a short period of heat and sunlight. Walking, I see that brown leaves are making carpets on the Heath and that autumn fashions are displayed in shop windows. When Zach left in June, summer was just on its way. We'd had a few good days. When and if he comes back here, it will be leading to short nights and Christmas decorations and adverts for the 'festive season.' Will he notice that? Notice that it all went away so quickly, while he was puffing and snorting and being fed all and every narcotic?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Oh, for the days of 'Soap'

It's come back again. The delightful incubus of Zach's soul. The one that only wants, wants, wants and takes everything and does nothing to show its appreciation or happiness. Poor Ragesh. Stuck in a room with Zach and his demons. An email from Ragesh was only so enlightening.

"...he still asking me for drugs. He asking me so much thing I could not effort [sic] him. Whatever you pay me, most off money I envest [sic] for Zach. I could not seved [sic] any money."

So he's basically saying that Zach's manipulating him to buy him the usual: coke, cigarettes, pizzas and, if he could, drugs. I only hope that Ragesh has the good intelligence not to go down that path.

I wrote back to Ragesh, telling him not to give in to Zach. That this is typical behaviour and to tell Zach that he doesn't have any money on him. That he's put it all into his bank account and that there's no way on earth that he's going to bring in drugs. You have to be very strong, cold and stern while dealing with Zach when he's like this. If he doesn't get his way, he's likely to be aggressive and frightening. You have to leave him when he eyes the wall and lands a hefty thump through the plasterwork. Hopefully he's wearing sandals or, better still, nothing on his feet. The local hospital here in London still has the site of his last temper tantrum.

It's very early days then. This is the beginning of the downward slope but it's still likely that he could, if he managed to get hold of any skunk or ketamine, spiral yet again. You just have to hope that the hospital is aware of this. I wrote to the consultant, reiterating Zach's propensity for all manner of narcotics. I've not yet heard back from him. Still, Zach's not alone there. The guy in the next room is also in for a psychotic breakdown linked entirely, he shamefacefully told Sam, to his 'predisposition for cannabis.'

And today I read that Kerry Katona biffed her accountant. She's in meltdown too, yet again. Addicted to cocaine, the story goes. That will make her aggressive for sure. Now she's been arrested and what gives for her kids? Will they be given to her ex? Taken into care? What's happened to this generation? Is there really so much more mental disengagement? In decades past was there such an enormous amount of suffering? Is it simply due to the proliferation of drugs?

Will Ragesh last the distance? Who could? Will he take my advice and tell Zach that he's not going to bring in to the hospital anything other than bottled water? It's like Soap. Where's Jessica Tate when you need her?

Monday, 24 August 2009

Monsoons, slums and the waiting game

The first thing on waking up. The last thing on going to sleep. When you wake up in the middle of the night, it's there, like a shadow, spreading itself over your supine body. It doesn't go away. There's always a tinge of it, whether you are watching a film: yes, I remember him like that too. Reading a book, concentration is lacking. How can you work, you ask yourself. You have to get on and try to push the thoughts to the back, so that they don't take precedence over everything. Then it's a Pyrrhic victory because then the overriding emotion is guilt. Guilt that it ever happened. Guilt that you were a party to it and guilt that it takes so much of you and that those who deserve equal sentiments are denied.

A young Australian intern at the neurological hospital in Delhi emailed us. 'The past few days,' she wrote, 'he's been very manic, aggressive and agitated, as you no doubt know and today he's quite a bit calmer. This is definitely due to his medications. Today was the first day that he's not been delusional.' This morning Ragesh called and Zach tried to speak with Sam. Pointless, as he was so full of these delightful meds that he was unable to articulate a word, save for asking for Sam and Rickey to 'take him out for a meal.' He doesn't, therefore, seem to be in a place yet where he knows what's happening. I doubt that it's the meds doing this, it's where his head is.

There's really nothing that we can do from this end. Phone calls to the hospital are difficult to arrange because the consultant has his own methods of doing things. He has his various hospital consultation hours and then the time that he spends at Zach's hospital is spread out between the number of patients there. We'd like to know what's happening, though. Be brought up to date. Find out whether there's some light at the end of the tunnel, although I know from past experience, that this is just the beginning and it's going to take weeks.

From mixed messages by way of Ragesh last week, Sam got the impression that maybe Ragesh wouldn't last the distance, notwithstanding his sudden increase in wealth; that the time spent with Zach was so fraught, that it wouldn't even be worth his new status. However Rickey spoke with Ragesh and somehow Ragesh's fears have been allayed - for now.

So the monsoon continues its downpours onto the sodden Delhi streets and the malodorous and monstrous slums that abut the hospital and we wait, all the while our waking moments are wondering and imagining how things are there and whether it was all worth it.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A different set of altitudes

I look out and I can see blue skies, sunshine and the mediterranean glinting not so far away. I should really get a thrill from it and I do but everything is tinged with a melancholy. There's also the other emotions: anger, guilt, sadness. I've been away for three weeks and I knew that I shouldn't have looked forward to it. That whenever you look forward to something, then there's going to be something that spoils it. You can say this is it, this time. I sound spoiled and petulant. Maybe I am. I feel anger that Beth hasn't been able to see her father and that the week that she was going to spend with him now has been eradicated; you can't re-spend time. They'll have it again but it won't be the same.

And I think of Zach in the hospital room. The way that he will be spending his days there for the present. In a haze of intense medication. Probably not eating much. Drinking water. Pacing around the room. Bored. Listless. Angry. Conflicted. I wonder whether they will try additional and alternative medicine there. I know that they have yoga and ayurveda. This is India, after all. Whether he participates is something else.

So Sam is back in London. Emotionally and physically exhausted with Indian beaurocracy, intense travel, Zach's needs, traffic, fumes, heat and the having to contend with a zillion bits and pieces that continually stymied their movements. Back to London's shifting weather. But the football season calls and the further frustration that his team creates. Will they stay up this season, have an owner, win a game? All good stuff for a diversion. Eventually, it is hoped, Zach will once again join in with the trek south.

So I leave tomorrow for London once more. Leave these wonderfully sunny climes and then to be confronted with the full and unexpurgated version of what went on these last nine days among the mountains, the lakes and traffic fumes.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

British Airways from Delhi to London and thoughts on the altititude of Leh

Sam's taking a plane back to London today. I hope he leaves enough time to get to the airport. Rickey took a cab to meet Ragesh yesterday but the traffic drove him to distraction. I expect that Sam has taken that on board. Leave four hours early maybe!

Ragesh is now esconced in the hospital room with Zach. I think that he needs just to spend the nights there. Make sure that Zach doesn't do anything that will make his 'recovery' more fraught than it has been already. The meds should make him reasonably compliant, doing what they do to a person. It's a pity that the side-effects are always so profound. The shakes, the facial tics, the desperate desire to keep drinking water, coke - whatever is available. I can't see him but can imagine.

It's all quite depressing, really, leaving Zach in India like this. Even when his dybbuk is in place and he's immensely difficult to be around, you want to visit, to show that you care. It's too far to go. The hospital will keep Zach for as long as we pay and until we tell them to release him. How long is a piece of string? Who do we trust? I have to wait until I speak to Zach. Wind him up in the usual way and then see how he responds. Then I'll know how he is.

Oh, and my maths being so pathetic, I left off zeros. Sam reliably informs me that Leh in Ladakh is 12,500 feet high. Oops. Can't imagine being in altititude that thin and having to live a day to day existence. I know, it's the Himalayas and vast amounts of travellers go there in order to trek and climb and the sunrises are spectacular. Rather them than me. No wonder madness is an attendant theme. Far too little oxygen hits the brain.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Crop circles of cigarette burns adorning bodies and a hope for 'Ushpizin'

What chemical imbalance would make you stub a cigarette out on your arm in anger? Someone said it was 'self hate.' It's not the first time. Look, if you decide in one corner of your brain that you want to take so many drugs that you become totally dependent on them, then surely there's something there. But I simply can't understand it. It's such a nightmare.

It's just an undate now. Sam's had enough of India. I think that the traffic is finally getting to him and Rickey. They want out. They had the most wonderful Indian meal of all time last night. A set meal. The equivalent in rupees of £4. That's something. Rickey's on his way to meet Ragesh at the airport but they didn't realise just how bad Delhi traffic could be. There's over a billion people in India. No doubt plenty of those are spending their time in cars, taxis, lorries, rickshaws and whatever form of transport carries people in India. I remember the cows dodging the traffic in the south. They've taken them off the streets of Bombay. Have they in Delhi?

So I sorted out the pyschiatrist for medication this morning. My phone was cut off over the weekend because I had gone so far over my limit. Yet another expense. Frustration for me. Nothing like the frustration that Sam and Rickey have been experiencing in the heat and clamminess of Delhi. Another meeting with Chabad who will visit and take in food and, maybe, hopefully, lead Zach onto a better path. Maybe he will become a 'return to the fold' and they'll find him a wife and a long black coat and a hat and he will grow side curls and he won't have to worry about anything else again. It's been done before. You only have to see that wonderful Israeli film, 'Ushpizin.' I can dream, can't I?

Sam's on his way to see the High Commissioner. Do we leave Zach's what-passes-for-a-passport with him? The psychiatrist sounded very on the ball, although he spoke so fast that it was difficult to catch everything he said. He sounded as though he knew what the medication was. Zach's receiving a very hefty dose of Olanzapine. He's obviously very disturbed. Ah, well.

How many more cigarettes will end up smoking skin on Zach's extremeties? Why does the brain make people do things like this to themselves? I know that the suicidal option is just below that skin, once the brain has been 'balanced' to realise the scope of the position it's owner has put it. Not a pretty sight. Got that t-shirt too.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Dehli's finest clothing stalls and swift negotiations

So that's it again. They managed to get to hospital number one. However, hospital number one was unable to contain Zach. During the first night he became very violent. Didn't like being there. Dosed up on disgusting Haloperidol, the gum that makes you drool and shake. Doesn't agree with Zach. Makes him even worse. If that's possible. He decided to destroy the room, rip his clothes, shout and scream. So they restrained him and he spent the rest of the night tied to the bed. Not very creative but effective.

Yesterday Zach was moved to another hospital, near to where Sam and Rickey have set up base. It's monsoon season and it rained but was still 40 degrees. Zach's in a suitable place. In a secure room, on the right medication but he has to be watched 24x7. At night, stipulates the hospital, a family member has to stay in the room with him. We have, unfortunately, no family members in India. Ragesh from Leh has been asked whether he would like to earn some extra dosh and fill in as a family member. He's agreed and is flying down from Leh on Monday. Sam had hoped that it would be on Sunday but the flights are all full. More nights in Delhi.

500 rupees a day for a private nurse. Not too bad in the scheme of things. Hope that Ragesh won't be driven too mad by close proximity to Zach. He only needs to be there at night and, hopefully, Zach will be sedated so that he sleeps and doesn't impose his needs on Ragesh. You know those needs. Cigarettes, coke, pizza, cell phones. Ragesh will have to be strong. Then the money he earns will be for him and not for Zach. Zach will once again be penniless. Hopefully without money he won't be able to smuggle in drugs. Is the Pope a Catholic?

Sam and Rickey invested time in Dehli's finest market. There Rickey negotiated for tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts. Things that Zach can't destroy too easily. They may not be sartorially and aesthetically beautiful but, again, practical. How many times have we had to go out and buy shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and underwear that Zach discards? Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. We should have shares in Glaxo.

A round robin text from Sam made its way to friends and family. We've had some wonderful replies. Thanks to you all.

Sunshine, clouds, monsoonal rains and heat. The saga continues...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

New Delhi's Finest and a Psychiatric Hospital among the high rises

Phone calls, texts, hidden messages. It all costs one hell of a lot. Hate to think what my mobile bill is going to be like at the end of the month. Calls from London. Now calls from Delhi. Hot. 40 centigrade and counting and it's muggy and dirty and full of traffic and road works and building. Any they're fed up and tired and exhausted and on edge and Rickey almost biffed Zach yesterday. Don't know who stopped him. Quite understand him. Have been there. Have every item of clothing that matches.

The story so far: hour upon hour upon hour in a car with a driver from Leh to Srinagar. Zach completely deluded. They managed (more later) to get to the lake and from there to rent an absolutely splendid houseboat in a bucolic setting among other houseboats from a delightful man who told Sam he could use his cell phone at 'any time.' Zach drove them all crazy. He wanted to go and party in town. Rickey took time out to be on his own and Sam had duty. Worse than at any time, he told me. Worse than Greece (although he wasn't there - but, of course, Zach had already been in jail and hospital there by the time I had arrived); worse than Chaing Mai. There, too, he had been in hospital for a month, at least. And I remember the time that I met him at Heathrow with the scowling nurse the first time that he was repatriated from Thailand. Mad as a hatter then, too.

Srinagar, Sam tells me, is the most wonderful place. We have to go back. I'd love to. Sans Zach, bien sur. Zach shouted and screamed obscentities and broke china and glass and, somehow, managed to get more drugs. How, surrounded as he was by others and by Sam and Rickey, is beyond my imagination. But they get drugs in jail, on psychiatric wards... No doubt there was always someone ready to supply but he didn't have any money. How did he pay them?

Just two days and then another journey to Srinagar airport where, Sam told me quite astoundingly, the security made Israel appear totally lacking (although you never actually feel the security there...) As had been the case in Athens, Zach behaved like a totally revolting toddler. No concept of other people. No concept of his behaviour. No concept of the consequences of his behaviour. He lit a cigarette. They confiscated his boarding card. Sam flung the letter from the High Commissioner under their noses. Somehow they allowed him to board the plane.

On board the saga continued. Notwithstanding having fed Zach barbiturates to make him sleep, he drove them all mad. I'm surprised that they simply didn't open a hatch and push him out. God knows I've felt like it...

Sam made the decision that there was no way that they could get Zach to hospital in Delhi themselves. He called his guy there and an ambulance was waiting, practically on the tarmac. A doctor, two nurses and a strong guy who drove. This was plus Sam and Rickey. In his state, Zach thought it was the airport bus. Even though there was a huge red cross on the outside, he somehow couldn't put two and two together. His behaviour, however, within the confines of the ambulance (probably aided and abetted by two very pissed off compadres) was disgusting. There was no doubt that he was, to put it mildly, 'insane.'

So, at the time of writing, Sam and Rickey are sitting down to dinner (and strong drinks, too, I hope). Zach has been 'sedated.' A meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning and a plan is being conceived of. Is there such a thing as a room where no drugs can be smuggled through? A doctor who can reach him? A light to shine into his befuddled brain? I mean, Ketamin two days into his holiday. I ask you...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Modern technology, heat, altitude and internet gremlins

Internet pressure. From here, it seems that every time that I sign on, I get signed off or go offline or simply the connection doesn't like me, so there's been a bit of a delay in getting on to here and I've been caught short, so to speak. It's hot and sweaty though and I like that, although it means that ten minutes after I've taken a shower and head out into the sun and the blue skies and the lack of cloud or rainbursts or thunder, lightening and golf sized hailstones, that I should really return and re-run the shower and the talc and the deodorant and get dressed again. But it means that soon I'll have nothing left to wear and will have to go to the laundromat but I expect that that will be an experience.

So far as I know, both Sam and Rickey are in Leh. I received a short email from Sam yesterday, telling me that neither of his phones work there but that there was ample internet. They hadn't seen Zach but that from asking around, he was 'living' in a 'house' with 'foreign degenerates.' I'm not too sure how the 'foreign degenerates' came to be given that appendage. Who by? Probably the local police. One can imagine how these people view foreigners who go to these stunning locations in order to blow their minds on all kinds of mind-blowing material. They must despise them.

Two Australian girls knew of Zach. Maybe they pointed Sam and Rickey in the right direction. I don't know because I've heard nothing more. It's frustrating. You get used to instant information. But then years ago this was the norm. So normal, in fact, that no one would have gone off looking for Zach or anyone else like him. He would no doubt have been concerned about. Maybe even worried about. But who would have gone off to try to find him and bring him back?

I guess that I can reiterate how modern technology has actually been more of a hindrance than a help in some situations. Well, only time will tell. Meanwhile I check my emails more than I should, if only to gather an insight into what could possibly be happening to all three in Leh.

The mind boggles.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

'Have Son, will Travel'

Ok, so this is it. The wild goose chase begins again. All those miles under the belt. More jabs, pills and potions. More phone calls to high commissioners, attendance at an embassy. Airline tickets and doctors' prescriptions. Only this time I'm not going. Sam and Rickey are.

Good old Rickey. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Or so I tend to tell myself. 'Another road trip,' that will appeal to Zach. I couldn't do it. For the main because it's up there in the Himalayas and I get altitude sickness at eight hundred feet. Leh is, what? About twelve hundred feet? The thought of it makes me dizzy.

Sam's fears are that because of Zach's psychosis, someone will take him out. 'I couldn't live with that on my conscience,' he told me. 'Those shopkeepers are just waiting for him to do something more...' 90% of me still thinks that he should be left to endure his life the way that he's decided. I still wonder whether he shouldn't be left there to come down eventually but he's still my son. It's a dilemma. One which we shall never know the right answer to.

So Sam and Rickey are on their way to Heathrow this afternoon to take the night flight to New Delhi, an overnight there in a business hotel next to the airport (and no doubt some wonderful food) and then the 6.00am flight to Leh on Monday morning. What will they do when they get there? 'We'll be making a plan at the back of the plane,' Sam told me. A good cop/bad cop regime? Who knows. Will they find him? How will they find him? What will they do if and when they find him?

Chapter 24.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Losing oneself in Leh

When do you know when to draw the line? Is there a line to draw? When do you make the decision to discard, to abandon? Do you have to continually tell yourself that you are responsible for your children, even when they are no longer children but of an age that they can have children of their own?

Sam got another call. Three weeks from the time we received the first, telling us that 'all was not well.' Ragesh had sent a text to James, a friend common to both Zach and Sam. A producer who had worked extensively with Zach; who had visited him on psychiatric wards and who had once taken him in a child's plastic ukele. 'Anything,' he said, 'that will give Zach some kind of focus...' It was a charming gesture. I wonder what happened to that ukele.

How on earth did James get this text? Obviously in some kind of 'sane' moment Zach imparted this bit of knowledge. 'Zach's literally living on the streets,' Ragesh told Sam in heavily accented English. 'I've been giving him food. He's got nothing. No belongings. No food. No water. No phone, nothing... He's very bad.'

Zach's been arrested three times and released. The police still have his passport but Zach's inaccessible, in a kingdom somewhere in the Himalayas. It takes five days by bus or jeep to get to Delhi. Sam arranged to send some money to Ragesh, to pay for the food that he's been supplying but the money hasn't been collected yet. Ragesh sent an email. No one is interested in allowing Zach comfort he said. They won't open their doors to him. He's far too grandiosely manic for them.

Now the Embassy are on to it. For a change. 'Your son has had an interesting life,' mentioned the High Commissioner in New Delhi. I told him in a further email that yes, that's quite true, but that I had already written the book. They're trying to work out how to get him to Dehli to a psychiatric hospital. Five days by road but an hour by plane. However, no plane will want to take him. Rickey has offered his services again.

Ragesh was pretty plain in what he feels should happen. ' You must come and take your son, otherwise you will 'lose' him...' So where do we go from here? Is he not lost already?