Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Of utilities and a waiting game

I've spent most of the day on the phone. In his infinite wisdom Zach doesn't pay bills. Therefore the red ones spirit their way to him predictibly. At the moment there's no electricity in his flat; his filthy flat with the dirty dishes still in the sink. Everything is sticky and I think that Ratty has made himself at home among the piles of pots and pans and garlic bulbs. There's no washing up liquid, of course and the bathroom - you don't want to know. Miraculously everyone I've spoken to, from EDF electricity to Thames Water and British Gas have been incredibly polite, helpful and humane. I've had none of the 'I can't speak with you under the Data Protection Act.'

Obviously call centre personnel are now trained to deal with problems regarding customers with problems. Severe problems. When I explained to the chap in the call centre for the gas supply that Zach was in hospital in the very same city that he was working in, he was just charming. He was probably happy to divert from his script and discuss something outside the usual parameters within which he has to work. He knew of the hospital and where it is situated and wished Zach better and only the best for him.

Now I have to go and spend the day at the flat and wait for a man to switch on the lights. I could well do without having to do that. I'll have to sit in the car, as there's nowhere to park legally and wait for someone to turn up. The things I do for Zach. Does he actually appreciate anything? Unlikely. Frustration turns to anger.

The latest is that Zach may be leaving for London in about ten days. He won't be entirely well but it comes to a point that it will be unproductive having him in hospital. Ideally he would be an outpatient for months to come but he can't live in Delhi. No doubt it will be fun and games when he comes back because, naturally, none of this episode will have been his fault. It never is. He put the phone down on me last time I spoke with him because I told him that I personally would have left him in Ladakh. This time I'm going to sit him down and tell him exactly what I think of him. How well will that go, I wonder.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Blogging blogs that are hopefully read

The inherent problem about writing a blog is that you don't know who's reading it. You look at the number on the stat counter - when it works. Mine, for the second time, decided to give it up and now I've had to start again at the beginning. Frustrating but, ultimately, egotistical. No?

You sit down, you stare at the screen, you begin to write something and then, hopefully, you find a rythm, and something that makes sense invariably turns up. It's like the (famous) Henry Mancini concept: you sit at the piano, you know you have a piece of music to write, you know that you have x time to write it in, so you do and it gets done. Don't ask me how.

So I'm writing my blog and people are reading it and sometimes you get a comment (I wish that there were more!) that floors you. Who could it possibly be from? Who knows so much? Who is it that actually offers more information than you actually have yourself? Your imagination flows. So why be anonymous? And angry?

Little has happened this week. I think that the meds are kicking in. I believe that Zach is now taking a medication that counterracts the desire for heroin. I also believe that he's far less manic but, in a conversation with Sam, Zach still expresses his desire to use cannabis. So, then, what is the point of all this? Just a re-hash (sorry, my pun) of all the previous histories. Isn't it about time that he actually took stock of his life and there was some self-examination? How about going completely clean? You know, no drugs, apart from those medically prescribed? Wouldn't that make sense?

What makes sense is that Zach continues at the clinic in Delhi and enjoy the weather once it clears up and somehow make use of the facilities of detox and rehab and introspection and if and while that happens, I'll write my blog into the ether but hope that I do, indeed as a consequence, get more comments - whatever they are and whoever they are from.

And, by the way, Happy New Year!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Bipolar Days in sodden Delhi

It's been a bipolar week, so to speak. At one end messages of stubborness and starvation, at the other, some better news. It's still raining. The consular official is still stuck on the road to Kashmir because of a landfall during the last days of his holiday. Ironic really, considering that only a few weeks ago Sam, Rickey and Zach were driving along the very same road. At that time only the bridge was out, delaying them for about five hours. This time the side of a mountain has landed on the only road west and so far it's taken five days while Her Majesty's representative has wasted his hours among the trucks and four-wheel drives and their angry and irate travellers, truckers and vacationers. No one knows when he'll get back. The thought of this having happened while Zach, Sam and Rickey were on their way is just too awful to consider.

So another member of HM's High Commission visited the hospital, umbrella at the ready, trousers lifted high above his shoes, his suit jacket splattered with the tumbling rain. He met up with Ragesh and Zach and noted Zach's 'jolly, jovial mood.' Yes, indeedy. Zach was 'jolly and jovial' while he was able to get what he wanted. When he didn't, said HM's rep. he retorted to 'violence.' The reason that poor Ragesh is needed so desperately is that Ragesh keeps Zach calm. I remember a large hole created in a wall in a well-known London hospital. The flat that we had bought so that Zach had somewhere to live other than the streets here was pretty well destroyed before we threw him out two years ago. I doubt that he's violent towards people. It's inanimate objects that he tends to lash out at. Doors, tv controls, walls, guitars.

Yet for the first time since Zach has been diagnosed Bipolar we received a written report from his consultant in Delhi. Isn't it disgraceful that even though he's been sectioned here what, nine times, that we've never had this before? Dr. J. in Delhi was thorough. He wrote about the medication prescribed and it's effects; he wrote about Zach's behaviour and also what they are doing about his drug problems and how they are tackling them. At the moment there's no time scale involved. Another local patient would 'recover' somewhat and then go home and go back to the hospital as an out-patient. Because Zach has no home or family there, he will have to stay in hospital until he, too, 'recovers', if at all he does. The irony is that he travelled to India in order to be cleaned up. Maybe, in this convoluted fashion, he may well end up being 'clean'. How bipolar is that?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

It's a Hard Rain Gonna Fall

New Dehli is awash with streams and puddles and it's steaming. The temperature outside is around 35 centigrade and it continues its monsoon. No one is left out of the downward cascade. Around the corner from the hospital is a slum. Sam described the moment they came upon it, trying to find their way back to their hotel. Dozens of women, bottoms up, using the lanes around and about for their personal toilets. He said that the smell was indescribable - as was the sight of such squalor juxtaposed with the skyscrapers of Delhi. I don't think that Zach will want to escape into this - without money or passport.

Things aren't too pretty in the hospital either. Ragesh is fed up with the situation that he's found himself in. The staff at the hospital don't treat him well. Class and caste distinction in India may have eradicated itself on paper but on the ground it exists well into the twenty-first century. Ragesh is a Tibetan Buddist. This is almost on a par, it would appear, with the dalits, or leatherworkers, of the lowest caste. He's called names and treated as Zach's skivvy and Zach, in his mania, isn't too nice to him either. What a gem he is. He's still there. I think that maybe he doesn't want to lose face and leave or that he's totally loyal to Zach or he's frightened to tell us that he wants to go. We ask him each time. 'Ragesh, do you want to go home? You can, you know. Don't feel that you have to stay with Zach...' But Ragesh demurs and he's still there. 'It's been the worst time of my life,' he told Rickey. What to do?

Then there's the other thing. The thing that Zach refuses to eat hospital food. Initially I felt that it was spoilt behaviour but remembering the swill that they served up in the clinic in Greece, I can guess that it's not Le Gavroche or even Wimpey. I've a bet that Wimpey would be gobbled down with alacrity. Indian hospital swill is probably not too inspiring. Being almost 6' and skinny as a broomstick, Zach could do with calories. He's not going to get them by going on hunger strike. I guess that other patients have their families bring in food from home. It's a bit far for us. Ragesh gets pizzas for him but one can't live on pizza alone.

So Zach's angry and he's kicking out and breaking stuff and I presume it's because he's hungry and the meds don't work properly without food and he's not well and it's all very frustrating being so far away and unable to do anything proactive. I thought, for about a minute or two, that I would go and then jumped back. What's the point? Apart from taking in food, within quarter of an hour Zach would be at my throat metaphorically and we would be shouting at one another.

So the rain continues to fall. Ragesh is bemoaning his fate and Zach is starving himself but not into submission. I've asked Chabad to visit him and take him something to eat. I've not heard back. It's a 'good deed' I said in my email. Hopefully someone will plop through the puddles and the downpours and deposit a pot of chicken soup on the hospital cot. Am I dreaming?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Safety in Delhi?

I made a friend recently. Elsie, I'll call her, runs the antique stall in the village. A real eccentric, smells wonderfully of expensive perfume, hugely charismatic and jolly in the extreme, she asked after Zach. 'How's your boy?' she enquired while Monk, my waggy Max replacement, bounded up at her in joyful exhuberance. She knows Zach. When he's reasonably sane he takes Monk for walks on the Heath. He passes by Elsie's stalls and stops, no doubt to louchely light a cigarette and chat to Elsie or to talk with Ken her partner about the latest football stories.

I imagine Zach there on a cold winter's day, collar up, huddled over lighting the fag, while Elsie regales him with the latest local gossip. He's charmed her. When she saw me after Sam had returned from Delhi, she then too enquired about Zach. 'Where's your boy? I haven't seen him for weeks...' I told her what had happened to him. The journey to Leh. The meltdown. The drugs he had apparently been fed by the 'friends' he had made while they watched him as one does a clown or the funniest comedian. Her face fell and tears reached her eyes. 'I know just how you feel,' she said to me. She didn't have to say much. I could tell that she really could empathise. 'You know,' she continued, 'it's not his fault. When you start to lose it, the distance between the time that you can stop and do something is so small, so very tiny that it's almost an impossibility to do anything about it...' So she knows a lot about this, I thought.

Today, after being dragged around the corner by the ever-affectionate Monk, almost knocking over the bric-a-brac and pictures and into Elsie's arms, she asked again after Zach. I considered the question. How do you answer it? 'He's safe,' I said. She looked up at me and smiled. 'Well, that's something, isn't it? At least he's safe.'

I suppose he's safe. We're, what, five, six thousand miles away? We have to trust the hospital, the consultant, the attendants, nurses, Ragesh... We don't really know what's happening there but then we didn't know what was happening to Zach when he was in hospital in Greece or Ecuador or Thailand. Various people gave us feedback. The only feedback we get from Zach is that he 'shouldn't be there.' When asked by Sam why, his answer was that he should still be in Leh, 'fighting the fight in Iraq/Afghanistan...' Whatever that means. Still delusional, is the reply.

So safety is paying hospital bills and bills for Ragesh and extra bills for Ragesh to go and buy food for Zach because Zach refuses to eat the food at the hospital and then there's more clothes to buy for him and... Well, it's still safer him being there than here because at least we know that he's not knocking around the streets of Delhi, making his home in a market and scoring as much as he can from the local dealers. Well, at least I hope he's not...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Football's wonderous clarity

I suppose that clarity returns when part of a 'conversation' turns onto football. That hadn't happened for something like two months. It's a semblance of sanity and something that we can grasp on to. The rest of the conversation didn't much resemble the sanity we want but there's time yet to go.

The call is now for money. The problem is that by sending money to Zach, we don't know in whose pocket it will end. Ok if it's for McDonalds or pizza but not such good sense if it's the local dealer and knowing Zach's propensity to smell out the ones who take the money and then deliver the goods, we don't want that. Another dilemma. According to Zach, Ragesh wants to go. Hardly surprising there but do we believe Zach? Maybe it's a ruse to do away with Ragesh so that Zach 'manages' himself...

So it's back to the consultant tomorrow. The last words that Sam had with him, the kind doctor told him that Zach's MRI was good; that he was 'progressing' and that they do rehab there. Zach feels that there's no need that he remain there in India. He can 'take a sedative and take the plane home.' Oh, yeah... 'And,' he added, 'continue detox in London.' Raised eyebrows and downturned mouth. The thought of that...

Why is it all so difficult? The continual juggling with thoughts and opinions and ideas and never any real advice from anyone. We have to make these decisions and hope that they are the right decisions. We want Zach to stay in hospital until he comes down enough to be able to steer himself through some kind of rehab. 'You didn't have to bring me to hospital.' Someone will speak with the consultant about money. 'I need money. I don't have any money. You can't survive in Delhi without money.' Send me, send me, send me... As if somehow that will be the answer to everything.

As usual there's no insight from Zach as to why Zach's in hospital in Delhi. Always someone else's fault. His arguments are currently falling on deaf ears but for how much longer? When the entire conversation focuses on football? And then...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The cords that bind and the chords that strike

He shouts at Sam, 'What IS this place?' Then, realising that he knows all along, he simply raises his voice and belittles Sam about the first hospital. 'It was the worst! They tied me to a bed and wouldn't let me go..!' It's amazing how mania makes you forget everything. The fact that this latest hospital was a small, private facility in a large Indian city is irrelevant to the now.

The first time I came across Zach in this predicament was in Athens. This, too, was a private hospital. Here he had been shackled to a rusting metal bed by a leather strap and a lock with a key. Sounds medieval? It was. He was practically comotose, though. There was no need to disihibit his movements. One step and he would have folded, like a pair of trousers, onto the grubby floor. This was the reason, the consultant later told me, why they had shackled him to the bed. To stop him from falling out. But the amount of meds they had given him would have obviated that argument.

This time in Delhi, in the full glare of the hospital lights, surrounded by nurses and doctors and attendants, Zach had to be packed down onto the bed. He was out of control. Maybe a padded cell would have been the answer? He hasn't done padded cells yet. But the hospital, sweet as it was, didn't have that option. He had to be tied down before he did himself or anyone else real damage. He remembers the cords but not the reason for them.

There's no real news at the moment. Just the few words from the consultant to say that the real work will begin when the meds have made their way across the deluded mind. We can only wait until we hear that that has happened. Until then, our imagination will have to be utilised and the occasional phone call from Zach, angry and despondent and humiliated, will assault our senses.

I see that Julie Myerson has had her book published in the USA, not to great acclaim. But that won't stop it from being sold in the thousands. Any publicity, it would appear, is good publicity. She's been largely criticised for glibly 'outing' her son in this book. The general concensus is that he appears to have behaved like a teenager - and yet she threw him out. It's the connivance between the two of them that has struck that chord. All too convenient.