Monday, 16 August 2010

A Mediterranean craziness

They moved the crazy lady. At 7.00am a barrage of voices; the loudest being the local homeless woman who had colonised the empty house next door. And what a house. If I would win the lottery, what I could do with it. Sam's most adamant that it would make the most amazing abode. However, the crazy lady had spent I don't know how long in the path that led to the back garden. Bags full of bottles, cans, plastic, were piled head high. When they eventually cleared her out the detritus lay on the road opposite. Tarpaulins filled to the brim with mattresses, shelving, prams, umbrellas, flower pots, crockery, chairs, a step-ladder, stools, book shelves, rugs and hundreds of plastic bags stuffed with who-knows-what. The crazy lady fed the cats. She lived among the bags in a twelve-inch-square of habitation. She wore the same filthy grey (they could once have been white) jeans and once-white t-shirt the entire time that I saw her. She would coax the cats out from their lairs and feed them genteely, laying out rows of silver foil bowls of food and others with water, picking up each cat and kissing it and caressing it so that even though it lived in the wild (so the speak), it was loved.

The crazy lady is now gone, although where to, I've no idea. They told me that they had offered her a place in a homeless shelter many times. Each time she had refused. She would be given a bed, a shower, some food to eat and be allowed to spend the nights there, so long as she vacated the premises during the day. She didn't act too crazily. She didn't talk to herself; she didn't shout or scream or throw things at passers-by. I saw a man conversing with her, while trying to give her some money. She shook her head. So was she a 'crazy lady'? I guess that she had to be to live like that. Who would chose to live in squalor and dirt and disarray? Even in this most habitable temperature? What is craziness?

Meanwhile Zach is traversing London. The phone is gone. So, too, possibly is the computer. He's tying things. He told us that the hospital had discharged him. That, apparently, is a figment of his imagination, although he's still been discharged from the ward. His mood fluctuates. Maybe by the time September comes he'll begin the downward curve towards the winter's despair. He doesn't mention the dog.

[updated on the 19th August]

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Nothing changes among the 'carers'

I'm not there but I get the phone calls. Zach was discharged from hospital yesterday. Two weeks ago he was dodging the traffic. According to our wonderful health care workers he's compos mentis enough to be let out to do it all over again and no responsibility will be taken by them. It's the weekend, you see. Not enough staff nor resources to look after those who are ill. Who cares about them? No one. It's very sad. I'm sure that Zach is not unique here. Not enough psychiatrists, beds, support staff, continuity. Has he been given a Community Psychiatric Nurse this time? He never has had one. At least while he was going in to the unit he would, I believe, have discussed his medication. I doubt that they actually made him take it. Against his human rights, you see. Now he's free to stop again and on to the swings and roundabouts.

Zach was meant to be looking after the dog while I was away. He has yet to mention him. Sam managed to get him to the dog sitter while Zach was playing among the cars. How can I ever trust him again? Who knows what could have happened to the dog if we hadn't the presence of mind to organise the trusty D?

I wonder whether it's better in any other place. In New Dehli they looked after him until he was sufficiently compliant and had had to take the meds. Why have human rights superceded real care and support? Is it a sop to eradicate any kind of responsibility?

The phone calls are still bizarre. Zach's angry with Rickey for 'being anxious' about him. "Why can't he just leave me alone and get on with his life" was Zach's angry retort on the phone when I asked him whether he had seen any friends. Eventually none of his friends will bother. Only the other ex-hospital inmates and addicts will be drawn to him but none will be able to give him the right kind of support. How much does one do?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Usual negligent, irresponsible 'caring profession'

When you lie in the main road at a major roundabout, or else dodge the traffic, you expect to get picked up by someone. This, it appears, is what happened to Zach ten days ago. No shoes. Maybe no sunglasses either, or the usual stuff tied to his belt. No keys, that's for certain. Rather scary for the drivers on this particular stretch of road. Luckily it was the middle of the night. Off to UCH and then the transfer the following morning to the local 'hospital.' It's in italics but there is really little of the hospitable about it - apart from the new ward and nice new beds and curtains. Really makes a difference to the mentally ill, doesn't it?

Zach was sectioned again. A 28-day section so that they could 'evaluate' him. He was out in less than a week. Six days. A bit of medication and some enforced sleep and there you go. Out to the streets of Camden. Calls us up in the middle of the night garbling rubbish. Usual questions: 'What are you doing?' elicits a stream of 'What's it to you?' type of response. Won't discuss medication. Shouts and manic laughter at the end of the phone. Admits to cannabis, yet again. 'Calms me. It's my life...' Yeah, and what about everyone else who suffers as a result.

Sam is fed up with it all. 'If he didn't learn after 2006 and especially what happened to him in the Himalayas last year, then he'll never learn...' I know that Zach will never be responsive to treatment or any kind of therapy. Maybe Sam's right. Maybe we should give up on him completely. The problem is that when he's 'fine', he can be delightful; charming, warm and witty but I wish that he would have more insight and just grow up.

And the local 'hospital'? We left it to them. 'If anything happens to Zach this time where he goes completely into orbit, let it be on your heads,' he told the 'nurse' on the ward. If anything happens to Zach this time where there's a dreadful outcome, I think that we should sue the bastards.