I was in Arkansas Tuesday.
The kids and I left Alabama at 7am and met my in-laws in West Memphis where I handed the kids off and continued on my way to the hospital where my dad was in ICU.
Cause ICU’s where you end up when you try to kill yourself. That or the morgue. Not quite sure I would have been in such a hurry if he had been in the morgue – not like he would have been going anywhere.
And that’s how it’s been for the past two days: lots of levity as a coping mechanism. At least I realize I’m doing it.
A few weeks ago when he had threatened to kill himself, I had gotten upset and cried and pretty much acted like I figure a daughter should act when her father threatens to off himself. But after a couple of days, some “evidence” was presented that suggested I was getting played again.
And then I got the call on Monday that he was in ICU and I didn’t get upset.
I called the hospital and spoke with an admitting nurse for a long time and the next morning we were on our way. I keep expecting to fall apart and get all upset but it hasn’t happened yet and I don’t feel like I’m burying any deep-seated emotions or anything.
I’ve just finally gotten to that place where I’m done. Like ultimatum done.
I can keep him there for 72 hours if he doesn’t agree to it but past that? I can’t save him; he has to save himself. How cliché, right?
While I sat with him, I listened to him bitch about not being able to smoke and the fact he might eventually have a roommate and how the only TV is in the “group room.” Instead of looking depressed about how things had turned out, he was plain annoyed…though at times he’d become extrememly contrite and I didn’t feel he was trying to trick me.
Once he got done bellyaching, I started cracking jokes.
My main goal wasn’t to cheer him up. My main goal was to make him realize where he was…what was going on with him. He was born in ’51 and that generation doesn’t do too well with mental illness; it’s something you ignore and/or don’t talk about. Not something you admit and then get help for. Definitely not something you joke about.
So maybe the, “I was going to get you a card but apparently Hallmark doesn’t make a ‘I’m glad you didn’t kill yourself’ card” was a bit over the line but that was the first thing he laughed at so I figure if he didn’t mind then everyone else can go to Hell.
I was trying to impress upon him just how critical it is he find a long-term inpatient program. He and I both know he won’t keep outpatient appointments and he’ll be lucky if he keeps on the meds they prescribe. Anyway, I had a flash of brilliance and this is what I came up with.
You’re swimming in the crazy pool. I hang out in the kiddie pool; the crazy water’s right around my ankles. You’re in the deep end of the crazy pool. And what you did on Monday? That was your head going below the water. And those paramedics? They’re like the life guards. The counselors and shrinks are your swim instructors who are going to teach you how to swim down to the kiddie pool part. And the pills? Those are your floaties!
By that time, I had impressed myself and was getting excited. He just rolled his eyes at me. Can you believe it? That analogy was a stroke of genius!
At any rate, he’s still there with no TV and no smokes – I’m surprised I didn’t have to force him to stay for the 72 hours. I’m shocked he’s carrying through with something he said he’d do.
Only time will tell if he can get to the other end of the crazy pool.