Previously on Ceej: A Mental Breakdown…
Part XII: A Stay Of The Insanity…
“I heard you were having problems here,” He said.
“How did you even know I was here?” I asked, “Weren’t you in Tunica?”
“I was almost there,” answered, “but you’re my son, and I wanted to help. Tom called me. He says there’s a place that can help.”
Tom Lynch was my therapist from the Mental Health Centre. He wasn’t a very good one, but he seemed about average to me at the time. He knew I was homeless, and I don’t think he meant any harm by anything he did to me. He had told my father of this place called Decatur General West. It was in the same town that Regional was in, but it was the mental ward of Decatur General Hospital. It had its own property, and only took patients who admitted themselves. Sure, it was another mental hospital, but it beat living on the street. Plus, once I started receiving my money, I could leave at any time. After all, that’s how it works when you admit yourself, right?
So, after a brief discussion with my father in the hallway of Huntsville Hospital, we decided that I would admit myself to Decatur West and play the game over there for the rest of the month. After all, it was nearly December, and I got paid at the beginning of January. There wasn’t much time left. I could battle it out for a month.
When I awakened locked in a room with an uncomfortable cot, I thought to myself, “at least they don’t strap you down here.” What happened for me to be locked in here? That’s right. They used their brute force to take away my CD player and I fought back. I needed to talk to Dr. Brem about that in the morning. In the meantime, I’d just bang on the wall to tell them I’m ready to sleep in my own room. Yeah.
As far as mental hospitals went, this place was nice. It wasn’t a resort or anything, but it was about as close to one as a mental hospital could possibly get. They still woke you up at 5:00 AM with needles. I don’t know of a resort that does that. In fact, the first night, the nurse tried three times to take my blood and missed the vein all three times. I pulled my arm under the blankets and said, “Three strikes and you’re out, bitch.” She threatened to tell the doctor, but my response was, “Yeah. You tell the doctor how you don’t know how to take blood. That’ll go over real well. In fact, since I don’t really believe you’ll tell him, I’ll tell him for you.”
As far as playing this game, it was relatively easy. Convincing the doctor to cancel all future bloodwork because the nurse couldn’t hit a vein if it was her own and the drug would save her life was a breeze. That was December 1999, and the last time anyone got close enough to my arm with a needle to take blood. I haven’t had labwork since, as much as they’ve prescribed it. The system was still annoying. Don’t get me wrong about that, but it was easy, and even fun at times, to play.
They got me back sometimes, though. Their little group therapies were annoying (except for the art and billiards ones where I made beautiful statues and hustled a few quid, respectively), and the game where you had to hurry up because the doctor needed to see you RIGHT NOW, but you still had to wait an hour for his last appointment to be over really got on my nerves.
All in all, I think I came out ahead. Paid for completely by insurance for crazy folk, I got a month’s worth of free food (which wasn’t five star, but was still better than most of what I was eating at that point in my life), free housing, free exercise, and entertainment. The only real drawback was the mental hospital stuff.
And when time came for me to go, I couldn’t just leave like I thought, or I’d have to pay out of pocket for leaving against medical advice, but getting that medical advice was almost as easy. I got a day trip a week before the day I talked them into discharging me to rent a flat with my new money, and I was discharged from the hospital on January 3rd. I was a free man once again.
Of course, there were some conditions. I had to continue seeing a therapist and psychiatrist at the Mental Health Centre, I had to keep taking my meds, and I had to go through the convoluted system of getting my money through MHC, as I didn’t receive it directly. Though, how hard could that possibly be? It had to be all downhill from here, right? Right?