I already feel like we’ve reached crisis point on several occasions during the last week…
On Monday night, my Mum phoned me in tears. Dad had got out the house. So I drove around looking for him. When I finally found him, he did not recognise me and it was a struggle to get him into the car. He was in a manic state. Completely confused, completely irrational. I had the difficult task of trying to convince him that I was his Daughter. He was a lost man, walking the streets, proving, in no uncertain terms, that he was completely vulnerable and a risk to himself. I then spent time with him and Mum at their house, doing everything to calm the situation. Knowing that the following morning I would need to get help.
After work on Tuesday afternoon, I met the Mental Health Practitioner at my Parents’ home. After an hour’s chat with us, she concluded that Dad was not yet in a state of full blown mania, but hypomania. Bullshit!!!! I don’t have a degree in mental health practises, but what I do have is experience of mental health within the family. Luckily, my Dad has only ever had one episode of mania prior to this. I might have just been an 11 year old child at the time, but the experience will never be forgotten. This Mental Health Practitioner, in essence, was saying that Dad was not yet poorly enough for admission! … Or the cynical part of me would suggest that she couldn’t afford herself the time to start the ball rolling. My Mum has always been reticent about her life. She has never been a person to ask for help, she’d always be the person to throw herself into others’ difficult times and help them. To hear my Mum say that she couldn’t cope with Dad’s behaviour was totally indicative of the complete exhaustion she has been feeling. Again, my Mum’s own deterioration was really not being considered by our Practitioner.
On Wednesday morning, I’d been at school for half an hour, when I got a hysterical call from Mum. Dad had been in a horrific state, awake most the night, and had got out the house. Hearing Mum crying and knowing I was 20 minutes away from the situation felt unbearable. Once again, my work were really empathetic and I raced home. On the journey back, I rang the Police to start a missing person action plan. I then spent the rest of the journey ranting to the Mental Health Practitioner, telling her I was not prepared to wait for a horrific incident before I was heard. An hour later, my Dad was found and the Police brought him back to the house. The 3 Officers were more use to me than the Mental Health Team had been for the past 2 difficult weeks. They all appreciated my Dad needed hospital admission.
The same Mental Health Practitioner arrived shortly after the Police had left. She could not get any sense out of my Dad and agreed he was manic… But still no hospital admission!! So, my Dad was put on anti-psychotics from that afternoon. Anti-psychotics are extremely risky for a patient who’s suffered a stroke. His 78 years also increased his risks of side effects, including bad spatial awareness and the possibility of falls. Marvellous! So, as my Dad was still moving at 100 mph, in an elated state, my nerves were completely frazzled.
The anti-psychotic drugs had the paradoxical effect, and simply exacerbated his mania. Sunday morning, at 2am, my Mum phoned us in a horrific state. My Dad was shouting in the background. Bugs and I got straight around there to see my Dad in a very scary state of mania. He was suffering from the worst hallucinations and was convinced that people were in the house. It was terrifying to witness. The house was a mess. Neighbours’ lights were on. I rang the Crisis Team, and an ambulance was an hour away, but making its way to us. At this stage, my poor Dad was talking to people in the room (there were no people, apart from Mum, Bugs and myself). My Dad has always been amazing at speaking French, and he was speaking, in French, to one of the people he saw. He then began to speak German. I didn’t think his German was quite as good, but he proved me otherwise on this occasion. It was the most weird and scary experience to see. He didn’t know who my Mum, my hubby or I were. As he was pacing back and forth across the living room, I was watching thinking what a tremendous strain mania must have on a person’s body and brain. Especially a person, post stroke, who’s body and brain is already damaged. The body and brain, at that point, cannot slow down, everything is working at the most horrific speed. My husband then decided it was too dangerous to wait for the ambulance. So we left Mum to try and sleep, phoned to cancel the ambulance, and drove him into hospital ourselves.
Luckily, we were given a room really quickly, where staff monitored Dad’s blood pressure, took blood etc. My Dad spoke to Clive and I, non-stop, it was exhausting. Eventually, at 8.30am, 2 Mental Health Practitioners arrived at the room. I can’t begin to say how amazing they were. Completely empathetic to the situation, and desperate to get my Dad admitted to a secure unit as soon as was possible. We had to now wait for 2 Psychiatric Doctors and a Social Worker to come and assess him. One of the Practitioners told my hubby and I to go home and try and sleep. Reluctantly, Bugs managed to persuade me to do this. We were assured that Dad would be monitored. No sooner had we got home, we had a phone call from one of Bugsy’s ex-colleagues to say he’d just caught Dad trying to leave the A&E building!! We couldn’t believe how lucky we’d been that Ian just happened to be going into A&E himself. He found out where Dad was meant to be, and escorted him back to his room. Cue Clive and I tearing back to the hospital! The ward were really apologetic that he’d been able to get out and walk towards the exit… I’m not even going to imagine how it could have been without the lovely Ian being in the right place, right time xxxxxx
Finally, at 4.30pm, my Dad was assessed by the team of 3. Again, these people were so proactive and very supportive of Clive and my efforts. My poor Dad was still talking nonsense at great speeds. By this time, he’d been awake for 47 hours. They could not establish capacity, so Dad was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, he’ll now be in a secure unit for the next 28 days. As I sat in the ambulance with him on the way to the hospital in another part of Exeter, I just couldn’t believe what we’d had to go through to get him help.
As I watched my husband helping my Dad into his pyjamas in his new room, I just felt so completely drained. It had been a huge battle to get Dad help, and why? Why does a family need to be at the end of their tether to be heard?
I don’t know how I would have coped without my Bugsy yesterday. 18 hours in hospital with a person suffering from mania is no picnic. I love my Bugsy so much. It was as upsetting for him as it was me. We met when we were 12, so he didn’t see my Dad poorly the previous year.
As we left the hospital, my Dad was walking around asking for “Mary.” It was totally heartbreaking. He looked so lost, so fragile and so vulnerable. I have to admit that I cried the whole way home; Tears I’d kept in the whole, long night/day. Tears of relief that we’d finally got Dad to a place of help. Tears of guilt, that we’d separated him from Mum. Tears of just complete exhaustion.
Our daughter, Hattie, had looked after Mum and taken her for sea air yesterday. We got home at 8.30pm to homemade lasagne, made by Hats. She literally is our angel on Earth xxxxxxx My Mum, in her own fragile state, struggled to make any sense of what had been happening over the last 2 weeks. Poor thing, such an ordeal for her. It was such a relief yesterday that Hats was taking care of her. So grateful for my hubby and children.
Today, my Dad is being assessed by the Dr in the unit. Apart from the fact that he’s still in a manic state, he’s also suffering with total lack of spatial awareness. Yesterday he was stumbling, his left side was weak and his right arm was trembling. It could also be that he’s suffered a second stroke.
Again, I write this blog as a therapy. I’m hoping to look back on this shitty chapter of our life one day and know it made me grow as a person!