Friday, November 29, 2013

Medical Alert

I have talked about this before but today I followed through with it. I purchased Thomas a medical alert dog tag necklace engraved with all of the pertinent information to help first responders deal with him. I realize I am taking a risk that he won't wear it because his paranoia might not allow it but he has assured me he will and that he thought it was kind of cool.

It's scary what you have to do prepare for the worst case scenario. Just THINKING about the worst case scenario is scary. I ask myself so many questions about what I should and shouldn't be doing to prepare and admittedly I have dropped the ball on so many things. I think my doing that is a function of still being in denial about this diagnosis. I have never been this strong in my belief that he does, in fact, have schizophrenia though and the more things I do to prepare to care for him, the more I am faced by the realities of this illness for him.

I have been lucky so far with what I have had to face. In his worst moments he has come to me for help and in his best moments I get a window on his world by way of some well-timed, well-orchestrated conversations. I'm fairly certain there is a great deal I don't know but I do consider myself fortunate to have the information that I do. If he were to go missing today or have a run-in with law enforcement, I feel like I would be able to provide everyone with current, detailed information about what he's dealing with.

The thing is, I can't ignore what I have been told by doctors in the past. I have heard a few times that with the fixed nature and type of delusions that he has that he will have a run-in with law enforcement by the time he is 23.


I don't think I'll ever get that number out of my head and in my most worried moments I measure the time between now and that day. I realize that is not a fixed date and that if we pass it by, we're not in the clear but it is definitely a marker in my mind for what to plan for in the future.

As I designed and worded his dog tags this morning I have, more than once, held my head in my hands and asked myself,

"What the hell happened here?"

"What is going to happen to Thomas now and in the future?"

It's so easy to be lulled into complacency as the weeks and months pass between the now and the last hospitalization or the last round of medication roulette. I'll admit it, I can't put enough distance between those two points in time. But then what sneaks up into my consciousness is that there is also the point in time between the now and what the future holds. I know that NOTHING in life is guaranteed but the diagnosis of schizophrenia has a way of casting a pall over the future because of its track record in the average person. The truth of the matter is, while Thomas is pretty closed-mouthed about his beliefs, I know for a hard, heart-breaking fact that he is just biding his time until he sets into motion what he wants to happen. He tells me often that he is just waiting until a certain age when he feels people will listen to him and take him seriously and then he will do what he needs to do to accomplish what he wants. Rest assured as it stands right now, he has no violent intentions but he definitely has a goal in mind for his future. Knowing all of that, I would be crazy not to pay attention to everything, plan for the worst, and pray like crazy that what he wants for his future never comes to fruition.

So, getting the medical alert necklace today has been a sobering project for me. Seeing it all engraved into a dog tag passes me, not so gently, into reality and as I read it over and click the purchase button I think about who will see it and under what circumstances it will be needed. I will have to wait and see if he will wear it consistently and more than that, I will pray that he'll never take it off when he's out.

Just FYI, here is what the tag stamped with the medical alert emblem reads:

Thomas _____ / birth year/ NKA
Home address
Melanie (Phone number) Mom
Paranoid schizophrenia
Govt delusions-fixed

I'm taking a huge risk by putting in the part about the delusions but my thinking behind that is that if law enforcement gets a hold of that they will know what they are dealing with and how to respond. I know that it can backfire and cause prejudice but I am praying that it will have the opposite effect and will help them better understand what they are dealing with and maybe step back a little and be as thoughtful as they can in their response.

I know, who am I kidding, right? All I can do, though, is the best I can do to prepare for the worst and all I can do is pray that in the moment that it all goes awry that the very best in the human nature of the responders is present and they will treat Thomas with the best that they will have to offer in the circumstances under which they will find themselves.

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