I hemmed and hawed a little before writing this, went back and forth, wondering if I am just needing an outlet to vent, but ultimately I feel like this note might positively effect the quality of the remaining life my father has. I think everyone agrees he needs and deserve more, and more freedom, but I am equally certain we all agree at this point he is not capable of it. And of course the likelihood is that his weaknesses will only continue to deteriorate, perhaps exponentially, or not (he has surprised me for quite sometime with his mental and psychical will to continue on :))
I recently visited and he was literally (and boldly) talking to people that weren’t there (people from his past) and using them in conversation. Much of it was part of his elaborate scheme to get out of where he is-to “flee”. I only get a snapshot of his daily and weekly routine, but I assume this isn’t entirely new, yet at the same time I am quite sure it is a step further down the path to dementia. There is the likelihood and possibility this is related to his new medication that was suggested he was moving onto.
His stuff was packed and he said he was moving, and since there was talk in a recent meeting about moving him to a different block/section, I had to double check. Sure enough there was no truth to it, but rather I was reminded he tries to leave everyday, so he constantly packs his stuff. I have good reason to believe now that the mystery person moving his chair out of his room was simply him. I also get the sense from the limited talks with the doctor that he is perpetually restless psychologically exactly in this manner.
A doctor we talked to downtown at the psyche-ward explained he has delusions of “grandeur”. This word struck me in regard to the parts of the brain (perhaps metaphorically because I don’t know the science at all) that involve dreaming and wish-fulfillment. Whether its a deficiency in that part of his brain, or another that sends his thought process to this part (like a broken computer), it seems clear that much of his “delusions” and “fantasy” have this “grandeur” quality. He talks about going to Hawaii, and having a million dollars here or there. These are things that were not really otherwise in his sights.
It is my understanding that his propensity to flee and this continually “broken” return to grandeur-esque fantasy are remnants of an intense (hard) period of addiction that family wasn’t really able to document and so isn’t able to reflect on.
I think for various reasons really deep and intense addiction, at the very least and probably most importantly, chemically causes a fight or flight response, which is exasperated by our lack of tolerance for hard drugs and addiction plus the illegal-ness of procuring and taking the drugs. Many contributing factors cause a drug addict to flee (these are often, but not always different for men and women I have no doubt).
I think it’s probably likely this is relevant to his medication, that he wouldn’t be such a risk for much at all if he didn’t have such a propensity for flight. His medication probably is somewhat targeted to deal with this and also his sleeping pattern which must likely be either the same area of his brain or a complementary area (thus critical to function or recovery whether recovery were to be expected or not).
I myself had some success using marijuana with him, which became completely necessary for the brief time I cared for him shortly after he had his (single? Major?) stroke. His emotional state, believe it or not, was less stable, as I think his brain was still figuring itself out from the hospital where he was quite disorientated for multiple weeks (he did eventually figure out how to get to the grocery store, buy a list of groceries, and come back and cook dinner (this was far more than I felt he was capable of but I could never stop him and the more I tried the more he resisted)). Nobody knows if he was doing hard drugs prior to this, but its extremely likely, or at least likely that he had a massive stroke prior (which the doctor seemed to emphatically deny).
His emotional state would spiral out of control, he would storm off with money I couldn’t confiscate (it was his), and buy alcohol. He would make phone calls all night, and make to switch his sleeping pattern to be awake at night and asleep during the day (this was obviously frustrating in regard to trying to get some of his old “normal” though patterns back) .
On multiple occasions, he would lose his temper completely, he would spiral up out of control to the point where no matter what was said or done he would lose complete control in anger. Eventually I could calm him, I’d get him to have a few puffs, and he would regain composure.
I strongly believe that this is an artifact from drug addiction.
I believe today, the part of his mind that would flee for drugs, STILL tries to flee, but he is no longer addicted, so it doesn’t know where it is going, it just needs to go. I don’t think he would be satisfied anywhere. I think his mind flares up and he doesn’t know what he wants. Nobody wants to be in the position he is in, but he doesn’t complain like a normal person would. He doesn’t say he wants his old life back, he just says “show me how you got in this place, and I’ll find the bus stop.”
It’s exactly how an addict would proceed but he clearly is not addicted to a specific substance like he might have been before (and/or the medication is helping that).
For all this, I am suggesting, that perhaps there is a way, to try a few small sessions and doses of marijuana, perhaps discretely in the court-yard with a vaporizer that won’t smell or disrupt anyone. I would nearly do it myself without asking but I think its not such a big deal I would mention it anyways.
There are different strains of marijuana, the thc is what makes a person paranoid and psycho-active, the thc gets you “high”. I have access to strains that are not so high in thc but rather the other useful ingredients.
I really think that he would be noticeably more manageable from this, I don’t think its an addictive plant, and I don’t think the therapy needs to be a daily thing either. It might be quite helpful for him to have a couple times a week where he is relaxed and can trace his own thoughts. When he lived with me it helped him watch TV and pay attention to what was going on.
It will also add something to his schedule that indirectly gives him a feeling that he is home (waiting for therapy etc.).
In the past at least, it also excited the humor part of his brain and so he was a lot more social in general. Just having it once in awhile I think gave him something to reflect on, and I can’t help but feel there is a positive effect in regard to exciting different thought processes (stimulating SOME kind of change or learning or growth allowing the possibility so overcomes difficulties by thinking around them differently).
I am quite confident marijuana will directly address and calm the fire that is my father’s propensity to flee. Provided it at least helps somewhat, there is also another natural plant/cure that is relevant which could provide a stronger solution if fleeing is still a psychological and chemical problem beyond marijuana therapy.