Once in a while, I get to talk to my brother without the schizophrenia getting in the way. I had a talk like this recently, and my heart is still warmed from it.
The part that made it truly great, was that he answered the phone. On bad days he won’t even pick it up. On average days he will answer the phone, but get rid of me quite quickly. But once in a while, I get not just a glimpse of my amazing brother, but I get to see that he still completely exists.
Treating his symptoms of auditory and visual hallucinations requires 2 meds. Treating his anxiety requires 1 med. Treating his blood sugar fluctuations caused by antihallucination meds requires 1 med. Treating his sleep disorder requires 2 meds, 1 for sleeping and 1 for waking. Treating his stomach troubles caused by the sugar meds needed to balance the antihallucination meds requires 1 med. Treating the migraines requires 2 meds, 1 med daily, and 1 at onset. Treating the mood swings requires 1 med and causes overeating and weight gain. I may have missed some, but luckily my mom keeps track of all of that for him. Each med is adjusted each month, some up, some down, based on his tolerance and symptoms.
So, to have him answer the phone at 9am while mom was out, was shocking and pleasing.
Me:Good Morning. How are you?
Him: I don’t know yet, just woke up.
Me: Oh, did you sleep well? Are you back on the sleeping pills? (He has to take breaks once in a while to rest the liver and make them still be effective as he builds up tolerance)
Him: Yes, I’m back on the sleeping pills, it is working better now. But I had insomnia and did not sleep for the 4 days I was off them, so doc put me back on. That first night back on was such great sleep. I love that. I actually sleep all night when I get back on after a break. And I fall asleep right away, the voices just all shut up and I can sleep. (apparently the dreadful voices he hears never sleep – so he has to tune them to fall asleep each night. He has special sleeping music to help drown them out too)
Me: That’s good, you need your sleep. I don’t hear your coffee pot yet.
Him: No. I got a diet coke – too tired to make the coffee yet.
Me: I understand. Mornings are rough for me too. Hey is that your guitar I hear? Did you get it fixed?
Him: Yes, got it back yesterday. All new frets, it sounds brand new again.
Me: Wow, you play it so much you wore out the frets?
Him: Yes, frets are like car tires, need replaced once in a while. They might not look bad until you look real close. The frets are soft metal so you can push on them, and they start out a bit rounded. After you play, they get flat. Which is funny, because it makes the notes sharp. (he laughs at his joke)
Me: (I laugh too.) Good one! I’m so glad you got it fixed the way you like. I bet you’ll play it all day long today, right?
Him: Yup. I have a new mix I’ve been playing in my head waiting to get it back. Think Mom’ll mind if I eat one of her chocolates?
Me: No, I think she’ll be happy you saved her some calories. She’ll be happy to share.
Him: MMmorkay (mouth full of chocolate) but if she gets upset I’m telling her you said it was okay.
Me: Deal! Enjoy your day – good talking to you, I’m off to work.
Him: MMMoooodguy (Goodbye still full of chocolate) Thanks for taking time to talk to me. (Awww – he feels like we’re all too busy with real lives to waste our time on him sometimes)
- Linking genes, cerebellums and schizophrenia (newscientist.com)
- Loving someone with Schizophrenia (roots2blossom.wordpress.com)
- A journey through schizophrenia science (mindhacks.com)
- Myths, Misconceptions – Schizophrenia Powerpoint (spinalflow.wordpress.com)