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Thank you Nick ! (for your comment). So good to hear that you are taking care of your wife. Yes it is a struggle. But then helping eases and heals the pain. It did for me. Pain and sorrow or happiness, these are just two faces of the same coin which the controller of our destinies keeps tossing into the air and whichever face that falls on the road which we travel on, decides the moment.
When Schizophrenia afflicted my daughter, I discovered that happiness was no longer a right but a blessing. I still remember the moment of happiness when I saw my daughter smile, twelve days after she was put on Haloperidol. She was sitting on a mattress on the floor and she looked at us and smiled.
She was responding to Haloperidol, prescibed by the psychiatrist of the Military Hospital. He gave us time, he responded to our questions and he could establish a rapport with my daughter. All this, while there were long lines of men waiting for their turn in the corridor. He told us that there could be stiffness. On the second day of treatment she became so rigid, her face contorted, frothing from the mouth, that we had to carry her to the car and rush her to the hospital. After a couple of injections we had to bring her back home as Military hospitals do not admit women in the Psychiatric ward Women are treated only as 'out patients'. Initially she was on 20 mg of Haloperidol and slowly it was brought down to 5 mg.
Vacations were always spent every year with our families who stayed in the same town. We would visit relatives and they would visit us. But when the illness struck, a chasm opened between us and our families and we were alone. The families felt that my husband and I were depriving my daughter of marital bliss and that had caused the illness. Angry and bitter words were spoken. Exhausted I used to weep in the bathroom. I had to decide as to who needed me more. I had to take care of my daughter, so I stopped speaking to my parents.
We are all alone, I thought in moments of despair. But then there came someone, my father's old friend. He stood by us through the days of recovery risking a fifty year old friendship with my father. He gave my husband, my son and I so much of strength and urged us not to give up. When I told him my fears of my daughter's future, he would sing an old song,' Que sa ra..whatever will be will be, the future is not ours to see...'
My husband got books on Psychiatry from the library and we started learning about the illness. We asked the doctor if he could tell us if there were any support groups and halfway homes in Delhi. He said there were none.
Since it was a Military Hospital, after a year and a half, the good doctor was transferred to another Military Hospital in another town and a new doctor took his place. By then my daughter had started working. Most of the symptoms that had troubled her had disappeared but she was unhappy and anxious about the weight that she had gained.
When we met the new p-doc, he decided that Haloperidol was 'too strong' for her and prescribed Chloropramazine. When we asked him about it lowering the seizure threshhold he said 'nothing can happen.' I still remember the return of the old feeling of uneasiness and fear. The next day, she had a seizure and started to relapse. It took us five days to convince the doctor to put her back on Haloperidol. I still dont know why he switched medications when all was well. Most of his patients were men from the armed forces who had served in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. They were simple men from the far flung villages who looked even more befuddled when they came out of his room. Sometimes we could hear him shouting at his patients. When my daughter recovered, she said that one day she would write a book on psychiatrists in which more than a chapter would be devoted to him!
At each visit he would ask her if she felt like shuffling cards. When she would reply that she did not play cards, he would thunder at her,'Are you sure?'
Perhaps the change of medication, when all was almost well - changed the course of the illness to a chronic nature.
We didn't have to endure this p-doc for long because my husband being in the Air Force was transferred to another town.
Its 3 in the morning...shall continue..