A Walk In My Shoes
The Saint Could Not Save Him
I had met him through a mutual friend in November 2002. Dan was tall, lengthy and had hardly any muscle tone to him. As I grew to know him, love him and observe him as I always did with people I got to know, over the years I noticed his muscle mass was shrinking. I had taken him to a doctor to test his testosterone levels and they were quite low, but the doctor said, “That’s because of his age. He’s nearly 40, this is expected.” That diagnosis, in 2008, didn’t set well with me. There was something else going on.
A few years later, in October 2012, an old classmate had come into town, finding me on Facebook. We started chatting it up and soon he came to visit to meet my husband Dan. It had taken a week to catch my husband’s work schedule from Boeing to get a chance for the two to meet on a weekend, but little did I know what an eye opening encounter it would be.
I had to nearly force Dan to come meet this old classmate. He was reluctant to do so because it was something new to experience. He never did well with new interactions. New situations, even new foods he had a hard time dealing with, but he trudged along for my sake. All I wanted to do was help him have a better life than the one he was so poorly raised in. After a few minutes, Dan came out of his study.
“Dan, this is that classmate I told you about. This is Chris. We were in NJROTC together in senior year at Marysville-Pilchuck High school,” I smiled feeling the excitement rise in me and behind that excitement of hope in adding Chris to the current group of friends. I had hoped that Dan was going to be much more coherent and sociable.
Dan stepped back a bit, rubbed his neck and stuttered feeling the kitchen counter top with his hand for something to brace against as his anxiety kicked in, “Uh, hi,” is all he said.
“Nice to meet you, Dan. Tara’s told me a lot about you,” Chris extended his hand in greeting, but Dan did not take it. Instead his hazel green eyes widened and within seconds had scampered off quickly down the hall back into his study not saying a word as he closed the door behind him. Chris stood there for a few seconds dumb struck to Dan’s peculiar style of greeting. Without missing a beat, “There’s something really wrong with him,” he thumbed down the hall, raising an eyebrow.
At this point, I was still party in denial of what Dan’s mental state really was. I had been studying about schizophrenia for nearly six years prior cause I had a feeling something was wrong. The novel I had started writing in summer 2009 about a character with schizophrenia was just a cover so I could continue to study on the subject.
“Oh, that’s just how Dan is. That’s normal for him,” I chimed with a smile, but I felt an unease with those words. I knew right then that there was something wrong with my husband of nearly ten years.
“Really, Tara? Of all people, I never knew you to be this thick headed. I know you can see he needs help,” Chris advised as I listened to the tone in his voice of concern for me. It was then I realized that I could no longer hide the fact that my husband of ten years could not be saved by me. It was that very thought: I can’t save him had crossed my mind, is when I knew Dan’s family had not told me the truth about their son. I could feel my heart break when I realized his family’s betrayal.
If they had told me about his mental illness, I would have changed tactics to either find him the help he really needed or I would have left him at the alter. If they had told me the truth first hand I probably would not be writing this right now. I would have gone off to other things, but being the good-natured, whole hearted person that I am, I couldn’t stand by and let no one love him. I tried to love him were his family had failed in not loving him in return.
Little did I realize that Dan would never be able to replicate the love I had for him, back to me. He had no mental understanding of how to love fully due to his residual schizophrenia. It was not until a week after the divorce papers were turned in on January 26, 2012 that I had asked the question again to his half sister.
“Now that I’m divorcing your brother, what the hell is wrong with him?” I fussed. I was tired of the games his family was playing trying to keep me as the angel to care for him.
“What do you care anymore? You’re leaving him,” she fussed in return.
“I have to know so I can be at peace with all of this. I need to know, now tell me, what is mentally wrong with Dan?”
She sighed heavy, “Dan was diagnosed with residual schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorder. He was a sick baby all the time. He was skinny. Had a hard time drinking milk cause he was always so dirty. He constantly had diarrhea, so it was hard to keep him clean. Mom would just leave him on the bed on a towel without a diaper just crying,” at this point I began to cry. I could picture it perfectly as to how he was treated and my heart just turned to dust. “You shouldn’t cry over this. It happened decades ago,” she added. How could his half sister say such a thing about her baby brother? “Besides, I am to blame in treating Dan so poorly, too. I called him weak and I didn’t stand up to him when Glenn,” their stepfather, “would call him names and hit him. I should have stood up against the abuse and loved him more. I’m grateful that Dan had someone so wonderful to love him. It’s a shame you’re leaving him like this.”
I was furious.
I wanted to reach into the phone and smack her face.
I wanted to go back in time and steal little baby Dan away from that awful place!
After that, I called his biological father. You might be asking yourself right now – ‘Why didn’t she ask these questions early on while they dated?’ Oh, I did ask these questions but I kept getting the run around from all of his family, even his biological father until the end.
“What’s wrong with Dan?” I would ask his biological mother Jill.
“Let Dan tell you,” she always said.
“What’s wrong with Dan?” I would ask his stepfather Glenn.
“Let Jill tell you,” he always said.
“What’s wrong with Dan?” I would ask his half sister.
“Let Glenn tell you,” she always said.
Then it came for me to ask his biological father who was hard to get a hold of due to his very busy work schedule and better life with his wife of 20 something years.
“What’s wrong with Dan?” I asked, the first words out of my mouth over the phone. At this point I was at the end of my rope. If his biological father sang the same song as the others, I don’t know how I would react.
This is what I found out from his biological father after I backed up what he told me. Here are my findings. Again, just as in Part 1, all psychological information will be coming out of Writer’s Digest book Writer’s Guide To Character Traits second edition by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D. Published in 2006. If you want to reference back to Part 1 http://www.psych2go.net/walk-shoes-part-1-brothers-mind-lost/ for the first collection of technical findings, by all means, please do.
Traits Of Children and Adolescents Who Have Later Become Schizophrenic
This disorder is rarely seen in children, and there are few definitive hallmarks in childhood that can predict a later schizophrenic problem. Though there are several characteristics that might indicate a predisposition toward schizophrenia, most children who display some of these traits will not go on to develop a mental illness.
(The above bold text I expressed in the above paragraph is because now, since 2012, there are a small handful of children born with schizophrenia that have been successfully diagnosed. These children are part of a life long study of the mental illness to find a cure. A little later in the article you will understand why I mention this now.)
Possible Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia in a Child:
Is unresponsive, withdrawn in infancy; has poor muscle tone
Is irritable in childhood; flat in affect; easily distracted
Has low re-activity in childhood and adolescence; poor motor functions such as coordination and balance
Is shy and introverted; rarely joyful (girls, all ages)
Is disruptive; displays inappropriate behavior (boys, all ages)
Is unresponsive in adolescence; has poor eye contact, little facial expressions, and lack of voice inflection
Is socially incompetent in adolescence
His half sister, during the good times of my marriage to her brother Dan, would tell me stories of how silly he was while growing up. She would jokingly recount, “He could barely hold that large iron skillet with two hands while he tried to chase me around the house cause we were arguing as to who’s turn it was to do dishes after dinner. I can’t believe he was trying to hit me with that iron skillet when he couldn’t even lift it off the ground!” she laughed.
Dan replied, “What? I don’t remember that.” I was surprised at his remark. How could he forget such an important part of his childhood even though his family didn’t know that their son had a mental illness so strong as residual schizophrenia.
During the first few months of getting to know Dan, I found I was falling in love with him. Then one day, in the first week of January 2003, Dan came down with mononucleosis. His parents brought him home to Camano Island to get healthy. I offered to clean his apartment the entire time he was ill. I cleaned his apartment for one reason: to express how much I loved him. It was not to give up my power as a woman. It was out of real love that I wanted to express in this way. It took a week of back breaking labor from ceiling to floor in every room of the Edwardian style house apartment. A single bedroom, with a large square living room with fireplace and hallway attached to the original kitchen.
Later, when Dan was relieved of his illness of mono, the kissing disease, I saw how much further his muscle mass had diminished. The doctor that did a check up on him was surprised that I had not caught the disease since it was so easily transmutable by sharing of silverware and kissing. I had relayed where he got the disease, but he did not believe me considering his mother and stepfather had told me that Dan was born with a compromised immune system.
“You caught mono from your roommate you had living with you for two years. The same person that introduced you to me – classmate Jenny from Marysville-Pilchuck HS.” She had, all throughout those years of school got around. I knew better than to hook up with her that night during the sleepover at Dan’s apartment that late November in 2002.
Onward with my investigation of Dan’s mental state, as I gradually got to know him through his family, I asked a few questions here and there. The case was building. It was then I could not keep this all to myself. Over time I would force him to go to doctors for different medical situations that came up. As I studied, I found that schizophrenics are born with compromised immune systems. The more Dan got sick from odd things, the more I dug into his medical history through the books I read.
This is what he had during my marriage to him in chronological order.
Concussion at work
Staph infection a second time
Concussion at work a second time
Concussion a third time, along with hairline fractures of his L12 vertebrae when he landed on the stairs backwards
Blocked right sinus due to 2in polup which was removed, sight of his own blood pouring out scaring him half to death
Doctor said to me and him, “If you get a third staph infection, the antibiotics will no longer work for you due to your immune system.”
Doctor said to me and him, “If you get another MRSA infection, the antibiotics will not work on you and could counter act against your already compromised immune system.”
Doctor said to me and him, “If you had landed on your T1 vertebrae, which is connected to the nerve system for your lungs, you would have died instantly due to your lungs collapsing.”
As I mentioned a few times already, that schizophrenia can cause low immunity with or without it being a genetic disposition. The reason behind a low to highly compromised immune system in schizophrenia I would say has a lot to do with the chemical imbalance of the brain. What can enhance the low immunity further to also make schizophrenia worse, could be a protein allergy from cows milk. Dan had an allergy to cows milk and breast milk in general, but it was heightened during his teen years with milk having hormones being injected into cows. The high levels of testosterone, a hormone injected into cattle to bulk up muscle size and increase milk production, can cause a low testosterone level in a child born with schizophrenia. This would then create a compromised immune system. With this in mind, what the doctor said to Dan was spot on – with his compromised immunity he was born with and the low testosterone level, it would counter act with any antibiotics he was given to fight off any infections in the future. His body could not produce the amigo-acids needed to build stronger red blood cells to maintain muscle mass which then drastically lowered his testosterone levels and lessen his white blood cell count.
(Now, I will go on record right now that I may have gotten some of my information wrong from trying to remember this from memory. If in fact I have gotten some of the info wrong in the above paragraph, please let me know.)
As to what Dan’s biological father had told me over the phone in mid January 2012 was quite shocking.
“As you may know, I’m divorcing your son,” I began.
“No, this is the first I’ve heard of it. No one told me, not even Jill,” the inflection of his voice was absolute shock. “What brought this on to happen?”
“Dan has not held up his part in the marriage. I’ve done all that I can, but he hasn’t come through. He ignores me at every turn since the second year of marriage. He had odd mood swings. He eats the same foods all the time. He clams up when I confront him on things that are not rational to get in trouble over. He would get into false fits to make me unhappy and then when I’m crying my eyes out and in crisis he would turn around to treat me like a child who needs healing. He got a reaction out of me and kept doing it over and over. Frankly, I’ve had enough. It’s like raising a child that won’t grow up,” I took a breath. My emotions were getting the better of me, “Tell me, Lee, is there something about Dan I should know?”
Lee took a long sigh, “So, Jill never told you, I see. Tara, Dan was a very sick baby when he was born. His mother had mental issues herself and it was hard for me to get her to stop doing drugs during the first trimester of her pregnancy with Dan. It wasn’t until after Dan was born that I divorced Jill and then shortly after she found Glenn who would care for her small family. I dropped all contact from her after that. When I tell you it was hard for me to reach her, I mean it. She was a difficult woman to deal with even when she wasn’t using acid. There was something wrong with her, too.”
At this point, I realized looking back at Jill’s own behavior that she exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia, particularly paranoid schizophrenia with a hint of residual, too. I hadn’t the heart to tell him of her true mental state as it was far too late to do anything for her and to leave him with a possible burden of guilt along with, would have been bad on my part. I felt he knew inside his heart how really mentally unstable she was.
He continued, “She also drank Diet Coca-Cola, nearly five cans a day, every day since she was married to me. I had looked into it that with the mix of drug use and the constant consumption of the Diet Coca-Cola which has the sweetener aspartame in it, both factors kept eating away at her brain. Whatever was left of her genetics, I’m sure she passed on schizophrenia to Dan.”
Then it dawned on me. Glenn had tried for decades to get Jill to stop drinking the soda, but she refused. Jill was in a trance to consume the same foods and drink all the time. Exactly the same behavior as Dan. She would black out and her short term memory loss got worse. Not to forget, that Glenn continued to bully and name call Jill, too. All the while, Glenn not knowing that he had married a mentally unstable woman who desperately needed medication to control her ever growing symptoms of schizophrenia and at last, she was on medication for her seizures. Her seizures were caused by the constant consumption of Diet Coca-Cola and the drug use in the past had eaten away at her brain. Her brain looks like Swiss cheese, the doctors said, which Glenn had told me later about.
With this realization that Dan, my husband of nearly ten years, was born with residual schizophrenia due to a woman who herself was schizophrenic and took drugs and drank a nasty artificial sweeter to make it all worse without her being conscious of what she was doing to a fetus so early in gestation. Never mind the fact that with the constant bombardment of verbal, physical and mental abuse from Dan’s stepfather, half sister, and possibly countless school piers bullying him making his mental state worse, he would have still had schizophrenia even if Jill never took drugs or ever drank the soda for decades.
To conclude part two, Dan was born with schizophrenia and with the abuse he was given he also developed anti-social personality disorder. When someone hides crucial information about someone just for the sake of protecting them from possible harm, is in fact harmful. To expect a person to suddenly swoop in to care for your ill adult sibling or adult child just cause it is covenant to do so, is also harmful. If you love your family member who is so ill in the mind, you would be in good graces with them and medical professionals if you would not hide the facts from everyone cause you are ashamed.
Shame and a hint of false pride is what kept his family from helping Dan get the proper care he needed. Along with the fact, that now in the year 2015, neuroscientists are finding new workings in the brain of how sensitive a chemical imbalance can be. How malleable the brain is from auditory, vocal and physical stimuli during early development is so very crucial these days.
Join me again for Part 3 – Schizophrenia: A Walk In My Shoes – The Ones Left Behind, where I will discuss about classmates, customers, neighbors and friends that I watched in horror as the disease, they might not even know they have, consume their lives into a viscous cycle.