Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dear Crisis Intervention of Houston (Carbon Copy to the White House)


Crisis Intervention of Houston is proud to be part of a new effort to help save lives through a partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Line Network (NSPL) and the White House.
In January 2009, the Obama Administration initiated a process for the public to voice concerns directly to the White House via email. This resulted in an outpouring of emails from thousands of individuals whose concerns ranged from financial and food assistance, to medical insurance. Some of the individuals who contacted the White House expressed thoughts or threats of suicide. 
In response to the influx of calls, the White House asked NSPL to provide follow-up calls to individuals identified as potentially suicidal. As the Region 6 Center for the National Suicide Prevention Line, Crisis Intervention of Houston is providing follow- up telephone calls, emails or mail to potentially suicidal individuals identified to be living in Houston or the surrounding area. 
Crisis Intervention of Houston is assisting in this effort by contacting these individuals and conducting a suicide risk assessment which requires some detective work and lots of patience. CIH's work is part of a progress report made by NSPL to the White House every week. 
We are proud to partner with NSPL and the White House as we continue to reach out to people in crisis and provide the kind of support that saves lives.

This may be the most humiliating post I've ever had to write.  But I do have to write it.  It is one of those truth-telling days.  The sun is out.  I conquered my phone phobia and called my Mom.  (Yes, I know, it is more of a Mom-Calling Phobia than an actual fear of the technology.)

I do need to say, in defense of any jerkiness in writing, or thought, that my left leg, hip, and lower back, are all conniving against the composition of this post.  There is screaming -- rhythmic, short bursts, nothing arduously continual -- involved, as the Spaz Attacks laugh in the face of 40 mg of Baclofen, 8 mg of Tizanidine, and a Kroger Diet Ginger Ale.

I am a true fan of President Obama, and of many of his policies.  We could do a rundown, but if you're a Dear and Dedicated Reader of this obscure and odd blog, that would be the height of boredom.

Yes, I am trying to avoid what needs saying.

I write the President, and with excessive frequency.  Possibly with excessive openness, perhaps with insufficient deference.  Weirdo that I am, I consider him a friend, especially in the middle of the night when the pain is winning and all of Marlinspike Hall snores in blissful slumber, from the few country mice in our myriad cellars and crags whistling midst dreams of artisinal cheddar wheels, to the Holy Abbot Truffatore, hiding from the heavy duties of his office at the Cistercian monastery, our closest neighbor, snoring with blessed abandon.  If I listen hard enough, sometimes even the muffled snuffling of the Crack Whore napping alongside the whispering waters of the moat reach my hyper-vigilant ears.

What better time to write the President of the United States?

Maybe it was the letter where I chastised the university system that studiously underemploys its many "adjunct," "visiting," and "assistant/associate" professors, denying them not just the oft-discussed tenure but the rarely referred to basic benefits of employment -- a living wage, access to health care, that kind of piddly stuff.

Yes, I bet it was THAT letter that did it, that put me on The List.  I probably said something like: I have deferred my plans for suicide because my brother Lumpy, the Professor, was diagnosed with an evil cancer, already metastasized, the bastard, dastardly enemy!  He had not had enough funds to purchase insurance prior to President Obama and Friends' pushing through the Affordable Care Act and setting up the MarketPlace.  So, by the time he had affordable health care... no thanks to the university for whom he'd labored like a slave for over 25 years... his first doctor's visit came with the ominous pronouncements of "tumors, masses, MRIs, referrals to oncologists." Just months before, he'd made his first ever visit to an ER, only to be treated as a drug-seeker, and told he probably had a rotator cuff injury.  Right.  Make that Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma.

So, it was probably that letter that set off the "suicide" risk alarm button in the White House Reading Room, where every letter to the President is closely perused.

Though it might have been any of the letters that tried to explain the frustrations of a "rare" or "orphaned" disease like CRPS, and the idiocy those of us with it are forced to confront in an often futile effort to get help.  I might have used the old chesnut of CRPS being known as "The Suicide Disease."

In any event, the dread telephone rang this morning, after the second night of Screaming Ninnies and ineffective 100 mcg Fentanyl patches, Percocets, Baclofen, and ibuprofen.  The ultimate proof of failure, and pain's triumph?  It bust down the gates of music -- It ran through Ben Harper, The Decembrists, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, The Band, Townes Van Zandt, Frank Sinatra, various timeless chorales, even knocking Nina Simone off her intimate stage.  Even the spunky Brett Dennen had his red locks blowing in the wake of the pain's wind. Damien Rice was left standing, but barely -- more of a stagger than a stalwart stance.

So I answered a call from a caller I did not recognize.

It was the Crisis Intervention Of Houston (Inc.) calling "on behalf of the White House."

No coffee in my system, but three cats attached to head, right hip, and square upon my chest, I thought, "Well, of course.  Who else would be calling this fine Sunday morning but some suicide prevention hotline on behalf of my friends in the Barack Obama Administration?"

The very nice person on the other end of the connection wanted to make sure I "had access to all the resources" I need.  Beyond a loaded gun, I assured her resources were to be had aplenty here in Tête de Hergé.

No, I managed to set aside morbid humor and reality just long enough to be completely mortified that my finely tuned letters to the President had set in motion, not the rectification of health care and employment injustices impacting human life, itself, but, rather, a concern that I really meant to perform DIY amputations after consuming scads of methadone washed down with the best of a single malt scotch.

So, a sincere statement of thanks to that wonderful woman who made that cold call, and appreciation to the Obama Letter Reader who put me on the Suicide Watch List.

Suicide is part of the daily routine when you live with this much unrelieved pain and disability for this long, and the only assurance doctors can supply is that the future will be the same, or worse. When you don't sleep nearly enough, especially in consecutive minutes.  When "hope" is a construct, and you spend way too much time comforting those you'd hoped might comfort you.  When your financial resources are destroyed, and your career made a laughing stock of a memory.  When you cannot even hold someone else's hand because it feels like an attack with Sand Paper Set Ablaze.  When you cannot talk about any of these things due to the fatigue of those few still around, trying to help.

And when the person upon whom you have dumped the most, with whom you have shared every detail of the journey turns out to be so damned ill, and so ill-treated?  To someone as weak as I am, lacking the stern moral fiber of my ancestors, suicide seems quite the viable option, and so is considered, daily.

But thank you, Crisis Intervention of Houston, and White House staffers, for caring enough to put me on The List.

Imagine the impact if you bypassed those such as me and called some of the suicidal veterans returned from multiple deployments?  Last I checked, 22 veterans a day kill themselves.  They don't endlessly whine, they don't "blog" it, but maybe they write their Commander-in-Chief now and then.

Like I said, this is the most humiliating post ever, and yet, in the intent of all parties is a desire to "do good," and to stop, or slow, the bad.

Dear President Obama...

© 2015 L. Ryan

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