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Lost Among Us~

Mentalillness
Mental Illness
Picture credit: Chitrapa

 

Once again, splashed repeatedly all over every News Channel, is a story about a person with a mental illness, who has attacked innocent strangers in a public place and then lost their own life.

This latest tragedy was done by a homeless person who has been in and out of places where he should have been kept, safe.

Safe for him, safe for the rest of us.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and should never have been released into an unsuspecting community, who could neither help, nor understand his pain and anguish, nor his propensity for uncontrollable or violent outbursts.

The last two places that I have lived, California and Connecticut, have for all intents and purposes, shut down and/or closed nearly all of their outpatient, or public mental facilities.

Access to good Psychiatric treatment has been greatly reduced around the Country, but for the indigent, it basically no longer exists.

Persons who are unable to cope, or deal with the everyday challenges of life outside of a safe facility, are now being put out onto the streets, where they have no clue as to what to do.

These mentally ill people are admitted, kept for a short time and then because of budget cuts across the United States, released back out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

This is difficult enough to do with normal brain function, but for one that is nearly incapacitated, or badly impaired, as well as homeless, they are left to just wander around among us, lost and not understanding what is happening to them, or why.

We have endless money to send a huge military force all over this planet and spend billions on War, and all that is connected to it, but when it comes to those who are poor or afflicted, we often show little compassion or concern.

We must take care of our sick and desperate people, or there will continue to be tragedies in Theatres and Schools and the Workplace.

These wretched souls quite often cannot ask for help, as many of them do not understand that they are ill.

What they need is care, medications, kindness and a safe place to live in.

At any given moment, ” There but for the Grace of God, go you or I.”

Any one of us could be just one devastating accident, illness or mugging away from an impaired mental state, or permanently diminished capacity.

We should know better and do better, for them, for us.

No one should be alone and lost among us.

 

Places to learn more:

 
Schizophrenia

Police: Assailant in latest movie theater attack was homeless, had psychological issues

Police Kill Suspect in Theater Attack in Nashville

Antioch Movie Theater Shooting in Nashville a ‘Suicide by Police’?

911 call describes Tennessee theater attack: ‘He pulled out a gun and we all ran’

 

 

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Keeping Them All Safe

Autism_spectrum_infinity_awareness
The Autism infinity symbol        Picture  credit:  Eric…

 

There have been so many stories on our news recently about people and children wandering away from their families and home, I felt obliged to write about them.

For years after moving here, I often was alarmed by the numbers of elderly persons we saw here in various stages of Dementia or even Alzheimer’s, who are still driving and out on our roads.

What are their families, their doctors and the state of Florida’s DMV thinking?

These people need to be off of the roads, before they kill themselves and/or others.

They are not safe to drive.

They are also not safe to be left alone in their homes without any supervision.

The story today was about an autistic young man who had recently done this and his mother Donna chose to bring his/their story to the press in the hopes that others might be learn from it and also be helped.

She makes some really important points, especially about the fact that drowning is frequently the primary cause of death in a wandering autistic person.

Donna can also expect to be engaged in a battle,  at least here in Florida, where our politicians are still dragging their feet to allow extremely ill children to have access to the already approved medical marijuana, under the Charlotte’s web provision.

This mother wants to speed up the political process (bill) now being considered for an electronic tracker that will locate him quickly, if and when he does wander away again.

My thinking as a former Rehab and Geriatric Nurse, as well as the mother of a physically challenged son, is that there are others with challenges who should also have access to some sort of tracker, not just autistic children.

Here in our own neighborhood, an elderly man wandered away from his home weeks ago and still has not been found.

Quite often, patients in Nursing and other types of care facilities, walk right out the doors, often, with no one even noticing.

Thankfully, most of them are found before they are harmed.

But if they had a tracker on, this would protect them and save the caregivers at the facilities hours of searching for them.

The tendency to wander away is quite strong in those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other affective disorders, especially those with Autism.

So as this bill is being reviewed, in my opinion, it must absolutely cover and include providing tracking devices to all who need and will benefit from them.

Those who care for persons with emotional and/or mental or physical challenges, are often suffering in silence and forgotten about.

This is a terrible tragedy in our society.

Being a caregiver can and does drain these people to the point in some instances, of doing unspeakable things, even murder.

Unless and until you have been in their shoes, you may never understand the despair, the fear, the grief, the hopelessness and the guilt that they deal with on a daily basis.

So, if there is even one thing that we, their families, friends, co-workers, care givers or government representatives can do to alleviate any of it, we should do it without a single moment of hesitation.

Special children and adults are part of our Global family, they belong to all of us.

We need to, we must do, everything that we can, to keep them ALL safe.

 

Places to learn more:

New bill proposes voluntary program to monitor those with autism, other conditions

Senator Calls On Feds To Address Autism Wandering

What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Autism

Dementia

Alzheimers

Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures

 

 

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Can You See My Pain?

schizophrenia
How the world feels like with schizophrenia
Picture credit: Craig Finn

 

Watching the horrific story unfolding yesterday at FSU brought back memories, that I was sure had long ago been sent to an unretrievable place in my mind.

The young man who opened fire at the College Library had recently done some, according to neighbors, out of character, or extremely odd things, giving those near to him an insight, a clue as to what was coming.

But that only would have helped them help him, if they had been aware of the signs, or signals, that predict, or point to violent behavior.

If you have been here for a while, you know that many years ago, I was treatment Nurse in a California Rehab Center for four years.

It was the most rewarding, most fulfilling time of my life.

During those four years, some  of the 125 patients at the facility became close to me.

One in particular was especially dear and we had many memorable conversations.

This young man was a college student who had attempted to take his own life,  by jumping off of  the roof of a building at  the same school that my three children and I were attending at the time.

Although his effort to end his life failed, he was ultimately hospitalized and became one of my patients.

Over time, this sweet, soft-spoken boy/man learned to trust me and opened his heart and thoughts to me.

Some of the things that he said, were never really confirmed, Google and computers would be years away.

So, I had no real way to prove, or disprove, the explanations he gave for his past behavior that he shared with me.

On several occasions, he told me that the greatest time of risk for mental breakdowns, at least he believed for males, was during late puberty, around the ages of 18-20, which is when it happened to him.

He also said that those with higher IQ’s, who were under great pressure in College or other, with  little or no strong family support to absorb some of it,  were usually the most at risk.

The powerful surge of hormones, during this period of time, he explained could cause those with a propensity for mental, or emotional trouble,  to  ” go over the edge,” as he did.

I listened to him every day, telling his stories and sharing his thoughts, with no clue as to what was to come.

He seemed fairly well-adjusted to the facility at the time and seemed to function well and interact with others.

I had no way of knowing that what I saw was an act.

He was not truly adjusting to the environment and was apparently still extremely unhappy.

This sweet young man finally succeeded at ending his life.

I came in to work one morning and the reaction of the other staff, was the giveaway that something terrible had happened.

The Charge Nurse came to me and consoled me about what he had done.

Overnight, he, like Robin Williams had recently apparently done, hung himself with his belt.

I was completely overcome with grief because I felt guilty.

I had been close to him and failed to see what was going on.

To this day, I have never forgotten him or what he did..

Seeing the young man yesterday and what happened to him brought it all rushing back.

This young man who went on a shooting Rampage at FSU yesterday,  like my patient so long ago, apparently had much of the same conditions in his life as well.

Many of these shootings, or what appear to be random killings, are not being done by hardened, career, or violent criminals in  recent years.

Consider the Sandy Hook shootings.

They are being committed by troubled souls many of whom come from what seems to be good families without any financial troubles.

For me, one thing that they all seem to have in common, is that they needed to get to someone and they frequently do attempt to reach out, but in most cases,  too late.

If there is any lesson in these tragic stories that just keep repeating, it is that if we, that is you and me, don’t get involved when a little alarm or bell goes off in our heads, we must bear at least some part of the blame for what they ultimately do to themselves and others, for not speaking up,  or acting on it.

When my particular young man was sharing and baring his soul to me, I was quite new to the environment of a Mental Health Facility.

I spent the entire time in a room and they were brought to me for their treatments.

I was not expected to be involved in any other part of their care.

Had I had years of training, hopefully I would have picked up better on any clues that he may have been sharing with me and possibly have intervened or stopped him.

I will never really never  know if I could have or not.

But, what I do know,  is that he is always right here in my heart and I wish I could have done more.

Like the young man yesterday at FSU, I wish that someone could have reached him somehow and helped him.

Today, as you go through your normal daily routine, will you think of these young men and all of the others like them?

Every day, someone, somewhere, is asking for help and no one hears them.

They could be a neighbor,  a co-worker, a relative, a friend, or just an ordinary person that we see everyday and if you look into their eyes, perhaps you may see a clue.

I truly believe that they want us to know that they need help, but don’t always know how to say it, or ask for it.

We must all try to be better listeners.

They are speaking to us and asking:

Can you see my pain?

 

Places to learn more:

Reports on FSU Shooter Describe Sudden Mental Deterioration, No History of Violence

Gunman at Florida State Spoke of Being Watched 

Police: Gunman killed after shooting at FS

Officials reveal details about FSU gunman

Shooter was FSU grad, ex-prosecutor ‘in crisis’

Schizophrenia – Wikipedia

 

 

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Making Marrow Matches!

navymarrowdrive
Capt. Todd A. Zecchin
June 28, 2006 – Mayport, Florida, during the ship’s Bone Marrow Drive
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Adam Herrada

 

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

This is a very difficult subject for me personally to write about, as our beloved Airedale,  Sabrina died of T-Cell lymphoma just three years ago. She was fairly young, at six years and very healthy, it took us by surprise, and went so fast. Her disease and her suffering were unbearable for all of us. Blood cancers don’t only kill people, they kill our beautiful pets as well.If you suspect a symptom with your pet, if you have any questions, or doubts, ask your Vet!”

 

For over ten years, locating a Bone Marrow Organization specifically directed towards assisting Indigenous People, Native Americans, or Alaskan Natives, in this Country has eluded me.

Much needed media attention, hype and hyperbole, was showered on the various Blood Cancer and Bone Marrow Groups, by the recent airing on GMA of Robin Robert’s illness, treatment and eventual Bone Marrow transplant.

She put a public face on a relentless, vicious,  killer disease and gave those also suffering from it, hope!

Robin was one of the lucky ones, as her sister turned out to be a perfect match, but for millions of Americans in this Country, there is/was no happy ending, no perfect match for them.

Many Native People on remote Reservations in America,  have two factors that can delay or detract  from them getting the treatment that they so desperately need,  a local Doctor to recommend them and just basic everyday, ordinary access to them.

Often Native Elders have no access to transportation,  or a local Doctor who is able to refer them to the next level of care, or treatment, on their particular Reservation.

This can make getting the help that they need, nearly impossible.

Right now, there are Native People who are suffering in silence and dying,  without ever getting to the help that they need and that is available to them.

According to a graph on the site below,  once Native Americans do get to the Bone Marrow Organizations, their chance of finding a match is right at 90%.

While this number appears to be quite impressive, please remember that this is, if and when they get there!

After contacting a National Bone Marrow Organization, yes the exact same one that was so vital to Ms. Robert’s recovery,  a phone conversation yesterday with their extremely helpful and dedicated, Marketing Director,  yielded much valuable information, that I am now passing along to you.

If you, or anyone you know, is in need, won’t  you please forward this on them, so that they may have a fighting chance against an insidious disease,  that does not discern between its victims, blood cancer, otherwise known as,  Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma.

Here is the asked for and kindly given,  comment from their Director of Marketing, Tanya Wright:

 

“Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma. They desperately hope for a marrow donor who could give them a cure.

Be The Match® connects patients with life-saving donors. And right now, an American Indian or Alaska Native patient in your community likely needs a hero just like you, willing to give a small part of yourself to give someone a cure.

Here are some things you should know:

  • American Indian and Alaska Native patients have a harder time finding a donor than other diverse patients.
  • Patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ancestry, and American Indians and Alaska Natives combined comprise only 1 percent of the registry.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native marrow donors are urgently needed to save patients everywhere.
  • You can be the difference between life and death for someone in need.”

“You can join the national registry now to save a life by visiting BeTheMatch.org, learning more!”

Information about why diversity matters (in relation to marrow transplants)”

http://bethematch.org/Transplant-Basics/Matching-patients-with-donors/Why-race-and-ethnicity-matter/

Thank you!
Tanya Wright Strategic Marketing Specialist, Supervisor

Tanya Wright Strategic Marketing Specialist, Supervisor
3001 Broadway Street NE Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1753
Phone: (612) 627-8113  Toll Free: (800) 526-7809 Ext 8113

The cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary peopleSM. BeTheMatch.org.

 

Thank you Tanya, now here are some other places to learn more about these diseases:

National Bone Marrow Transplant Link –   (this is the mother of all Cancer Links, start here)

Event tries to attract black bone marrow donors

The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation – (For Jewish Patients)

The Bone Marrow Foundation

Kinds of Blood Cancer 

American Society of Hematology

Health Resources and Services Administration

Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches

DKMS

 

 

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