Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mike's Story Part 57 - The Social Ladder of Psychiatric Asylums

3/13/2007 2:44:24 PM Eastern Standard Time
To Ray Kohlman
Subj:   he wants to know the likelihood of your being named administrator 
[email text] if he died intestate.   he's rattled bcs the will requires three witnesses. he knows i wouldn't help out there. nor should i, if i'm named in it.

i think he could probably get the three witnesses at the stationery store [a central source of materials required by the legal profession and located on the accurately named "Court Street" in Brooklyn, the store could have summoned five witnesses at a snap simply from among their employees] but i haven't suggested it.
   I report Mike's recent actions and conversation to his psychiatrist who strongly recommends hospitalization.  It doesn't have to be Bellevue but the subtext was, if we don’t do something, she’ll have to call an ambulance.
    This is Mike’s worst nightmare which is probably why she didn’t just go ahead and do it outright.  So when he wakes up, we’ll have a three-way conversation.     Best would be if he’d go inpatient voluntarily, a possibility he’s brought up himself.     I suggest he try Payne Whitney, the crème de la creme of loony bins, since if he’s to be there long term, it might be advisable for him to focus on therapy rather than on, “Who do I have to screw to get out of here?”
   [A colleague] has to have his dog put down.  She’s only seven but has spinal cancer.
9 PM:  Mike's psychiatrist is

obviously scared.  She said, “We’ve always operated on trust so I need to be able to trust you tonight.  Because as your psychiatrist I have the authority to call 911 and Jenna, you can too, if you think it’s necessary.  So Mike, do I have your word?”

   She seems to understand that honor counts more than anything with him.

   He’s still stymied by needing three witnesses for the will, or two with a notary seal.  I’m not helping out there, not with suggestions or in any other way.   

To Peter Dale Scott March 14, 2007 

...he's in the inpatient ward of payne whitney, the ritz of nyc mental asylums. it's better than bellevue, he says - tomorrow he can wear his own clothes - but he was freaked out to run into a fellow inmate from his previous incarceration. so the asylum circuit is taking the place of 9/11 and peak oil conferences.
    it was indeed rope that he had been intending to buy at the hardware store.
   the most ominous specter in all this is, i think, his mother's history of depression from the time she was about 56, mike's current age, til she died in her eighties.

March 15 2007  5 PM: Visiting hours at Payne Whitney. I gave Mike a package of chocolate chip cookies which he took gratefully; he's down to 174 pounds and wants to gain weight.
    Being a man of simple tastes, he also longs for dental floss but they don't allow anything in the rope family. Why they let him keep his sweatshirt whose hood closes with a cord is a mystery.     We hung out with his friend X who, earlier today and much to the relief of her fellow inmates, organized a storming of the closed library. (For thirty years she was a labor leader in England, as well as a journalist.)  Perhaps she was energized by her medication.     This evening her brother Y visited her.  He's an actor I'd met years ago at the beach house of Marty Bregman, a movie producer.
   It was a scene out of Woody Allen, this social reunion in New York's hottest loony bin.

   "Did we date?" Y asked.
   "No, but you taught me Gershwin's C Sharp Minor Prelude on the piano."
   Mike said Marty Bregman had, around the same time, been interested in an option on Mike's LAPD story. Apparently, he made Serpico instead.
   Being originally from New York and a long time Bi-Polar 2 (one of Mike's possible diagnoses,) X knew the skinny on the various programs in the city. Payne Whitney is the most well-appointed - each room has a view of the Upper East Side and its own bathroom.
   But all day no one knew what was going on. Mike didn't see a doctor 'til close to five. He and X speculated that the powers that be were seeing how far they could push the inmates before they snapped.
    X's husband, Z, once stayed for three weeks at Beth Israel where a whole team of doctors saw him every day.
    Z had also been suicidal, getting to the point of writing suicide notes to everyone in his family and renting a room at a hotel on 34th Street - first checking that the windows opened - where he ordered his last meal (shrimp, wine) to the tune of 660$. Then he opened the window only to find that there was a terrace on the floor below.
   He climbed out anyway, lit on the terrace, climbed over the half-wall and dangled, waiting for the foot traffic on 34th street to ease up so he wouldn't land on anybody.  For anyone unfamiliar with New York, 34th Street is the heart of Midtown, with Macy's and Madison Square Garden on the West Side and the Empire State Building two blocks away.  If you're looking for a street that's light on foot traffic, you've come to the wrong place.
   After remaining suspended for twenty minutes, he pulled himself back up to the balcony.  By this time, however, the inhabitants of the room had returned from their evening out.  He waited for them to go to bed, then slid along the floor and out of the room to Beth Israel where he recovered.

   X gave Mike a pep talk, the sort he usually brushes off but in her case it's hard as she has had breast cancer for twenty years and it's now at stage four.

   We were also joined by a woman whose five or six children (she's lost count) were taken from her by Judge Judy. Not one to admit defeat, she says she's pregnant again.
    After our companions drifted off to the pay phone or to play Scrabble, I told Mike about Venezuela's new Oil Intelligence Bureau in, of all places, Vienna. He didn't know what to make of it.
   I also told him about how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or someone professing to be he, has "confessed" to every terrorist crime of the last thirteen years, especially 9/11. Case closed.
    "Lee Harvey Oswald did it," he said.
   Then there was a weird spoof that just came out called VP Cheney Thanks AIPAC for Staging 9/11.
    Payne Whitney isn't letting him go 'til the end of next week. How they can know in advance how he'll be by then is another mystery. Meanwhile, I'm watching his email.
March 18, 2007 To Peter Dale Scott, Cynthia McKinney, Ken Levine, Barry Silverthorn

   Hi all

   He's having a tough morning, worried about being helpless to file taxes. Went to a jazzercise class where they played Barry Manilow which for Mike evoked the Teddy era.

   Yesterday morning he left three messages on my machine:

   A, a bi-polar football player who must weigh 250 pounds, was banging on the piano. (By evening he was under control and asked me for a lesson, which I gave him.) Mike's friend, X, was distraught that someone had stolen the fruit leather I'd brought her. The weekend staff were capos even though "Nurse Ratchet" was off.  We had a funky time talking to W, a physicist with Asperger's.
  Visitors aren't allowed in the rooms but I was told that the showerheads are small so patients can't hang themselves from them and that the stream is intermittent so they can't drown themselves. If you bring a gift, you have to give the plastic bag to a nurse. Mike's allowed to have his cell phone but not the charger, because of the cord.
    The numbers for the pay phones are XXX.
   They're answered by whoever's around which is usually a patient. One phone is almost always being used by B, a blind musician who talks, probably to dial tones, about copyrights from 1927.
   If you'd rather communicate by email, I'll bring him the message.
   Thanks, all.   

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