Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How dare they!

I think the most disturbing thing I have seen in several years popped up when I was searching for Kristy's obituary. I stumbled across a disturbing, disgusting white supremacist site that was racially politicizing the fact that her killer was black and the two victims he shot and killed were white women. (I'm not linking that xenophobic, race-baiting site.) 

His family says he is mentally ill, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. 

The site that turned my stomach, that presumed to speak for our family, and turn our grief into hate -- sneered at that, but Kristy would be the last person to sneer at that notion. My husband's mother, Kristy's favorite aunt and the most amazing mother-in-law to me and grandmother to my children, was a schizophrenic. When her psychiatrist took her off the medications she had been on long term to allay the symptoms of tardive diskenesia that she was starting to exhibit, it cost her her lucidity. For the rest of her life, about six years, her relationship with reality was tenuous, fragile and arbitrary. None of the new generation of medications worked for her, and when she was finally put back on her original prescriptions, the results were never as good as they had been before. She had good days, and bad ones. 

I spent hours on the phone with Kristy one weekend when she disappeared and walked to a truck stop over 30 miles from her home. Kristy was frantic the entire time Lois was missing -- and both of us were pretty worthless as part of the search party -- we both had young children and were over a hundred miles from where she went missing from. I finally convinced her that the best thing we could do was stay at home in case she showed up at one of our houses, and we kept one another talked down, so neither of us got so nervous and worried about this woman we loved and were fighting for, that we threw up. I was on the phone with her when the call waiting beeped. It was my father-in-law calling to tell me she was safe and he was on his way to pick her up. I clicked back over, told her that her Aunt Lois was safe, and she burst into tears. We cried together on the phone that night, and both of us called her psychiatrist on Monday morning and threatened to come in with all five of our kids and let them have run of the place until he talked to us unless he got her on a medication that would keep her from doing something so dangerous again...That's when he came on the phone with me, telling me that wouldn't be necessary, he was going to put her back on the original drug cocktail that had worked for 30 years, and would call the meds in to the pharmacy up home as soon as he was off the phone with me.

I think I know a bit more about our family dynamics than some white supremacist blogger who would love to see a race war. I have a pretty good idea what Kristy would want to know if she had survived her wounds. Once she learned of his diagnosis, she would have true compassion for him, and her anger, once she was strong enough to be angry, would be properly placed. It would be at the state of Mississippi for failing to implement the ACA and expand Medicaid and access to mental health care. She would also be angry that a mentally ill person was able to so readily obtain an assault weapon. And if she wasn't angry about the assault weapons ban sunsetting, she would be when I got through firing her up.

But she isn't here to fight this battle with me, so I have to fight it for her. 

I want to know if he was receiving regular treatment for his disease that included blood tests that would tell the care team if he was taking his meds, or if he was the social equivalent of a lit fuse, just waiting to go off. Something tells me he wasn't receiving care and monitoring. Mississippi hasn't participated in the ACA by setting up an exchange or expanding Medicaid so people who need mental healthcare can access it at least as easy as they can get their deranged hands on a TEC-9.

She would want to know about his support network, and who was there to help keep him on his meds and going to class. 

And she would be more than a little bit pissed that it was so easy for him to get his hands on a military-grade assault weapon.

She and I had the conversation many times before I left medicine. She worked with at-risk youth and I worked in an inner-city ER. I watched the effects of the assault weapons ban sunset in real time.  I started wearing Birkenstock gardening clogs to work because I could put them in the autoclave if they got bloody. I made that switch when I got home and picked grey matter out of my shoelaces three nights one week. When I quit my job and only worked per diem on the bench, and got off trauma teams, she was so relieved, because she was afraid I would either get shot while treating a victim of a gang shooting, or catch a stray bullet in the parking garage (three times in a five week period, I wasn't able to leave work because the parking garage was a crime scene). 

I resent the death of the most loving woman in the world being used to stoke hatred by someone who not only didn't know her, but wasn't raised by anyone who could get scouted for her league. If they had been raised by a person as loving and wonderful as Kristy, they sure as hell wouldn't be using the death of someone they don't even know to fuel racial hatred. They might be pissed that a mentally ill person got hold of an assault weapon so easily, and they might point out that Mississippi is what is known as a "donor state" where guns are concerned.  But they sure as hell would not presume to lecture her son on why his mother was "really" murdered.

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