It’s 7:28 am on Monday February 12th. The timeline is important. It speaks to the neutral facts that I want to share. Last night, I got little to no sleep. Sleep is hard to measure for an individual on their own. After a long day playing in a sectional bridge tournament, put on by the Jefferson Bridge Association, I made my way over to the CVS pharmacy on the Corner, and found it closed. Clutching an empty bottle of Depakote and Seroquel, I am at a crossroads.
I kept seeing trash cans and a little voice inside of me dared me to throw the bottles away. They were my lifeline and I was scared. Handing over the tiller, as I am wont to do in these situations, I breathed in the air and enjoyed the interplay. (W-pI.38)There is nothing my holiness cannot do, a line from the treasured text, A Course in Miracles, fills my mind, as I contemplate my goal for this sharing.
The University of Virginia Medical Center backs up onto the Corner and soon I am meandering through a passageway, completely foreign to me in spite of 36 years living in and around this city. Aha, I marvel as the hospital comes into sight. Interior lights illuminating the building in a pattern that is distinct yet familiar. These subtle beauties are part of the deliciousness of walking with the Lord. I am in His hand’s and in those hands is a richness otherwise absent.
The day started poorly. On Saturday evening at around midnight I discovered that I had forgotten to fill my prescription orders at the local pharmacy. The one that closes at 6 pm and is closed Sunday. Not to worry, but worry I did as I spent a night tossing and turning; afraid that I would not fall asleep. That is what happens when I do not take my 300 mg of Seroquel. I understand that it is clinically prescribed as an anti-psychotic, but I think of it as a medication that I need in order to sleep.
That’s a pretty disempowering position in which to find oneself at midnight. I had been downtown earlier, in close proximity to Timberlakes, the place where my mother and I sometimes get BLT sandwiches and milkshakes, and my refills can currently be found. Actually, I found myself in a similar position last month and the dear pharmacist gave me one dose to cover me in the interim since he had not heard from my psychiatrist.
It’s nice to be up so early, listening to the birds chirping with a cool breeze in the air. I do not generally find myself in this position. Once I fall asleep, I tend to go into a coma. Recently, getting out of bed anytime before 10 am has felt like a win. What I do not like is the fear that comes with the knowing that I ain’t got the drugs.
It’s worrisome. The worry doctor is the name that my mother and I collectively gave to the first person worthy of that honorific whose office I sat in to speak of, well, worries I reckon. This took place outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I was born and lived until the age of five. My stepfather, Chris Perot was dying, or had just died from cancer and he wanted to adopt my older sister Melissa and me. It was a disquieting time for a boy just turned three. I even had his last name with mine on a set of pencils, John Perot.
There is an urgency to my thinking when falling asleep does not seem like an option. All of the sudden, years of procrastination, melt away. If I cannot fall asleep then the to do list beckons; I thought from my bed last night, once again destitute. But sleep I must, I tell myself, and I throw everything including the proverbial kitchen sink at the problem. None of the mind tricks seem to work, the previous night, I finally got all of the way through the yoga nidra exercise I’ve recently been utilizing to help me fall asleep faster. This is the end, yup, she is done talking. There were breaks in the woman’s speech before, but this time it has to be official. Has to be. Not the thoughts of one soon to slumber.
What I am looking for is assistance, someone within the medical community that can help me titrate off these medicines. My psychiatrist won’t do it. We tried previously, summer of 2015, and it scared the bejeezus out of me and probably him too. I got too close to the edge, saw the Light and it was not yet my time. Still work to do here on planet earth.
In the meantime I have finished a documentary movie, launched a podcast and finished 10th in the 11th Transnational World Teams Bridge Championships. Not a bad three years. I cried the day we missed the eight team knockout round of the Transnationals on the phone with my mother. She was able to look on the bright side and eventually I have come to share her point of view that finishing tenth in the world is pretty cool.
That’s the disappointing thing about last night, the lack of humanity. I went to the information desk at the hospital and told one of the volunteers there that I had an emergency. Showing her my empty prescription bottles, she pointed me across the street to the pharmacy. It felt like the DMV in there. All of these windows, a computer ticketing system, sterile. I said as much to the the delightful woman sitting, waiting, next to me. She helped guide me through the ticketing process. B595 I think the ticket was. After wiping away tears, I presented myself at the counter hoping for the best and expecting the worst. Denied, no thanks, the woman at the counter said.
Not even letting her know that I had previously been a patient at Five East, the psychiatric ward caused her to bat an eye. Not to worry, I was prepared for this, or so I thought. I still had a few bullets in my gun so to speak. Next stop, CVS, Barracks Road. There’s a reason I am calling these organizations out by name, because the optics for them are bad. While they were helpful in letting me know that they were closing soon and the closing times of other area pharmacies including UVA, no meds for me.
My final hope lay in the hands of my psychiatrist, a kind man. He once texted me that “I love you” only to quickly reply, “Sorry, that was meant for my wife.” Having the cell phone number for your doc is certainly progress, particularly in times when sleep is at stake. So I texted him, and waited. In my mind, it did not help that I saw a similar text from me to him, in our conversation history, exactly one month prior. Ha! He just let me know that he sent the prescriptions to CVS. It’s 7:17 am Monday morning, mind you. I guess that he did not understand the urgency of my request. Military jargon, like ASAP, in consecutive text messages, one month apart or not, may start to wring hallow.
2015 was not the first time David and I changed my medical cocktail. In late 2014, following a stay at an Attitudinal Healing Center in Costa Rica, I hoodwinked him into thinking I knew a better drug for me. I listened to the voice of a trusted friend and got what I deserved when I nearly threw myself in front of a bus at the Fall North American Bridge Championships in Providence. It seems unnecessary to say that doing that would have been a desperate move.
Death has a special place in the ego’s lexicon. Our final resting place, eternally fading into nothingness. On Tuesday, January 30th, I got to listen to the author Marianne Williamson speak about the death of her sister in law. Sitting in the very front left hand pew of Marble Collegiate in New York City, my face lit up as she broached the subject. You’ve come a long way kid! Shortly before, the most beautiful dark-skinned woman passed in front of me and when she sat down, our eyes met. I wonder if she will see this article. It’s me, the filmmaker!
That’s an inside joke of course. She chided me for being so bold when I tracked her down after the “lecture’ (Marianne’s word for it, not mine). Will she ever email me? Will Marianne ever respond to that text. Perhaps a public forum such as this improves my chances.
Back to the matter at hand, death, fear, it’s all the same, an illusion, albeit a persistent one. My friend Emily Hill Ferguson passed away the week before I heard Marianne speak. I had not been able to make it to her funeral and a lot of our mutual friends were distraught. Emily came to me in my dreams on Sunday morning. I did sleep, enough to see her. It was a brief encounter. She urged me to rise, to come inside with her I think, and then she was gone. Her message, “wake up”.