Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

Tag: Random

10. Mefloquine Dispatches: Acceptance, 2019

My acceptance story actually started a month ago when I penned my first letter. My Request to Darren Chester. I’m not sure if he read it or not. I honestly don’t care. I laugh and I cry as I write my stories. I write for myself.

I have some AMAZING people helping me with this.

I used to hate the RSL. I didn’t understand the sub-branch setup when I first go in. I got dragged in by a job services provider. I had slept in my car the night before. I was so embarrassed by my situation I didn’t return for a year. I was off the grog by then. Was holding down a part-time job in a bottle-shop. Lived by myself in a cabin. Was restoring my relationship with my kids.

My RSL advocate is an ex-Navy man. He was on the HMAS Melbourne after it had sunk two of our own ships. The HMAS Melbourne was indirectly linked to 161 allied sailor deaths. Plus all the trauma afterwards. His hands shake. He has a condition which makes him shake to some degree all the time. Yet, he chooses to come in and help out veterans like me. He takes extra time too. All of his folders are fatter than other advocates because he does the due diligence. After I first meet him I kick-off in his small office. He still invites me back again. The second time I’m shaking like a leaf. It’s my pattern. He gets it.

Then there is my GP. She is an older lady. Has an amazing brain and a thousand stories. She is still a country GP in a world that doesn’t respect the connectivity that a Doctor can have with a community. She first worked with veterans in the 1970s before there was even a DVA. One of her first patients was gassed in the trenches of WWI. Changes of light would kick him off. He died screaming because the systems we have were set up for the projection of war power, not the assistance required for the men and women who stand on the wall. She has had her own struggles. She gets it.

She points me toward a Psychologist. I didn’t go to him for help on this. I thought I might have some PTSD but I’m unsure. He listens quietly at times. Interjects with his own stories as well. He sees the PTSD but also something deeper. The second time I see him I am shaking so much it takes me an hour to calm down. He is like me but older. He flew into Vietnam as a specialist at the end of that war. He jumps out of a chopper on a hill and still carries the bursitis today. He has a girl’s name! Everyone mistakes him for a girl when they first write it down. Think on that for a moment. He soldiered in Vietnam with a girl’s name! How tough is this guy.

When I finally pinpoint the Mefloquine I immediately admit myself to the local ER [Emergency Room]. I’m ready for the long sleep but I’ve made a promise to be there for the kids. My ER doctor is a combat veteran. What are the chances! Of all the doctors I get when I find out about this I get a combat vet. I tell him my suspicions. He takes me seriously. He shipped into Timor Leste in 2006 with Op ASTUTE. I know nothing about this operation. I avoid all things East Timor. He tells me they dropped mefloquine in 03’ because it was sending everyone crazy. That line alone saves me. I start to dig. Then I start to dig deeper.

My psychologist points me toward a psychiatrist. We don’t know who to choose because my thing is a bit of an outlier. I get an older gent who moves heaven and earth to get me a bed. When we first talk I’m on a different planet. I look at the puzzles he has adorning his rooms in fascination. At a much later date I meet another psychiatrist. He is originally from Pakistan but calls Australia home now. He takes the time to read my stuff. Talks me down. Explains why it is important to accept that my condition has a mental health element. They are both the smartest men in the room and yet they don’t get it, not yet anyway.

Yesterday I sat down with my first ever Occupational Therapist. She is young but not too young. She is professional. Her partner is an ex-AJ [Army Jerk]. His time was spent in the Sands. Didn’t do the malarial zones. Has had his battles too. I tell her I’m glad. It means I don’t have to explain absolutely everything. She writes copious amounts of notes as I rattle of my disjointed tale. She explains the process, where we go from here. We agree to not use the word rehabilitation. There is no cure for what I have. It’s all management from here.

I’ve accepted that I won’t be cured. The disease has already done too much damage to the person I once was. The person it has created is interesting though. He can be intense, he can talk too much. When he kicks off he can be a terror but most of the time he just quietly sits at the back of the room or at home when he muses and writes. He has accepted the disconnection. Enjoys the silence. Or the music when he has the headphones on. I think I can do something important with this. I don’t know what it is yet but I don’t want to go to the grave SCREAMING. Not like my old troop sergeant. He was such a good bloke.

I don’t want to be one of those veterans who screams at the injustice of it all. Hell, when I signed up possibly dying for your country was part of the GIG.

It’s been a long time since I signed that paperwork in 1989.

I know everyone’s experience with quinoline is different. There are no first prizes here for suffering. We are all on our own journey and doing the best we can.

My new journey started this week. I have stopped screaming. I have accepted my fate and will make the best of what I have left.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, please phone Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Open Arms on 1800 011 046.

5. Mefloquine Dispatches: @NAB, 20th March 2019

The ground is dirty. It is covered by cigarette butts and bottle tops. It is the remotest place in a very tidy hospital. Workers gather here to catch a few moments of peace. The patients have their own area. It is in another corner. Far enough from this place that no one has to cross pollinate or feel uncomfortable as they take a few moments for themselves. If staffer or patient still smokes these are the last places they can go. It has been banned everywhere else.

I gather what little I have. There isn’t much left. On Sunday I tell my former partner I’m glad I know. I tell her I’m ready to travel to Switzerland. A nice dinner and a pill sound wonderful. In reality I don’t know the sheer scale of it. At this stage I know just enough that it has finally tipped me over. I’m laughing a lot again. She talks me down. I agree to get some help.

My psychiatrist is moving heaven and earth to get me a hospital bed. He doesn’t believe me yet. In time he will. He just see’s someone who needs help. The DVA has introduced a white card. Apparently it’s for guys like me. Even though I’m not a veteran. How the world has moved on from 1999. It is Monday. The next bed is available on a Wednesday. I just need to lay-up for two days. The DVA white card is a life saver.

I go back to my Kaczinski Cabin. There is no hot running water. My hot shower and toilet are a walk away. It is messy which is unlike me. The year previously I was practising minimalism and people free days (PFDs). I love it here. It is so quiet.

I have to get my admin in order. I know how sick I am. Might be gone for months. I make calls, I visit only who I absolutely have to. I use the last $500 in my bank account to pay for three weeks rent. It is Tuesday now. Just two more calls tomorrow before admission. The DVA have organised me a car in the morning. I can finally get some kip after that.

As I stare at the cigarette butts and the bottle tops the Centrelink call comes in. I explain the situation. I am very heightened. They step me through the process. My voice rises and collapses but the girl who takes my call has had some training, might even have taken a call like mine before. I apologise at the end of it. She wishes me luck and hopes I get better.

My last call is to NAB. It might be my first call. Time has fragmented but I’m still staring at those cigarette butts as I make the call. I think it would have been the last call because it should have been so easy. All I need to do is postpone my payments on a small personal loan. I’m always paying ahead of time. In fact I’m a couple of weeks ahead.

I start to explain my story but when he hears what needs to be done he reverts to process. Questions must be asked and must be asked in an order. The calm I had when I hung up from Centrelink is gone now. The questions are just so fucking irrelevant and I have an excellent banking record. I ask for another person. He declines. I’m screaming down the phone until he adds a disclaimer. Something along the lines of postponing payments will hurt my credit score. I’m laughing now. For all the talk by the Bankers they don’t have any training in this. They are still worried about their Royal Commission.

“Like I could give a fucking shit”. I might be screaming this, I might just be laughing. It will be interesting to hear that call again.

I still get it done. I get a three-month breather. There is nothing left to do now. As I walk back to the hospital I tell myself that NAB was the worst call I had to make all that week. It really should have been easy.

It is around 10am on a Wednesday morning on the 20th March 2019 when I finally admit myself to hospital.

191021_Image_NAB

Image: NAB. They won’t own the blood

 

If you or someone you know needs help, please phone Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Open Arms on 1800 011 046.

2. Mefloquine Dispatches: My Daughter, 2016

Today, I’ve made a real effort. The boys are excited to see me. We might even go out somewhere later.

My daughter has her hands wrapped tightly around 11Ms leg. She stares at me with the child’s wariness of the stranger in her eyes. She is somewhere between two or three years of age at this stage and I might have held her a few times. I’ve been living in pubs or house-sitting or living rough for the past two years. She doesn’t know me.

Why should she really? When she was born I didn’t visit. When N* was ready to leave the hospital I organised the boys and drove down to Nambour hospital to pick her up. As N* packed up the last of the hospital swag she asked if I wanted to take her down to the car. I readily agreed. Carrying babies is easy. Tightly fit them to the curve of your body and start walking. For all intents and purposes it might have been a bag of shopping really. I get to the car and walk back and forth holding her until N* arrives. She puts my daughter in her brand new baby seat and gets the strapping sorted. After four children we both know that I can get highly stressed around baby seats in cars.

Two and a half years later I’m staring at this child thinking I really do have a daughter. N* and I have been working on me having the boys every two weeks. It’s been working out ok and she thinks I might be ready to take my daughter on. The raw anger of separation has faded away and it’s now about the kids.

“How about I pick you up and hold you”? I ask. I hold out my arms to her.

She tenses up. She holds on to 11M tighter. “T*…”, she wails still in her baby voice. She doesn’t want to be held by a stranger. She has her brother. Her brother has kept her safe and warm for years now, consoled her when she cried and got her treats when she was hungry.

“Don’t worry Dad” 11M says. His voice has always been older/wiser than his years. “She just thinks I am her Dad, she’ll get used to you eventually”…

160814_Photo_SDancinginIGA

 

If you or someone you know needs help, please phone Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Open Arms on 1800 011 046.