Grandma’s Birthday: A Mental Health Crisis

The date was April 6th, 2017. It was my grandmother’s 76th birthday and I was celebrating it 1500 miles away in Kansas while living through a mental health crisis. She is a wonderful lady with wonderful spirit and very strong faith.

It all began at 4:30 in the morning when I received a knock on the door. It was the Andover Police Department. They told me that my brother, to whom I shall refer to as Budd Foxx, was arrested for shoplifting from our local Dillon’s Grocery Store. He reached behind the counter and stole a pack of cigarettes. Two days prior he had been banned from Dillon’s for stealing cigarettes and grabbing a stranger’s paid groceries out of their cart. I go back to bed and decide to take the day off to handle his legal issues.

Budd Foxx is mentally ill. He is Bipolar Schizoaffective. I was concerned that he would miss out on taking his medicine for the day and did not know how long he would be in jail for. I drove to the jail around 11 am, which was 30 minutes away. I am told that Budd Foxx will be out around 6pm and that his meds do not need to be checked in. I drove home knowing I’d have to come back later. I tell people I’m 26 with a 25 year old son. He has a major chemical imbalance which leads to every day challenges.

I decide to clean Budd Foxx’s bedroom. From what I could see was a bunch of trash and dirty clothes. As I started cleaning, I discovered a jackpot of answers. In a duffle bag, I found bottles of hard alcohol. A few weeks earlier, I had discovered that he had been stealing cash from me with a sum reaching around 300 to 400 dollars. Mixing alcohol with anti-psychotic meds is an absolute no-no. I then start searching every square inch of his room for anything suspicious and to get rid of anything toxic. Then I discover random pills. These pills were his meds. Some were partially dissolved with saliva. Some had never been consumed. The more thorough I searched, the more pills I found. I gathered them into a pile and it looked like at least a months’ worth of medication that he was supposed to be taking. I knew I had a serious situation on my hands. I find his wallet and hoped to find stolen money. Inside is his ID and a Monopoly “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE” card. I finished cleaning his room and prepared for what I would tell him when I picked him up.

At 6pm I picked him up in the lobby of the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Our conversation went along the lines of “You are either staying here at this jail or are going to the hospital to be evaluated.” I then pitched the hospital like it would be a mini vacation, which he agreed.

Around 6:45 pm we are at the hospital and he starts arguing. I feed him cigarettes to calm him down. He won’t get out of my car. I am literally outside the hospital and he will not go in. It’s getting close to dark, I have to pee, but can’t leave him fearing he will make a run for it. I then push the parking lot security button and get no help. I call the hospital and say I’m dealing with a crisis and need assistance getting him in. They suggest I call the cops. Budd Foxx starts trying to get out of my sight. I fear that he may be a danger to himself or others. He starts making a run for it. Budd Foxx starts traveling a few blocks on foot. He walks into a Vietnamese Pool Bar. There is a group of foreigners playing poker. “I put $10,000 down.” Everyone looks at him like he is out of this world. I tell them to ignore him. Budd Foxx then starts traveling some more in an aggressive manner like a ticking time bomb. I call the cops and stay on the phone with operator waiting for them to show up while mirroring Budd Foxx so he doesn’t run into traffic. Finally 2 cop cars pull up. They interview both parties. Budd Foxx takes off his sweatshirt and His Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey says “Hang Em”. Budd Foxx answers all the officer’s questions and they see no threat to himself.

We get into my car and drive home. I feel defeated and drained. I think about years past at this time on how we should be at a big family dinner celebrating my wonderful grandma. Birthday memories create vivid memories that are easy to pinpoint chronologically in contrast to a random day of life.

Our divorced parents live in California. Both our mother and father are not able to take care of Budd Foxx. I moved us out here to Kansas to have a better quality of life, future, and to take advantage of some better opportunities.  I also became in charge of Budd Foxx’s doctor care. He used to be on meds that made him sleep 17 hours a day and were extremely high risk. I’ve seen him have muscle spasms and become temporarily paralyzed. I’ve seen him have a swollen tongue and drool. I’ve seen him have terrible motor skills. I’ve seen his heart rate get beyond elevated. I’ve also seen him black out from side effects. Taking care of a mentally individual is a full-time job, but I would not trade it because I love my brother dearly. I am 26 with a 25 year old son.

It’s nearly 9pm and we get back home. I make a series of phone calls to family members. Budd Fox finally agrees to talk to some family members after months of silence. I look at it as progress even though his conversations are off the wall. We wish our grandmother a happy birthday. Then around 11 pm, Budd Foxx changes once again. He starts being loud and aggressive then leaves the house. I tell him not to leave because I don’t want him to steal anything. I step outside our house and see him knocking on stranger’s doors. He tells some that I am trying to kill him when all I was doing was try to get him to wind down for bed. I know if I don’t call the cops, someone else may. I call the cops and say he is disturbing the peace. It would be easier for me to protect him than say if a neighbor called.

The cops come out. They have now dealt with him probably 4 times in the last month. We all go inside and try to talk some reason. Then Budd Foxx starts telling him that I was born in a Holocaust Camp and that he is the President. He goes off on the officers and they suggest he be open to getting a voluntary assessment from St Joseph’s. “Can we go on a ride along?” he asks. The officers were super compassionate and take him to the hospital. I secretly jump up and down and am bursting in excitement. After a month and a half of him being the biggest stressor in my life, he was now in a position to get proper treatment to stabilize him. Sure he got arrested earlier in the day, but he shouldn’t get in much trouble due to his illness. If anything, we will pay for the ticket. It could be worse. He is alive, healthy and safe. I was relieved and thankful. About 2 hours later, I get a phone call and he is officially at the Hospital and has been admitted. I call the family. We are all extremely blessed because Budd Foxx will get the help he needs. I go to bed around 1 am and look forward to the 5 hours of sleep ahead of me before I teach in the morning. I am a substitute teacher with an emphasis in middle school. I teach middle school students who are a bit more rational than Budd Foxx at times.

Around 4am my phone rings. It’s the Hospital. “Hi Michael, your brother has escaped from the hospital.” My heart skips a beat. “We tried running after him, but he was too fast.” Budd Foxx is 220 pounds and smokes a lot of cigarettes. He is not that fast. As more details are shared, I fear that he will kill himself, hurt a stranger, or end up in more trouble. “I believe he’s only wearing a hospital gown.” I hang up and alert law enforcement and give them the details. “We only have 3 officers patrolling East Wichita right now.”  In that moment, I decided to become officer number 4. I get dressed and hop in my car. It’s 38 degrees. “It’s 38 degrees and my brother is roaming around East Wichita in a Hospital gown.” I head 20 minutes into town and start searching like a patrol man. I visit the hospital and gather more information from the nurse who was watching him. I am praying and talking with God through this whole search.  I’m going up and down the streets. I look inside a Burger King, a Dennys, and drive past a McDonalds a couple of times. I get out of my car and check schools and churches. I’m thinking, If I saw somebody roaming the streets in a hospital gown, I would call the police. I fear he may have jumped into the nearby river. I fear he may have found an unlocked car and is sleeping in it. I fear that he has hitchhiked back home. Maybe he is heading towards the shopping mall? All the possibilities are running through my mind as I’m driving around slowly peering my eyes around east Wichita. The dark skies are now turning blue. There are more cars on the street. Someone must have seen him by now. I keep searching. I call the cops again to see if they have come across him. They know to alert me if they do. I go to the grocery store. Maybe he is roaming around the grocery store? Nothing. My phone rings. It’s my job asking me to work. I tell them I am dealing with a mental health crisis and have been up all night. They understand. At this point, I decide I should head home to see if he magically arrived home and to get some rest. I know I will either face my brother is in huge trouble, dead, or back at the hospital. I get home and he is not there. I lay down and close my eyes for 1 minute. My phone rings. What am I going to hear on the back side of this phone? Life changing news ahead. “Hello Michael, your brother has been found at a McDonald’s and has been returned to the hospital. I start crying. Now he is under extreme security and will not be escaping again. I call my boss back and tell her that I can work. I alert the family as I drive to the middle school. Nobody knew about Budd Foxx escaping the hospital overnight. All they knew was that he was in a hospital. I pull up to the school. Gather my belongings, then lock my keys in the car.

Since this event, the story continues and has taking me on the ride of my life. However, when you love someone you keep fighting for them and don’t give up on them no matter how irrational they may be because you know down deep the good in that person. With a  bunch of trial and error the situation can only get better. Like the Christian narrative about the Prodigal son…Budd Foxx is my Prodigal Son. He spent a few days in the hospital and when he got out, the story continued. It’s like this narrative was chapter 2 of a thick book. The sad thing is, it’s the illness.

Please support me taking care of my brother by purchasing a copy of my new comedy book: The Book Of Muh, The Not Funny Joke Book. As I attempt to keep my brother stable, I am in pursuit to change the future of comedy.

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