I simply dissolve into tears.
Somebody passes me the salad – my favourite green-leaf-and-avocado salad, which I had surely made a few minutes earlier? – and I make a decision: I give in, and cry. This is so unlike me that there is a bit of a silence. Serena’s new au pair, sitting next to me, kindly strokes my back. My cousin Fleur, opposite, comes round to my side of the table and says, “Come on, let's go inside,” and steers me in.
There is a beautiful sunset over the sea. There usually is, from my father’s back garden at his seaside house. The photographs from yesterday’s post were simply snapped on my telephone – as all my Sunday photographs will be. Ten or twelve of us were sitting have dinner: delicious salmon barbecued by Christian, Serena’s husband, with sour cream and freshly grated horseradish.
“Is it because nobody appreciates you? All your shopping and cooking?” Fleur hugs me on the sofa.
I am wearily astonished that anyone – certainly someone who knows me as well as Fleur – could think such a trivial thing could upset me. I am no martyr: if my family takes me for granted I tell them.
“I’m just so tired, Fleur. Year after year. Unrelenting. On and on and on.”
“Please tell everyone that they haven’t upset me. No one’s done anything. I’m just worn out.”
Trying to get treatment for her. Protesting at the way she is abused. Visiting our MP to plead for better services. Persuading any doctor, anywhere, to give her the drugs which doctors got her addicted to. Driving half way round the country to get medication I don’t believe she should have. Fighting her corner. Caring, minding, listening, battling.
Utterly, utterly exhausted.
Presumably by anger as much as love.
Three and a half years ago someone, somewhere, made Bink take Lorazepam. She was told she couldn’t leave A&E until she’d swallowed it. (Illegal? Almost certainly. Watcha gonna do about it?)
The stuff is evil. (I once took one tiny pill of it – Bink gave it to me: let’s leave why for another post – and it wiped out my memory for about fifteen hours. I’ve told her I wouldn’t swallow another if my life depended on it.) I am no pharmacist and certainly no psychiatrist but as far as I can see it is a chemical cosh. Somebody somewhere in A&E wanted rid of her, so they knocked her out.
She has been addicted to it ever since. Currently on four a day. (And – that’s right – just one catapulted me into the middle of next week.)
It is a restricted drug. Only doctors can dish it out. Which in turn means:
- Doctors got her addicted to it, right?
- Doctors now won’t give it to her.
Simple as that.
Last Christmas I went to our GP, whom we know well. Bear in mind she is one of the better ones. I told her I was about to do a round trip of 6 hours down to South London to get Bink her prescription for the next week or so. I asked if she could prescribe it instead – given that Bink was (or certainly has been, for a lot of the last nine years) one of her patients. (And given that her husband put Bink on some of the most destructive stuff she’s ever had, without giving her any explanation or information as to what it would do to her.)
“So what are we supposed to do?”
“Really?” I was incredulous.
“It won’t be pleasant, but it can’t do her any harm. I’ve had patients who’ve done it with heroin.”
The consultation was twenty minutes, during which she reiterated her assertion repeatedly.
So I went home and told Bink. And she tried it. Twice. The results were so horrendously, insanely, critically dangerous the doc might as well have taken out a pistol and shot her. It may be technically true that cold turkey from Lorazepam can’t kill you... if you are tied in a straight-jacket and locked in a padded cell and monitored by a team of trained professionals twenty-four hours a day. A friend of ours who owns several pharmaceutical companies told us if he was addicted to Lorazepam he’d request a clinically-induced week-long coma to free himself of it.
Even a sane person could quite easily have killed herself suffering as Bink did during that medically-advised cold turkey. Bear in mind all that put her on it in the first place and how very much more vulnerable she is...
At one point it sounded as if she was about to be on her own (thirty miles away) so I was trying to keep her safe on the telephone while we worked out who could leave what to be with her: it would need at least two people, so one could sleep.
“So,” she was trying to get to grips with what we were concerned about, sounding like a very drunk and confused six-year-old, “the risk is that I might kill myself?”
“Ultimately, yes,” I agreed.
“Well then,” she said, in all seriousness, “why don’t I do that now, and then there won’t be anything to worry about?”
I loathe Bink’s Lorazepam with all my being, but even I couldn’t support her staying off it that way. No psychiatrist I’ve ever come across has ever suggested cold turkey.
Serena has said several times that I must go back to the GP and tell her, in case her advice does indeed end up killing someone as it could so easily have killed Bink.
Does it make sense that I am too tired, too angry, too busy keeping Bink alive to work out how without recriminations?
Earlier in the day I had rung her latest surgery and requested a conversation with a doctor, about the next week’s supply: a psychiatrist had written to the surgery to authorise this. I simply got a message on my voicemail from the receptionist: “The senior partner says no.”
What is the point?
I’ve got to get it for her. So this doesn’t discourage the use of this dreadful drug. It simply means I’ve got to spend yet another day of my precious seaside holiday telephoning and begging and trying someone else and racking my brains to get the stuff. It doesn’t get her off it. That needs specialist help, which no one will give her.
It just wrecks me.
So, during our lovely dinner overlooking the sea, surrounded by my lovely family, on this occasion I simply took a decision to give up for a moment, and cry.