Monday, February 23, 2015

HB65 would have given my son Tim a RIGHT to treatment -- It will save lives!

My name is Faye Morton, I live in Lexington with my husband of 61 years and together we parented a son who lived with serious paranoid schizophrenia. I would like to share our story and ask your support to improve outpatient mental health services in Kentucky. 

When our son, Tim, was 18 and just graduated from high school, he became terrified by the sudden onset of persistent delusions that he had royal blood and could read peoples’ minds. He begged for help and was hospitalized for six weeks. We were advised that a careful regimen of medications over time and staying busy would reduce the delusions and allow him to have a meaningful life. 

Faye Morton with her son Tim in 1977

After he returned home he went back to work, and although his symptoms were reduced by heavy medication he determined that he was well so he stopped taking his medicine. 

He required hospitalization very quickly for another round of treatment. This pattern continued, working odd jobs for the first few years in between hospital visits and at times, living on the street, he lived this way for the next 36 years. While he voluntarily went to the hospital the first few times, over the years he received needed treatment only through court ordered involuntary hospitalization by petition 37 times. He was discharged, at times, to the street. 

In 2007, after another hospitalization, Tim began to receive services through a mobile outreach team, which included housing support. Over the next three years he was visited at least three times a week and transported to the Comprehensive Care Center as needed, but he refused the medications that were effective in the hospital. His physical and mental health continued to deteriorate and he had to be hospitalized during this time, against his will. 

In early January 2011, he fled, frightened by his delusions and disappeared for two weeks. I filed a missing person’s report and a sheriff in Texas called to say that Tim was there. After returning to Lexington, the outreach team continued to visit him, witnessing his decline because he had been without medication for several months and so paranoid that he stopped eating—convinced that the food he had purchased was poisoned. With his health greatly compromised by self-neglect, he was hospitalized again by court order, in March 2011. 

During that period of treatment he showed great improvement in a short amount of time and was discharged in two weeks. At the discharge plan meeting, his psychiatrist ordered that he should return to his apartment and receive his medication as prescribed. If he refused, his case manager was to obtain a court order for hospital readmission. 

For three years Tim received prescribed outpatient treatment and did not require hospitalization. His treatment made a positive impact on his quality of life in spite of the serious deterioration of his health after decades of neglect.

Tim slowly improved and he and I wondered at the transformation he was undergoing and his ability to experience the joy of thinking rational thoughts and the simple pleasure of having peace. Although, when we visited he would explain that he was well and that he wanted to stop taking his medicine. He said that his only pain was my unwillingness to accept that he did not need medicine. He was able to express his frustration with me although he willingly went to his appointments for his treatment. This lack of insight, known as anosognosia, is a common symptom of schizophrenia. 

My husband and I are grateful for the individualized level of care that Tim received during the last three years of his life. He died March 27, 2014. He was 56 years old and had lived nearly 36 years with "untreated" mental illness. We found him in his apartment; he had died in his sleep from an apparent heart attack. Some people say that our son had a right choose to live his life without treatment. I know that for many people like my son, treatment works. 

HB65 would help the young people who are diagnosed today receive the treatment that could save their lives and give them a quality of life that we had only imagined being possible for our Tim. 

1 comment:

  1. This could be my son you are writing about. Thank you for sharing and supporting HB65!