Monday, January 14, 2008

2008. Apartheid End, Town Hill, 1994, O Hallelujah! O Hallelujah!

Fraser had existed in Town Hill madhouse for 5 years, but no Town Hill madhouse keepers had told me nor Leah what they were actually doing to rehabilitate Fraser - mentally, behaviourally, socially or vocationally.

Dr. Kaf unreasonably suggested I consider accompanying Fraser while he trained for the Comrades Marathon. Was that all Town Hill madhouse keepers could do?

Pass the buck to Fraser's family. And make mad suggestions.

Over the years, Fraser's songs: Blame Addington Hospital's Dr. Luiz for certifying him; Wanting discharge from Town Hill; Wanting to drive a car again; Wanting to find a cheap flat to live on his own again; Wanting to run Comrades - O Hallelujah! Wanting to trek to NZ to see us - O Hallelujah! All normal activities. But abnormal for Town Hill madhouse keepers.

After feckless moaning and mad suggestions from Town Hill madhouse keepers, I wrote this 25.03.94. letter to Dr. Kaf: "While I visited NZ recently, my wife received a phone call from Fraser telling us to unplug our phone and not receive any phone calls from Town Hill, as he planned to abscond to run a marathon!

My wife immediately phoned superintendent Dr. Ross and discussed the matter.

I suspect things went horribly wrong at Durban's Addington Hospital. I have no way of proving it, and doubt I ever will, or have the motivation to do so. Too much irreparable damage has been done to Fraser. I'd rather concentrate on Fraser's rehabilitation, than waste energy on probing others' past mistakes.

I have misgivings about drug treatments. Over the last five years I've noticed the drug induced zombie-like manner of Town Hill patients, including Fraser.

Despite this, at Town Hill FRASER STRIVES FOR NORMALITY.

During his matric year, 1972, Fraser and I ran the Comrades Marathon. He finished ahead of me. (I'd won a silver medal on my first attempt in 1970). It was his idea for us to run Comrades together and it was a great achievement for him.

During our last few annual holidays from Town Hill, he mentioned his idea of running the Comrades again. As It's a positive, goal-directed idea, I encouraged him. He gave up booze, a good thing, and got fit again. No mean achievement! His training reduced his drug-induced weight gain back to respectable proportions again.

During our holidays, I monitored his annual progress.

The last holiday I noted an improvement in Fraser. (I'd complained to Dr. Ross about Fraser's interminable cardboard box construction at OT).

Fraser seemed settled. His drug treatment had been reduced, due to a side-effect of lowered white-blood-cell count. He no longer made boxes. He was picking fruit. I encouraged him to continue, as it was a worthwhile occupation.

He was pleased to have completed the Capital Climb. He gave me his medal for safekeeping.

For the first time since the Verulam accident, he'd regained his self respect. He was independent. He felt he was doing something useful by fruit-picking and doling out fruit to those who needed or wanted it. I was impressed by his assertiveness - no longer zombie-like and malleable.

It seems from your letter and my wife's discussion with Dr. Ross that things became unglued after I last saw Fraser.

Some suggestions and comments:

1. Before Xmas, I mentioned to Fraser that we were planning emigration to NZ. This may have affected him.

2. I cannot travel to Maritzburg to second Fraser's marathon ambitions. Transkei is too dangerous to travel through nowadays. The Transkei distance and safer way around Lesotho and through Orange Free State distances are too far.

3. I support Fraser's 'jogging' and keeping fit. It should not be discouraged. He was a good runner, and was fit before the accident. 'Running' is goal-directed, gives him a sense of personal control, privacy and achievement, apart from the extremely restricted life which being certified at Town Hill must offer.

4. I'm happy about Fraser's gardening and fruit-picking. 'The fruit of his labours.' It should not be curtailed.

5. I believe structured supervision, constructive controls and supportive goal-setting by staff he trusts, would bring him round to reasonable behaviour.

6. How about modifying the marathon idea? Explain he's physically unable to complete in marathons. A more attainable and safer goal would be to do shorter fun-runs which are controlled and less competitive. Fun-runs happen all over. I'm sure Maritzburg has many of them. Maybe there are service organization runners out there, e.g. Rotary, Round Table, who would be willing to sign out and support Fraser on fun-runs?

7. In NZ, I saw a disabled man belted into a grass-cutting machine, happily grass-cutting a city park, operating the machine with a clawed hand like Fraser's.

I'm concerned Fraser claims he's the only committed fruit-picker. Working in isolation seems odd rehabilitation for a diagnosed 'schizophrenic.'

Are there no groundsmen, to supervise, who Fraser could report to?

Are there no potting-sheds and greenhouses where Fraser's gardening interest could be nurtured and controlled?

Are there no local shopkeepers and / or hospital staff willing to buy a previously negotiated quota of fruit? It would give Fraser a sense of achievement and perhaps make Town Hill some petty cash.

Regarding tree climbing, falling out of them and injuring himself - Fraser is tough and life is full of risk. A while ago in Maritzburg he survived a car hitting him. I don't think something he enjoys, which does no harm to others, gives him a sense of achievement, and improves his self image, should be given, then taken away from him. If he's stealing fruit from a school tree, give him precise instructions as to which fruit trees he's allowed to harvest. 'Forbidden fruit!' Nothing more, nothing less! If it's advisable to stop tree climbing and Fraser needs a proper cutting implement, please let me know. I'll price a suitable pole-cutter and advise his curator about funding it. Last year Fraser was using a long pole and some string, which looked unsatisfactory.

8. He writes well. Use his clerical skills! (It'll keep him off the streets and out of trees). I suggested this to Dr. Ross.

9. Labelling him 'paranoid schizophrenic' is unacceptable. I'm sceptical, but happy to be convinced otherwise.

10. Why was clozapine used for five years, if it messed up his immune system? Are there no safer anti-psychotic drugs?

11. Fraser's shabby dress concerns us. He says Town Hill supplies clothes and he steals shoes to wear!

Must I advise his curator to forward a clothing allowance, so Fraser's clothes purchase can be supervised by Town Hill and audited by the curator?

'Running' shoes are a priority.

12. Sound like Fraser was put under a lot of pressure recently! e.g. A pressure interview with two doctors and matron, and incarceration in Impala forensic ward.

13. Our concern is for Fraser to fully develop his potential, to have achievable goals within his potential and for him to feel fulfilled.

14. I've written to Fraser, advising him not to give Town Hill a hard time, to stay cool and comfortable in Town Hill, rather than being on the streets, having to face present mad dogs looking for blood. Town Hill's much safer than on the streets! Hope this clarifies matters. PLEASE DON'T CRUSH FRASER! I'll forward a copy of this letter to Dr. Ross."

No reply from Dr. Kaf.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Clozapine.

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