My Dad

The story I am going to tell here is a compilation of what I as a 10 year old boy remembers and the discussions my Dad and I had later on.  I apologize if there are memory errors in the recollection, but it will be the best I can do.
As a child growing up, my Dad was either the richest som'bitch in the valley or "oh poor me!"  I remember the summer before he had his shock treatment it was my birthday and I had saved up a few dollars to buy a new fishing reel for my old fishing pole.  He took me to Sears and there was a sporting goods section with all sorts of neat gadgets.  I picked out a reel that just made my budget.  Dad reached up and picked up a pole and said, "You can't put a new reel on that hand me down rod."  He bought a fishing pole for me and i was thrilled.  After he had been gone for a few weeks, he was home and Mom asked him if he wanted to take me and go fishing at Beech Lake.  Man I wanted to go so bad I hurt.  After putting new line on that reel and that new reel on a new pole, I hadn't taken it to the lake yet.  Dad took his gear out to the car and as I showed up with my new outfit, he calmly looked at me and asked, "Where did you get that, Steal it?"  I had no concept that he had undergone shock treatments and really didn't know.  All I knew was that fishing sure lost its allure that day. 
I guess by the first of September, Dad had been in bed for a few days and mom tells me that she hid all the kitchen knives and shotgun shells for fear that Dad might do some harm to himself and others.   He was admitted to the hospital one day when we were at school and all we were told was he was in the hospital.  We had no knowledge that it was the rubber room and that he was about to be given electro shock, or convulsive therapy. 
Dad told me years later that he really didn't know or care where he was or what they were going to do.  He would know that they would give him a sedative and wheel him out of the room.  He would wake up and not remember anything.  In fact he said he had to look at the chart on the end of his bed to know who he was.  He would wake up with little short term memory and a blank slate for a past.  he said it was like getting over the flue but it was all in his head (or not). 
He was gone for about a month and even when he came home he was not in the large swing mode that his Bi Polar depression/manic  disease had been.   He sat on the couch and watched TV a lot.  I don't remember him reading anything except for the paper.  The kids were told to play outside a lot and we were not really aware of much.
Over the years, many different doctors tried many different things to help dad break the cycle that Bi-Polar disease caused.  He would be medicated to cut down the high and lifted out of the depths.  On year, Mom called me and asked me what she could do to help Dad get out of the hospital and if I thought Menninger's here in Topeka could help.  I drove to Wichita and when we went to the Hospital, dad was tied to a chair on a heavy dose of what I think was Thorazine and he was seeing things in the air.  he was trying to pick them out of the air and everyone could clearly see there wasn't a darned thing there.  We took Dad to Topeka and directly to Menninger's as fast as we could.  They admitted Dad and in just a couple of days had him detoxed off the meds and he was just depressed.  The worked on him for a week or so and soon presented to the family that there was a genetic link to his disease.  They started him on lithium and soon he was just another boring old man.  He had to work hard to remember his past .  He one time complained that when his mother started to fail, she reverted to a child like state and could remember what color dress she wore to the first day of  school.  He wondered what it would be like to not have any current memory and  no childhood memory. 
This is not a part of my dad's report but something I feel that is fairly relevant.  My Niece, was an air traffic controller in a tower near Sacramento and they were struck by lightning.  She was wearing a headset for the radio and while she has no memory of what happened, she shared the after effects of the shock therapy she was administered.  She basically came to in the break room and didn't know where she was or how to do the job she hired to do.  She had been a college graduate at UCLA in Physics and had one of the sharpest minds I had ever met. 
One day on a visit, I asked her what it was like to have the injury she had.  She was fighting with the FAA to get a disability and had been with a lot of Doctors.  She described her state as knowing that she knew things but when she would go to the place where that memory was stored, it was like there were holes and there would be nothing.  She tells of the times when her children would bring up a party they had attended and there would be nothing in her memory banks. 
Even this last month when we were at my in-laws house she talked to me about the experience.  It took her mother's skill to get the back pay and to be awarded the money she needs to live her life now.  She has a great spirit and laughs a lot.  She talks about how people says it is all in her head and she says it is all in her head, or not. 

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