Monday, July 11, 2011

When the world out there wants an explanation...

When we are in our normal routine, everything seems pretty much, well, normal.  After 20+ years together, I know without having to think about it what the boys' deficits are and what I need to do to accommodate for them.  I know that if I'm standing to Marcus' right, he can't see me and if I don't speak or I'm not ready to spring out of the way, he will run right into me.  I have learned not to think out loud around Tevis, because if I casually mention that one of these days I need to take the dogs for their shots, he will ask me 30 times a day, every day,  "When are you going to take the dogs for their shots?"  And I know that if I tell Gabriel something, more than likely I will have to repeat it, maybe three, maybe five, maybe ten times, because he didn't understand what I said in the first place or because he has forgotten what I said 30 minutes later.  That's just how it is.  There is no need for explanations.

But then there are times when the world out there demands an explanation, when it robs us of our sense of normalcy.  I remember that whenever I had to take Marcus to the eye doctor or to the Commission for the Blind to discuss services he needed, he grew ever more uncomfortable and morose the longer we sat there discussing his visual impairment.  Day in and day out, as he went about his daily activities, he could almost forget that he was legally blind, but those appointments always reminded him, like a slap in the face.

Last Thursday, when the mail came, I saw that there was a Jury Summons for Gabriel, and I knew that this was going to be an uncomfortable situation.  For some reason, at the age of 59, I have never been called for jury duty, but almost every one of my kids has been.  When Marcus got a summons in Texas, I just sent it back with an explanation that he was unable to read and write, and he was excused.  I never said anything to him about it, because his inability to read is a real source of grief for him, and I felt he didn't need his nose rubbed in it.  Gabriel also got a jury summons in Texas, at a time when he was actively psychotic.  Again, I just sent it back myself, with an explanation that he was schizophrenic and hears voices.  The court was more than happy to excuse him.

But the court here wants a note from a doctor in order to be excused for a physical or mental disability.  Given the push for disability rights, I am not even sure that the doctor would automatically write a note excusing him simply for being schizophrenic.  I considered the idea that maybe he should just go, banking on the probability that he would not be selected.  But I could not knowingly put him in that situation.  He almost always listens to his Walkman radio, to drown out the voices, and without the radio in the court, he would probably go to sleep and be found in contempt or something.  And Gabriel has regressed so much cognitively since the onset of his schizophrenia, that I know he is not mentally capable of attending to, processing, and understanding testimony.  I debated with myself how best to say this, tactfully, to him.  So I showed him the summons, explained it, and asked him gently,  "Do you think you'd be able to concentrate well enough to be on a jury?"  I could see him debating with himself as well, and he finally said that he thought he would see if the doctor would give him a note "because of the voices."  Over the weekend his anxiety level was sky-high over this.

Sometimes I'd like to tell the world out there to mind their own bizwhacks...