Part III - Down The Rabbit Hole

Part I  - My Sister is Velma dinkley
Part IIVelma Dinkley Makes a Miraculous Recovery

Part III - Down the Rabbit Hole

I have been down the rabbit hole and I can tell you - Wonderland is no tea party!

Much like Alice, who grew very tired of sitting by her sister on the river bank and so decided to follow a white rabbit down its hole, my own sister left my side to jump head-first down a rabbit hole.  But unlike Alice's sister, who was absorbed in her book and failed to noticed her sister's absence, I chased after mine.

A white-coated doctor led the way with cries of "Hurry!  Hurry! We must not be tardy!"  Believing he had the cure for her brain tumour, my sister eagerly followed him into Wonderland - and I followed close behind.

Trust me when I tell you - Wonderland is NOTHING like the Disney version. I encountered many forms of madness and mayhem yet none of it was fun or amusing.  I feared I would drown in the Pool of Tears, learned you can't reason with the Queen of Hearts, and was asked to solve riddles for which there are no answers.

You see, the surgery was a success - the recovery was not.  After contracting bacterial meningitis, my sister went into septic shock and slipped into a coma.  Her life became as tenuous as the Cheshire Cat, threatening to fade out of existence.

For eleven long days, I sat by her bedside, praying for her recovery.  Then one sunny spring day, with no warning or reason, she awoke from her coma.  Filled with joie de vivre, we hugged and kissed and laughed with delight at her recovery.

But my sister couldn't keep her head out of the rabbit hole.  After decades of successfully managing her mental illness, she was unable to maintain her sanity without the anti-psychotic medication which had been withheld during her coma.  As the doctors began to very slowly and carefully reintroduce her medication, she very rapidly descended into madness.  Insisting upon being released from the hospital, (only two days after awaking from her coma) I was summoned to bring her home.

Upon entering her hospital room, I was greeted by a sister filled with irrational thoughts and over-blown rage.  "Off with their heads!" she shouted to the nurses over her intercom.  On the hour-long car ride home, she continued to rage.  All that long day, and the one that followed, she raged.  For days upon days, which grew into weeks, she raged.

Have you ever attempted to get psychiatric help for a person who doesn't believe they need it?  It's akin to trying to play croquet with a flamingo as a mallet and a hedgehog as a ball - when you finally manage to get the flamingo into position, you discover the hedgehog has crawled away!  Psychiatrist appointments were being booked at least two months in advance, Family Practitioners claimed a lack-of-expertise and refused to take on her case, and hours spent waiting in a hospital emergency room came to naught when my sister insisted on leaving before seeing a Specialist.  Finally, after pleading that she was at risk of harming herself (a slight exaggeration) a doctor agreed to sign a Form 1 which required her to remain in the hospital for 72 hours for a psychiatric assessment.  This fast-tracked her into a Psychiatrist's care and a prescription for the much needed anti-psychotic medications.

You might believe that this is the "happily ever after" part of my story (I certainly hoped it was) but you would be mistaken.  It seems that while in Wonderland, my sister drank too much from the vial marked, "Drink me" and has been shrinking ever since.  Refusing to eat, forgetting to eat, and sleeping through meals has caused her to once again impersonate the Cheshire Cat - she is fading away to nothing.  On good days, my sister is once again by my side, talking and laughing and coping and recovering.  But on other days, she disappears back into that rabbit hole.  She becomes weak, and confused, and uncoordinated to the point of loosing her mobility.  It is "curiouser and curiouser" and no doctor can give us an adequate explanation.  After multiple trips to the hospital seeking help and understanding for these episodes, a doctor finally made the pronouncement that perhaps this is something they can't fix.  Perhaps, this is the result of the brain surgery.  Perhaps, we need to accept this as my sister's new "normal" - half in and half out of that damned rabbit hole.

I am terribly afraid that the hope and expectations I have for my sister's recovery are built of nothing more concrete than a house of cards, ready for the slightest breeze to rise them up and scatter them down upon me as I sit alone on that river bank, missing my sister.

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  1. What a difficult time for you and your sister. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Don't forget to seek support for yourself , it will give you strength to fight your battles for your sister.

  2. Thank you for your concern, but I'm not alone in this, I have lots of support.

  3. I feel strange saying this, but that was incredibly engaging -- and heartbreaking.

    I can only imagine how much you miss your sister...


  4. Such a heart wrenching yet beautifully written tale of heartache and love. Thinking of you...

  5. Sorta been there, done that. When my mom was 83, they put her on a drug that was supposed to help with depression. But it made her crazy as a loon; and I was the designated loon wrangler. When after 6 weeks I couldn't take it anymore and needed help the Dr. admitted her for observation. He really hadn't believed me as to just how nutso she'd become.

    They found her walking buck naked in the halls.

    It was occasionally funny; but mostly frustrating and totally exhausting.

  6. Ah...you do understand. Here in Ontario, Can. the person's right to refuse treatment over-rides everything else. You have to show someone is are a threat to themselves or a threat to others before the doctors will admit them against their will - it's incredibly frustrating.

    How is your mother now?

  7. Susan Ross DonohueSeptember 30, 2011

    I'm glad to know you have support Kara. Your beautifully written post is heart breaking. It's hard to deal with things we can't control. Thinking of you!

  8. Hugs you.

    How heartwrenching it is to live all that. Be thinking of you and your sister.

  9. I'm deeply touched by your story and your wonderfully lyrical way of expressing yourself. Your use of metaphor in this essay is so on target that I can't imagine it being told any other way. You are a wonderful writer. I started with part three and was compelled to go back and rear parts one and two. That rarely happens. I'm so very sorry for what you're going through and wish you and your big sis all the best no matter how the story ends.

  10. Oh my sweets. If we know anything at all, we know DOCTORS DON'T KNOW AS MUCH AS THEY APPEAR TO. God bless you for following your sister down that rabbit hole, but believe this, her condition will not stay as such. She WILL RECOVER FULLY, into the person you know her as (Velma Dinkly) and the two of you will laugh about the craziness she brought you into. All for love. continute to BELEIVE, I will, and I'll pray every chance I I get a moment. I know prayer ccan work. All my love, and positive energy for you and your sister.

  11. Wow! I'll be praying for you guys. I can't imagine what it must be like. My thought and prayers are with you.

  12. Kristy LorenzenOctober 03, 2011

    Wow, I am seriously impressed though with the creativity and connections you've made in this post. Prayers and warm thoughts to you and your family!

  13. Ruth PearsonOctober 04, 2011

    That just makes me sad. My grandmother was institutionalized 3 times before I was ever born. They were called breakdowns but as to the severity I am not sure. Even during my lifetime, she would come up with some strange things.

  14. Ecboutique05(ecwrites.com)October 05, 2011

    I just had to stop by again and tell you that you're really on my heart today. Please know that somewhere, amidst the deserty (asthma-inducing), rather rustic hills of Utah, people are praying for you. I hope you're having a better day.

  15. Oh wow. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. The human brain has capacities far beyond what we can even comprehend. She will continue to heal and so will you.
    Hugs to you both.

  17. I don't know what else to say other than I hope you sister and you have better times in the future.

  18. I don't know what else to say other than I hope you sister and you have better times in the future.

    1. It's been a long road, but my sister is doing much better these days. Thank you for your kind words.