Like other illnesses, mental illnesses have their severities. Some people with even the severest forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can live independent and productive lives; I wish that were Paul's case. But Paul was not alone. We see people like Paul on our streets, they crowd our prisons, and they languish in adult homes.
After Paul was released from the state hospital, he spent 8 of the last 10 years of his life cycling in and out of psychotic events; he went from the local ER room and psych ward, and sometimes to the state hospital, only to be released again where the cycle would continue. At first, Paul lived in an "assisted" living apartment, but when that became too difficult he was placed in an Adult Home. He spent the last year of his life in a nursing home due to chronic lung disease.
Ironically, I am thankful for that last year. Paul's mental state improved
to the point where we could actually have a somewhat normal life with him, like
anyone else with a family member in a nursing home, that is. His delusions
had logic of their own that we learned to follow; we were able to speak his
language, in a sense. We could hold normal conversations about the weather,
what to eat, what movie to watch, football, etc. Invariably, some delusion
would sneak its way in, and that was OK.
Paul had actually been this way, on and off, after he was placed on a new medication a couple of years prior to his admittance to the nursing home, but it was inconsistent due to other factors involved with living in an adult home. That Paul had to get sick with chronic lung disease, then lung cancer, before he was deemed worthy for the level of care he should have received in the first place is bad enough; that it gave my family something of our brother back only to watch him die from lung cancer is a kick in the gut no one should have to go through.
The IMD Exclusion acts as a barrier to access to long-term care for the poor and the middle class, who have a mental illness. It is discriminatory and should be repealed. It is that simple.
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